Sunday, February 17, 2008

Taylor's Refresher, St. Helena

Taylor's Refresher
Burgers and shakes--but what shakes they are!

It used to be a regular thing on our trips to Napa that we would get lunch at Taylor's Refresher. We make a practice of looking for the best milkshakes in the area (for the record, besides Taylor's, there's Mel's Diner in Kingston, a gelato place in Los Gatos I can never remember the name of, and Ghirardelli's in San Francisco, though we usually get the sundaes there instead. There's also Gelato Classico in Mountain View (among other places), but if we think about that too much we'd go there a lot more often, so we try not to). Taylor's was one of the first to hit our radar. They use Double Rainbow ice cream and have a limited variety of flavors, but they're good ones.

The black and white shake (vanilla with chocolate syrup) is a favorite, but it's also hard to beat plain ol' vanilla. They offer a white pistachio which is far better than any other pistachio ice cream I've ever had, a mint chocolate chip, and an espresso bean, besides the standard chocolate and strawberry(*).

(*) Strawberry ice cream has always been kind of a weird experience for me. I knew intellectually that it was related to the fruit, but they are such completely different tastes and experiences that emotionally I always struggle to put them together. This doesn't happen for, say, chocolate ice cream, or cherry ice cream; strawberry ice cream is just so much its own flavor that I think it sets itself apart. I think, though, it does happen for Mark with chocolate ice cream, because he likes chocolate but not chocolate ice cream. So go figure.

And if the rich, creamy shakes aren't reason enough to stop, you've got some pretty darn good burgers as well. For the beef-averse, there are chicken sandwiches, and there's a really good ahi tuna "burger" with ginger wasabi mayo. Oh, and sweet potato fries, garlic fries, and onion rings on the side.

Mark got a burger and I got a chicken sandwich that both were supposed to have barbecue sauce. One can't accuse them of going overboard. The sandwiches had good flavor--I had onions, mushrooms, and slaw on my chicken; Mark had blue cheese and bacon on his burger--but we'd expected a little more sauce. The fries are small and crispy, and the garlic fries are among the most garlicky I've had anywhere, including Gordon Biersch. The sweet potato fries come with a basil aioli (I think it was) and are thick and less crispy, but still really good. And it was the perfect day to eat outside: not too hot, still too cool for the bugs to come out, but warm in the sun.

The drawback is that since opening their restaurant in San Francisco's Ferry Building, the Taylor's in Napa is always mobbed. We got there at ten after two and stood in line for twenty minutes. To their credit, they move fast; our milkshakes were out in five minutes, our food in another ten. And by the time we left, around three, the line was finally starting to go down. But come by during peak season and you'll be waiting for a long time. It's kind of sad that when more people discover a good place, it becomes harder to eat there. I suspect that yesterday was the last time we'll eat at the Taylor's in St. Helena for a while. There are too many good restaurants around, and now that there's one in the Ferry Building, we don't have to go all the way up there to get the food.

Now, if it's three or four in the afternoon, and we just want a shake...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My friend and I were recently discussing about how technology has become so integrated in our day to day lives. Reading this post makes me think back to that discussion we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as the price of memory falls, the possibility of downloading our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could encounter in my lifetime.

(Submitted using Nintendo DS running [url=]R4i[/url] HomeBrow)