Wednesday, November 09, 2011

This And That

Some Wednesday morning musings:
  • Kevin finally managed to put together a seasonal update on the dinner menu (lunch is next) and I hope to get some pictures of the end results tonight.  The main change would be the removal of crab and the addition of oyster.  We will still have our crab cakes for a week or so longer, but we'll be offering them only as "specials" and when they are gone, they're gone.  
  • The oyster fritter has had a very welcome comeback.  We sold-out each night it was on the specials board last week.  Now that it is on the regular menu, we hope that won't happen!  And for you lunch timers who crave that oyster delight, we hate to tell you that we can only offer the fritter at dinner.  Why? because Kevin is the only one who can make them to his satisfaction and he is not on the lunch line every day.  
  • As many of you have already noticed, there are several new faces in the DR.  Thomas has cut back his hours in order to take a day-job in Denton; he now works Saturday night only.  Meanwhile, his old weeknight shifts are being covered by Jenn, who previously was pretty much weekend only, aside from her Thursday night gig on the bar.  Jenn also works a day-job, and in order to have a "life" (a what?) she has requested Saturdays off.  Luckily Craig's List sent us a young woman from Goldsboro who is interested in just that single shift.  Meg began training last week, and as she has plenty of experience and is a quick study, she will officially be on the floor next weekend, as a regular Saturday night server.  We hope the drive doesn't deter her...  The four new bussers are also making their way; we've mentioned Kara and Mallory, who have been joined by Rhianna and Kaitlyn.  Kaitlyn was a familiar face at the much missed Village Bakery, and Rhianna is a new resident of Chestertown, as a student at Chesapeake College.  We are working their little butts off, and so far they seem to be on track for success.  I noticed last night that Kaitlyn was managing to be one step ahead of the servers - just as they were giving her direction to do something, she was on her way there.  That's what we like!  And then we have Kentrall, taking over Katie's spot at lunch.  Kentrall has been a back-of-the-house employee since one year ago this very week, and began his dining room experience late this summer.  He is hosting and bussing at lunch, demonstrating a lot of charm and energy for the job.  
  • In the kitchen, the lunch line is now headed up by Brittany.  She is doing a fabulous job - Kevin says her quiche is just as good as his. Brittany is one of those employees who really pays attention to what Kevin can teach her; she is like a sponge when he directs her.  Alongside Brittany on the line is newest employee Mandrell, who hasn't been a cook for awhile but is proving that time is not his enemy.  The two of them have become a very reliable team, and between them, with Angie back on the salads, lunches come out in a delicious and timely fashion. 
  • Just got a call from J.R. of Lemon Leaf fame - he alerted me to a very kind review posted on my nemesis TripAdvisor which he had not seen but which a customer of his had called him about, because, he was told, it slammed his business.  That seemed pretty weird to me.  In reading it, I wouldn't say the reviewer was "slamming" anyone, although I did catch a hint of sarcasm. Amazingly enough, it was actually pretty spot-on regarding BT.  Wow!  Someone "got it"!  After my last rant about those mean-spirited anonymous reviews, it is gratifying to see a fresh commentary that sounds as though the writer was actually a customer and not a disgruntled shill.  I reassured J.R. that his spot at Number One was certainly not in any jeopardy, and if I was him, I wouldn't pay much attention to that site anyway.  As I have said before, we've probably served maybe 80,000 meals since we opened in May of 2007, and among our 40 or so TripAdvisor reviews from the past four years, probably half are negative.  That doesn't seem like a bad average, if you even care about that sort of thing, does it?  I don't particularly enjoy the personal attacks, but overall I can't complain about the coverage.  And J.R. should be ecstatic with his reviews, not worried about ours.  He's got a good thing going!  Every restaurant in Chestertown adds their own style to the dining mix, and each attracts a clientele that appreciates what they do, despite what a group of anonymous "critics" might put forth. Our focus should be how we can work together to bring more diners to town, and to serve them with mutual dignity and respect.  But that's a blog for another post!
  • As always, November brings the rapid approach of the holiday season and the rituals it demands -  the food, the displays, the attire.  For the next seven weeks we will be obsessed with cookie recipes, champagne finds and foie gras.  (At least I hope we are obsessed with foie gras!!)  It is a wonderful time of year, when we listen to the same music, watch the same movies and enjoy the same annual traditions.  For us here at Brooks Tavern, one of the primary traditions is dinner on New Year's Eve.  For the past four we have offered a prix-fixe menu with several choices for each course, all very deluxe and with complicated preparations. It is often a sell-out, and it is a project that takes many, many days to produce, after weeks, if not months of advance planning.  Every year when Kevin writes that massive prep list and begins to put it together the last week of December, I say never again.  It is just too much stress and too much labor for one person to oversee.  So, this year, we are going to simplify things a bit.  Same prix-fixe venue, but fewer choices: maybe two first courses and two, at the most three entree choices.  We'll know what will be on the menu in plenty of time for you to decide whether or not it is going to be for you, and we will continue the tradition of taking reservations for any size party.  We hope that this approach is more realistically manageable for our kitchen while still seasonally special for our guests.  I will keep you informed as to how this project is materializing, as we continue to drift into the winter holidays.  
  • The wonderful, if dry, recent weather has found us relaxing on the patio many Sundays of late, usually with a fire in the fire pit, watching the sky turn color and laughing at the cat chasing the dog.  We have both been working very hard at our respective jobs; the most we feel like doing on our day off is to wander into the house for a bottle of wine and some chips.  Gotta love the simple life!  Hope yours is equally fine.  Thanks for stopping by!

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