Last night's prix-fixe was a good one, featuring Kevin's ever popular meatloaf. The meal started off with the cheese stuffed portabella mushroom, pictured above, in a pool of tomato sauce.
The veal meatloaf glistened under its sauce, beckoning the diner to dig in. And they did!
Angie made Swedish Apple Cake for the dessert, which was topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel. I have had this recipe in my book for a long time; it's a classic that my sister Marty shared with me many years ago, and it makes an appearance each fall.
Of course not everyone craved meatloaf last night. The swordfish with its black olives and sundried tomatoes was another temptation for our guests.
It's been a little stressful in our kitchen lately, mostly due to employee shortages. We are missing a line cook at lunch because we decided to fire one a couple of weeks ago. Not something we like to do - who does? - but it had slowly become apparent that this employee was undermining not only the integrity of our business but creating potential liability issues as well. When a staff member becomes poison, it is better to hasten their departure, rather than do as we tend to do - hope things get better or that you can make things work out. We are slow learners; but eventually it became very apparent that we needed to face the music and let the person go. Our daytime porter has also been absent for several lunch shifts lately; he has a new-born at home who requires lots of attention. She was born several weeks premature, and the mom has health issues of her own, so LaVonte is doing his Dad Duties. It's been difficult for our kitchen crew; we've had several shifts with the rest of the crew doing pots and dishes, or had a random person - someone's friend or relative - come in to take care of the shift as contract labor. Being short handed puts everyone out, but most of all Kevin. Last weekend, Washington College Parent's Weekend, was incredibly busy and he worked nonstop. He lost five pounds.
I think every restaurant in town worked hard this past weekend - we talked to Jeff on Monday, at the Fish Whistle, and he said it was the busiest he's been all summer. (The first thing we asked him was did all of his dish washers show up!) It's a great boost to September and everyone is grateful for the additional income, but it sure would be nice to be fully staffed. My ad on Craig's List has garnered a few calls, but I wonder if it was too much of a challenge:
"Brooks Tavern is looking for a lunch time line cook with a professional kitchen background, good to very good knife skills and experience on the line. No others will be considered"
But knife skills are vital to life in the kitchen and because so many so-called cooks don't actually cook - they open bags and boxes and prepare "products" - it is an increasingly rare skill to find among your average applicant. Anyway, we'll see. Meanwhile, we have our own Top Chef and his Mighty Crew doggedly prepping along and putting out some intensely good food for our clientele. The challenges continue and so do we! We are Winkies!