For months, Napa locals have pined over the passing of their beloved Martini House. While those tears stopped flowing with the recent opening of Goose & Gander in the same St. Helena space, new ones tend to roll after one bite of the G&G burger. It’s not merely the bomb—it’s a hand grenade. Unassuming on the outside until gooey goodness explodes on the inside, this gargantuan burger from chef Kelly McCown, with its secret sauce and duck-fat fries, is culinary nirvana. The hunk of beef could easily feed you and your best bud, but screw sharing. Hoard it tucked into one of the cushy booths that boots white-tablecloth formality for casual duck-club digs.
Proprietor Andy Florsheim heeded locals’ warnings by not messing with the downstairs bar. Rock tunes roll, and snapshots of Mick Jagger linger amid a crowd that’s sexy without trying too hard. But it’s the cocktails shaken and stirred by celebrity mixologist Scott Beattie, formerly of Spoonbar in Healdsburg, that are the real rock stars. Start with the Scarlet Gander, a perfect summer swig with its shiso-ginger syrup, mint and pickled rhubarb, which will leave you crying for more. Escape the crowds to the reinvigorated outdoor space with an equally dizzying cucumber Collins in hand. At last, Napa’s nightlife scene is back. Goose & Gander, 1245 Spring St., St. Helena. 707.967.8779.—Christina Julian