When Cliff Luhn asked how my burger was and I said it was good, he smiled and nodded with approval. He wasn’t just pleased that I was enjoying my Vegetarians are People Too ‘Shroom Burger (two organic portobello mushroom caps oozing with cheese and battered with panko breadcrumbs) as a fellow diner. I could see the satisfaction went deeper.
“A lot of R and D went into that,” Cliff said.
He proceeded to tell me–with some reporter-like prompting on my part–about the process he and Good Stuff Eatery’s chef, Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn, went through to arrive at the succulent burgers, tasty fries, and unique mayos of the new hot burger joint in town.
I was pleased they did enough testing to realize hydrolyzed soy burgers are not the way to go for the herbivores. In addition to that, Cliff said, they tried countless kinds of potatoes to choose the specific type of russets for their fries, which are cut in house.
Although Good Stuff specializes in burgers (R-and-Ded to the perfect ratio of sirloin to ground beef), they have lots of touches a vegetarian foodie can appreciate. Spike has fused his way to fries that will satisfy American, Belgian, and English tastes in chip consumption. A condiment station offers five different mayos including mango and Sriracha, and a bottle of malt vinegar nestles next to the requisite ketchup and mustard on each table. And if you’re not into any of those options for your fries or want a change of what to dip, you can try them with the Vidalia onion rings.
The milkshakes, handspun with house-made frozen custard, include creative flavors like Soursop Hop Strawberry and Toasted Marshmallow. The place even offers points of interest to locavorians and the pesticide-averse–they strive to cull all of the ingredients from within 60 to 100 miles, and like I mentioned, the ‘shrooms are organic. I could go on, but you get the idea.
I appreciated Cliff’s openness. Unless you’re a fancy New Yorker writer covering a chef with tongue cancer, you probably have not gotten an in-depth look at the birth of restaurant fare. I know I hadn’t, and I felt special. It was great, and I’m not just saying that because my meal was comped!
Spike’s sister, Micheline–the friend who connected me to this whole free taste test–also gave me a peek into the process. In addition to the big stuff like making sure the word gets out about Good Stuff, she sees to things most people wouldn’t even think of, like Braille menus for blind customers and sushi bar-style check off menus for deaf folks. Micheline not only has the PR skills, but can get behind the counter to make a mean toasted marshmallow shake to boot. Aside from the obvious whole whole marshmallows and custard, though, she won’t reveal what goes into it.