Making a smashburger, according to one internet definition, entails grabbing a fresh meat ball and “smashing it into the grill with a smashermajiggy.” (I bet you don’t know many people with one of those.)
One person who does have a smashermajiggy (and knows how to use it) is Michael Sparkes, who recently opened Sparkys, the hottest new burger joint in Joburg. He invited me to pop in and watch him and his team in action one week after opening on the corner of Corlett Drive and Atholl Oaklands Road in Melrose.
Aside: Michael’s mom, Michele Sparkes, is a friend of many of ours at CN&CO. She is a partner in a number of culinary ventures, including So Yum in Hyde Park. Carel is also an investor in So Yum and has a stake in Sparkys. “It’s all about supporting entrepreneurial spirit – and great food!” says Carel.
And now, back to the story. We’re in the newly opened Sparkys take-away restaurant…
The Uber Eats tablet rings and the team springs into action. Luyando has ordered a double cheeseburger and chips. The tablet rings again. An order for Marcel – a popper and a Sprite Zero. The small shop starts to buzz with activity. Burgers are smashed, buns are buttered, chips are fried, drinks are poured. Within minutes the Sparkys team has produced two delicious smelling, perfectly packaged meals, just in time for the Uber Eats driver’s arrival.
It’s like a well-oiled machine.
“Would you like something?” Michael asks me.
I order a popper burger. It’s got two smash-patties, lettuce, tomato, onion and gherkin, plus a generous helping of sauce. And the chips… oh, those chips! They’re made from real potatoes with the skins on (the biggest potatoes I’ve ever seen!) twice fried (once at low heat, once at high heat) making them crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Each order comes with a squirt of tomato sauce and a squirt of Hellman’s mayonnaise.
What’s also great about the chips is the quantity – an overflowing cup, with chips escaping into the paper carrier. And that’s by design.
“You know when you collect a take away and you’re driving home, you always pick on the chips,” says Michael. “So when you get home there are hardly any left! We’ve solved that problem by packing in extra chips for you to eat en route.”
Sparkys uses all fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Nothing frozen on their cooker.
“We’re blowing up,” says Michael. “Most of our reviews are five stars. We’re doing really well. One customer has already ordered three times – and we’ve only been open for a week!
“We’re looking to expand soon with a pizza slice offering – like in the States where you can buy a massive slice of pizza. They call it a dollar slice, which is what our offering will be called: Dollar Slice.
“Each slice is about 40% of the size of a standard pizza. So you need two-and-a-half slices to make the equivalent of one pizza.”
Sparkys is open from 11am to 10.30pm. You can order for collection or delivery via the Uber Eats and Mr D apps.