By Deirdre Bourdet
The much-anticipated Norman Rose Tavern opened with a bang at the end
of December, with crowds out the door and throngs around the bar. No
one expected any less for a new restaurant from the folks behind the
deservedly and wildly popular Pizzeria Azzurro just a few blocks away.
The Tavern is the first restaurant open for business in the new Napa
Square Building, in a quickly upscaling section of First Street in
downtown Napa. It bills itself as offering “elevated American
classics” like big chopped salads, fried chicken sandwiches, all-beef
hot dogs from Fatted Calf, mashed potatoes, french fries, and of
I loooove upscale burgers and their trappings. Norman Rose Tavern offers you your choice of swiss, cheddar, blue, or pepper jack cheese on your Five Dot Ranch beef patty, plus a slew of succulent add-ons that put the standard greasy burger toppings to shame. Perfect thyme-roasted mushrooms, perfect caramelized onions, perfect runny-yolked fried eggs, smoked bacon, and/or avocado relish are all yours for the ordering. We wanted all of them, all at once… and I may do it next time. Even exercising restraint, though, yielded fabulous results. The egg and mushroom combo with swiss totally hit the spot… until I tasted my partner in crime’s bacon, onion, and blue burger. If only she’d taken two seconds longer to scarf it down, the rest of that thing would have been mine, as well. These “fancy” burgers obviously don’t sacrifice primal cheeseburger satisfaction by bringing in the upscale.
Nor did the fries suffer from being tossed with shredded parmesan bits and truffle oil… unless you don’t like crispy, salty, truffly, potato-y bliss in a bowl. (We did. That bowl was clean when we finally let them take it away.) Other fry options to accompany your burger included BBQ, chili cheese, and “natural” with sea salt and black pepper.
Despite the overwhelming hordes of customers in their first week of business, the service at the bar was unfailingly polite, effective, warm, and professional. Kudos, guys. Your tavern is destined for greatness.Norman Rose Tavern
1401 First Street, Napa