The Goose and Gander – St. Helena, Napa

After a beautiful tasting at Smith-Madrone Vineyard and Winery, The Brit and I decided we needed to stop and fill our tummies before making the trek home. The Goose and Gander had an amazing reputation, so we decided to give it a try.

The Brit comments: One of my former work colleagues, who visits Napa Valley almost as frequently as us, has, on several occasions recommended this place. Since we were in St Helena at dinner time, this seemed to be an ideal opportunity.

For those that haven’t been to the adorable town of St. Helena, it is filled with shops, restaurants, and charmingly pretty older homes. If the downtown area were bigger, I am sure that it would be the next place in line from Yountville, Healdsburg, and Napa Town center for the upscale place to go for food and drink. I have seen a big growth there even in the short time we have visited.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the name. In the UK, The Goose and Gander is a common pub name. I was, therefore, surprised to see that the restaurant has been built inside a remodeled craftsman home with gorgeous gardens and outside spaces. When you walk up, it almost feels as though you are going to someone’s home. It has a warmth and charm to its outer appearance. It sits in a residential neighborhood, right off the main street. There is only street parking next to the restaurant, but there is a parking lot a little further down the road.

goose and gander interior (1 of 1)

Once inside, it is very dark and moody; way bigger than it looked from the outside. Dark, warm, rich reds adorn the walls, along with wood and leather furnishings. It is beautiful and totally unexpected. I really liked its style. Everything about the place to me screamed romantic night.

goose and gander interior1 (1 of 1)

As it was a beautiful, balmy evening, we decided to sit outside in their garden area. I was happy that we chose to sit out there, but I wish we had arrived just a bit later so it wouldn’t have been so hot; it wasn’t unpleasant and I was completely charmed by the ambiance.

goose and gander garden (1 of 1)

The service was more than attentive. We had multiple servers helping us; constantly refilling our glasses and ensuring we had all we needed. The menu looked good and I was in the mood for fish, but somehow the descriptions of their fish dishes didn’t appeal to me. The waiter suggested the burger, telling me that it was a house favorite; I was boring and went with that. The Brit ordered the chicken. We decided to share plates and not get a starter this time.

gin and tonic (1 of 1)

I ordered a cocktail of a gin and tonic with lime. They brought me out a nicely presented drink with three fresh wedges of lime on the rim. Just as I was about to take a sip, the waitress came over and was worried that I didn’t have the drink made correctly with fresh lime juice. I assured her that all was well and took my first sip. I have to say it was awesome. A perfect mix of the gin and tonic. They even allowed me to pick my gin; Hendricks of course.

The Brit comments: As the blog’s mixologist, (a fancy way of saying that I am the one who makes the cocktails) I feel that I must offer my opinion on this drink. The presentation was excellent. There was enough tonic to give the drink fizz and to ensure that you were not drinking neat gin, but not so much that the complex botanicals of the Hendricks were overwhelmed.

burger (1 of 1)

When our plates arrived I had some mixed feelings. Looking down at my burger, the bun looked like it had been burned; I couldn’t cut it because it was too tough. The burger patty was over cooked. They said it would come medium, but there wasn’t even a hint of pink. It was well done. The burger was supposed to come with bacon; I could see it on the burger, but couldn’t taste it. It was bland and added zero to the taste. The sauce was good, as was the flavor of the meat, but all the components together underwhelmed my palate. On the other hand, the duck fat fries had really nice flavor. They were perfectly cooked and seasoned. It was a shame that they were served hanging off the plate and falling into my ketchup.

chicken (1 of 1)

The Brit, of course, has all the good food luck. His chicken dish was lovely. A simply roasted half-chicken, nice and plump, on a bed of mashed potato and arugula. The chicken was cooked correctly and tasted really good. I had a few mouthfuls of the breast meat and it was both tender and juicy. A real winner. Congratulations to the chef for not overcooking the chicken! The presentation on that plate was far nicer than mine; maybe because it was a fancier dish they took more care with it?

The Brit comments: The potato is probably better described as creamed, rather than mashed. It was mixed with lemon and a light French mustard; which gave it a well-balanced flavor that complemented the juicy chicken. The Arugula was fresh, crisp, and provided a fourth layer of the texture: the other two being the juicy chicken and the beautifully crisp skin. The chicken was a last-minute choice; I am pleased that I went for this over the pork, but next time I shall try that chop.

Neither of us were hungry and honestly that overcooked burger sat in my tummy like a stone so although we perused the desert menu with interest neither one of us felt like we could order anything else. I was sorry we couldn’t report on that for you this time.

fountain (1 of 1)

Here is the thing that you should know. The waitress noticed that I wasn’t happy with my burger and came over and apologized that it was not to standard. She also picked up the tab on The Brit’s glass of wine to make amends. I didn’t say anything to her, she was simply attentive enough to notice and correct the error with good service. They get big points from me for that.

So would I eat there again? Absolutely. Every single restaurant puts out a bad execution of a dish once in a while. Everything else was so well done I have to think that is an anomaly. The service was outstanding and the restaurant and atmosphere was lovely. They didn’t overcook the chicken, so they get a second try from me. I am sure we will revisit them in the future and try more of their menu and tell you all about it.

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