I understand now why some restaurant owners do not let their employees hang out at the bar of the restaurant when they get off work. Friday night, after seeing Tom Petty at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, we stopped in at Sauce for a bite after pushing bikes up out of the Civic Center BART station and realizing all of the rock n' roll had made us a little peckish. I hadn't been to Sauce before but kept hearing reviews by co-workers and friends. It's one of the few late-night dining spots that serves decent food and wine until 1am and so it naturally draws an industry crowd.
We ordered two Starbucks martinis (good, although a little sweet), the tomato bisque, and fried calamari. The food was very good (we went with our bartender's recommendation for everything), especially the truffled-white-cheddar-on-foccacia sandwich sticks that came with the bisque. The calamari tubules and tentacles were lightly fried and then the bodies were stuffed with sausage and served in a tomato sauce. We accompanied the soup and squid with a glass of South African syrah (me) and a Santa Barbara pinot noir (him). Both wines were absolutely outstanding.
The problem was that we felt like we were invading a private party. Although the bartender was only about three feet away from us the whole evening, every time we wanted something we had to flag him down, and I felt rude pulling him away from his co-workers that were finishing up the shift and coming to sit down at the bar and have a drink. When we finished our meal, the bartender came over and said, "So, I guess you guys are all set then?" and dropped the check. I'm not normally a dessert person, but I wouldn't have minded looking at the menu and perhaps having a glass of dessert wine. We meekly paid and went along our way, the jovial shouts of the rapidly-loosening employees and their friends following us into the balmy late-night.
Most of the restaurants I've worked at have a no-tolerance policy for employees on the floor the same night of their shift, and I thought they were just mean. Seeing it from a customer's perspective changed my mind.
In other news, I've now been privy to a boar roast. I stopped by the forge Saturday to interview Jeff for a story I'm writing about him, and found out that Angelo had decided to go whole hog and skewer one of the little boar he'd hunted last week up in Healdsburg. The other is for a fundraiser on November 2nd, which I will not be privy to as I'm going to Buenos Aires for a week, for my birthday (leaving this Wednesday, which, coincidentally is the Tablehopper's birthday). The boar's feet were sawed off (it had already been cleaned) and it was stuffed with fennel from the garden plot on Potrero Hill, then wired shut and put on the spit where it rotated for two hours and made the whole forge, and our clothes, smell yummy. We served it with a salsa verde (just lots of parsley, garlic, olive oil, lemon, and capers--I was allowed to make the salsa, under Angelo's strict instruction) on braided rolls from the Acme bakery. People started showing up and we managed to eat almost the whole thing, washed down with copious amounts of red wine. I love my life.