I had heard that Goose Loonies Tavern & Grill (formerly The Goose and before that Goose Loonies) had a new owner. Although misinformed, I was impressed by what I found during a visit to the Eastchester location owned by Jim and Becky Katsantonis (who moved it 10 years ago to the suddenly hip area across the street from Cafe Smitten). The kitchen is doing some really good things. Service, however, needs attention.
We ordered a small margherita pizza as an appetizer ($9), a Southern fried chicken sandwich ($13.99), a gyro pita sandwich ($12.98) and an apple crostata ($6.99) for dessert. I also couldn’t resist adding a frosty mug — with moisture you could scrap off with your fingernail — of an Alaskan IPA. Props to the owners for putting the draft choices into five different categories on a menu card: gold, darker side, wheat/whit/what, something different and something hoppy. There are at least a dozen interesting brews on tap from a list of 23. For wine drinkers, the short list includes choices from California, Washington, Spain, France and Greece.
Let’s start with that pizza, which had a fascinating crust that was thick yet light, airy and seemed to be clumpy, as if you could break pieces off if you desired. The sliced tomatoes on top were the worst part, just pale and tasteless like you find so often in stores, not the Roma tomatoes the menu promised. The tomato sauce was an adult version — not too sweet — there was a lot of garlic and basil and simple mozzarella cheese on top, finished by a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. It didn’t last long, even with the dull tomato slices.
Both the sandwich and the gyro were similarly satisfying. The sandwich was made with a deep-fried, boneless, skinless chicken breast that was two inches thick, with an excellent “spicy Napa cabbage slaw” on top that, fitting current styles, with a light dressing. The bun was a bakery-fresh kaiser roll, with an irresistible sweet mustard aioli spread over it and a bit of grilled jalapeno rings for the perfect finishing touch. The fries served with it were fresh cut and quite alluring. My companion’s gyro was one of five they offer, including two vegetarian options, and with the mix of lamb and beef inside it was as Greek as when Jimmy opened the place. It came with a Greek salad as a side, but my companion thought the dressing was unbalanced, made with too much oil. One taste and I understood and concurred with that assessment.
The apple dessert was the perfect end to what overall was a fine dining experience. It was like a great, buttery strudel with the fresh apples sliced so thinly, a generous dollop of ice cream on top and a drizzle of caramel sauce, the brown sugar and cinnamon perfectly balanced. This is made in house by someone who knows pastries, and it’s almost a must-order.
Now for the bad news. The restaurant is understaffed. Our waitress, Jami, was running around with little help and too many parties to keep happy. On a weekday night it was about half-full in the main dining room/bar, with a mellow sports crowd, some families, girlfriends catching up in the booths and a few customers sitting at the bar. The attention of two males was consumed by an equipment issue of some sorts near the bar. Another woman was running food to the tables to help out. Given the caliber of what is coming out of that kitchen, once word gets out, more employees will be necessary. And we didn’t visit on an NFL Sunday, which is when the place really gets packed.
We do have to mention the weekend brunch menu (9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday), which has everything from avocado toast to steak and eggs, and the many hours of happy hour (listed in sidebar) with $2 off most drinks and food specials in the $4-to-$6 range, the best value being any small pizza for $6.
In October, Jimmy announced plans to open a second Goose Loonies across from Jake’s Tex-Mex on Oak Street. No opening date yet as remodeling is ongoing.
Pete Tittl’s Dining Out column appears here on Sundays. Email him at email@example.com.