Whenever Restaurant Gal Son calls me and starts the conversation with, “So, uh…” I am suspicious.
This conversation could go anywhere, from:
“So, uh, what was the name and phone number of that attorney you said I might need someday?”
“So, uh, I don’t know, I may take the LSAT. You know, just to see how I do.”
The good news is, to date, I have only heard the second “So, uh…”
It is in the spirit of “this could go anywhere” that I reflect on tonight at the new place.
The friends and family guests are dwindling after a week. They are being replaced by the Web reservation-makers, the first-timers with no inkling, the neighborhood workers, the walk-ins, the curious foodies.
And tonight, we had regulars.
I was used to regulars at my old place. Hell, our regulars were regulars within the restaurant group before we opened the location I worked for, and they never let us forget it when they came to dine with the new girl on the block.
This is different.
These are actual newborn regulars who tried us once and are back again, with their only ties to the place being they dined here–several days ago. You could measure that in hours, if you wanted to.
Are you kidding? If I am Chef, I am thrilled.
If I am me, I am curiously smiling. This is fine dining. This is putting on all the manners and showing off your upbringing and never forgetting it, not even once, in front of guests. This means expect a bunch of stuffy patrons, right?
A deuce was back after being the first guests on opening night. He is quiet; his friend is the talker. And despite using my finely honed interview skills, I never could wrest from them where they worked, what their food and wine preferences were, or even what brought them back. They just said they would see us again soon.
I’ll take that.
One group remembered me from my old place. They’d been in for drinks a few days ago, and now wanted to dine. I was a little concerned about them–three big men trying out a less-than-huge-American-portioned meal. They raved about it.
Put that one away, too.
Then there were the local business people who were referred by a colleague who’d dined last night, and who stopped in for five minutes to make sure they’d gotten there okay. Later, one in the party invited me to sit down for a moment and talk dessert–shortcake, actually. His co-worker later deemed the private dining room worth a call to me later this week to book a board dinner.
Hmmm. I can work with this.
No, it won’t be this easy for long. It can’t be. It’s food, it’s a restaurant, it’s hungry people who are eventually picky people. They’ll speak up, likely sooner than later, and they will once again give me plenty to ponder.
But tonight, it was all about the six-day-old regulars.
So, uh, does this mean I can stop holding my breath?