Sunday, 7 March 2010
"Should we go for a burger at Goodman?". Despite my better instincts, this was apparently not a rhetorical question.
I almost did not bother to answer, thinking the affirmation so obvious that I could just turn up. In any case, my tardiness in reporting back on the Goodman burger has more to do with a hectic schedule, cleverly belying my utter raving enthusiasm for what was a sensational evening.
Goodman is essentially a steak house. Not of the tawdry, checkered table cloth and grey chewy steak variety you see around Leicester Square - often frequented only by hapless tourists and dodgy stag doos - but a real, classy, clubby New York style steak house (but still with no frills like, say, tablecloths) widely reputed to serve some of the best bits of grilled beef in London.
I'm salivating just at the thought of it.
However, my visit to Goodman was of a different kind. I had teamed up with some other like minded bloggers and we had one thought in mind (some might even suggest we had but a single thought between us [how cruel]). Our mission: to devour the Goodman burger.
A good burger in London is a thing of rare beauty. Hawksmoor's is lovely (more on that in an upcoming rave) and Byron's is also good. But my absolute favourites are both in New York - at Little Owl and Shake Shack respectively. What would Goodman have to offer?
A bloody good burger, so it turns out.
Look at this baby. The hefty 1/2 pound beef patty is thick, dense, rich and smokey. The finely minced patty is nestled nicely in a glistening bun along with the essentials - pickles, tomato, onion and lettuce - I added cheddar. There are optional extras like egg (a la the Aussie burger), fried onion and mushrooms (but why detract from the glory of the top notch beef?), and we shared a side of Bearnaise. The thick cut fries (which some bemoan, but I adore) come as a package deal with the burger for £12.
For a price comparison, Byron's (very good) 6oz cheeseburger with fries will set you back £10. This makes Goodman's rather upmarket and sizeable burger, in a classy steak house setting, something of a good deal. (I know some will not see the value in paying 12 quid for a burger and fries, but they're probably unlikely to read my blog too often.)
We also shared some delicious creamed spinach with Gruyere, lest our heart rates might be taking it too easy.
I am not going to launch into a rating comparison with the Hawksmoor burger, since they are the apples and oranges of the burger world - and to do so would burden me with something of a Sophie's Choice type dilemma. Hawksmoor's burger is a looser and gloopier, unabashedly UK burger, including marrow in the mix. Goodman's half pound patty is extremely dense, finely ground and more uniform. It's more like a thick set version of a traditional US style patty. I loved it, and ate it all (naturally), but not without a subtle popping of the top button. If you can bring yourself to visit Goodman and not have a steak, you're going to be happy with your burger.
But the end product is not the only reason I fell head over heels in love with this place. The intense passion for their product, detailed back to front knowledge of it, and dedication to serving their customers the highest quality was the clincher that really won my heart.
Although we were not invited to dine, and booked without blogger ID disclosure, the Goodman crew caught wind that we were coming. Under the hospitable eye of manager David Strauss, they prepared for us a starter of beef carpaccio (creamy, melt in the mouth) and a couple of surprise In-N-Out (West Coast USA burger chain) style burgers to divvy up between us (knowing the current moans about the need for someone to adopt and perfect a basic US style greasy burger in London). What absolute champions. This one was layered with 2 thinner patties and oozing slices of melted "plastic" cheese (not Kraft, but along those lines). It was also delicious and was sided up with oodles of thin fries smothered in fried onions and thousand island style sauce. Yeah baby.
Although potentially heart stopping, it was of course still of the Goodman quality and had less of the grease factor of the greasy US chain burger (which you may or may not view as an ideal thing).
A fascinating tour of the kitchens with chef extraordinaire, John Cadieux, revealed the Josper charcoal grills at work, where gigantic, thick steaks were being grilled to perfection at the coal face. Inside the Goodman dry aging room, enormous sides of prime beef lined the shelves, some aged and decayed to the extreme. Walking into it was something of a "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" moment and I was feeling more like Augustus Gloop by the minute. There's both USDA beef, and Scottish grass fed varieties. I would love to back for the steak as soon as possible. John's knowledge of and passion for his subject is as infectious as it is fascinating.
We finished off with a completely-unnecessary-but-thank-God-we-did-it New York cheese cake (gorgeous, with crispy biscuit base) and the scrumptious chocolate chunky fudge sundae which I kept digging into just until reaching the point of physical explosion.
Our wines were also delectable, particularly the Simi (a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon) expertly selected by Denise (The Wine Sleuth).
The Goodman crowd was largely blokes, with the occassional gorging female among them - there's a fair amount of testosterone about. Our table, being equally weighted with women, was clearly at odds with the rest of the room.
Women of London, step up to the plate with your male brethren and get your iron fix. I can confidently recommend Goodman as a superb place to do it. And get that chocolate sundae while you're at it.
Goodman, 26 Maddox Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 1QH (Ph: 020 7499 3776)