Daniel Patterson hates and detests visiting you; hired waiter with paranoid schizophrenia; has investors who are a little slow (if you catch my drift)
Patterson much prefers the warm comfort of his kitchen, where a psychotic waiter almost killed everyone.
At least there he doesn't have to spend for-EVER at an investor's table and explain very slowly for the millionth time why the food keeps changing, as he did in his dining room on opening night.
The kitchen also keeps him away from what he calls his "bitchy neighbor," an architect who drives a baby blue BMW. (So best!)
Pim scored quite a coup by luring Patterson to her site. He normally writes for the New York Times' various magazines and glossy publications like San Francisco. When he wasn't writing articles or dodging Alice Waters' narco death squads he ran the restaurant Elisabeth Daniel (RIP) and the kitchen at Frisson.
Patterson says his opening day was "boring," but it's not so bad when you selectively quote his story out of context!!:
6:30 AMPatterson's full articles at Chez Pim:
Wake up. My blood has been siphoned off and replaced with barely molten lead.
The mechanical tech failed to start the [f--ing air conditioning]. This inspired me to leave a brief but colorful [explitive-laden and physically-threatening-to-the-point-of-illegality ] message with the contractor, encouraging them to pay a visit in the morning to finish the job [or, alternatively, take part in an impromptu seminar on what a well-sharpened chef's knife can do to human fingers]. There are excuses, which I break off [like so many sauteed contractor digits].
Our [a--hole neighbor] is a[n] architect of indeterminate ability [-- though his office is next to a strip club in a seedy part of town, if that tells you anything --] who owns a building in the back of the alley that abuts the restaurant. It's a nice alley ... [considering the] two residential hotel buildings ... [and] Centerfolds[, which is exactly as classy as it sounds].
What is Mr. Architect most concerned about? [The strippers? The drug-addict-filled hovels next door?] Our garbage cans, which cannot remain outside during the day. It is a major obstacle in his grand scheme to turn the alley into the charming, tree-lined ... lane of someone's youth. [OK, of my youth. But you get the point.]
Our first sin had been ... forcing him to sit on many occasions for minutes at a time in his baby blue BMW M3 [(license plate: 'JERKOFF')], cartoon smoke rising from his ears, while a worker moved his truck.
Having learned the painful way that an overly ambitious opening menu is the root of most quality and timing disasters, this time I'm playing it safe. This, as [so-called] friends noted rather sharply the previous evening, leaves the "innovation" level a little light, but [they are jerks, and will not got invited to future preview dinners. I think I'll take that guy from Covers just to spite them].
I have ... voodoo ... we will ritually sacrifice innocent[s], ... invoking the devil. Of modernity, [but whatever.]
I stood on the top step of a ten foot ladder, reaching forward three feet while twisting to the left to apply another layer of matte medium to a corner pane. The fact that I have no health insurance is weighing heavily on my mind at this moment.
I make a horrible line cook ... pulled in a dozen directions, peripatetically moving around the kitchen in an attempt to see and taste everything. I would hate working with me.
One of the servers, who had never been involved in a restaurant opening before, and is used to more corporate environs, [thanks to the Department of Corrections' "work-release" program,] is becoming increasingly enraged by the chaos. He insists on keeping a list that he titles – I kid not – “Mental Notes,” of all of the things that are going wrong around him, everything from clutter in the service station to the other servers who jostle him as he works. Midway through the night there are two pages of increasingly scrawling and disjointed handwriting posted in the service station, which by the last line looks to be the work of either an anguished six year old or a long-term resident in a psychiatric ward. He decides to leave mid-service. With our blessing.
[Because having all our patrons physically murdered on opening night is not exactly good press. And the Chronicle automatically shaves half a star off the "ambiance" rating for each mass-murder killing spree in the dining room, as Chez Panisse learned the hard way.]
There’s a lull in the action, and I head into the dining room to say hi to our first guests, who are just finishing up their meal. I normally hate, hate, hate visiting the dining room, unless it’s someone that I know well. I feel nervous and out of place, standing awkwardly in front of the table muttering inanities. But it’s opening night and I feel obligated, so I trudge out.
Our first guests are from Sonoma, where I opened my first restaurant, Babette’s. I thank them for coming in, say hi to a few of my fiancées co-workers and head back to the kitchen.
A little longer of a visit at the investor’s table. He is surprised that the food is better than the pre-opening meal yesterday [, sort of like a small child is surprised by his own image in a mirror, or by the setting of the sun]. I explain, again, [, since my explanation to Smarty McMoneypants didn't seem to stick the first 10 times,] that it will keep improving at a rapid pace for months, and then slow to small incremental improvements – it will take at least a year until it achieves a level of performance I find remotely satisfactory.
Opening Day, by Daniel Patterson
Opening Day (Part II)