Appetite: Goose and Gander and The Thomas bring cocktail culture to Wine Country
Follow the vintage neon signage of the former Fagiani's, where The Thomas opened just last month in a 1909 building restored by New York's AvroKO Hospitality Group. First visiting during opening week, I dined on the partially covered third floor terrace (although housing a second bar, this floor is for diners only) gazing out over downtown Napa. As the sun set over the river below, rooftops and hills peeking above the the deck, I was transported to Europe, a timeless moment on a summer night.
I was immediately hooked, but I'm waiting to see how the place evolves, particularly with just-launched brunch and recently named bar manager Jim Wrigley of London's Albannach and the Lonsdale. During my visit, AvroKO cocktail director Naren Young was in town serving drinks from the menu he co-created with Linden Pride, with whom he runs Saxon+Parole in NY. Drinks are classic, simple, playful with the ubiquitous (though not so much in Napa) Negroni on tap ($12), and a generous White Manhattan on tap ($15), utilizing Death's Door white whiskey, white vermouth, kirschwasser, jasmine bitters. An ideal aperitif is Jasmine ($14), made of Campari, Beefeater Gin, Combier triple sec and lemon juice. Dessert was a winning round of a Grasshopper and an elegant whiskey cocktail with biscotti, ideal alongside dreamy dark chocolate pot de creme with cookies or decadent monkey bread.
Though it's a bit too early to call, there's plenty to enjoy on Executive Chef Brad Farmerie's casual, comfortable American food menu. (he's formerly of The Public in NYC.) On a warm night with an icy-cool White Manhattan, a raw bar seafood tower (mini $22, medium $67, large $125) suited perfectly with a sampling of East and West Coast oysters, smoked mussels, Dungeness crab, and plump shrimp. Grilled chorizo sausage ($13.50) was lively, with txiki cheese, black bean chocolate puree, and padron peppers.
The three-story space has a big city energy, with much of the staff from NY, imparting a welcome cosmopolitan vibe atypical of the area. The bottom floor boasts a vintage oak bar and pressed-tin ceiling, which looks like it's been there for 100 years, in keeping with the historicity of the building, freshly incarnated.
813 Main, Napa, 707-226-7821, www.thethomas-napa.com
Subscribe to Virgina's twice-monthly newsletter, The Perfect Spot, www.theperfectspotsf.com