A memo from Madrid: Adios, Fast Good

By Bob Schulman

Ah, Madrid. Old-world Spain comes alive in its elegant palaces, museums, parks and statues. The city is a delight for the palate as well, from delicacies like Piquillo peppers stuffed with bonito tuna to slices of exquisite jamon serrano. And – hold on to your hat for this one – until a few months ago you could find the best hamburgers on the planet at a tiny restaurant there. Yes, in Madrid!

What's more, the restaurant went by the improbable name of Fast Good. True, Fast Good was more than several notches down from the Ritz. But it was no fast food joint. For one thing, it usually wasn't very fast – you often had to wait awhile to get a seat, and the service was something less than zippy – but my oh my, were their burgers ever good.

They should have been. Fast Good was the brainchild of none other than Spain's master chef Ferran Adria, known as “the Salvador Dali of the kitchen.”

Just what was in Fast Good's meat that made their burgers so tasty? They wouldn't say. Some thought it was a combination of Argentinian beef and lamb or veal, or maybe lamb and veal. Whatever it was, you could get your burger or cheeseburger either plain – with right-off-the-vine tomatoes and fresh Trocadero lettuce on a soft bun – or with a hint of tarragon, or with a schmear of tangy chimichurri or tapenade.

Either way, it tasted like ground ambrosia. Cheap, too. A little under 10 bucks in euros.

Fast Good's crunchy French fries, served right out of their frequently changed Spanish olive oil, got high marks as well. As did their desserts, like fig yogurt smoothies.

So it's no wonder I was salivating in the cab on my way to lunch at Fast Good when I was in Madrid last summer. But when I got there, I found a sign on the door saying the restaurant had been shuttered up “for renovations” a few days earlier.

I figured this just wasn't my trip for lunch in hamburger heaven (I was flying back to the States the next day). So I settled for snacks at a nearby tapas restaurant. They were actually pretty good.

But not Fast Good.

I recently got a sad message from the Tourist Office of Spain, the folks who introduced me to Fast Good several years ago. They wanted me to know they'd  learned that the restaurant went out of business last summer. Apparently, I just missed what could have been (with apologies to Jimmy Buffet) my last cheeseburger in paradise.

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