Movie Night Chefs
We are not big movie goers, usually preferring to hunker down at home after a long day, but last Friday My Beloved said, on the spur of the moment, "How about a hot dog and a movie?"
He knows his audience; the promise of a hot dog will always get me up and out.
So, we scrolled through the movie listings and found one, "Chef," that seemed to have a light appeal (we are movie wimps - no violence, no drama, no unhappy endings, please!) so we jumped into our jeans and went. Fun movie - two thumbs up if you're looking for light, fun fare.
After the flick, we decided to grab a burger (no hot dogs on the menu, so I get a rain check on that) at Marin Joe's, an institution in Corte Madera. They have booths and tables but they are always busy so we grabbed two stools at the counter and found that they were the best seats in the house.
While we waited for our dinners, we watched meats and fish, including our burgers, being grilled by the most amazing grill cook I have ever seen. Talk about a chef! The grill is a real charcoal grill at Joe's, with glowing coals under the grates - the heat even reached our seats so I was surprised at how cool and unflappable the chef was. The photo I took is of his receipts of the evening, showing how many perfect dinners he had turned out, so many that they overflowed his cup and spilled out onto the counter.
Every move he made was efficient, choreographed, and leisurely, and yet he turned out at least a dozen meals just while we were watching, and still found time to josh lightly with the waiters, take a break during the cooking, timing his return exactly. As we watched, he watched each burger, brochette, steak, butterflied trout, and filet of salmon to perfection. He never touched them - no poking to decide if they were done - he just looked and could tell. Given the heat of that grill, I was sure our burgers, which were on for fully 15 minutes, would be well done even though we had asked for rare and medium rare. When they arrived, however, they were each perfect.
They were also enormous and served on French rolls with a side of nicely crisp French fries with soft, almost custardy centers, just the way we like them. He even gave us a wink as he slid the plates across the counter - I think he knew I was worried and his wink was his gentle way of saying, "Honey, I've been doing this a long time and I know what I know."
The prices at Marin Joe's are assertive, but I have never left there feeling I didn't get my money's worth. And next time I will choose to sit at the counter again, to enjoy watching a real chef do his thing.