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Goose & Gander Brings Classic Cocktails, Seasonal Fare to St. Helena

Goose & Gander Brings Classic Cocktails, Seasonal Fare to St. Helena

The dining room of Goose & Gander, photo by John Capone

When the Martini House, a beloved restaurant in St. Helena, closed its doors in 2010, there was much weeping to be heard in the northern Napa Valley. Rumors last year that Paul Fleming of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse would be moving into the 90-year-old building were met with mixed feelings. Thankfully, that deal fell through and Chicago restaurateur turned Napa Valley native Andy Florsheim bought it instead.

Goose & Gander, as it is has been rechristened, opened its doors for locals and media this last weekend and we are thrilled to say that it looks fantastic. While the well-built skeleton has remained largely unchanged, the addition of leather banquettes and reclaimed redwood tables make the large dining room feel both more modern and more rustic; more airy, but also more cozy (Table to Grave has a full slideshow).

The downstairs bar, which was what first attracted Florsheim to the space and has long served as a gathering place for thirsty locals, has been only slightly retouched. But what is really exciting is what’s going on behind the bar: Scott Beattie (Cyrus, Spoonbar, Hog & Rocks, Mateo) and Michael Jack Pazdon, the award-winning bartender from SolBar, have developed a cocktail list that puts their signature spins on classics like the Manhattan, the Old-Fashioned and the Pisco Punch. The dynamic duo will also be manning the stick themselves on most nights.

As an homage to the building’s prohibition-era past (Walter Martini was a notable bootlegger in his day), brown spirits, served with hand-cut ice cubes, are the main attracton. But summertime patio imbibers need not fear: Given Beattie’s propensity for loading his drinks with herbs and flowers (“this cocktail is like a salad,” we overheard one diner comment recently at Mateo) we’re sure there will plenty-a-mojito to be had.

Chef Kelly McCowen brings a touch of elegance and refinement to what would otherwise be hearty comfort food. While it does include a lot of roasted, braised and seared meat and fish, the menu is balanced by imaginative sauces and fresh seasonal vegetables (the braised pork shank, for example, is served with glazed carrots, stinging nettles and a chamomile jus) and some nicely composed salads (little gem lettuces with shaved fennel, Asian pear and candied hazelnuts sounds great). Smaller plates like duck confit biscuits, crispy snails and roasted bone marrow coins make for perfect cocktail accompaniments.

Goose & Gander, 1245 Spring Street, St. Helena, Opens May 1