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Roth Notes There's 'Not Much' Beyond Oysters At Hog Island; Miller Finds Napa Cocktails Competing With Wine

Artful cocktails at Goose & Gander in St. Helena.

Artful cocktails at Goose & Gander in St. Helena.Photo: Virginia Miller/The Perfect Spot

Anna Roth reviews a modern SF classic, Hog Island Oyster Co., recalling "love at first shuck" the first time she tried their Sweetwater oysters "on a picnic bench out at the Tomales Bay farm." But aside from "plump, perfect" oysters ("the first and best reason to visit"), "the bar starts to lose its footing." Roth deems clam chowder "the biggest disappointment" with "woefully thin", "underseasoned" broth, while oysters Casino "were overwhelmingly salty." Noting menu standouts, she says oyster stew is "smoky, complex" while the " heady broth" of Manila clam steamers was "made for dunking the table's baguette into." Roth "will continue to take out-of-towners to Hog Island" for oysters, with its "peerless views of the Bay Bridge" and "go somewhere else in the Ferry Building for a meal." [SF Weekly]

Virginia Miller (yes, today is the day where I get to quote myself!) talks about the state of Napa cocktails with food via two recent restaurant openings, Goose & Gander and The Thomas. She highlights Scott Beattie's "striking", "artfully refreshing" cocktails in Goose & Gander's "idyllic" setting with "hunting lodge" feel, and Executive Chef Kelly McCown's "notable" food, like a "twist on the ever-gratifying wedge salad" with Berkshire pork belly. She labels the experience, "the whole package." In downtown Napa, brand new hotspot, The Thomas (formerly Fagiani's), exhibits "big city energy" with a third floor terrace that "transported to Europe." A "classic, simple, playful" cocktail menu takes cues from NY and London, serving drinks like "a generous White Manhattan on tap." Miller describes Executive Chef Brad Farmerie's food menu as "casual, comfortable American" and dishes like chorizo sausage with black bean chocolate puree and Padron peppers, "lively." Though "immediately hooked", Miller is "waiting to see how the place evolves." [SFBG]

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