#210: Blast 825º Pizza

It’s been too long!  Back to work.  Tonight I had a few places to choose from that have all opened recently.  Two of them are upscale lounges, but I found myself in a casual, pizza type of mood, so I was off to Roseville’s 2nd quick pizza place.  This is Blast 825º Pizza, located next to Chipotle across from the Galleria.  Getting this out of the way, I’m a big fan of Trademark Pizza.  I’ll do my best to set aside any bias, but there are definitely going to be a lot of comparisons.

Blast 825º is basically the same concept as Trademark, and both are brining this concept up north from SoCal.  Blast has a location in Clovis and is opening another in Rocklin soon.  If you need a refresher or never saw my post on Trademark, it’s a bit of a Chipotle type of ordering process.  You start with the crust and move down a short line choosing all your ingredients, then it’s put into a very hot oven for just a few minutes.  You’ll likely just be sitting down when your pizza is ready.    The price here is about the same as Trademark at $7.95 for a create your own.  The biggest difference is in the number of toppings.  Here you get 3 meats and 4 veggies.  Trademark is unlimited.  I have to admit I was skeptical based on that alone when I entered.

I showed up at 6PM sharp.  There were just a handful of people here at the time, most on their way out.  This place is BIG.  Easily four times the size of Trademark.  The dining room is very, very good looking.  The assembly line is about the same size as Trademarks though, maybe even slightly smaller.  Most of the time that I go to Trademark during lunch or dinner hours they are slammed with a line out the door and few places to sit.  Given that Blast has a much larger seating capacity, I wonder if their small make line and oven (which looks smaller as well) will be able to pump out enough pies to actually utilize all the extra seating.  Time will tell.  Anyway, it’s a really nice store.

I stepped up to the line and was greeted by one of the employees, who ran me through the process.  Once I heard that there were 3 meats and 4 veggies on a standard pizza my skepticism was tempered a bit.  This is just one shy of the amount of toppings I get at Trademark.  I picked out the original dough (other options are artisanal wheat or gluten free) and started with white sauce and the Blast Blend (If I recall, aged Asiago, smoked mozzarella[?] and one other).  The first difference I noticed was that the dough was considerably thicker than Trademarks super thin crust.  I learned later from the manager, Jake, that they half-bake the dough earlier.  The next thing I noticed was that my pizza-maker measured out the cheese, something I’m not used to coming from Trademark.  Skeptisism rising…  Moving on.

From here I built the same pizza that I get at Trademark.  Not only do I love these toppings, it would be a perfect comparison.  I went with chicken, bacon, sausage, onions, garlic, olives and spinach.  The one item I left off was mushrooms.  I stopped them just in time before it was popped in the oven to snap a quick before photo.  I paid up and got a soda [$2.05, making the total an even $10 + tax].  I chatted with Jake for a minute and then took a few photos before my pizza was ready.

Sitting down with my fresh pizza, it was clear that this was slightly smaller than Trademark’s 11″ pie.  It might be only by an inch, but it felt noticeable.  Anther difference, and one that I noticed while picking my toppings, was that the garlic is chopped rather than minced, and it seemed to be roasted as well just looking at it in the make table.  It was a huge difference in aroma.  This was much stronger.  Picking up a slice, the crust held itself up pretty easily and was nice and crisp on the bottom and edges.  Here they put the spinach on after cooking, which was visually very nice.  Flavor-wise this pizza was very similar.  The chicken was tender, onions crispy, bacon flavorful, you get the picture.  It’s totally on par with Trademark.  The garlic was considerably more present here though and the crust is obviously different.

I was impressed, it’s just as solid a pizza as I am used to.  I would say that overall they are both extremely good at what they do.  Both make an excellent pizza with quality ingredients at a very reasonable price.  Try them both out and I think you’ll agree.  Objectively, Trademark does offer a bit more value with their unlimited toppings and slightly larger pie.  I typically get extra of all my toppings and can easily make two meals out of it.  I spoke to the owner of Trademark and the manager of Blast and both had good things to say about each other and welcomed a healthy, friendly competition in this new space.  More is rarely a bad thing and I’m glad to see this awesome concept expanding in our area.

#209: Krush Burger

I had an errand to run over to the Galleria after work and decided I had better bring my camera in case Krush Burger had opened over the weekend.  Turns out they opened today!  Normally I would avoid doing a post so early, but Krush Burger has been at this for a little while and I was confident that they would do just fine.

If you aren’t familiar with Krush Burger, here’s a bit of background.  They started out as one of Sacramento’s very first “gourmet” food trucks back in 2011 (it feels like it was a lot longer ago though) and was called Mini Burger at the time.  They were always (and often still are) the most popular food truck at food truck events in the area.  They eventually changed to Krush Burger and began to expand.  In addition to at least a couple of trucks, they have locations in Davis, Sacramento and, randomly, Dubai.

If Mini Burger didn’t give it away, that’s what they make.  Their menu is simple, and this permanent location carries with it the exact same menu as the trucks.  They have just 3 regular burgers and then have some rotating seasonal burgers/sandwiches as well.  I didn’t see any seasonals mentioned anywhere today.  That might be because they just opened.

It was about 4:20 when I strolled in on this oddly cool but humid day.  They have a corner spot in the Promenade area of the Galleria with a wrap-around patio area that has views of the playground and the entrance to Ruth’s Chris.  The interior is not particularly large.  There are maybe 10 tables, tops, inside and another 8-10 on the patio.  There were a handful of customers and maybe half a dozen staff, most of those in the kitchen.  I was helped after a short line of two people in front of me.  She asked if I had been there before (which in hindsight that’s kind of a funny thing to ask your customers on day one, but I suppose she may have been referring to any iteration of Krush Burger) and I mentioned I had been to the truck only.  She let me know it was the exact same menu.  I had spent some of my time in line looking around instead of deciding what I would get, but it’s a small enough menu that I was able to figure it out on the fly.

I went with their combo, which is 2 mini burgers, a side and a drink.  I asked if I could make the drink a beer for a little more and was told yes.  They had 8 beers on tap, including a couple of local Track 7 brews.  They had Amber and IPA.  I chose an amber to go with the Cow Bell (Bacon, Crispy Onions, Smoked Gouda, + BBQ Sauce), Philly (Grilled Mushrooms & Onions, Aged Provolone, + Red Pepper Aioli) and side of Sweet Potato Tots (Sweet Potato Tots + Ancho Honey Dipping Sauce).  All together this came out to $12.40 + tax.

I was handed a pager and was told where I could pick up my order just around the corner, then I took a seat.  A minute later my beer was brought to me by the cashier.  I’m not sure if I’ve even had Track 7 before but I’m certain the IPA was poured instead of the Amber, it was pretty hoppy.  I considered taking it back up but honestly didn’t care that much.  It was still refreshing and tasty. It took maybe 7 minutes for my pager to go off.  I took it up to the little window where one of the cooks asked me to place it in a basket off the the side (keeping cross contamination in mind, good call) and was then handed a metal tray with my order.

Arranged in two long boxes were my mini burgers and the sweet potatoes tots.  Off to the side in the little cup was the ancho honey dipping sauce for the tots.  Everything was piping hot, especially the tots, which I had to be careful with for the first 5 minutes or so until they cooled down a bit.  The way the burgers were situated in the box caused a lot of sauce from each one to drain out the bottom.  After I picked them out of the box I could clearly see how it was all now on one side.  It wasn’t that big of a deal though because I just dipped the drier side of the burgers into the appropriate pool of escaped sauce, which worked out pretty well.

When it comes to sweet potato fries, in this case tots, I usually hate them by themselves.  I think I was having a conversation with someone just last week where I was telling them that sweet potato fries are only good when you have something awesome to dip them in.  Well, the ancho honey sauce is awesome.  It is, of course, sweet but after a few bites you notice a heat sneak up on you from the ancho chili.  These are great with it.  (also no, I did not enhance the color, they are that orange in real life).

As for the burgers, while they are certainly mini they pack a ton of flavor in those little guys.  The Cow Bell, their take on the typical Western-style burger, has an intense BBQ sauce that is fairly sweet.  Smothered in that are the crispy onions and bacon, which was also crispy.  These added a nice texture as well as a good amount of their own individual flavors.  The smoked Gouda was probably least noticeable, but it was there.  Finally, the beef itself was cooked perfectly, still showing a bit of pink throughout the middle and being nice and juicy.  The Philly was a smoother burger, both in flavor and texture.  The grilled mushrooms and onions played a big part in that.  I thought the cheese here, aged Provolone, played a more front and center roll in the overall flavor, setting a base on which the mushrooms, onions and finally the red pepper aioli, which was fairly mellow, built on.

It’s been a while since I’ve had Krush Burger, last summer actually, and I forgot how good it is.  I’ll have to keep an eye out for when a truck parks near my work.  I read recently that the Sacramento store is in kind of an odd location.  I wonder if they know what they’ve gotten themselves into with this prime Galleria spot.  I have a feeling it’s going to be insanely busy once people notice it.  Get in there before it gets crazy and try it out!