Thursday, August 04, 2011

Top Ten F.A.Qs

Out in the BT dining room, our main jobs are to ensure that our guests have a good meal and a good time.  We are their tour guides, so to speak, as they navigate their way through the menu in an attempt to take advantage of what our kitchen has to offer.  Of course first time diners have the most questions, and the dining room staff needs to be prepared to answer them all,  no matter how many times they are repeated.

 We address some of the more basic questions on the FAQs page of the WebSite, such as hours and where the name comes from.  During service we handle the more detailed inquisitions face-to-face, and there are a few questions we get asked frequently enough that they should probably be put on the WebSite as well.   Here's our top ten:

1. The number one question that our customers ask is probably "What is the difference between 'large' plates and 'small'?"  While I think this is a more common term today than it was when we began describing our two menu sections that way 16 years ago, it still is a new vision for some of our diners.  We generally tell them that the main difference is that the small plates, unlike the large, do not come with sides, making them perfect for light appetites or shared appetizers.

2. "Do they make the bread here?"  Yes.

3. "What's on draft?"  Nothing.  This is typically not the answer desired, but we do always have something interesting on the beer list to appease the draft beer drinker, albeit in bottles and cans.

4. "How long have you been here?"  Now, if I get asked this question, and I think the inquiring customer has a sense of humor (and you know I am not always correct in my judgement on that...) I will say "Oh, since about 7:30."  Of course, if all goes well, we will laugh and I will say "since 2007". 

5. "What's a Carolina Crepe?"  This is probably the number one question about a particular item on the menu, and since there really isn't any description with the listing, it's a fair one.  We explain that it is a cornmeal crepe filled with pulled pork barbeque, but it's usually not until someone orders one that they really "get it".

6. "Is the crab cake gluten-free?"  Wheat seems to be number one among food allergies these days, and yes, our crab cake is wheat free.  Kevin actually tries daily to make more and more menu items without wheat or wheat products, and our gluten-free lists grows to include many other menu items such as the Chocolate Roulade found regularly on the dessert list, most of the soups and pretty much all of the sauces.

7. "Is the [fill in the blank] local?"  This is probably the top new question in our four years at BT.  It could be in regard to anything from the tomatoes to the lamb to the beer.  We answer honestly.  If it is, it is.  If not, no, it's not.

8. "Are your desserts homemade?"  The truthful answer to this inquiry, if what you are asking is are the desserts made in someone's home, then no, they are not, they are made in our professional kitchen.  But we understand that typically the questioner is asking if we make them ourselves, or do we buy them at Sam's Club.  The answer is we make them ourselves, or at least Angie does.  Recently wed Angie Griffin Smith makes everything from the pudding cakes to the cheesecakes.  I help her out now and then - after all, I was the dessert slave queen for 20+ years - and make the seasonal pies and occasional bread pudding.  Professionally rendered - that's how Kevin likes to describe our desserts.

9. "Where did you get your chef?"  This is one of my personal favorites.  I always want to say "We got him on sale from Chef's Warehouse".  But I know what they really mean, and if the timing is right, I will say "from home".  Eventually the truth will come out.

10. "What's going on with the Kennedyville building?"  This, of course, is one from our regulars, who miss the 'Centrally Located in the Middle of Nowhere" restaurant of long ago.  Often it is a request for a chance to reminisce, rather than for an actual answer.  Remember those ribs?  Remember the parties upstairs?  Remember Nate and Matt, Jeannie and Leigh?  The actual answer to the question is an unhappy "nothing".

Anything else you want to know?

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