Finally the right lazy Saturday came along for me to visit the recent entry into DC’s Burger Wars from former Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn. I’ve read atleast a half dozen reviews of Good Stuff Eatery on blogs in the city and was fearful my blogger card might be taken away if I didn’t also comply =)
From reading reviews from others I had an idea what to expect. Lines out the door are said to be typical. Wanting to avoid that fate I aimed for a very late lunch (2:30pm). I biked it so I wouldn’t have to hunt for parking. I don’t yet own a helmet and my front wheel brakes are busted but I rode anyway (never said I was smart). I biked at leisurely pace, used sidewalks on main boulevards and switched to side streets whenever possible and completed trip to 303 Pennsylvania Ave SE without incident.
Upon arriving I saw the outdoor seating was completely full. Inside a dozen customers standing around waiting for orders but the register had no line for new orders. Success! Scanning the menu I saw the 5 sections: Hand Crafted Burgers, Sides, Wedge Salads, Beverages (incl beer) and Ice Cream related goodies. Eleven burgers were on the menu with some sticking to the basics and others venturing into non-traditional burger toppings like pickled daikon, carrots or sour cream.
In addition to the menu choices Good Stuff also offered burgers honoring Obama and McCain and was keeping a scorecard tally of whose burger sold more. The Obama burger featured bleu cheese, horseradish mayo, onion marmalade and bacon. McCain’s patty sported chipotle mayo, corn roasted red pepper salsa and jack cheese. Seeing that Obama already had an insurmountable sales lead of roughly 320 to 130 I didn’t feel guilty about bucking my card carrying dem status to order the McCain. I added Spike’s Village Fries seasoned with Thyme, Rosemary and Cracked Pepper plus a Black & White handspun shake. Unfortunately the regular size fries are crossed off the menu leaving the large spuds for sale at a $3.59. Too much coin for fries IMO but I decided to splurge just to try ’em once. The tally came out at about $16 and the cashier gave me a buzzer.
The standing and waiting began. I took solace in the fact that Good Stuff shares my appreciation for the marriage of burgers and classic rock. It brings me back to childhood when backyard family barbeques ment horseshoes, burgers and classic rock. Just as I could have began to get restless with the waiting the uptempo hard rock portion (5:34 onward) of Led Zeppelin anthem Stairway to Heaven kicked into full gear. Jimmy Page‘s minute plus long virtuoso solo (greatest ever?) tempted me to air guitar but I remembered I’m at a fast food restaurant not a Dewey Beach bar and restrained myself to mere toe tapping. Robert Plant joined in with the final verse belting out the vocals forcefully with soul:
And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul.
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last.
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll. [resisted urge to lip sync this line]
And shes buying a stairway to heaven.
Elton John’s Rocket Man came over the speakers next. Another classic but I turned my attention to Spike. He’s clearly ready to get off his shift (owners have shifts too i guess). He puts on his jacket, takes it off, puts it back on all in span of 45 seconds. He’s fidgety and wandering the store looking for someone specific that is supposed to give him a ride home. This harkened me back to my teenage years working at the local grocery and watching a 15 year old bagger restlessly waiting for their cashier friend with car to count their drawer so they can hitch a ride home. Spike left and my buzzer finally lit up about 15 minutes after I ordered. I picked up food from the counter, dispensed myself some chipotle mayo dipping sauce, grabbed some napkins, then packed up my stuff and biked it two blocks to a park bench in Seward Square.
Tell us about the food dummy! Ah yes, the burger meat seemed on par with Five Guys in size and quality. I wish they offered cooking options rather than just serving well done beef. For the hype and cost more was expected but it’s still good and the toppings are more exotic than anything you’ll ever find at 5G. The fries were decent but had diminishing returns as they got cold quickly and the rosemary is only good in small doses. The Shakes were great and worth the trip. I’d give it 3 stars out of 5. But for me the 10oz prime beef cooked to order Ray’s Hell Burgers still win the D.C. Burger wars.