Tag Archives: burger

Taylor’s Automatic Refresher / Gott’s Roadside – Napa

(This photo: Imogen Baxter)

 If you go to Napa like I did, to celebrate one of my best friend’s recent engagements, you have no plans of making use of the spit cup and will be in need of some serious food to break up the wine tastings – look no further than Taylor’s Automatic Refresher, which is controversially now known as Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet.  

(This photo: Imogen Baxter of http://notesfromthecurrytrail.wordpress.com)

The place is a little slice of upscale Americana – set right in the heart of Napa Valley on Main Street St. Helena.  It was first opened by Lloyd Taylor in 1949 but was leased by the Gott brothers in 1999, who have since opened several more locations in San Francisco and changed the name on the building, which consequently triggered a lawsuit with the original owners.  

(This photo: Imogen Baxter)

It’s Napa’s own interpretation of a diner – patrons stand in line and place orders at a sliding glass window, and wait for their name to be called when their order is ready, but can enjoy their diner style meal with a glass of the country’s best wine from their reasonably priced wine menu.  That’s just what happens when a winery owner also owns a burger stand.  What makes this diner fit to be in downtown St. Helena is its food, which has won it an America’s Classics James Beard award and a spot on Bon Appetit’s list of Best Picks for American Eats.  The beef is all local, vegetarian, grass-fed, and ground fresh daily on-site.  The menu is full of American classics like burgers and fries but also has a distinct California flare with items like their ahi burger and their fish tacos. 

(This photo: Imogen Baxter)

The NYT definitely got it right when they said that Californians really ‘get’ fastfood and that it’s better in California than anywhere else and in my opinion, Gott’s is the best that California has to offer. You expect to pay a premium for everything in Napa, but you really get what you pay for at Gotts.  I had the Wisconsin Sourdough burger which was a mound of grass-fed beef topped with BBQ sauce, mayo, mushrooms, bacon, & cheddar cheese sandwiched between 2 slices of crisp sourdough.  It was nothing short of amazing.  The sweet potato fries were thin and crispy and served with a house-made ranch dressing that we were all fighting over.  This is all served on a metal tray, hence the name ‘Tray Gourmet’ and seating is on umbrella clad picnic tables in the perfectly manicured back yard.  It seems a little too ideal – but that’s just Napa.   

(This photo: Imogen Baxter)

You’ll easily find this place by looking for the line of burger hungry Napa goers that wraps around the picket fenced yard in front of the road side stand…and the smell of delicious greasy food that wafts down Main Street. 

I would highly advise popping open a bottle of champagne to go with your burgers since it’s an excellent way to avoid a food coma and pairs surprisingly well with the grease of the burgers!


Holeman & Finch Public House – Atlanta, GA

I have been eager to try Holeman & Finch Public House in Atlanta after reading about all the hype from Food&Wine, GQ, Travel & Leisure, and the Food Network. I was curious to see if the restaurant touted to be the # 10 bar for cocktails, Best Thing I Ever Ate: Burgers, and the best new chef of 2009 could live up to expectations – and it did.   In a big way.

Check out the meat case! (This Photo: http://blogs.ajc.com)

It’s known for a gourmet selection of animal parts that one wouldn’t typically find on a menu and edible delights not for the faint of [seared cow] heart, such as marrow, sweetbreads and veal brains.  I know a certain someone who has a fondness for lambs brains, chicken feet and tongue so he might be willing to tow the line (and hopefully pick up the tab) to get me back to this fantastic restaurant.

Seared Cow Heart

When my former boss came to town and suggested that we eat somewhere ‘cool with good food’ I knew we had to try this place.  We sat at the bar, which I highly recommend because the bartender, excuse me – mixologist, was more attentive than any waiter could have been and so fun to watch!  I could tell that he knew his stuff when I asked him to elaborate on the cocktail called Fruit, Booze, Soda and he proceeded to tell me how he had cooked down some farm fresh apples that day with a hint of cinnamon for the juice which he then mixes with tequila and soda…I was sold. Throughout the night he mixed up cocktails with interesting things like egg whites that looked frothy and delicious, and countless others – taking meticulous care with every detail.  He suggested that we try some of the offal on the menu so we started with the seared cow heart which tasted just like a seared steak encrusted in peppercorns – who knew?  We decided to just order up a smörgåsbord of food so we ended up trying a third of the menu.  The plates are small – slightly bigger than tapas, so the best way to tackle this menu is to order up a variety of plates and share.

After 2 hours of constant munching and just when we thought we couldn’t eat any more I told my former boss about the 10:00 burger craze that has put this place on the map – a restaurant tactic/craze that some have referred to as restaurant ADD.  Before I knew it he had the bartender put one of the coveted 24 burgers that they make each night on hold for us and ordered up 2 coffees with baileys for the 45 minute wait that ensued.  It wasn’t long before the room became packed with restauarant ADD burger-cravers and smells of burgers on the griddle started filling up the tiny restaurant. Then a  man came out with one of those old school megaphones to announce that the burger frenzy had begun!  Luckily, there was no trampling to get one of the coveted 24 burgers and we already had our order secured 45 minutes in advance – perks of sitting at the bar for 2 hours.

When we finally got our burger it was pure heaven.  Two freshly made and perfectly seasoned grass-fed beef patties with cheese on the bottom, in the middle, and on top with house made bread, ketchup, and fries.  This burger has been described as ‘impossible to overhype’ and I agree.  I think that the wait and knowing that I got one of THE 24 burgers that night made it taste even better.  It was like that ebay feeling when you win something!  I’ll have to put the taste theory to the test by going on Sunday when it’s on their regular menu and no fighting is necessary to get one of these irresistable burgers.

Now that's a burger!

Needless to say, I will be going back.

Here’s how to find them: 2277 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA 30309

HF Blog: http://holeman-finch.blogspot.com/