I was fortunate enough to happen to be with the right person last night and had a chance to waltz into Postrio for their last dinner service. Being a East coast transplant, I have not dined in nearly as many places as native Bay area residents, so I never had that understanding of Postrio's history beyond the fact that it was a two decade old Puck institution. In addition to that, Postrio's reputation at that time was described as antiquated, so dinner there was not something I held in high priority.
I will have to say that last night however was special and it is rare to go to a restaurant and capture a moment that is special.
Having seen the talent and excitement of 20+ chefs working in their open kitchen last night - a list that included Richard Reddington, Craig Stoll, Anne Gingrass, David Gingrass, Jordan Grosser, many others - there was a true sense of tradition and character that had otherwise gone lost in a myriad of newer more casual restaurants serving similar classic (and more progressive) cuisine.
Bittersweet as the moment was for many, Postrio's 20 year run is something I would give my right leg for. Every entity or establishment has a lineage and visible course, and Postrio, was no exception. For a good deal of time, Postrio was relevant and integral in shaping the Bay Area dining scene as it now stands - just as Rubicon, Masa's, Aqua, and others once were.
The big questions that I kept wondering about were: how do restaurants with a history and tradition like Postrio survive? Which former heavyweight is next? Should those restaurants reinvent themselves and how? How long does a restaurant stay relevant and contemporary before it begins to fade? Do restaurants suffer when they become classic?
Speaking of tradition and 20+ year old restaurants, I met and had a chance to speak briefly with chef Roland Passot of La Folie last night and I was pretty starstruck. That is a gracious and amazing chef that lets his food speak for itself. That man is The Truth (well at least in the culinary world). That moment really ranks high up there on the goosebumps meter.