Good Stuff Eatery

2110 Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA  22202
Good Stuff Eatery on Urbanspoon

I remember watching Spike Mendelsohn's season of Top Chef and the only thing I could think of was that he was a huge d-bag.  I understand that he was on a TV show and a competition and that the producers of the show tend to show things out of context and I'm sure he exaggerated his behavior a bit.  That being said, I decided during that season that I wouldn't be interested in his food because his personality was off-putting.  Well, that changed this past week when he opened up a branch of his burger & shake joint, Good Stuff Eatery in Crystal City.  I do love me some good burgers and shakes so I had to try it.  Besides, he has a really funny video that talks about his expansion into Northern Virginia.

Good Stuff can be found on Crystal Drive which I don't remember from previously living here and looks like it's some sort of chain restaurant mecca.  It has Ted's Montana Grill, Starbucks, Chipotle, Jaleo (there must be a gazillion of these now), and many others.  This didn't make me hopeful about Good Stuff since while I think the over-commercialization of a concept can still produce flavorful meal; it sucks the soul right out of the restaurant and all you're left with is a big bill, some tasty food but nothing that will hold a memory or an urge to come back

As you walk in, you see a large open space with exposed beams and a lot of quirky decorations that reflect Washington DC and the Good Stuff philosophy.  On the left is a long counter where you can see an open kitchen and a veritable army of uniformed cooks and service staff. The first thing I noticed and the first big plus for Good Stuff was that it had beer taps beside the cashier.  So, the way it works is that you place your order at the cashier and then you get one of those buzzer things with red lights which vibrate and light up to tell you that your meal is ready.  I ordered something called Batch 19 as my beer of choice along with a Steakhouse burger, some of Cliff's Homegrown Vidalia Petals, and a Black & White Shake.  I had never had Batch 19 before but it was a full, rich lager with a hint of sweetness.

When you go up to pick up your food, its placed in a paper bag (folded like your old school lunch) on a red tray.  I can understand giving you your food like this if you take it to go, but if you're eating in, I'd prefer that your burger doesn't get all scrunched up in it's aluminum foil wrapping.  It just comes out looking all squashed and not wholly appetizing.  The steakhouse burger includes sauteed mushrooms some breaded & fried onions and steakhouse mayo.  While it didn't look like the greatest burger in the world, I have to admit, it was a damn good burger.  It was thick, juicy and not overcooked.  The outside of the burger had this crispy texture (no, it wasn't the the onions) which you don't find in many burgers and I'm left wondering why not since it gives such a wonderful contrast.  The steakhouse mayo (like all their sauces -- which we'll discuss later) was a thoughtful mix of creamy mayo and steak sauce.

I decided to go with the onion petals this go around since I had fries earlier in the day and I've always been fond of Vidalia onions.  I'm glad I made that choice.  The batter was not heavy at all and seemed to cling lightly to the onions which were cooked enough so that the sweetness of the vidalia onion was showcased but did not include a raw aftertaste.  They were made better with the dipping sauces available.  I decided to try the Old Bay Mayo, Chipotle Mayo and Mango Mayo.  I think I only left out the Sriracha Mayo since I
wasn't in the mood for something overly hot.  Each dipping sauce reflected genuinely the flavors that they were names after without being overwhelming so that you forget you're dipping into mayo also.  I would guess they would work well with the fries also but I don't know if I'll ever find that out since I may now forever order the onion petals whenever I go back.

I finished off the meal with one of my favorite all-time desserts, the Black & White milkshake.  Technically, this milkshake is vanilla ice cream with a heaping ton of chocolate syrup and whipped cream on top.  This particular shake was the best or close to the best black & white shake I've ever had.  Usually, the syrup mixes in with the ice cream to create this milk chocolate-y tint to the milk shake.  The syrup in this shake was thick, gummy and rich; and did not dissolve so easily so that you had this consistently sticky chocolate flavor throughout the whole shake.  The vanilla ice cream was refreshingly creamy and solid enough so that it was still ice cream and not slush for a good long while.  Long enough that I had to take the shake with me to finish off on my drive home.

I'm always wary about the celebrity chef and their concept eateries.  You're afraid that it's just a commercial venture that takes advantage of the chef's fame instead of focusing on the food.  While Good Stuff Eatery may look like a commercial burger factory, the food itself certainly comes through as being well thought out and simply delicious.

P.S.  Had a little mishap with pictures and understanding exactly where those pictures were stored.  Apologies if you visited and saw endless posts of broken links where there were supposed to be pics and thanks for your patience.

1 comment:

  1. I'll be in town in a couple of months to visit my cousin so I'll be able to see just how good the burgers here really are. Honestly, I can hardly wait until then.


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