meeting Castro Ascarrunz

I love San Francisco

Tonight had a great & fun dinner at Vino with my aunt and my cousin. The dinner was good, our conversation was good, and the waiter/ piano player/ host/ improvisational drummer was FABULOUS! At first, with his abrupt and nearly unintelligible command for us to sit at the open tables near the piano, I though he was brusque, rude, promising an unpleasant evening. He then shifted us from there to a regular dining table on the main floor (3 steps down and less than 10 tables total), and his manner made us laugh and think he was just odd. As the evening wore on, more of his personality displayed itself. First he took our orders so quickly, it surprised us. We realized how accustomed we had become to waiters suggesting an appetizer, a drink, etc. This guy (named “Castro Ascarrunz” I learned from the review) simply wanted to bring us only what we asked for. Surprising and somewhat refreshing. Then, after our food was served, he sat down and played a few pieces on the piano. A rather eclectic collection of Bach pieces followed by “Memories” from Cats, and a couple classical standards that I couldn’t name. Still later one of the pieces of background music apparently worked for him and he started playing playing drums with a couple of pens on the edge of the bar and some wine bottles. A few regulars arrived and bursts of conversation flew across tables to the bar and the kitchen. The ultimate for us, however, was right at the end. A mambo is playing over the speakers, Castro pulls out one of those ratchety percussion instruments whose name I always forget, then grabs a pair of drumsticks and plays a little solo on the espresso machine, then on the bar, then on the collection of bar bottles. His grin was totally infectious and we just all started laughing.

I think I have to go back. Especially since, in addition to all this fun, the food was very good and very reasonably priced. What a city.

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