Wednesday, 3 March 2010
The Goodman In'N'Out Tribute Burger
My slightly-tongue-in-cheek-but-actually-not-really In'N'Out campaign seems to have fans in unusual places. On an impromptu midweek visit with a friend to Goodman Steakhouse to try their house burger, restaurant manager Dave Strauss revealed he had a surprise for me. He and head chef John Cadieux had conspired to have a go at their own version of California's finest, and wondered if I would be interested in trying it. Seriously, a burger made just for me? How could I - how could anyone - say no?
First of all, excuse (as ever) the poor photos but the brooding, testosterone-fuelled atmosphere of Goodman after dark does not make for a good studio. You'll largely have to take my word for the fact that the heaving "In'N'Out Double Double tribute burger" was absolutely, filthily marvellous. With two excellent beef patties supported by a couple of slices of melty cheese ("sourced" from the nearest corner shop apparently) and a token bit of salad, this was as authentic a West Coast burger I've ever eaten in this country. Admittedly, competition in this particular sector isn't sky-high, but everything about it seemed right - it was a good size and shape, fit well in the hands and bubbled with juicy goodness on every bite. I can't think how it could be improved upon, other than to eat it outside under the Californian sun. Even the bun, dark and glazed and not bearing much of a resemblance to the original, did its job perfectly and not only kept its shape well but provided extra sweet notes.
Along with the burger came a portion of "animal fries", chips soaked in yet more Kraft cheese, thousand island dressing, fried onions and pickles, in another loving tribute to the Californian chain. These were also marvellous, and in contrast to the burger even looked scarily authentic, although after finishing off the former I didn't make much of impression on these. I thought about asking for a doggie bag, but I didn't want too many envious glances on the train home.
In all the excitement it was easy to forget the reason we'd made the journey in the first place - to try the normal Goodman house burger. Utilizing a bigger bun, and with no cheese to mask the flavour of the top-quality beef, this was also a tremendously good burger. A straightforward construction of a single thick beef patty, lettuce, onion and pickle, it was presented with the dreaded fat chips, although these were cooked well enough. When I'm Supreme Ruler of the Universe I will enact a law that makes it illegal to produce any fried potato product between the size of roast potatoes and normal chippy chips, but until then there's nothing I can do, sorry.
So yes, I really enjoyed my special In'N'Out burger, and can't thank Goodman enough for making this special and completely unnecessary effort just for me. But more than anything, it was a relief to know that my relentless eulogising of the West Coast burger isn't just romantic holiday nostalgia - there really is something special about the multiple layers of beef, cheese and salad that mark it as something quite different from everything else in London. I'm also happy to point out that it won't appeal to everyone - it's just so greasy and full-on that I can easily see why some would prefer the more undemanding standard. More fool them.
It's obviously no good me telling you to go out and try the Goodman In'N'Out tribute burger, because it's not on the menu, and I'm under no illusions about how ludicrously privileged I am to have tried it. But perhaps with enough pressure applied in the right places, the In'N'Out campaign may find unexpected success in the UK after all. Even a tribute to the In'N'Out burger is better than nothing at all. So come on, Goodman, are you up for it?
Both burgers were on the house, but the normal Goodman house burger usually costs £12.