Monday, June 4, 2012

A Visit to Spike Mendelsohn's Good Stuff Eatery

You may remember Kate the Chef's Quickfire Rampage from earlier in the year. This time, she shares with us her experience at Spike Mendelsohn's DC restaurant, Good Stuff Eatery. And she does it as a brand new member of the All Top Chef team! She'll be posting as Basil of Love - please help us welcome her to our fold.
OK now, do you agree: if I make the rule, I have the power to break the rule? Not only I agree with myself on this, I strongly support, and even enforce this simple rule in my own routine living.

Don’t confuse this with a general lack of scruples. I am just a great believer in reinforcing exceptions that allow for additional joyful experiences that otherwise will be lost to the rule. After all, those obeying all the rules miss all the fun, right?

So, rule number 1: to not eat beef. I've been slowly cutting pig and cow out of my diet, for a variety of reasons from personal health to environmental sustainability, but occasionally, I choose to enjoy either of the meats. I just make sure that it is a worthy experience.

Rule number 2: to not eat at places that serve wedge salads. I just made that rule last night, and have already gone against it. Oh well, let it be my very own Behind the Looking Glass experience. I am pretty sure you'll understand my reasons, so I am completely unapologetic.

The confession: I went to Good Stuff eatery. Chef Spike's burger place on Capitol Hill. I just couldn't help it, I had to do it, if not out of love for a burger, than for pure, naked and blunt curiosity. And because I happened to pass by it on the way from The Sweet Lobby (where I took the rest of their caneles, madeleines and macarons, and, gracious kindness of Mistress Winnette, two delectable cupcakes for my editor). [a special note to Ms Ambrose, the goddess behind the SL: you are beautiful, you are amazing, you make this world a better place!]

Anyway, Good Stuff was bustling busy, the smack of lunch rush, but it was worth the madness and the wait. While you wait to order, you can read your very own little paper menu to make all the right choices and pass time.

While you wait for your food, you can get a whole battery of mayos to dip your fries in or pour on your food. I got me some sriracha mayo and cursed my modesty - one table spoon-worth is delish, but I could have had a cup.

I made my pick relatively fast – the Blazin’ Barn looked like a perfect combination for me, with pickled daikon and carrots, basil and mint, topped with spicy mayo, and – I couldn’t resist – Spike’s village fries, heaping with thyme, rosemary and sea-salt. The guy, packing my food, winked at the site of my camera: “Hey toots, I want five dollars! Honestly, though, you’re smart, everyone thinks chef Spike is a guy in a fedora, but in reality – it’s me!

Sweet man. I wanted to feed the illusion and ask him to get me a shake – I was trying my best to be disciplined and only gone for one of the two indulgences, the fires, as opposed to a shake. But let me tell you this:  Spike’s venue is not the one to watch your girlish figure, and once you’ve stood in line for fifteen minutes watching other people sipping these thick shakes, you know that err on the cautionary side is no option here. Shake it, baby, I mean it. And I will do what I mean next time I am there (and yes, there will be a next time, Spike, word!)

Now, despite some decent seating on the second floor, Good Stuff is a smaller place, so be prepared to have nowhere to land once your food is assembled.

I dealt with it in the way that might not be the most expected, but
turned out to be most pleasant, weather and time considered. I grabbed my bag and my mayo (and napkins, for you will surely need them), and trotted down toward the Capitol. That beautiful oak tree, off the left walk way, makes a perfect picnic spot.

So, there I was, sitting on the grass, leaning against the tree, savoring every bit of sunshine and food, feeling overwhelmed with happiness.

My unsolicited honest opinion? The cow could have used more salt, and, perhaps, there was even salt to take along, but with my poor attention to detail, I might have easily overlooked it. Regardless, with great appreciation, my hip-hip hooray to the Good Stuff and its crew.

PS I shoulda had that shake… 

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