Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Two Return Visits To The Golden Goose

I had been meaning to get back to the Golden Goose restaurant for a while now. Every time I visited my friends in Cuyahoga Falls and drove down State Street, I would see the sign posted outside of the restaurant and make a mental reminder to get back there for lunch. Obviously my mental notes didn't seem to stick very well as it took a good four or five months before I decided to do anything about it. Today, having returned from an interview in Beachwood, my thoughts drifted to the Goose. Seeing as I didn't have anything on my schedule until later that afternoon, I pulled into the parking lot around noon wondering what tasty treats lay inside.

When I walked in, I looked across the room and spotted Michael Bruno, pastry chef and son-in-law of the owner. I could tell he noticed me because he basically fixed his gaze on me for a solid minute. He had one of those "I know I know you!" kind of looks on his face. When he finally approached, he had managed to piece together who I was because he correctly called me by my first name. We chatted for several minutes about how business had been going. Apparently he has been trying to get customers to stop in first thing in the morning to pick up a cup of coffee and a croissant before heading off to work. When I asked him if he was taking advantage of the various social media like Facebook and Twitter, he admitted that he hadn't. I told him how places like Flury's Cafe, Vaccaro's Trattoria, and AMP 150 were using these networks to spread the word about daily specials. He seemed intrigued, but like most people who aren't used to using the latest and greatest technology to reach people, a little apprehensive.

After our conversation ended, I sat down and started looking at the menu. While most of the menu remained the same from my previous visit, there were a few new items. Deciding that I was more in a lunch mood than a breakfast one, I turned my attention to the sandwiches. When my server came over to take my order, I asked about the fried fish sandwich. "Pollock," was her answer when I asked what kind of fish. When I asked about the freshness of the fish, she assured me that not only was the fish fresh and not frozen, but it was hand dipped in the batter before being fried. Perfect! The fish sandwich came with potato chips, but I decided to add the French fry / coleslaw upgrade for an additional $1.50. Even better, one of today's lunch specials was the fish sandwich with fries and coleslaw for only $6.95, which was cheaper than doing the upgrade.

After a quite short period of time, my lunch arrived:

The tartar sauce is hidden behind the crown of the Kaiser roll. Here was a shot of just the fish sandwich:

This was a very tasty fish sandwich. The coating wasn't quite as crispy as I would've liked and the fish wasn't the ultimate in moistness, but overall this still had a nice flavor and was meaty. The bun was nicely toasted and added a nice textural contrast. The shredded lettuce was a bit of a pain to keep on the sandwich, but it was fresh and crisp. I spread a thick layer of the tartar sauce on the crown of the bun and it added a nice creamy counterpoint to the sandwich.

The French fries, clearly fried from frozen, were a bit overcooked and not quite as crispy as I like them. On the positive side, they weren't greasy at all and had been nicely seasoned. I applied some of the tableside bottled ketchup which had been placed into generic plastic squeeze bottles. I'm not sure what brand of ketchup the Golden Goose was using, but it was a bit thin and runny. The flavor was good, however.

When I finally got to the coleslaw, I could tell immediately that this was homemade. The way the cabbage and carrots had been shredded and had irregularly shaped bits of vegetables triggered my culinary Spidey sense. The dressing was the standard mayonnaise-based variety, but it was well balanced and tasted good. When my server returned to check on me, I asked about the coleslaw and she confirmed my suspicion that it was indeed made every day in the kitchen.

Finally, I wanted to include a shot of the tartar sauce. After seeing how chunky the sauce was and after tasting it, I also suspected that it, too, was homemade. When my server returned to check on me, she confirmed that it was. The tartar sauce was nicely balanced between creamy, sweet, salty, and tangy and was a nice foil against the fried fish.

As a final treat to myself during this visit, I decided to finish not with a pastry, but the "Gourmet Hot Chocolate" that was offered on the menu. What constitutes a gourmet hot chocolate, you ask? Valhrona 70% bittersweet chocolate for one. Whole milk that has not been treated with bovine growth hormones for two. And topped with either a homemade marshmallow or chantilly cream for three. Here was a shot of what I received:

And just like when ordering an old-school style milkshake, the remainder of the hot chocolate came out in an additional pitcher:

This was enough hot chocolate for two full mugs. The hot chocolate itself was rich and delicious. But honestly, I felt it was missing something ... perhaps a dusting of Vietnamese cinnamon on top would've been the perfect counterpoint to the rich chocolate flavor. If you are going to be decadent, be DECADENT. At nearly $4, this was a bit pricey, but you could easily split this with another diner at the table and it would be much more reasonable.

On a separate visit, I decided to stop in for a late lunch. After careful consideration, I decided to go with the chicken schnitzel sandwich. The last time I upgraded my sandwich to the French fries and coleslaw. This time I decided to just go with the potato chips that are served with every sandwich. After a short wait, this was what I received:

And here was a shot of the homemade potato chips:

Although the tomato slices on the sandwich weren't the greatest (it's not quite tomato season yet), overall the toppings on the sandwich worked well. Besides the lettuce and tomato you can see in the picture above, a layer of mayonnaise had been applied to the nicely grilled crown of the bun. Additionally, a honey mustard dressing was provided with the sandwich:

Applied normally to the pork version of this sandwich, my server thought it went well with the chicken, too, and brought me a side of it. After applying a liberal dose to my chicken, I packaged the sandwich together and took a bite. The flavors worked quite well together and the chicken was nice and crispy. The chicken breast wasn't the ultimate in juiciness, but neither was it the Sahara desert either. I did have to cut the chicken breast in two pieces so that it would lie flat on the sandwich bun, but that wasn't a big deal. The freshly made potato chips were crispy, seasoned well, and quite delicious. I realized that upgrading to the French fries in my previous meal because I didn't want something so pedestrian as a potato chip with my sandwich was a mistake. I think I'll stick with the potato chips next time.

I also wanted to mention that besides all of the wonderful pastries and sweet treats that Michael is turning out of his kitchen on a daily basis, he is also making some wonderful breads, too. On Wednesdays he turns out a European sourdough bread and on Fridays he is offering challah. I'm not sure about the challah, but the sourdough can be bought in 1, 2, or 3 pound loaves. I purchased two 1 pound loaves, one for myself and one to give away to some friends. I didn't get a shot of the bread before eating it, but I can tell you that it was delicious. It had a lovely tight crumb, a nicely caramelized crust (a darker European crust) and the sourdough flavor was tangy without overpowering the flavor of the wheat.

I encourage you to stop by and check out the Golden Goose for breakfast, lunch, or just some pastries or bread to go. They are committed to making so much of what they are serving from scratch and honestly, it comes through in the flavor. This is exactly the kind of locally owned mom and pop restaurant I love to find for myself and to tell others through the blog.

[Ed. Note: Since I wrote the above blog post, the Golden Goose has not only established a Facebook fan page, but they update it on a quite regular basis. Good for them!]

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