Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One Last Weekly UpDate

I've been pretty good through this "closing" thing, emotionally that is.  I haven't cried.  Until today.  So far - and it is 10AM - I've already had three weepy moments. I managed to keep it together through the last days with the staff, the last service on Saturday and the Party last night, but now that I no longer have to be strong...well, all bets are off.  I went upstairs to see Randy this morning and I was crying before I even got to his office!!

Oh boy.

A few final pictures of our final moments.

I wanted to take pictures of all the crews, lunch and dinner, but I only managed to get one of the day crew.  Tiffany, Deiona, Sheronda  and Mandrell have been a team for only a few months, but they were the best yet.  No drama among this group, just hard work and good attitude.  Sure, maybe we had a little trouble getting Tiffany to work in a timely fashion, but still, no complaints.  They will do well in their next positions, no matter where they land.

The last Brooks Tavern burger sizzles on the griddle at lunch on Saturday.

Val and her mom came in to dinner Saturday night, for one last meal at the bar.  It was so good to see Val on that momentous night! 

Mr. Hewes was very dapper at his last BT supper.  His spot at Table One will never be replaced.

Connie and Stu Godwin, along with Sinja Whiteley came in for the last supper, wearing their Brooks Tavern T-shirts!  Yes, they knew they were on backwards - the better to see them with!  The Godwins have been huge Brooks Tavern supporters, with always kind words for the staff and happy compliments for Kevin.

Mog Grosh didn't make it past the front desk before she began to tear up.  Like the Godwins, the Groshes have been-several-times-a-week regulars for a very long time.  We will miss seeing them.

The last ticket on the line on September 20th...

 ...and the last meals going out to the waiting guests.

The staff managed to take a selfie at the Party last night.  Or maybe it was Lisa taking it for them.  A nice shot of a great group of people.
And a last shot of Randy with a few of the kitchen crew and myself, at the end of the night last night.  I think the best thing about our Party was having the cooks walking around passing out the food.  They had such a good time with that!  Meeting the customers and making small talk, it was a blast for them, and the guests certainly enjoyed the interaction as well.

And, if it weren't for Randy's vision, none of this would have happened.

It's been a great run!  We have enjoyed some measure of success at Brooks Tavern, which I translate to mean making people happy in our dining room.  It has been a fabulous 7+ years at 870 High Street, and we are certainly going to miss the adrenalin rush that is a part of running a busy restaurant.  We will miss the customers, who have become friends in the way it can happen in this hospitality business, and we will miss meeting the daily challenges of making it all come together in time for service twice a day.  Sure, there are a few things we won't miss, but they are mere shadows of the positive experiences we have had since we opened the doors to the Ironstone Cafe 28 years ago.

Are we going to be happy in our new life, without a restaurant to call our own?  Time will tell.  It has been our sole focus for so long, it will take some weaning to get it out of our system.  Fortunately, we have our new venture to keep us busy in the coming months, so maybe the transition will be less traumatic than I am worrying it will be.

Thank you all for your unwavering support over the past quarter century.  We feel very grateful that you have made it possible for us to forge a living here in Kent County, doing work we love with people we respect in the best of all possible worlds - the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  We are very, very lucky and we know it.

Thank you thank you thank you!
Peace out one last time!

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Thursday Report

It's truly a strange life we are living right now.

It couldn't have been any busier on Tuesday night, and of course I had not scheduled any extra staff.  I believe I was in some kind of denial, thinking it was going to be just like any other Tuesday night at Brooks Tavern.  So, it's me on the bar on the bar, in my usual place on Tuesday nights, as I have been for the past 7.3 years.  But this is not a "usual" Tuesday night, of course. We are super busy - we do as many people between 5 and 8 o'clock as we did on Saturday night between 5 and 9.  What fun!  I tried very hard to keep a positive attitude about the whole thing, but because I was constantly just on the verge of falling into the abyss, it was almost impossible to act as though I was having a good time - which, professionally, is what I was supposed to do.  I spoke to someone the next day, who had been a witness to the previous evenings events, and she commented that I did look busy, but that my demeanor was strictly business-like, not rude or annoyed.  Uh oh.  You know what that means in real talk, don't you?   Bi*chy-like.  I do know that when I was in the back of the house, I was not friendly at all - it was f-this and f-that.  It was impossible to communicate pleasantly with the staff, none of whom deserved to be hassled simply because I was in the weeds.  The two servers were  Lisa and poor Mallory!  Both of them were working their tails off, and Mallory was definitely scrambling to keep up. It was an unconquerable task; all we could  really do was keep our heads above water.

However!  I did break the second place record for making Pear Cosmos on Tuesday night.  I didn't break Charlie's all time high of 23, but I shook up 16, which was 2 or 3 above the previous second place slot.  Woot Woot!

That being said, for the rest of the week we are fully staffed!  We expect to have a pretty rocking house for Thursday and Friday, as our valued clientele comes in for one last Pear Cosmopolitan and Carolina crepe.  Saturday is fully booked with reservations, which will hopefully make that last night of service go smoothly.  And on Tuesday we are having a party!  Most of the staff will be there, working and mingling with the guests.  I look forward to seeing Kevin and his crew out in the dining room for a change, personally taking on some overdue credit for all of their hard work in the name of hospitality.

There have been a lot of "lasts" lately, many of which are a little depressing.  The last order from Bacchus, the last prix-fixe menu, the last time we'll see the driver from Chef's Warehouse...

 ...and the last meal for Karl and Bill.   Karl and Bill are normally bar diners, that and Saturday lunch regulars, but they booked the kitchen table for their final BT dinner last Saturday night.  It was busy, so there was some action in the kitchen, which I think is what it is all about when you eat at the kitchen tall-top.

Another last - Debbie's final shift at Brooks Tavern.  Here she is, flanked by her two kitchen buddies, Sheronda and Tiffany aka "Stephanie".  Debbie will be starting her new job at the Country Club next week, where I hope the staff takes as good care of her as the BT kitchen crew has.  And by the way, according to Debbie, she is having a party here on Tuesday, so be sure to thank her when you see her next week at the Open House!

Since I had a bartender on for this last prix-fixe Wednesday, I was actually able to take pictures of the meal.  

First course was a spinach salad with cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes.
The final prix-fixe entree was Kevin's meatloaf, a particularly good batch too.  The downside was that we sold out by 6:30, which left more than a few meatloaf fans disappointed.  
Dessert was a strawberry sundae, with some balsamic vinagar in the sauce to tart it up a bit.
Thursday's burger night was just about the mania we had expected.  51 burgers went out into the dining room, as well as 15 Pear Cosmos (I still hold my Silver Metal title on that!).  We were cranking; everyone worked very, very hard to insure that our customers had a memorable time at their last BT Burger Night.
Another last - the last order of BT Burgers for Burger Mania going out.  Despite Mallory's big smile, she's feeling a little blue about her BT stint coming to a close.

The Lyons party were the recipients of those burgers.  And in the seat beyond them you can see Doc Blanchard, a regular diner we have mentioned on this site before.  He did not know of the rapidly approaching deadline, so his arrival was quite serendipitous.  He has been a grand supporter of Kevin and I and of our staff since the Ironstone Days, when he and his wife Barbara claimed table 41 each and every Saturday night.

There was also one last Herr Fest for Burger night - four Herrs and their respective spouses gathered together for a final meal together under our roof.  The plans for Herr Cooking Classes are in the works.

This is the prep list for today.  With the uptick in business, there is plenty to do in the kitchen.  In some ways, it is good that work on the Circle has sucked the life out of our lunch trade for the last couple of weeks!  The cooks have so much to do, service almost takes a back seat...

Our guests have shared a lot of memories with me since the news of our departure has surfaced.  One couple told me last night that one of their first dates was at our place, and it is where they became engaged.  Another told me that she had her interview for her job at Washington College at Brooks, and the professor who interviewed her was interviewed 26 years ago for his current position at the college at the Ironstone!  They were dining together one last time with us.   As we wind down our 28 year journey in the restaurant business in Kent County, it is very heart warming to hear stories that typify what kind of place a small business can be fortunate to hold in the local community.  Restaurants especially are a place where memories are made, by way of special celebrations and important milestones.  We are so grateful to have been a part of so many peoples lives for this long, sharing in the good, even in the bad sometimes, and only once in a while the truly ugly.  It's really a very special existence, one that trumps any so-called "hardship" that a restauranteur might encounter.

Stay tuned for a few more "last" posts.

Peace out!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Thursday Report

A very busy Wednesday night last night with me on the bar shift left little time for photo documenting the prix-fixe menu as is my custom.  Actually, lately it's been a little too busy to do much of anything except keep up.  This last minute outpouring of support has been simply wonderful, really.  It has been good for the staff and good for us, sad as the reason for it might be.  We are challenged to remain committed to our product and prove to the staff that we will be professionals to the bittersweet end, and so will they.  It would be the easy road to follow, if we just said "Oh, what the heck does it matter?  We're closing anyway." But obviously, that is not the way we operate.  We intend to be the best we can be, all the way through.  And we appreciate more than words can say how our customers are also remaining committed to us.

That doesn't mean I like being on the bar on a busy Wednesday night, despite the shelter from conversation it offers me.  And last night was particularly painful because it was too busy for the floor staff to handle well and I was too busy on the bar to help them.  While I am here  promising to be the best, we probably did not come across that way last night, and I was very disappointed to have to witness it.  We want to go down in a blaze of glory, not as some inept comedy show.  Luckily we have Meg scheduled on the bar for next Wednesday, so this may be the last time we suffer from being understaffed during this outpouring of appreciation.  I could not take another night like last night...

Here is the only picture of the menu I was able to shoot - the linguine with mushrooms and leeks. There is a story behind this pasta dish...  During one of Kevin's forays into the world of internet food, he came across a very interesting way to cook dry pasta.  We've already mastered Mark Bittman's method of cold water pasta, which involves less energy use, but now Kevin has learned a way to cut back even more - soaking dried pasta.  Soaking it for 90 minutes allows the pasta to absorb the water it needs to hydrate, so that all it needs after that is to be tossed in the sauce you've already made to serve it with!  Wow!  Who knew? 

We made some sweet chile garlic sauce for the winter.  That is some good stuff!

If you like summer meals, this salad from lunch the other day was for you - Redman's kale, squash and cherry tomatoes with slices of fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.   And, as summer winds down - not going to get over 75 or so starting tomorrow - be sure to eat all the watermelon you can.  I recommend daily.

FYI - Kilby Cream has absolutely nailed the salted caramel ice cream.  Nailed it.  I can only compare it to Jan MacDonald's award winning version, and Kilby's comes in a close second.  We are currently pairing it with an oatmeal raisin cookie in our ice cream sandwich, and it is a killer combination.

We had an interesting take on the tipping conversation last week, bringing to us a theory I've never encountered before.  A couple of Jenn's customers had a drink before dinner and then each chose a bottle of wine to enjoy with the meal - she wanted red and he wanted white, so they got one each,  and took the leftovers home.  When it came time to settle up, the gentleman explained that he did not believe in tipping on the bottles of wine, although he is fine about leaving a tip for the "corkage".  He carefully subtracted the cost of the two bottles - $42 - from the bottom line of the check, and then proceeded to replace that with what he deemed was a fair "corkage" fee of $15.  He added that into the check and tipped on that new total.   It appears that he is of the opinion that the price of the wine makes no difference, it's the opening and serving that he tips upon, the so-called corkage.  I find his methodology to be quite creative, although his beliefs are not new.  I have witnessed the controversy over tipping on a $20 bottle of wine versus a $100 bottle - why should you have to tip so much more on the more expensive bottle when it takes no additional effort to serve than the $20 bottle?  But this corkage thing was taking the same premise to new heights.  Or maybe just a little more careful thought went into his philosophy. The worst of it was that he then asked Jenn if that was okay, if that was enough tip for her.  What is she supposed to say to that?  She is a professional.  She said "Whatever you want to do, sir, is fine with me."  Really.  And now I wonder, is his corkage fee $7.50 a bottle?  Because that's a little low.

It is pretty exciting to think about all the new restaurants getting ready to come our way.  The new Luisa's is slated to open soon in the old Village Bakery location; of course Cafe Sado is entering our space in November; Molly's outside of Kennedyville is morphing into Matthew's, with Matthew Whitehair at the helm; Barbara's rejuvenation of the Betterton restaurant that used to be Dublin Dock is rapidly approaching; and Steve from the Kitchen at Rock Hall will apparently be taking up residence at the Imperial Hotel dining room, with our sous-chef Jay taking over Steve's spot in that Rock Hall Kitchen later next spring.  Wow!  That is a lot of change coming!  Not to mention a renewed Acme and new Redners.  Kent County is just going to rock the food world, eh?  We picked a good time to be diners rather than operators, didn't we?  We are on a road to change ourselves, with our new business in Kennedyville demanding more and more of our attention.  The K-B Market and Kitchen School has a FaceBook page, complete with a photo of the building while it was under construction in 1995!  just need to do a little updating there!    I attached a link to the page on the weekly email, which didn't work, so maybe I got it right this time...

I leave you today with a picture of what may end up being our legacy here at the Radcliffe Mill.  That little red vine you see there in the shrubbery has gotten a firm hold on the bed by the loading dock, and if my experience with it in my home garden is any indication of the future, this lovely hummingbird attractor will continue to sprout here for years to come.   You're welcome!

Peace out!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Weekly Report From 870 High Street

As we reach "hump day" on our third "last week" at Brooks Tavern, things continue to be very interesting.  We are trying to be careful with our ordering, so as to not have a lot of leftover ketchup and such, but we don't want to actually run out of anything either.  My brother has been doing some shopping for us at Sam's Club, because there are some things we can only get by the case, which we don't need, at this stage of the game.  And, since we don't need a whole five gallon pail of dill pickles, Kevin took the advice of his Sister-in-Law and made his own, with a recipe she provided:

I'm not exactly sure if he followed Harriet's recipe exactly (probably not) but the results were perfectly acceptable.  And the spears look quite nice on the lunch plates.  It's sort of comical though, really, that he has to have that pickle on that plate.  The plate is not complete without it, even if it means you have to make the pickles yourself!

I'm pretty sure I've noted in an earlier post that we have never actually closed a restaurant before, so  this is an entirely new procedure we are following.  Luckily, we will be able to do a Bulk Liquor Transfer to Mr. Wong, when he gets his license, so we don't have to worry about ordering too much  V.O. or Captain Morgan, but the food will take careful monitoring.  Some things will certainly stay on the menu until the bittersweet end - the calamari, the romaine, the crab cake and quiche for example.  But as the days travel onward, the menu may begin to reflect more and more of what's in house.  For instance, there may be a few #10 cans of hominy that will find their way into the Soup of the Day.  Of course, any non-perishables can be taken to the local food bank at the end of the day, so it is generally the meat and produce that will have to be tightly ordered.  Luckily we have a freezer! Ha! My plan, to help with this critical issue, is to eat something from the menu every night.  I'm going to start with the scallop tempura, then the next night, a crab cake.  The night after that, cream of crab soup, and then a crab cake the next night.  The following night - crab cake.  And perhaps the night after that I'll have...piccolo fritto!  What ever it takes, I'm here to help!

It is no doubt going to be a challenging few weeks to come.  Saying "goodbye" is going to be terrible.  I've already had to do it with a few regulars and I know it is only going to get worse.  Frankly, I've been kind of glad to be on the bar both Tuesday and Wednesday nights, because it limits the interaction I have with the guests in the Dining Room - I can only handle so much!  

The traffic circle has been no friend of Brooks Tavern this week, that is for sure.  They are putting in the curbing - god knows how Harry Morris is supposed to get into his driveway! - and so the flaggers are back, directing traffic to go around the circle counter-clockwise, which is of course very confusing.  It must have been extremely confusing to someone this morning, because they drove straight across the circle, until stopped by cement.  The driver had to be taken away by ambulance - whether the confusion was caused by a physical event, or the event caused by confusion, I can't say - and the Jeri-dan arrived shortly thereafter for the car itself.  All of this mess of course caused an even longer back-up for traffic in every direction.  Let's hope this is the last day for this.  (Bill Kelly just dropped off our Redman order, and he was livid - he'd been on Route 20 for 45 minutes, trying to get the few miles to our stop.)  (And this is even better - Mr. Bramble et al came in for lunch today!  I told them we appreciated the business, as we were quite slow!  He retorted that they hoped to be finished by September 20th...  It was too funny.)

What a great menu we had last night!  Some remarked that Kevin was trying to pave the way for the Asian cuisine soon to come to our dining room, but it was simply a coincidence.  The starter was egg-drop soup, or, as Kevin phrased it, "drop-in-an-egg soup".  Once again, this is an example of Kevin having fun with the Wednesday prix-fixe. He'd come across a technique for poaching eggs in advance to use in ramen noodles, and he decided maybe he could do the same thing for a menu soup.  I think he felt he was 75% successful - most of the eggs came out perfectly, and the guests were able to swirl them into the hot broth.  The method he used for these "slow poached eggs" came from David Chang's "Momofuku" cookbook, if you want to give it a try yourself!

Next was the sweet and spicy roast chicken on rice noodles.  The sauce that these chicken pieces were tossed in after being roasted was ridiculous!!!  The aroma alone got the salivary glands working overtime.  It was so good,  I for one could have just slurped it up with a spoon.  And, believe it or not, he wrote down a recipe for it!  The two key ingredients are ginger and gochujang - Korean red pepper paste.  This dish is a serious keeper - it has a definite place on wings, for certain.

More food - tomato, bacon, mozzarella and string bean salad found only at lunch at Brooks Tavern last week.  And only for one day...

Surf and Turf, BT style - St.Brigid's Farm veal with a Brooks Tavern crab cake.

Peach pie.  One of those "last" things we are seeing more and more of around here.  The last Brooks Tavern fruit pie.

Cherry tomato and mozzarella salad with Thai basil.  The basil and the tomatoes are from our home garden.

The duck stir-fry has been featuring peaches in a coconut sauce.  This is a very popular dish, which in itself bodes well for Mr. Wong's arrival in November, eh?

Kevin had another request for sweetbreads last week, and they were paired with more of that tasty SBF veal as a dinner special.  I just realized that I never got one bite of sweet breads this go around.  I'll have to add that to my bucket list for the next two weeks!

Many people have been quizzing me for details on our plans for the so-called cooking school we plan to open in Kennedyville later this fall.  I realize that  I am a little sketchy with details thus far, but basically we envision it as a casual yet serious place to learn new kitchen skills while you cook with friends, new and old.  We hope to do weeknights and weekends - Saturday classes for kids, let's say, and maybe a ladies only Thursday night event, or a Friday night couples class.  Subjects would range from perhaps a sauce making class to knife skills to "How to Make Mozzarella", with the end of the class resulting in food eaten together.  And then there's team building, bridal showers, birthday and retirement celebrations, all events that could be documented via a specially arranged class with Kevin.  And don't forget the wine!  I am hoping that will be part of it.  I imagine things will rotate in and out of repetition, with more popular topics appearing more regularly.  If you think you might be interested in keeping track of what we are planning,  please be sure to get on our current email list, as this will most likely be the only venue for communication in the beginning.  You can email me through the Brooks Tavern web site, or at

Peace out!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Thursday Report

Our kitchen King is having a very bad week.  So much to do, so little time, so little help.  His right hand man - Jay the sous-chef - has been out all of this week with some kind of severe stomach virus.  Luckily we began to put Dionna on the schedule at 11AM last week, and this week she is learning to work Kevin's station on the lunch line, but there is so much prep that only Jay does.  That leaves it for Kevin to do, as well as doing his own work.  We've managed to staff the line at night, thanks in large part to Mandrell stepping up to that plate, which is lucky, but still, it is too much.  We want these last four weeks to be fun! a time for Kevin to pull out all the stops and fool around a bit with the menu.  Well, that is not happening this week anyway.  Hopefully next week Jay will be revived and the show can begin.  Meanwhile, we have read the riot act to the remaining kitchen crew that we just cannot deal with any absences.

And the same is true of the dining room.  I'm down to 2.5 bus people.  Thank god for new-girl Gabrielle, who is working 9 shifts a week!  Bussers are a serious cog in the service wheel.  They can pretty much make or break the servers night, and I'm not sure the servers really even realize that!!  But I do, and I am grateful to have found someone who wants to work these last few weeks, knowing it is not a forever job.  Between Gabrielle and Tyler, I have the weeknights covered, with Mallory picking up the slack on Thursday and Friday, while Leah will do a double on Saturdays.  We are sure cutting it close though, with no room for error.  No one in the DR is allowed any time off either, from now until September 21st!  Can we make it?

And, of course, since we are winding down, we have been very busy. Particularly at lunch...

Last night was a relatively mellow night, probably since I had asked Meg to cover the bar...

The prix-fixe menu opened with an eggplant mozzarella stack.  Looked tremendous.

Stuffed Redman's peppers were to follow.  Here they are, glory in their pans.

They sat on the plate like big, red softballs.  Hard to tell what it was going to look like, unless you cut right into it.
Which is what happened next - I followed the plate to the table and asked the guest could I take a picture as she cuts the orb open?  SBF veal and rice stuffing revealed.  

Cream caramel was for dessert.  I feel like we should have this on the menu for the next three Wednesdays, since I don't know when I will ever have this classic dessert again!  My recipe - and yes, these are still my job - dates back to the Ironstone days, as do the little blue cups that we used back then.  Now the blue cups mostly hold the chocolate pudding cakes!  I think we have ten left - 28 years old!  Just like me!  ha!

Swordfish with tomatoes and bacon one way...

...and here it is with the same basic garnishes, done another way!  Both look pretty tempting.

St. Brigid's Farm veal gets gilded with those same roasted tomatoes, but instead of the lemon butter sauce that is on top of the fish, there is found some melted mozzarella.  

And last night I guess I was just hungry, because the piccolo frito looked so good! I had to take a picture.

Many of you have asked me what the staff was going to do after Brooks Tavern closes on September 20th.  While Mr. Wong has suggested he will have jobs for the majority, most already have found other outlets for their various talents.  Rayvon and Dashon have secured positions at Heron Point - Rayvon began working there on the weekend a few months ago and Dashon will start when we part ways here.  Sheronda - the one I was most worried about - has accepted a position at Barbara Esmonde's new spot in Betterton, Barbara's on the Bay.  She will be a huge asset to that start-up, this I know.  Tiffany and Antwan are still unsure, but they both have Barbara's number, as does Dionna.  They may choose to stay on Mr. Wong's payroll, if possible.  Mandrell is considering taking a job down at the Outlets.  Jay says that Mrs. Jay tells him that he can't take a new job until he finishes working on their house...  As for the Dining room servers, Ashley already has gotten established with her house cleaning business, which is actually beginning to take over her life, apparently.  Jenn has accepted a position with the Queen Anne's County public school system and Mallory will begin to work full time in her mother's salon near Kennedyville.  Only Nicole and Lisa remain unaccounted for.  Nicole may just wait out her pregnancy and start a new job after the first of the year.  Lisa is basically undecided, but if someone is smart, they will grab her up!  

Labor Day weekend this weekend, which traditionally marks the end of summer.  We sure got gypped this summer.  I made only one batch of popsicles.  We never took Ruby swimming.  We ate no sno-cones.  There have been no sweltering sleepless nights.  The electric bill has not hit quadruple digits.  We haven't fried any eggs on any sidewalks, nor have we had any fainting in the kitchen.  What kind of summer has this been?  One for the record books.

Peace out!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Weekly UpDate

I suppose the big news around these parts - meaning 870 High Street - is that Cafe Sado's owner has signed a lease to take over this space currently known as Brooks Tavern, as of October 1.  Our last day of service will be Saturday, September 20th.  Tony Wong hopes to open his new venture later this fall.

There are some naysayers who predict that an Asian style restaurant won't be able to make it in Chestertown,  but I think it is a great fit.  Plenty of us drive to Middletown or to Mr. Wong's place already for our sushi fix.  Plus, if you look at the menu on Cafe Sado's web site, you will see that it is not just sushi - there are tempuras and stir-frys, even crab cakes and filet of beef.  I don't believe Mr. Wong would be the success he is at his Chester location if he wasn't doing something right.  And he's not just starting out - he's been an owner-operator for 6 or 7 years.  Maybe people will be surprised.  At the very least, having an ethnic restaurant come to town will certainly liven up the local dining scene, not to mention add some much needed variety.

That all being said, it is a very bittersweet time for us.  First of all, we have never closed a restaurant before.  The previous two businesses were handed over to new owners in a barely noticeable fashion.  This time, not only are we shuttering the doors, but a whole new concept will be re-opening them, with no connection to us, our menu or our style of operation.  We hope Mr. Wong takes on a few of our staff - some familiar faces in the dining room might be a comforting sign for our regulars - but Kevin and I will have gone up the road by the time sushi comes to Chestertown.  We will have a bit of a rough time, I predict, saying our farewells not only to our great customers but to the restaurant life altogether.  We have never done anything else, for the most part.  I am not sure yet how we will handle this transition, but I do know there will be wine involved...

So, just what are we up to?  Well, one thing for certain, we are NOT retiring, despite what you might hear.  That door is not open.  What we have planned is a small business in our old Kennedyville Inn building, which we still own and which needs to pay its share of the bills.  We will be opening - hopefully this fall - the K-B Kitchen School and Market.  Of course we have never run anything like this in our lives and have no knowledge of either culinary school or retail.  A bit of a gamble, eh?  Plus, with the recent change in schedule, we need to be up to speed a little sooner than we had originally thought.  Still, we think, with a little self-education (like taking a cooking class somewhere) we have an idea for a business that could be welcomed in the community.  Picture a professional kitchen that looks like a home kitchen, a room where the home cook would not feel intimidated like they might if they were faced with a wall of huge ovens and yards of stainless steel.  A pleasantly home-y kitchen that serves a professional meal.  Imagine arriving on a Friday night with your SO, getting your hands dirty learning to make homemade pasta with Chef Kevin, drinking a little red wine, and then sitting down with the class afterwards for a meal you helped prepare.  Recipes included.  Expand on that theme to include classes for kids, butchering classes or simply knife skills.  Then get into team building, girls night out or a birthday celebration.  Once you get going, the idea becomes sort of addicting, no?

As for the market, we envision it morphing into shape while the Kitchen School evolves.  We don't plan on any perishables; instead maybe things like Rise Up Coffee or Shippen Creek cutting boards.  Perhaps someone has honey they want to sell, or garden baskets they weave from phragmites (wouldn't that be nice!  something with kudzu perhaps?) or skeins of rabbit wool.   Food related items that are produced right here on the Eastern shore.  It is obviously still a work in progress, but hopefully you get the picture.  We have our construction permit and we are working with the K.C. Planning Office, who have been very helpful I might add, on the business plan.  Those on our email list will get advance warning notice of what is happening; let me know if you want to be added to it.  In any event, change is in the wind, whether we are ready or not.  We hope to succeed at our new endeavor and we certainly hope Mr. Wong does too. 

Our last day of service here at BT is September 20th.  On Tuesday September 23rd we are going to hold an open house, from 4PM until 7.  All of our customers and friends, purveyors and industry peers are invited.  Maybe we can even get Mr. Wong to come and make it a welcome party for him!

One of the problems with my being on the bar Wednesday nights is that I am not able to take pictures of the Wednesday menu as it exits the kitchen, especially when it is super busy like it was last night.  And not only was it super busy, but we had two new bus girls on the scene, one training to host and one training to bus, both of whom were being supervised by Kaitlyn - on her last night - while she also was expected to host and bus herself.  Ha!  That's what you get for leaving us, Kaitlyn!  It was hectic as all get out, and I'm sure there was more than a little stress among the dining room staffers.   I can only hope that things went relatively smoothly, but with two new girls who were probably not too well trained lose on the floor, well, you get the idea.  I am sure it was not perfect.  And I am also sure that Kaitlyn was quite glad when the night was over!

The menu looked terrific though, and I'm sorry I only got a shot of the first course.

That would be a mozzarella roulade with basil and roasted peppers.  The entree was slow cooked chicken in cream with tomatoes - I would have loved to have had a plate of that - and dessert was Mrs. Fry's favorite: walnut roll.  Kevin doubled that recipe, so it will be on the dessert menu today at lunch. 

The chicken we have been running lately begins with the original "sous vide" method of cooking.  The old fashioned poach-until-165-degrees method.  Who needs an expensive machine when you have a big pot of water and a thermometer?

 Kevin took a break from the veal and pork sausage to make some andouille...

...which is included in the shrimp gumbo on the lunch specials this week.

Meanwhile, at dinner, the lamb shank proved a popular item.  Pretty hefty drumstick, eh?

We've been supplementing the regular delivery of Redman cherry tomatoes with some from our own vines this month.  Volunteers in our bed, the best kind of tomato plant!

On Monday we picked up a box of peaches from Godfreys.  If you haven't gotten any of their peaches yet this summer, you better move fast - they will be shutting down the operation after Labor Day weekend.  Their peaches are delicious.  We laid them out on a table on our porch before bringing them into the walk-in at work.  They ripened up perfectly.

Peach pie was the first thing they went into.  No photo proof, however, since it was on Wednesday night.  Peach up-side down cake on the dessert menu today.

Bill delivered this spectacular box of Redman's peppers yesterday - and now I have a new screensaver.  What beautiful colors!  They'll be roasted and used for all manner of things, including topping for the special burger tonight.

I have a feeling the next few weeks are going to fly by.  We have a lot to do to prepare for the next phase of our lives, while still doing what we do here at BT.  Is it going to be fun?  Probably not particularly, but it will be a challenge.  I just hope I can keep my emotions in check...

Peace out!