Valentine's Day is approaching and I'm charged with writing about all of the delightful dinners restaurants have planned to lure lovers. But all I can think about is Matt Brewer, who died last week, and how he once told me he hated to have Café Bodega open on a holiday. “Amateur night,” he grumbled over the phone, and I laughed. I could picture him shaking his head as he half-heartedly groused about all the unfamiliar faces filing into local restaurants on Valentine's, New Year's, Mother's Day. By amateurs, he meant people who don't usually eat at restaurants like his. They always wanted substitutions, the chef groused, and didn't tip well, which pissed off the wait staff. No, all in all it was a pain and he preferred not to do it. I think Brewer just got a lot of satisfaction from cooking for his regulars, the devoted folks who had followed him to Bodega from Café de las Placitas. This year he had planned on serving on Valentine's Day, even though it fell on a Monday, when the restaurant would normally be closed. He just wasn't going to advertise it, in hopes that the dining room would fill up with regulars.
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