Dining Detectives: Goose & Gander Restaurant in St. Helena
It was a beautiful summer day and we decided to enjoy a drive to the Napa Valley. The views of the hills and vineyards were “postcard perfect” and the weather was cooler than normal which was fine with us. We were headed for St. Helena which is one of our favorite historic towns on Highway 29 where we love to shop and dine. Our destination was a new restaurant called Goose & Gander which is located in a 90 year old craftsman-style bungalow with two 100 year old Deodar Cedar Trees at the entrance. Previously, it was The Martini House named after a former owner Walter Martini who was a bootlegger back in the days of prohibition. We enjoyed seeing the new design of the interior of the restaurant and that the Gardens and Patio were as nice as ever. The main dining room which has an exhibition kitchen and “Duck Club” feeling seats 75 and has cozy leather booths and hand crafted wooden tables made from reclaimed old growth redwood. There is also a private dining room that seats 14 where other diners were enjoying the décor and semi-private dining, an outdoor lovely Garden area with Koi Pond with seating for 66 where we opted to sit this evening and there is also a new Basement Bar which seats 34. The Cuisine created by Executive Chef Kelly McCown is called Rustic American and features local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients from the bounty of the Napa Valley wine country.
We started out with a bottle of sparkling water and a very refreshing Scarlett Gander Cocktail made with Hanger One Buddha’s Hand Vodka, lemon, mint, shiso, ginger, and galangal cherries. This seasonal specialty cocktail was created by Scott Beattie who is the Bar Manager and also the author of the popular book “Artisinal Cocktails”
There are quite a few interesting Appetizers on the menu. We enjoyed the sweet and spicy Pan Seared Padron Peppers with olive oil, Sea Salt and Fennel pollen. We loved the Braised Meatballs with crème fraiche, candied garlic, wild and tame mushrooms and crushed bread crumbs. Made with both beef and pork these unique meatballs were totally outstanding! The Seared Day Boat Sea Scallops with fried green tomatoes, jalapeno cilantro sauce, avocado and crispy pancetta was also an excellent choice and the presentation was quite colorful. We relaxed and enjoyed the perfect weather then had the fresh Salad of Little Gem Lettuces made with shaved fennel, parmesan vinaigrette, English peas, apples, candied hazelnuts, Gorgonzola and mint. This salad was really refreshing and an excellent choice between courses.
The Entrees were both exceptional and well-priced. We loved the Roasted Berkshire Pork T-Bone Chop which was topped with golden chanterelles, fresh chick peas, wine stewed onions, crispy sage and sat atop creamy polenta. It was especially juicy and tender as it was slow braised and cooked en su in a cast iron skillet. This was quite a hearty meal and great comfort food. The Seared California Halibut with parmesan cream, shaved artichoke salad, lemon confit and braised artichoke hearts was a much lighter entree, flavorful and healthy. We also recommend the delicious Sautéed Bloomsdale Spinach side. The Wine List has something for everyone including wine aficionados. There are boutique California Wines, International Wines and a Reserve List featuring wines like Napa Valley’s Opus One. We enjoyed the 2010 Elizabeth Rose Yountville Pinot Noir which paired perfectly with our Pork Chop.
We decided to linger and ordered Napa Valley Coffee Roasters Goose & Gander coffee which was served in a lovely French Press for added richness. The Desserts that we enjoyed were the light Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake with huckleberry compote and crème fraiche and the decadent Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart with coffee ice cream and vanilla sauce. You could feel the love that went into the preparation of these beautiful desserts. We had a very enjoyable dining experience at the Goose & Gander which is open daily for lunch, dinner or just drinks and a snack. Sitting outdoors in their private garden, we truly felt like we were on vacation. The staff is very professional and friendly so we look forward to returning soon to try their new seasonal offerings and their very popular G & G Burger and Charcuterie.
By Carol & Joe Davis
Goose & Gander Restaurant
1245 Spring Street
St. Helena, CA 94574