By Carey Sweet
If you wandered into Pat's Bar in Guerneville the other week, looking to get a bit of fine dining from the adjacent Chef Patrick's, you were out of luck. The chef packed up and left.
Yet you needn't go far to find him. Just trot across Main Street and down the block a bit: Chef Patrick's is now serving its California-French cuisine in the old Charizma restaurant space, which had closed its doors this past September. Pat's Restaurant, next to Pat's Bar, has long been a favorite of diners savvy enough to know that, despite the unlikely setting of a dark room connected to an even darker pub, there was some good food to be had here.
Yes, it was a little complicated. The Pat in "Pat's Bar" was actually owner Richard Hines, who served casual breakfast and lunch. "Chef Patrick" is Patrick Wong, who was leasing space from Hines to offer more upscale dinner service, and he was only open several nights a week, with often random hours.
At the new Chef Patrick's, Wong continues with his familiar classic recipes, but in a brighter, quieter, more sophisticated setting. White tablecloths are a nice touch, though the prices remain reasonable (the menu changes frequently, yet a recent visit found the highest price dish to be filet mignon in Sonoma Merlot sauce with mashed potatoes and vegetables for $25.95). Most everything else stays comfortably below $13.95 and $21.95 for entrées.
While Wong is Vietnamese, his background as a San Francisco caterer and hotel chef trained him in French and Italian cooking. And so he sends out delicious but approachable dishes like porc champignon, poulet de onion confit, prawn risotto and herb-crusted lamb chops in mint Bordelaise sauce. Seared ahi is expertly rare, teamed with artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes, and drunken prawns are particularly good, sautéed and finished with cognac.
Things get much more relaxed at lunch, when it's a choice of a salad or sandwich, such as field greens in Champagne vinaigrette, roast beef with garlic remoulade on French bread, or prosciutto and dry salame with brie on French bread. If you've been craving a pastrami sandwich, this one's a winner, layered with basil remoulade and tomato on rye (though be sure to request Swiss instead of the American cheese it comes with). The hours still seem to be being worked out—a week ago Chef Patrick's was open only for weekends, but this week, the hostess promised service for lunch and dinner every day except Wednesday. Your best bet? Call ahead.
Chef Patrick's. 16337 Main St., Guerneville. 707.869.9161.
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