Fishing and restauratuering have three things in common: passion, patience and location.
Without indiminishable patience neither the angler nor culinarian will last. Innate passion must flow through your veins. What else could make either leave a warm bed in the middle of a morning chill to lonesomely set out in hopes that by day´s end schools of fish or people will pass by to fill needs? Finally, if a location doesn´t work out, those dedicated to their craft will move on to another space in hopes of winning the hunt.
So it is in the restaurant business. Location is the cornerstone of most successful concepts, unless of course you happen to be one of the top restaurant wizards whose culinary accomplishments have paved a sought-after path to your door.
Cindy Pawlcyn achieved wizardry standing long ago. You don´t successfully open and operate a culinary icon- Mustard´s Grill- in the highly competitive Napa Valley, unless you possess instinct and skills that others aspire to. Combine those assets with the finest location is St Helena, California, and her latest creation, Go Fish, will surely be another trophy win.
Go Fish is a thankfully fresh addition to the Napa Valley restaurant scene. And, once again, Pawlcyn strayed from the charted course of Mediterranean and French cuisine venturing into uncharted waters of sushi and fish.
The menu is fresh with a great variety of offerings. However we knew to expect that. Pawlcyn and partners Sean Knight and Ken Tominaga would serve nothing less.
The wine barrel buss has for weeks been that the space was going to artfully offer an ambiance comparable to none in The Valley. And that accomplishment was only topped by the crowd of beautiful people who have been packing Go Fish since it opened last Friday. Pawlcyn, Knight and Tominaga could not have assembled a better looking crowd if they had called Francis Ford and asked him to set something up with central casting. Who needs artwork on the walls when the model view pans the most sought after countryside in the world, suddenly not that distant, through windows casting a congenial light on passers by meandering into St. Helena.
True spirit greets you at the door. Pawlcyn´s biggest asset is her ability to attract a staff of passionate people with personalities that are enthusiastically cordial. Don´t think you can attribute this to first week excitement. Pawlcyn´s restaurants all radiate with dedicated personnel who pride themselves in her employ.
That´s the lesson. The great remake. The beautiful, breathtaking space one sees glancing across the soon-to-be completed gardens and landscape. The Wow! factor of the crowd. All tremendous. What rings out above all of the materialistic design elements that cast Go Fish into one of the most popular restaurants in metropolitan San Francisco is the staff. People who have achieved or are working towards trained professional status comprise the Go Fish staff. Pawlcyn has attracted managers, servers and other positions from the top venues of the area.
They know how to handle the perfectly weighted silverware. The finesse they use in the hot towel presentation before sushi is served resembles ritualistic training. Of course after five nights the staff had weathered an onslaught of customers having catered to more than many owners do in their first month. Therefore there was the occasional snarl, but nothing to ever stop the rhythmic flow of the dining room. And the hospitable passion that every person at Go Fish displayed was something that we should all encourage Pawlcyn to package and share with the rest of us.
That´s what sets her projects apart. It is the personality. It is the professionalism. It is the one ingredient you cannot call the vendor and have delivered to the back door. It begins at the front door and works its way through Go Fish.