Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Weekly Thursday Report

Knock knock knock   -  we have been fully staffed every day this week so far.  Probably just jinxed that...

DownRigging weekend proved to be very successful up here on this end of High Street, bringing us dozens of new customers, who, for the most part, were very happy they found us, despite the apparent lack of signage.  The heavy traffic spilled over onto Tuesday as well, but for some unknown reason we were left a little lonely yesterday.  Even with a very enticing prix-fixe menu, we were quite slow both lunch and dinner, which was disappointing to say the least.  We can find a silver lining only in the fact that Abby has a ready made lunch special for her line-up today!

The fortunate few who partook of the menu were treated to a goat cheese and beet salad as a starter.  Two things were special about this course - first, the beets that Kevin got in, while not local by any stretch, are very sweet and tasty.  Second are those little bits of greenery you see on top of the goat cheese balls - those aren't chives, those are tiny dried basil bits! Made by a company called "Fresh Origins", these herb "crystals" are crunchy, sweet and very "basil".  One discrepancy however - on their web site, the product label and the description touts the use of cane sugar, which we all know is quite "superior" to regular old granulated white sugar, made from sugar beets. (Here's all you need to know about sugar in general...) So why does our container list the first ingredient as "sugar", and not the much preferred and ultra trendy cane sugar?  You can be sure I have sent them an email to find out.  Trust me, this is not an inexpensive addition to the menu - that 4 ounce jar costs $20...

Next up, a seafood crepe with shrimp cream sauce.  I sampled this dish in two stages: first a bite of a trial crepe that Kevin made during lunch service, which we all declared delicious, and second the sauce, just before dinner.  I can only imagine how the two tasted together, especially once I had tasted that sauce.

Dessert was chocolate angel food cake with chocolate sauce, always a crowd pleaser.  So where was everyone?  It had to be the slowest Wednesday we've had in months, and with such a terrific menu too.  Did everyone just lose steam after Tuesday night's election frenzy?  Was it because our "Bar Open" sign wasn't working?  Or was it the idea of a  crepe for dinner that scared them off?  Who knows.  All I can be sure of is that eight people at lunch today are going to have a very good meal.

The fish special on Friday and Saturday night was indeed "special".  Jay and Kevin produced "rockfish and crab papillote", which translates to "rockfish and crab in a parchment paper package with herb butter and white wine".  Here's the play-by-play:

Jay and Kevin on the assemblage line.

First crab, then mushrooms and the herb butter (chervil butter),then fish.

Lined up on rectangles of parchment paper.

The package has to be folded just so, to avoid leakage. 

You basically want the fish to steam cook.

Coming out of the oven.

A package ready to slit open.

The plated fish.
It was indeed a very popular selection, which got - at least directly to me - very positive feedback.  One couple, who both ordered the rock, told me they had just returned from a two week eating spree on the southern coast of France, where, of course, they had some fabulous food.  This rockfish en papillote was, they said, as good if not better than anything they had on that trip.  Wow!  That is a serious compliment.  Of course then I got the email from another guest, who had the same dish on Saturday night.  Subject line - Bad Experience.  They described the rockfish as "dreadful", "swimming in water". 

Who was right?  Who else felt the dish sucked but didn't have the courage to let me know?  The email had other criticisms as well, and I replied promptly, thanking them for taking the time to call our attention to problems they had in our dining room, and promising to take better care of them the next time they come in.  We really do any appreciate feedback, negative as it might be sometimes.  But don't you think it's crazy how varied people's tastes can be?  And I wonder why the discrepancy in the two responses - could the bad one really have been that bad somehow?  There was no "water" in the package, just a wine gelée, but could enough condensation occurred to make it "watery"?  Aaaaggghhhh.   What are you supposed to do?

What was the other complaint, inquiring minds want to know?  Well, you do know - it was about the hostess (that would be moi) who was "so rude and "grand"" that their guests from the Western Shore wanted to leave.  "Grand".  Whew, that was terrible to hear, that I came across that way.  I have absolutely no idea what I said or did that made this true, which of course makes it worse because I have no way of knowing how to change it or prevent it from happening again.  It's not a new criticism for the "hostess", god knows, but it is the most perplexing one in a long time.  I remember the group - a walk-in 6 just before 5PM, although I didn't recognize them as "regulars" - but I cannot recall anything specific I said to them except "we'll have a table ready in a few minutes" or some such information.  Was I "grand" or "rude"?  Maybe.  I don't know.  I certainly wasn't trying to be, and I certainly had no reason to be either one.  There was a lot of early business on Saturday night, beginning at ten of five, so I was most likely a bit work-absorbed, seeing as the bulk of the dining room staff doesn't come in until 5:00.  Maybe that came across as rude?  It's a puzzle, and I apologized sincerely to the writer for my behaviour, because if it offended them then it must have been bad. 

And of course the whole situation begs the question - who else hated their meal and just didn't say anything?  Who else was I rude to over the course of the weekend?  I know I could just go to Trip Advisor and read all about it, but I have long ago left that site out of my repertoire, as well as pretty much any other consumer-as-restaurant-critic board.  I'll take a constructive email from a proven guest any day, good or bad.  And, always, face to face when the situation demands it, and I can actually try to do something to correct the issue.  As I have said many, many times, we know we are not perfect, and we also know that we are never going to please everyone.  But we are going to make a big effort to try to be the former and not sweat too much over the latter.

Back to the real topic here - food.  A few more pictures completes the post:

Chili at lunch - St. Brigid's Farm beef in a red bean chili with a corn bread muffin on the side.

A different fish preparation, with scallops and lemon buerre blanc.

 SBF Veal stew with mushroom paprika sauce.

Breakfast yesterday morning.  Rice, beans, cheese and avocado in a tortilla.  Mexican maki?

Here's the demi-glace production from the recent influx of veal and beef bones in the BT kitchen.  Apparently it was a very successful batch, and we wondered, should we try to sell some?  It will go into the freezer for withdrawal as needed.

And here is Robbie, the newest cook on the dinner line, at his salad station.  He's a very cute kid, doing pretty fair at an adult job.  He's basically clueless, seeing as he has never done any work remotely like what he's doing now, but he's trying very hard and learning a lot.  He is certainly doing a better job than a lot of older people have done at this station, despite his boyish attitude, which serves mostly to annoy The Chef.

And so ends another vent post from the BT office.  Thanks for joining us this week and hope to see you soon!

Peace out!

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