Food & Drink

gobsmack’d – a burger to get your mouth around

Steve and Maria McClarty are the brains behind Gobsmack’d.  This is a menu of burgers that are going to leave you just that, gobsmacked.  The photos look incredible; hearing Steve talk about them is mouth-watering, so much so that you’ll want to know when you can get your hands on one.  But first, let’s hear about Steve and Maria. Steve has a list of pedigree restaurants he’s worked in including The Pearsons Arms in Whitstable, Thackeray’s Restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, and he was a finalist in The Chef’s Brigade on BBC 2.

The couple met working for Google – not in the technology arena but on the events side.  Maria ran the big meets and Steve cooked the big meats.  Folkelife met up with them at Folkestone Harbour to see what they’re bringing to The Goods Yard in 2024.

Steve: “We were working for Google before the pandemic.  Maria was running the Victoria building and whenever I was doing events there we’d meet up.  I started fancying her and then the pandemic happened so we got together quite quickly.  It was good though because at that time our work basically stopped, so we were together at home and thinking of new ideas.  She’d moved into mine and it was quite cramped so we bought a narrowboat and spent Lockdown travelling across the South of England.”

pop-up seafood on the narrowboat

Maria: “We started a little seafood pop-up.  Wherever we stopped we put up an A frame outside the boat and Steve cooked up some seafood and I took the money.”

Steve: “We were bantering with the locals and it was really great fun.  So we decided to write up a proper business plan and see if we could make a go of it.  I quit Google and got a spot in a really busy food market in Lewisham.  Maria continued to work at Google for another year, but then quit and that was when we opened up our first proper ‘bricks and mortar’ restaurant.  We’re in a Grade II listed railway arch in Deptford.”

Maria: “The summers are great there, really busy, but in winter it’s pretty dead. So Steve came up with an idea to tide us over the winter, it was just a side hustle really.”

Steve: “Yeah, we spotted this place just outside the station at Deptford and opened up our burger van.  It kicked off!  I always get the best ingredients, so I found this delicious dry-aged beef, made my own sauces, really good stuff, and we were the only burger place in Deptford.   It got busier and busier.”

Maria: “So now we have the restaurant for where you go if you want a nice sit down meal.  It’s somewhere you dress up to go to and splash out a bit.  Then, if you want a dirty, messy, juicy burger, you come to Gobsmack’d and that means we can keep both afloat.  Not everyone is going to spend £100 a night on a sit-down dinner, but might spend £10 on a burger.”

Steve and Maria in Folkestone
Gobsmackd Burger
Gobsmackd Steak

we were gobsmack’d

Steve: “What was supposed to just help us out over a quiet period has turned into something we really love doing.  It’s really sociable and fun, which is what I love.  I’ve worked out that I really love cooking burgers!  What I love about Gobsmack’d is that I can be really creative.  I work on new flavour combinations and can be naughty and dirty and saucy!  You can blow people’s minds if you get it right.  It might just look like a croquette, but once you break into that crispy, crunchy outer shell, this is going to be the best croquette you’ve ever tasted.  One glorious bite of deliciousness and it blows your mind.”

love a bit of competition

Steve: “I know Sam Deeson from Pork & Co.  I used to work for him actually.  When I was at college in Broadstairs, doing catering, I worked around that part of the coast and met a few people that have come to Folkestone. Sam and I go way back.  It’s going to be fun being up against him in The Goods Yard because I know what he makes and it sets the bar high.  But a little bit of competition never did anyone any harm!

Greig Hughes who used to run The Bao Baron was my head chef when I was at Samphire in Whitstable.  He was a really inspiring boss to have and a great people manager too.  I’ve got a lot of history around this Kent peninsula and we’ve been looking forward to coming back to the ocean because it feels like home.”

brown butter kiev mayonnaise

Steve: “One of the things I’m perfecting at the moment is a brown butter Kiev mayonnaise.  So you know the inside of a Chicken Kiev, well, I’m using that but making the butter a caramelised brown, nutty, garlicky concoction.  Then turning that into a mayonnaise.  It will work with beef because it will be like that knob of garlic butter you get on a steak, but with more caramel and nutty flavour to it.  I’m also adding Parmesan cheese to it too. 

“My signature burger is called The Governor. I make a really strong blue cheese mayonnaise and jalapeño jam and these sauces go really well together, and suit the beef.  Then, I’ve got an onion bloomer machine arriving soon where you put your onion in, pull the lever down and it spreads the leaves of the onion out into a flower.  I’m going to batter that and fry it and you can lift off the leaves and dunk them in whichever sauce you like.  It’s a sharing thing, a social eating experience, which is what I love!  Arms everywhere, people getting involved, sharing and talking and getting excited about what they’re eating.”

my Nan said we should come to folkestone

Steve: “We came down to visit Folkestone Harbour and really loved it.  So much so I brought my nan here to show her what it was like.  She said ‘this is great, you should be here’ so we started to email the team here at the Harbour.  Finally, we secured this spot and we’re really happy.  We both don’t want to be anywhere else.  This is the perfect place for us.”

Discover more about Folkestone below

Floc to The Goods Yard for Whisper Beer
The Dessert Folkes – The Best Pudding In Folkestone
The Lighthouse Tasting Rooms on the Harbour Arm
Rad Burger – Radical, Exciting, Just add Mangoes

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