Thursday, September 13, 2012

News From 870 High Street

Believe it or not, I completely forgot to document last night's prix-fixe menu!  It never even entered my brain!  And the goat cheese flan, on its nest of corn and Napa cabbage, with the green cilantro vinaigrette, looked so good!  Meatloaf followed, which always looks good (and has been thoroughly documented from previous menus), with cream caramel for dessert.  You'll just have to imagine how it all looked.

It was fairly quiet for a Wednesday night, until about 7:00 when we began to get a pretty steady stream of guests, right up until the magic 8:00 hour.  It seemed to be several parties of new customers - or at least newish, since their faces were not too familiar to me - which is always a good thing, at least it is if we win them over!  It can be a challenge at times, and I am pretty sure we may not have convinced one couple of our charm last night.  It was one complaint after another. (Of course, when I went to the table, all was sweetness and light.)  The main one was that the small plate was too small: the hand-cut fettuccine, billed as a small plate and explained as such, price and all, left them hungry for more. They told Ashley that it was "ridiculously" small.  They ordered a flounder to share.   Next it was reported to me that they felt the room was too dim, that the woman had looked around and noticed how people had to "struggle" to see the menus.  This can be a legitimate complaint - we have the lights set at a certain level on the dimmer switch, but sometimes they can get knocked off place.  I scanned the switches - all was normal - and when next I went out into the dining room, I actually thought that the room looked too bright!  Especially the table where this unhappy couple had sat - I have tried to get the lights over those booths to a relaxing and comfortable level, but they always seem too high.   To me, that is.  To some - and I recognize the variances in peoples eyesight - it may not be enough.  The fact is, we rarely, if ever, get complaints about the room being too dark.  And there is nothing I find worse than an evening dining room brightly lit with the glare of overhead lighting, especially if it is florescent.  But, each to his own.  I did not change the dimmers last night.  And the funny part is, when I went out to check the lights, I did notice that two bulbs were out - over the table across from our grumpy guests.  Maybe they were just commiserating with those people who may actually have been in the dark, but never said a word...

This past weekend was my "Aunt" Kitty's 100th birthday celebration.  Arriving up for the festivities from the Carolinas was a blast from the past - Dr. and Mrs. Alvin McKay.  Shown above - and caught a bit by surprise, I must add - is the veterinarian from my youth, along with his wife Annie, daughter Linda, and across from Linda, granddaughter Amy.  Amy was another blast, since she worked with us at the KVI.  It was wonderful to see these grand folks from my childhood, and we enjoyed a long conversation with them the next day at Kitty's party.  Dr. McKay is gluten-free, and attributes the relatively recent lack of wheat in his diet to his good health, which has improved greatly since going wheat-free.  Annie agrees, but she also admits how hard it is to eat out in restaurants and stay within his dietary restrictions.  We were very pleased we could serve him our crabcake, to say the least!

I've reported about the gluten-free trend in other posts, but it is truly the most common request we get these days, aside from say, sauce on the side.  Kevin tries to make as much on our menu without wheat as he can, and is toying with making a wheat free roll for sandwiches.  We buy them now, and at upwards to $9 for a package of four, we have to add a surcharge to the bill when they are requested.  Still, I think it's pretty good that most gluten-free guests can navigate our menu and be secure in knowing that there will be several choices for them, almost always including the soup of the day.  And, of course, the crabcake.  No flour in our dressings, none in the sauces, and many of the daily specials, unless they involve bread or flour tortillas, are guilt wheat-free.  We owe most of this to the fact that we make everything ourselves, rather than use a packaged product that may contain those hidden wheat items, from soy sauce to malt.  We know what goes into our recipes, and consequently, so do our guests.

For instance, the fish in the above photo will surely be gluten free.  Kevin is making gravlax!  Just looking at it makes my mouth salivate!  It takes a few days for the salmon to cure.  It looked like this this morning...

...having been flipped over in its bed of dill, salt and sugar.  By tomorrow morning it should be ready for sampling.  Then he just has to figure out how to serve it!

This muffin, however, is not gluten-free.  It is, on the other hand, not bad for you, if you eat wheat.  It is a cranberry bran muffin, recipe courtesy of Lisa George.  It is a real muffin, not a cupcake.  And the dried cranberries are whole berries, which offer a satisfying pop when you chomp down on them.  We have discovered that our source for great peanuts in the shell also supplies fabulous dried fruit. Nuts dot com is not just about nuts, but offers bulk flour and grain, Indian snacks and dried vegetables, chocolate and coffee.  The quality is excellent and the price is fair.  Of course shipping is usually what gets you when shopping on-line, but if you pace your orders you can make the quantity support the postage. 

It is not unusual for us to source specialty items on line.  Most recently, we wanted to get that Steen's syrup for the Caramel Slice recipe, so we went to the Steen's website and placed an order.   Yesterday, one of our teen-age dishwashers came by during lunch service.  "Did you guys order a package?" he asked.  We were not sure what he was talking about, since we frequently order packages.  He said "syrup".  "What?! how do you know that?" was our response.  Because, it turns out, it was delivered to his house.  In placing the order, I had inadvertently reversed the numbers on our street address, putting in 807 High Street, as opposed to the correct numbers of 870.  What are the chances that that incorrect address for Brooks Tavern would be the correct address of one of our employees, who delivered the goods that evening when he reported for his shift?   Gotta love that small town living.  Most of the time, anyway.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see Dr. & Mrs. McKay, especially since they are looking just like I remember them. Glad to hear they are doing well. Melinda