Last night's Wednesday menu was a seasonal delight. It opened with a small bowl of pasta with asparagus, pancetta and pesto. I told the kitchen that I wished my camera could capture the smell of the basil pesto as well as the image, it just smelled so good. A scratch and sniff blog, that sounds pretty outrageous!
But truly, the aroma was undeniably appetizing, and this first course was entree worthy for sure.
Tilapia with capers and lemon butter sauce followed the spring pasta. The green bean side is being served as a salad, at room temperature, with a toss in the Dijon vinaigrette.
For the dessert, Cherelle made her cornmeal cake, which we paired with some strawberry coulis.
Overall it was a terrific menu, with some welcome spring touches. It wasn't the busiest Wednesday of the year, but it was steady and the menu was a popular choice.
In other news, here's a picture of the three night time cooks prepping those string beans.
That would be Keontrey, who is on the salads, Jay, who runs the hot line in the middle position, and Eric, who does the griddle and deep-fryer on the end. A fine group of cooks, who work well together and with Kevin. Jay is the undisputed leader; he manages to convey both confidence and humor in his interaction with his co-workers. Everyone loves Jay, and he could run the kitchen without Kevin, if need be, which makes him invaluable. Plus he's a really nice guy! He will have his one year anniversary with us come June.
Eric started here as Rodrigo's eventual replacement, starting on the salads and moving onto the line when Rodrigo departed in February. Eric lives on a small farm in Church Hill where he raises black chickens, horses and a burgeoning vegetable garden with his wife and son.
Keontrey is the new kid on the block. He came from Uncle Charlie's to take over the salad station from Eric. Keontrey's girlfriend Teverly works as the host at lunch, and the bartender on Tuesday night. On Thursday night she works the tray running shift, and thus must interact with her boyfriend in a professional manner, which is not always easy for either of them to do! Of course, Kevin and I try to set a good example for them to follow...
We got some beautiful romaine lettuce from our egg guy, David King, last week, which Kevin is seen here admiring. It truly is awesome. This is what gives Kevin the most pleasure, I think, having this tremendous supply of fresh local produce at his fingertips this time of year. Redman Farms brings us asparagus that was cut less than a few miles down the road; David brings us lettuce he raised himself; Lovett's strawberries are hours old when they come in the door. We have to wait out the long months of turnips and cabbage, but when the time comes for the local stuff, it is well worth it.
In other news, the rainbow trout on the dinner menu has a new preparation. Now it is "stuffed" with shrimp, pancetta and crab risotto. It is an awesome platter, if huge. The prior presentation of the trout, with sauerkraut and bacon, was surprisingly successful - although I think many people seemed to order it mostly out of curiosity and trust - but this dish is more of a go-to option.
Lately on the lunch menu, Kevin has been offering a stir-fry with various themes for the protein. Sometimes fish, sometime shrimp, once a salmon mousse. Yesterday he tried a Koren spiced chicken leg, based on a recipe we came across on TasteSpotting. Anytime Kevin has a chance to add the Korean red pepper spice gochujang to a dish, he'll go for it. While it seemed to take a bit of time to put together, the results were well worth it:
It is Memorial Day Weekend coming up, with the annual Tea Party headlining the events here in Chestertown. It is an incredible scene on Saturday downtown, when literally thousands of tourists and locals alike throng the waterfront, eating fried clams, drinking beer and watching each other cavort all over High Street. There is a parade, a Tea Party re-enactment, lots of arts and crafts, demonstrations and music. As they say, something for everyone. If the weather is fine - and it promises to be - our lunch business will be interrupted by the street fare being offered by the many non-profits who set up stalls up and down the street. This is their day to shine - and to make money! And while we certainly don't welcome a slow day, we understand the competition is for a good cause. We've already made plans to get a lot of cleaning and straightening done this Saturday lunch, so the time won't be wasted. With any amount of luck, we will be busy enough at dinner on Friday and Saturday to make up for it!
Many people have asked me about soft shells. We hope to have some soon and I will tweet it as soon as I see them in our kitchen. Also, the USDA Prime N.Y. Strips we offered last week via our email list sold out, but Kevin got in another loin today. They can be trimmed and cut to your specifications for $13 a pound, so give me a call or email if you are interested in any amount. The price from CW went up a bit, so we're not sure how long we will be able to buy them this reasonably, which might make this an opportunity whose time has come. Just in time for the Memorial Day grill?