It’s very strange when someone dies over the Christmas holidays.
For one reason or another, we’re all so busy running around and doing things with friends and family that news takes a back seat to all the shopping and frivolity.
And even in these days of in-your-face social media bombardment, the death of an acquaintance can slip through the cracks and catch you by surprise ten days after the fact.
So it was with Linda Rodriguez’s passing on December 27th. By the time we heard about it last weekend, the funeral and memorial service had already been held.
To say we were shocked when we heard the news was an understatement. We had had lunch at her new restaurant — The Smashed Pig — only a few days before Christmas, and chatted her up about how successful the launch had been. Our meal there had been our fourth in the past month, and we were as excited as she was about the finely-tuned, English-themed, gastropub creations she and husband Martin Swift were turning out.
So excited, in fact, that we planned on featuring The Smashed Pig as our second review of the New Year, and planned on putting her and Swift on Channel 3 this week for our usual Friday morning restaurant segment.
We’ll put some of that on hold for the time being. As much as we’d like to rhapsodize about their steak and ale pie:
…or perfection of their fish and chips:
…..or this stick-a-licious sticky toffee pudding:
…. going on and on about such things just doesn’t seem appropriate.
We wish we believed in an afterlife, so we could take comfort in thinking things like “she’s looking down at us right now and will be happy with what we’re saying,” but truth be told, we’re entirely too cynical about life and death to take such leaps of faith.
All we know is that Linda Rodriguez was a well-trained, well-traveled, hard-working chef. We met her when she was running things at Hachi at Red Rock Station and she was always a joy to talk to. And boy could she put out a mean sushi roll. When we learned she and Swift had joined forces with the Downtown Project to open TSP, and that they were planning on opening a pub featuring upgraded dishes from Swift’s homeland, we had high hopes these two skilled professionals could pull it off. Sure enough, they did, and almost immediately (the place opened right after Thanksgiving) the word spread that this was a gastropub in the truest sense of the word.
At each of our meals, Linda was always there, working the front of the house with a kind word and a big smile while Martin was at the stoves, turning out food that deserved your attention.
Every time, after each lunch, I gave her words of encouragement and congratulations, and she gave me a big hug.
I’m sure Smith will soldier on, and the family will recover from this untimely tragedy, and the food will be just as good.
But the place won’t be the same without her smile…and one of those hugs.
THE SMASHED PIG
509 Fremont Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101