Mister Goose sandwich shop opens in St. Helens
A new sandwich shop opened along U.S. Highway 30 last month, bringing steamed sandwiches and goose decor to St. Helens.
Mister Goose serves a small menu of steamed sandwiches: meat and cheese on a hoagie roll, briefly treated with steam.
While steamed sandwiches aren't common fare in the Pacific Northwest, they're eaten in other parts of the country and are most popular in parts of the South and Midwest.
The sandwich menu has four meat options — plus mushroom as a vegetarian option — served with havarti cheese, special sauce, and pickles on the side.
The menu also includes four side dishes, as well as alcohol options: four cocktails, standard liquors and mixers, and Miller High Life.
The quick steam on the sandwich "makes the bun super-soft. It melts the cheese, gets the meat warm," owner William Steurnagel said. "Then we make a housemaid spread that goes on there. And then when it comes out, we do a little clarified butter on top, and then we have a special house seasoning that we shake on top. And that's how all the sandwiches are made, and all you have to do is choose your meat."
Steurnagel's pick is the ham sandwich with a side of tomato soup.
Not every visitor has been a fan of the limited menu, without the standard deli sandwiches they expect, Steurnagel said. But he's confident in what Mister Goose has to offer.
"If we want to bring something, why not it be something unique and something that actually means something to us?" he asked rhetorically.
Steurnagel, who co-owns Portland restaurant Cheese and Crack, moved to St. Helens four years ago. He grew up "in a small town in Oklahoma very similar to St. Helens, so it almost feels like home," he remarked.
Steurnagel's grandparents owned a bar in Kansas City in the 1970s through the '90s, where he recalls that his Grandma Betty served steamed sandwiches.
"Sometimes you go into a restaurant and the menu is so big, you have no idea what someone specializes in. And you don't know what's fresh, you don't know what to order. And so I said, 'Let's do one thing. Let's do it good,'" Steurnagel said.
The limited menu is also a way to keep costs down.
"By keeping it small, that's how we're able to keep it affordable and keep everything fresh. Really, with the price of things right now, there's not an option to waste anything," Steurnagel said.
Steurnagel said Cheese and Crack, which he runs with a partner, "practically runs itself" now.
"I was ready to do something on my own and bring some of my flavor to St. Helens," he said.
Steurnagel ran a food cart in Portland for more than a year before opening Cheese and Crack, so he already had fans.
"Not having any sort of reputation out here and having to kind of start from scratch, I knew it'd be a challenge. But I think people have really received us very well so far," he said.
The name Mister Goose was inspired by the country song "The Cry of the Wild Goose," sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford, Steurnagel said.
"We knew what we wanted this place to be, what we wanted the feel to be, what we wanted the menu to be, but we didn't have a name," Steurnagel said.
When it came time to file for a business license, Steurnagel decided to put down Mister Goose as the provisional name, with the thought he would eventually pick a new name for the public-facing business.
"We ended up not coming up with anything better," Steurnagel said.
The small space is decorated with duck figurines, duck artwork, a soundtrack of country oldies, and photos from the Kansas City bar that inspired the new restaurant.
Mister Goose is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at in the former Burrito House location at 58499 Columbia River Highway in St. Helens.
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