Soluna Cafe & Loungedown by Civic Center because one of my best friends has been a bartender there for almost three years. As I was having lunch at the bar (their absolutely excellent Mac 'n' cheese 272 with twirly Cavatappi pasta, smoked Gouda, Swiss Gruyere, Monterey Jack, blue cheese, topped with bread crumbs; $8.95), their executive chef Shawn Paul came out of the kitchen to say hello.
I went out on a couple of dates with Shawn Paul when I first moved to San Francisco in June but eventually had to discontinue the non-relationship because he seemed to be borderline psychotic. While many of my friends have pointed out to me that I tend to gravitate toward the exceptionally intelligent creative types with a 'crazy glint' in their eye, what struck me about that non-relationship is that so many executive chefs share personality traits.
The last time I had been into
Soluna before that was a couple of months ago when I stopped in to see my bartendress pal and have a Soluna Ham & Cheese sandwich (my favorite item on the lunch menu). After waiting for what seemed a longer-than-usual time for the sandwich, I heard a plate shatter against the wall as Shawn Paul's voice resonated through the entire dining room, screaming a litany
of obscenities. Every diner froze, wide-eyed, with a fork paused halfway to their mouths. More plates crashed, and my bartendress friend tiptoed out of the swinging doors that led to the kitchen.
"There aren't any more ham and cheese sandwiches," she whispered, eyes downcast. "Jay (the sous chef) just burned the last one. Do you want something else?" She looked at me hopefully.
"I...think I'm going to get a burrito," I replied quickly.
My bartendress friend tried to talk me out of leaving, but as more shouts ejaculated from the kitchen, I scuttled out the door and around the corner to the
Taqueria El Castillito
Shawn Paul had a laugh when I recently reminded him of this incident, and brandished his latest tatoo: a fire-red Balinese mask that covers his entire forearm, terrifying in its ugliness.
"I'm a lot less psycho since I got this tattoo," he said solemly as he widened his eyes. The glint was still there.