Gott’s Roadside Celebrates 25 Years With Specials Year-Long

The fried softshell crab sandwich with a glass of Bieler Pere et Fils rose (in Riedel stemware, no less) at Gott's.
The fried softshell crab sandwich with a glass of Bieler Pere et Fils rose (in Riedel stemware, no less) at Gott’s.

Gott’s Roadside celebrates a milestone 25th anniversary this year with a rotating menu of specials each month.

Way back in 1999, brothers Joel and Duncan Gott took over this outdoor roadside eatery on Highway 29 in St. Helena. Taylor’s Refresher, as it was called then, was groundbreaking in that it took fast-casual favorites and elevated them with better ingredients. Its menu also included Napa Valley and greater California wines by the glass, half bottle, and bottle — an unheard of addition back then.

All of that helped it earn it a James Beard American Classic Award.

Today, there are eight Gott’s in the Bay Area.

Armed with a gift card courtesy of the restaurant, I checked out some of June’s special offerings.

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Shortbread Cookies With A Novel Ingredient

These buttery shortbread cookies have candy cap mushrooms in the dough.
These buttery shortbread cookies have candy cap mushrooms in the dough.

I’ll be the first to say that my foraging experiences have been few and far between.

There was the time on an elementary school field trip hike, when our teacher had us nibbling sour grass growing in a canyon.

There was the white-water rafting trip on the American River in my 30s, when our guide steered our raft to an outcrop of wild blackberry shrubs and we reached out to hungrily pick our fill.

And there was the recent visit to the sprawling Inn at Newport Ranch in Fort Bragg, where my guide picked peppery wild ginger leaves for me to try.

So, admittedly, I am no expert.

But my friend and colleague Maria Finn definitely is. And she’s written a new cookbook, “Forage. Gather. Feast.” (Sasquatch Book) that will open your eyes to the bounty that can be foraged all around you.

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The Tasting Menu Experience at Michelin-Starred Protege

An artful sea trout-stuffed crepe heaped with caviar at Protege.
An artful sea trout-stuffed crepe heaped with caviar at Protege.

I have enjoyed the exquisite food at Palo Alto’s Michelin-starred Protege many a time.

In the lounge with the a la carte menu. Dining outdoors on the same. And even with takeout during the throes of the pandemic.

But I had never ever tried the tasting menu that’s offered in the restaurant’s more intimate dining room.

Until last week — when I finally decided it was the perfect time to do so to celebrate a late-birthday dinner.

It’s a 7-course menu for $225 with an automatic 20 percent gratuity tacked on that requires a full prepayment. Any cancellation must be made at least 48 hours in advance.

Unlike the lounge, which has a bar with seating and an view into the kitchen, the dining room is more serene, done up with a tufted banquette and curved leather chairs.

Co-owners, Chef Anthony Secviar (right) and Master Sommelier Dennis Kelly (left).
Co-owners, Chef Anthony Secviar (right) and Master Sommelier Dennis Kelly (left).

Owners, Chef Anthony Secviar and Master Sommelier Dennis Kelly, met while working at the French Laundry. So, it’s not surprising that there is an air of precision to everything. What’s not so expected is the touch of whimsy and light-heartedness here and there. It all makes for an upscale experience that makes you feel well cared yet in an unpretentious manner.

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Effortless Baked Cauliflower with Black Olives and Cheese

A winning side dish that couldn't be easier to make.
A winning side dish that couldn’t be easier to make.

Given that it’s June, is it too early to start thinking about festive winter holidays?

Perhaps.

But “Baked Cauliflower with Black Olives and Cheese” is a dish you’ll want to enjoy now, as well as tuck away for safe-keeping for those November and December gatherings that will be here before you know it, given how time flies these days like a Shohei Ohtani fastball.

That’s because this side dish is a crowd-pleaser, easy to make, and much of it can be prepped ahead of time.

This fabulous recipe is from “The Food of Sicily” (Artisan Books, 2023), of which I received a review copy.

It was written by Palermo-native Farbrizia Lanza, who grew up in a wine-making family, who owns the 200-year-old Tasca d’Almerita in Sicily. In 2006, she took over the operations of her mother’s Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily.

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Spoil Yourself — Or Someone Else — With Cherry Almond Bundt Cake

Chopped fresh cherries hide inside this Bundt cake.
Chopped fresh cherries hide inside this Bundt cake.

As a kid at this time of year, I fondly remember pulling open the fridge door to snatch a big handful of fresh cherries waiting and ready in a colander in all their crunchy, ice-cold sweetness.

Whether because my family lacked a pitter in our tiny kitchen or didn’t yet know about the drinking straw or paper clip method to pop out the pits, I never baked with them back then. I just happily ate them out of hand, picking up each one by the stem to plop into my mouth with gusto.

As a proud pitter owner now, though, I revel in staining my fingers fuchsia as I methodically dislodge one pit after the other until amassing enough to bake in something special.

Something exactly like this moist, rich tasting “Cherry Almond Bundt.”

This cake, full of 1 1/2 heaping cups of — ahem — pitted and chopped cherries, is from the new cookbook, “Around Our Table” (Hardie Grant), of which I received a review copy.

Version 1.0.0

It was written by James Beard Award-nominated cookbook author Sara Forte, who lives with her husband and two kids in Southern California.

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