Wednesday, October 2, 2019

GOOSE & GANDER (St. Helena, Calif.)


Yes - what's good for the goose is good for the gander at this wine country "public house."  Though it's not a description used often (pub being the more common choice), public houses were known as restaurant/bars that served ale, alcohol and delicious tavern food and were the focal point of a small village community.  The Goose & Gander fits that definition and then some, serving delicious bar-bites in its tavern-like bar and a rustic American/British food menu in the main restaurant with many gourmet twists.

I wish I could say we "discovered" Goose & Gander when we were up in Sonoma, but we wouldn't have, even accidentally, since it's in the town of St. Helena, in the Napa Valley.  When friends heard we were off to Sonoma, they told us about their friends' public house/pub/tavern/restaurant (all work).  When I checked it out online and read "pork burger with cheddar and bacon," I knew I had to drag Richard, Bob & Nguyen there. 

The day we decided to go, the weather was perfect... the  drive to St. Helena, beautiful, and the town quaint and picturesque.  Owned by Andy and Trisha Florsheim, I immediately fell in love with this public house the minute I saw it.

The main dining room with it's pitched wooden ceiling and substantial wooden bar is welcoming in an "old world" way.

The separate bar downstairs is dark and cozy with brick walls and a large stone fireplace.  It was like stepping back in time as if we might have left our horse-drawn carriage and entered the restaurant for a meal in a English countryside wayside inn during the age of Henry V.

But, being a beautiful day, we opted to have lunch in the lovely outside terrace/patio that featured a koi pool.

Bob and I started with a "featured" cocktail (Finns like cocktails - some like them too much):  Walter's Manhattan, made with Templeton rye, Evan Williams single barrel bourbon, Carpano Antica, and bitters.  Don't know who Walter is, but he mixes a helluva Manhattan.

We met Sylvia, Dwight and Jason, who took excellent care of us.  We started with a bar bite of corn croquettes with pepper coulis to share...

... as well as wood roasted cauliflower with cilantro, spiced yogurt, chili and curried almonds.  Two perfect examples of gourmet twists on English/American food standards.

Richard chose the Pulled BBQ Duck with Masa al la Plancha, avocado puree, chipotle slaw, radish, lime and pickle fennel.  Of course I tried it.  Wow.  Sadly, it was gone before I could take a picture.

Bob opted for the Beef Chicharrone - a delicious concoction of beef tastes you won't find in your average pub -- not even a gastro pub.

Nguyen loves British pub favorite, fish and chips.  She was not disappointed.  With malt vinegar powder, a side of fresh made coleslaw, tartar sauce and lemon, it lived up to pub excellence.  And then those duck fat fries...  Yes!

For those of you who know about my hunt for the perfect cheeseburger, must have guessed that I, of course, had the Heritage Pork Burger.  Well, that was the whole reason I insisted we come to Goose & Gander, right?  Topped with melty cheddar, bacon, Siracha aioli, nestled in a pain de mie, pull apart bun (made with no eggs, but plenty of butter, Julia Child's favorite ingredient), it was beyond my juicy cheeseburger expectations.  I also got the duck fat fries... not one was left.

We couldn't leave without desserts with lots of spoons to share...  cinnamon ice cream, vanilla ice cream and orange sorbet... perfect on a Keto diet.  Just kidding!  Then came a vanilla brownie with caramel sauce.  Really!  I gained 10 pounds just from looking at the desserts.

Also on the Goose & Gander lunch menus (a la carte and prix fixe) were Vietnamese Sticky Ears one of the other bar-bite, cheese plates and a charcuterie board - (I was sorry I didn't get a chance to try the Martini House mushroom soup made with wild and "tame" mushrooms, topped with chives - I just couldn't taste another thing)... wines and cocktails and craft sodas, including house-made cream soda.

Needless to say, if you're in Napa or Sonoma or within a day's drive of the Goose & Gander, you must have lunch or dinner there.  The surroundings are beautiful - the food, well, you'll want more than just a gander at it!

1245 Spring Street
St. Helena, Calif.  9474