Sometimes, you just want a burger. If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, burgers are one of my passions, and something I spend a lot of time seeking out. And there are a lot of burger places getting press these days.
This time, a trip to Washington, DC, was a good opportunity to knock another burger joint off of the list. So I sent out an invite to some of my DC area friends. Spike Mendelsohn’s (we all remember him, the hat-wearing “culinary boner” guy from Top Chef season 4) Good Stuff Eatery was about 15 minutes’ walk from my hotel, right down the street from Tune Inn (which I’d also write up, but it’s been about five years since I’ve been there). So my regular DC friends Allie (who last joined us at Ben’s Chili Bowl) and Steve (who was in last year’s Manhattan Death March) were joined by Steve’s coworker Dennis (who asked if I “was the guy from New Hampshire who photographed his food”, I guess my reputation as a bacon photographer precedes me…) and we rendezvoused at Good Stuff.
I never know what to get at a burger joint. I always vacillate between getting a fairly fancy burger, or getting a simple cheeseburger (since the simplicity of a basic cheeseburger doesn’t allow a lot of opportunity to hid mistakes under topics. It’s just a burger, chees and a bun). After a lot of back and forth on the menu, I decided that today was more hawk than dove, and settled on the Big Stuff Bacon Meltdown: two patties, several strips of bacon, cheese, tomato, onion, pickle, burger sauce, and lettuce (oddly, some sort of leafy fancy lettuce and not iceberg or romaine). It was a bit overkill on the toppings, but it was a decent overall burger. Good beef quality with good juicy interior (could use a little more sear on the patty), nicely toasted bun (albeit with a lot of sesame seeds, and the kitchen staff seems to think they need to squish it). Overall topping to burger ratio pretty decent (due to the two patties), and it held together nicely. However, between the lack of sear on the beef and the squished bun not absorbing anything, this was also a bit of a grease fest.
One place that that Good Stuff shined, however, was the fries. The fries were really good. Nice crisp exterior and good fluffy interior. Slightly greasy, with a bit of a peanut taste from the oil, but not overkill. These were the “village” fries, with thyme, rosemary, and sea salt, and the herbs were good, and not applied lightly. The whole bag smelled like a Simon and Garfunkel song, and the result was actually rather pleasant.
One question, though: Why do so many places like this squish my burger? You take a perfectly good burger, and appear to have the heaviest member of your kitchen staff sit upon it after wrapping it… Seriously, between an overwrapping fetish (Good Stuff packs all orders to go, no matter what… if eating there, grab a little tray) and the apparent requirement for my burger to be compacted, it takes something away from the experience. I’m certainly not likely to get a burger like their advertising materials, since nobody sat on those. I’m not solely annoyed at Good Stuff, by the way, this is a fairly regular problem at burger joints. It’s certainly also occurring over at Five Guys, who generally make me a good burger, but one that is foil-wrapped, and apparently stepped on by a large orangutan escaped from the National Zoo. Seriously, you go to all the steps of making a decent burger, and then squish the hell out of it? Are they making the kitchen staff read Edwin Abbott’s Flatland? I really don’t get it.
Still, not a bad burger for $7.95, especially in the District, but there are a lot of decent $7.95 burgers. Too bad I’ll be eating salads for a few days making up for this…