Molly Says

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Butte on FoodStation...

Piyaugh caught that the FoodStation segment about the restaurants in our area was going to air this afternoon, so he called everyone in between the lunch and dinner rushes to air it on a big TV in the main dining room. There was a lot of buzz around, since the FoodStation crew had been there for like six hours and it had been such a fun night. We thought back on all the great moments: the tower of champagne glasses being filled from a single magnum, the flaming caciocavallo, Eden doing an impromptu belly dance between tables 6 and 21, FoodStation producers doing shots at the bar with the dishwashers...

Pretty soon the segment had begun and we all went silent, not wanting to miss a moment. Their big "FoodStation...Special!" title flashed, and some chirpy narrator started to chirp about the "hidden gems of the San Francisco Bay Area!" We saw shots of ConcepciĆ³n, Osasha, Trio, all the local cultural-fusion guys that Piyaugh is always making snide comments about. Then it came! A quick shot of our sign, "Butte," which immediately cut to the interior of another restaurant. It was kind of off-putting, but we knew there'd be more, so we sat tight.

The segment, which ran fifteen minutes, didn't feature a single second more of Butte. Our hopes were up right until the credits ran, at which point we hoped there'd be one of those Ferris Bueller-type things that runs during or after the credits. Nope, the production company logo flashed and then they were on to "The Secret Life of JuJuBees" or some crap. Piyaugh stood there like a lawn jockey with a remote. His cell phone rang. He answered with a grave, "Ciao Signore Del Vecchio," (Butte's principal investor) then listened for a second and hung up. He turned and plodded down into the basement without so much as looking at us.

I don't want to say that Piyaugh probably got shot and driven around in a trunk and then dumped in the marshlands under the Dumbarton, but Mr. Del Vecchio brought in a new executive chef that very same night and the menu is apparently being redesigned as more "traditional." If I see Piyaugh in front of Starbucks with a broken arm and a cup of pencils, I'm not going to buy one, but it'll be nice to see that he's at least alive.

Monday, July 04, 2005

First cable crew came through Butte!

FoodStation, a major cable food network, filmed a segment on Butte last Monday. They like to film on quieter days so as not to disrupt the restaurant's clientele, but Mondays are our absolute worst day so the place looked like a ghost town. There was this one tubby regular eating venison bolognese in the corner with his laptop (we normally don't allow laptops, but the place was empty), and that was it. When the FoodStation van pulled up Piyaugh frantically pulled all non-essential front-of-house staff to fill seats in the dining room, myself included.

I sat at a four-top with Kevin the host trainee, Miranda the hostess, and Basso, the sommelier. Before we even so much as ordered drinks, one of the waiters brought us sumptuous, towering salad plates and said in a hushed tone, "Piyaugh says if you don't eat all of this with a smile, you're sacked." I looked around: other tables were receiving similarly artful apps. Basso got up and picked something nice out from the cellar, something really good called Grch or Griggich. He said Piyaugh would have wanted the cameras to see people ordering expensive wine, so he filled our glasses. Apparently most of the other tables had the same idea, as they were wandering in with pilfered bottles as well. Piyaugh was giving a tour of his spotless stainless-steel kitchen and didn't have a clue. I heard him spouting off some b.s. about "the true orchestra of the French kitchen brigade system" as I lifted the ruby-red deliciousness to my lips.

We actually got menus for the main course and I ordered the "carnaroli risotto with smoked Montana trout and alba truffle" (I had to go look its pompous title up on our website just now). Basso got some thing with wild hare and lobster that's flamed tableside, and Miranda had the venison porterhouse. Kevin has body image issues and tried to order nothing, but Basso kicked him in the shin and he asked for steamed vegetables. The server brought him a Colorado double-cut pork chop with some kind of broiled blue cheese-type sauce on top, so I guess Piyaugh wasn't in the mood to have the cameras showcase hot carrots.

It was a great night, and the cameras were there until about 11, filming all kinds of laughter, carrying-on, and probably 100 bottles of top-tier wine being opened. During the course of the night several groups of people wandered in and, quickly realizing that it was a free-for-all, loaded up on food and drink while calling their friends. At one point I even saw Ray wander in and have a couple cocktails at a back table with some older-looking guys that I recognized from the local paper.

Long after the desserts had been cleared and the camera crew left, Piyaugh, his face beaming and red with a celebratory grappa in him, stood up in a booth and said something that wound up being self-congratulatory but also thanked us for filling seats. What an ass. Later, when I was getting my things from the downstairs lockers, I overheard William the GM fretting with Mr. Del Vecchio, the principal investor, about how the tally for the evening had come to $25,000 -- none of which anyone had paid for. Mr. Del Vecchio nodded solemnly and folded his arms, and I left before either of them saw me. It seemed like the smart thing to do.