For nearly 80 years, Pat’s Cafe quietly persisted in downtown Guerneville. With a focus on breakfast and lunch, meals were hearty workaday diner standards with family-friendly prices and fisherman-friendly hours. And for three generations under the ownership of the same family, not much changed.
Time meandered by like the nearby Russian River as salmon runs came and went. Floods came and went. Lazy Bear weekends, summer resort-goers and Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence came and went.
Then came David Blomster and his Korean Fried Crack (aka Korean Fried Chicken) and everything changed.
Over the last six years, Blomster was behind an evening pop-up at Pat’s that featured Asian-inspired dishes with California flair. It’s messy, saucy, cram-it-in-your-face kind of food, with his sweet-savory fried chicken as the star.
Now, Blomster is heading the whole Pat’s show, taking ownership of the restaurant, removing the old bar, creating a new menu and changing the name to Pat’s International to better reflect the gentle mash-up of cuisines he’s featuring.
You can sit at the retro-cool counter with round diner seats or pad into the dining room with wall-to-wall green carpeting and wooden picnic tables. Napkins, silverware, and jam are already on the table.
Though you can certainly stumble into Pat’s with blinders on, it’s the journey into the town’s history and Blomster’s quirky design sensibility that’s a huge part of the appeal.
To take anything at Pat’s at face value is to miss everything. Every surface tells a story, from the mottled “pecky cypress” wood on the walls to the geometric plastic ceiling tiles that are actually an art installation by artist Jim Isermann to a meticulously detailed 1950s Russian River map made by Bill Schaadt, considered one of the world’s greatest fly fishermen.
Everything at Pat’s comes with a side of history. Or fried chicken. Your choice.
The KFC Sandwich, $10: The classic fried chicken sando comes with slightly spicy sweet and savory sauce, vanilla slaw, aioli, and a brioche bun. Skip the chicken and get a fried KFT, made with tofu.
Mac and Crack, $17.50: You can go with the plain mac, made with cheddar, Gruyere and Parmesan cheese, but why not sex it up a little and throw some Korean Fried Chicken on top? If you can eat the whole bowl, I salute you and your powerful appetite.
Ham Benedict, $15: Why hasn’t everyone thought to make eggs benny with cheesy Mornay sauce instead of Hollandaise? Details. Truly a triumph of yum.
Huevos Rancheros, $14: The classic made with layers of crispy tortilla, black beans, a thick disc of scrambled eggs, salsa and sour cream.
Chicken Pozole, $16: A heaping helping of mild green chili and shredded chicken soup with hominy. Guaranteed to cure your winter blues.
Also check out: Tofu scramble, biscuits and gravy, hot cakes and syrup, a grass-fed burger, a vegan soba noodle bowl, “Catch of the Day” fish and chips or the Reuben.
Currently serving breakfast and lunch daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner will return in the spring. 16236 Main St., Guerneville, 707-604-4007, patsinternational.com.