We had a pleasantly busy night last night, with several tables of gunners to liven up the mix. (You gotta love a table of seven men who order several cocktails and three bottles of wine as their first round of drinks!) We sold out of the menu, but not too early, so hopefully we didn't disappoint anyone.
The starter was a spinach salad with golden raisins, ham and cocoa spiced walnuts. It was good. I know this from personal experience, because I got one to eat, thanks to an innocent mistake by Rayvon the helping-out salad guy last night!
The salad was followed by a pair of chicken filled crepes. I like this dish, partly because I don't think it is something the home cook would necessarily take the trouble to prepare for the family dinner, which makes it an attractive poultry presentation.
Dessert was an apple crisp, of which there is no picture, because I was never in the right place at the right time to take one.
On Tuesday morning Bill brought this in for Kevin:
Yes, that is a clump of wild-foraged oyster mushrooms. A big clump. I don't think I've ever seen such a beautiful thing, and just where it was found we do not know - Bill was mum on that bit of information, like a true fungiphile. And do you know what we did with them? No, we did not share them. We ate them in a plate of pasta for breakfast Wednesday morning. They were so meaty and flavorful, like no other mushroom. Thank you Bill, you brought this treat to the right spot!
Since Teverly has been hosting for me at lunch time I have not been spending as much time out in the dining room during that service as I used to, and while I love being spoiled with the extra time to work in the office, I do miss the interaction with the guests. Some of the women who lunch with us have been doing so, one place or another, for 26 years. Many are colleagues of my mother, and she used to tell me stories about bridge club or garden club where she socialized with Chestertown ladies. Yesterday Teverly was out, and I was lucky enough to be hosting the current group of bridge playing women, several of whom were in that same group as mom those many decades ago. They come in after bridge for lunch on a regular basis, usually sharing a bottle of wine with their meal. Yesterday's table of five ranged in age from 90 to 98. This included the "baby", June Landis, the always vocal Mal Watson at 92, retired first lady of Washington College Ann McClain, also I believe 92, as well as Patsy Taylor, mother of Mike, and the "senior" member of the group, Frances Reynolds. Most of them were dropped off to meet the others, with Mrs. Landis being the chauffeur for the trip home. That surely gave the party a chuckle - the 90 year old driving all the others home after their Christmas lunch! It was a real treat for me, and while Mal was wondering "do you like having all these old ladies in here?", I told her that if we didn't have all of those so-called old ladies in for lunch we'd be half empty half the time!
I had an encounter of the opposite kind with a pair of regulars last night. Nothing bad, just a bit of a wake-up call, so to speak. This was a couple who has also been supporting us for years, if not decades, and they greeted me last night with a complaint. Mostly about the fact that their meal the previous visit had not been up to their - meaning our - typical standards, and they felt I should know this. I remember the cold onion soup - which never got heated enough, even on the second try, apparently - but they had been disappointed in their lamb entree as well, and suffered from what they described as lackluster service on that occasion. I appreciated their candor, and while I wish I had realized they were displeased right at the time it happened, it was still useful information to keep us on our toes. We have already taken steps to get that onion soup situation corrected - it was the classic hot soup going into (very) cold crocks. The lamb dish is harder to remedy - this is one of those presentations that some guests simply love, while others are left feeling "meh".
I can't emphasize enough how much I appreciate it when a guest relates to me an unacceptable episode they experience in our dining room. Usually I would prefer to hear it sooner rather than later, so I can perhaps make an immediate correction, but even an email or phone call the next day to share a misstep is helpful. I don't take it personally - unless it is personal! - and look at it as simply part of our constant tweaking of the business. We don't intend to ever stand on our laurels - such as they are - and are constantly working to improve both the food and the hospitality. We aren't trying to be all things to all people; we just want to be the best at what we offer here at Brooks Tavern. We strive to serve the best food and provide the best service that we can, lunch and dinner. It is not an easy task, and obviously we don't always succeed, but that doesn't mean we stop trying. And it doesn't mean we don't want to hear the negatives along side the positives.
Just be gentle, okay?