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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sonoma County Restaurant Review - Chef Patrick's in Guerneville

Chef Patrick's in Downtown Guerneville
in Pat's Restaurant is a Wonderful Surprise

Restaurant Review
By Carolyn Horan

CHEF PATRICK’s in Pat's Restaurant in Guerneville

In this job, I am always on the lookout for an interesting restaurant that has great food, friendly staff and reasonable prices. I was enjoying my weekly massage with Pam Hedinger, owner of Touch of Heaven in Guerneville, when she told me about Chef Patrick who serves dinner at Pat’s Restaurant in Guerneville on Main Street. Now Pat’s, for a long time, has been a favorite place of mine for breakfast and lunch because of their good food and good service. Pat’s is in a long narrow building with a counter on one side and booths on the other side. Next to the kitchen at the back is a rather dark room with tables which also connects to Pat’s bar. So I was a bit skeptical about this new gourmet chef. But one Saturday evening four friends and I went to check it out. Eureka! Like magic, about 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. a sign goes up outside the window of the diner that says “CHEF PATRICK”. We entered through the bar and a friendly gentleman greeted us. When we told him we came for dinner he escorted us through the door into the back room. A very friendly waitress then joined him and we were on our way to a unique culinary experience.

Our party ordered different entrees so we had a chance to taste them all. Two people had Fillet Mignon with blue cheese, I had sole stuffed with crab, one had lamb and the other savored the special Risotto dish. Every meal was cooked to perfection and the presentation was first class. We all shared a crème brulee and the signature dessert, “Bread Pudding” (which was the best I have had in a long time). The most expensive entree was the steak which ran about $23.00. The prices are very reasonable, including the wine. What a pleasant surprise since the cost of wine can often be the most expensive part of your bill.

When I interviewed Patrick Wong I found he lives in Petaluma with his wife, Sandra, and their two children, a boy 7 and a girl 6. He met Richard Hines, owner of Pat’s, who agreed to lease space to Patrick to operate his business. Pat’s is open for breakfast and lunch from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Chef Patrick comes in about 3:30 to start cooking for the dinner service which starts at 5:00 p.m. This works well and gives Patrick a chance to pick up his kids from school before he goes off to Guerneville. Prior to coming to Guerneville, Patrick worked in San Francisco for a private catering firm that served wealthy clients and private parties. When he came to this country from Vietnam Patrick found that he could get work in the restaurant business. He ended up going to a cooking school and worked for a time for the Sheraton Hotel. When I asked him why he decided to become a Chef he said he now loves cooking and creating good food, he likes meeting his customers and making them smile. In general, he said everything about his career is “all joyful”.

Patrick said he can’t afford to advertise but he steered me to a web site called Trip Advisors where people send in tips from their travels. I found comments from people who had visited the Russian River area that rated Chef Patrick’s highly and comments were all positive. Here are three examples: “Amazing find – unlikely spot.” “What is he doing in this little town? We don’t know. We just feel lucky we found him.”

“Unbelievably good.” The day I did this interview the waitress said a couple having a drink in the bar had come for dinner because they had heard of Chef Patrick. She had their card which she showed me and the patron was an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America.

Here is what Chef Patrick’s says about his cooking. He specializes in French and Italian cuisine and emphasizes preparing basic “comfort” food at reasonable prices. Everything he makes is gourmet using seasonal food and local fresh produce because the prices are a good value when in season. He creates different flavors using a variety of spices and each recipe is unique.

I loved the food and the service was excellent. Chef Patrick does all the cooking and still finds time to check on your table and make sure you have everything you need. That might not last as the word gets out. The menu is varied and includes things like Pan Seared Salmon, Roasted Pork Loin, Chicken Marsala, Saut’eed Prawns Provencial, grilled New York Steak, Vegetarian Capellini and more. The prices are reasonable and I think you will have a good time and be glad you gave Chef Patrick a try. Dinner is served Thursday through Monday between the hours of 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. The address is 16236 Main Street, Guerneville, CA. The phone number is 869 9161.