Life and Death and Fine Dining
Thursday, November 10, 2005
HEAVENLY RESERVATIONS… The only way I can start this column this week is by acknowledging the passing of one of our venerable eating institutions, the OLD BATH HOUSE, in Pacific Grove. On Nov. 6, after 30 years of continued excellence, the Bath House officially shuttered an operation that had served millions of locals and visitors beautiful meals that turned into beautiful memories.
It will be a long time before we can fully understand what impact the end of the Bath House has on our community, especially the hospitality community. In this area, hospitality is our second largest industry. The Old Bath House has employed many professionals throughout the years and set a high standard of exceptional service and all-around excellence. To lose it is like having one of our strongest support beams rupture, weakening the structure of our restaurant industry.
The Bath House withstood the changing winds of a fickle dining audience across three decades, from the tumultuous ‘70s, through the roaring ‘80s, the booming ‘90s and into the early part of the new millennium. That is a tribute to owner DAVID BINDEL, along with every employee, collaborator, purveyor, friend and regular customer he’s encountered along the way. It takes an enormous day-to-day effort on the part of many dedicated and selfless people, willing to endure the emotional and physical wear and tear the restaurant world tattoos on each of them, to create and sustain an operation of the Bath House’s stature. We applaud and thank them all.
There are various official reasons why the Old Bath House is closing.
Maybe it was just time for the Old Bath House to toast its last toast and gently fade away into the storybook world where old restaurants go to live on, to be young and hip and carefree, where patrons come from miles around to feel the magic, catch the buzz, chatter the chatter…to matter. I think a place like that exists, where the hipsters and the eating-out crowd are always dazzling, where the champagne is always chilled just right and the bottles never get empty, where bussers weave in and out of jigsaw-puzzle table arrangements and never bump a chair, where beautiful women wear strapless gowns and catch the eyes of everybody in the room…and where tuxedoed waiters entertain appreciative diners and where tall-toqued chefs de cuisine cause smiling epicureans to close their eyes and sigh the contented sigh of the perfectly wined and dined—I believe that’s where the Old Bath House has gone. It will be missed.
WORK AND PLAY… For those of you with aspirations of perhaps creating your own Bath House story, give the Central Coast SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER a jingle. It’s continuing its popular workshop series for small business owners and aspirants. Learn to “Create a Business Plan that Works,” and get professional one-on-one business counseling. Call 479-6136 or hit www.centralcoastsbdc.org.
Remember the great event called THE QUAIL that happened back in August? (Of course you do). The organizers just ponied up $73,900 dollars for local charities as a result of monies raised during that event…I’m sure MISTER HABER is happy, knowing such a generous donation was created by his beloved Quail Lodge.
The Culinary Center of Monterey, on Cannery Row just below Planet Gemini, is hosting the TITANIUM TEAM CHALLENGE for companies that want to build harmony among their employees. Loosely based on the Iron Chef concept, Titanium Team Challenge pits members of a company in teams thay try to outdo each other in the kitchen, preparing various dishes that are later judged on their merits. Of course, at the end everyone gets to eat everything, drink wine and enjoy a newfound camaraderie.
As with all the programs, overseeing the Titanium Team Challenge is MARY PAGAN, Queen of the Culinary Center. She has done a great job building a wave of momentum. Get on www.culinarycenterofmonterey.com to learn more, call 333-2133 or just stop in.
THAI HIGH… I ran into an old acquaintance, SAM THAISAENG, the other day while I was in downtown Monterey. Sam is the owner of Siamese Bay Restaurant, just around the corner from the Monterey Post Office. He reminded me that it has been too long since I’ve mentioned his wonderful restaurant in this column and I was really happy to have seen him because he’s right. The food really is excellent at Siamese Bay—in fact, TED and CINDY WALTER, owners of Passionfish and big-time foodies claim it as their favorite Thai restaurant around and eat there regularly. Check it out for yourself…and say hi to Sam. 373-1550.
FURIOUS FINISH… Paraiso Vineyards on Friday, Nov. 18 from 6 to 10pm, the annual Holiday Open House (that’s right, it’s holiday time). Wine, food, fun, plus 5,000 square feet of unique seasonal gifts from artists and craftsmen around the world. 678-0300 or paraisovineyards.com…WINE DOWN WEDNESDAYS are happening at Tarpy’s; each Wednesday features a different local winery from 5 to 7pm in the bar area. There’s tasting, discounted wine, fixed menu and monthly prize drawings, 647-1444…Want a really special Thanksgiving? Do it at L’AUBERGE CARMEL. Seatings from 5 to 9pm and only $65 per person (I don’t think WALTER MANZKE can deconstruct a turkey, can he?). This will definitely beat sitting around the house with a bunch of relatives you don’t like, wishing you had to work—624-8578 or www.laubergecarmel.com…On the horizon, look for a special feature in this column when the madman of the mis en place, ALBERTO BONATELLI, lashes out at food writers (including me). In fact, maybe I’ll start giving restaurant people equal time and let them vent. Send me your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org…I’ll send my love for now.