First Looks: The G&G Burger @ Goose & Gander, St. Helena

The G&G Burger @ Goose & Gander, St. Helena. See that impressive sheen on the patty? That’s melted bone marrow. Don’t question it.

Will bone marrow become the new foie gras in California once SB 1520 comes to fruition on July 1st? Hmmm. I hadn’t really considered that idea until Bob, one of the bartenders at Goose & Gander (and former fixture behind the bar at Bistro Jeanty), had mentioned it to me this afternoon. It’s an interesting notion, and certainly something to mull over. And while I don’t think that bone marrow can actually “replace” the venerable foie gras at every level, there does have to be some sort of ingredient that can fill that “decadent” void here in California. Typically, if any chef wished to take an otherwise ordinary item and elevate it to something more hedonistic, foie gras was always the staple go-to ingredient. Foie gras on a burger, or even inside a burger, is something I’ve seen many times before; I’m also reminded of the duck confit and foie gras meatballs at Redd, or even the foie gras ice cream at Humphry Slocombe.

For many years here in California, foie gras has provided the means to an easy upcharge. Almost too easy. But what about after the foie gras ban takes effect, which is only a little over two months from now? What food will become our next source of decadence here in the Golden State? I believe that bone marrow might be as viable a contender as any — I certainly don’t think that caviar is going to become the next heir apparent, nor would I predict that sushi-grade uni is going to fill the void. And what about monkish liver? I can’t really envision that one, either (and that’s an ingredient that already has its own set of critics anyhow). Outlaw foie gras, and what else are we left with to supply us with fatty, caloric richness?

This discussion arose from the $3 bone marrow add-on that’s available with the G&G Burger, pictured above. Honestly, a burger like the G&G doesn’t actually need bone marrow, but that’s not really the point. If you want to splurge, then the bone marrow is there for you as an option, and who doesn’t want to splurge? That’s the point. And besides, a little melted bone marrow adds a depth of flavor and texture that sets this burger apart from most others. It’s a serious affair, and the G&G is definitely one of the best and messiest burgers in the Napa Valley. An instant classic, be prepared. In fact, word to the wise, I’d recommend folding up a cocktail napkin and placing it under one side of the plate, so that the excess juices (which are considerable) can pool away from the duck-fat fried potatoes. Yes, duck-fat fried potatoes.


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