Story & Photos by Amanda Kole
The pilot store of Good Stuff Eatery opened on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. in July, 2008 but the grand opening event of the new Philadelphia based Good Stuff Eatery (108 S 18th St) was Tuesday, June 24 2014. The event started with a warm welcome from Chef Spike Mendelsohn and owners George Chin and Elaine Massock. For George and Elaine, it has taken four long years to open this restaurant. The two Illinois natives, who were retired restaurateurs, came out of retirement after they fell in love with Philadelphia and the Good Stuff Eatery concept. Chef Mendelsohn’s focus on family and quality food felt like the right fit for them, and so they decided to move forward with their own store. Chef Spike emphasized that what differentiates the Good Stuff Eatery from its competitors is that it is family and food driven. The family presence at this grand opening event was quite evident. His sister, Micheline, took the orders, his mom and dad (also long time restaurateurs) buzzed around the downstairs finishing the last touches for the opening. All stood arm in arm as the speeches were made and the red ribbon cut.
Now to the food. They have a large menu of burgers, fries, salads, chili, shakes, floats, beers, and the option to “Cluck it!” (substituting a grilled chicken breast in any burger). There is one vegetarian burger made with a fried Portobello mushroom stuffed with cheese. The veggie burger can also be made vegan upon request. Spike and his entire staff wore shirts with the phrase, “Thank you, Shake Shack, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Burger 21, Smashburger, Five Guys, ect…We’ll take it from here” They seem pretty confident that they’ll be taking over the burger game in Philly, but they might be getting a little ahead of themselves.
We started with shakes. Spike gave us the run down; it’s vanilla based custard churned at low temp, high butter fat content, which yields a lasting effect on palate and a slow melt. The chocolate flavor has its own chocolate base. I got the Toasted Marshmallow; Spiked called it “A campfire in your mouth.” I found it very sweet, if you like marshmallows you’ll be in heaven. The custard was thick and creamy as promised and also slow to melt so you can take your time enjoying the sweet treat.
Burgers and fries were next. I got the Coletti’s Smokehouse burger, per the suggestion of Micheline (Chef Spike’s sister), as it was touted an award winner. The burgers are made from short rib, chuck and brisket cuts, 82 % lean and 18 % fat. Each patty is weighed out for consistency. The patty is perfectly round and fitted perfectly to the Martin’s potato roll it’s served on. It was very well styled, though a little smashed. The Smokehouse Burger was topped with applewood bacon, sharp Vermont cheddar, fried Vidalia onion rings and chipotle BBQ sauce. All the ingredients were distinct and played well together. The Vidalia onions were battered and fried to perfection. The bacon was flavorful and well-cooked but not crispy. I love the potato bun from Martin’s bakery in Chambersburg, PA. The cheese was melty and delicious. The BBQ sauce was perfectly sweet and smoky and really pulled the whole bite together. The burgers are served medium well unless specified otherwise. Mine was a little overdone but I’ll give them some leeway since it was probably one of the very first burgers ever pulled off the line. They have 10 signature burgers to choose from as well as 3 Farmhouse burgers; a plain burger, cheese burger, and bacon cheeseburger that are served with tomato, onion, lettuce, pickle, and “Good Stuff sauce”.
The fries were delicious! They are double fried, skins left on, sprinkled with minced thyme and the perfect amount of salt. There is also a mayo bar that Spike introduced to his restaurants after being influenced by a trip to Belgium. As you might know, in Belgium fries are served with mayonnaise, sometimes flavored. Good Stuff has four flavor choices, Mango, Old Bay, Chipotle, and Sriracha. There is also a Horseradish flavor that you can request when you order but it’s kept behind the line for the Prez Obama burger. The Sriracha has a smooth flavor with a little bite at the end; they keep big bottles on the table if you want to punch up the spice. The Chipotle mayo is a little sweet with a light smoked flavor and not too spicy. The Old Bay mayo tastes just like it sounds and has a nice spicy kick from beginning to end. The Mango mayo is smooth and a little sweet, the mango gives it sweetness but it doesn’t have a mango flavor. All the choices on the mayo bar were very tasty and a fun addition to the Eatery. Don’t worry though there is also lots of ketchup and malt vinegar for those who aren’t feeling adventurous.
I had a great time at the Eatery and suggest you go try it for yourself! I will definitely be back to try some more shakes and work my way through that burgers menu.