Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reporting in From Upper High Street

Well, so far the 'Pear Cosmo Lane' has been just what we needed - too bad we can't get the word out to our lunch time customers that their trip to the Radcliffe Mill will not be affected by the road construction.  Although, this week being April 15th, there may be other things on peoples minds besides lunch...Still, there have been no serious traffic issues at our intersection, and with no flagger to slow things down, things are pretty much normal.  Traffic wise, that is.

Is everyone listening to Jesus Christ Superstar this week?

Last night's prix-fixe menu entree may have scared away some of our regular takers, but we were busy nonetheless.  (And here I must express how much we appreciate Washington College - from students to administrators - for their support of our business.  Especially on these weeknights which would sometimes be quite lonely were it not for a big table - or more! - of a bunch of college professors and their guests, enjoying a meal and conversation at Brooks Tavern.  We are more than grateful for all the business we get, of course, but WC is often a large cornerstone.  Now, back to your regularly scheduled program...)

Anyway, in case you didn't guess, the main course for the Wednesday Menu was calves liver.  We tried to lure them in with a first course of simply prepared linguine with scallops:

A sprinkling of Smithfield ham completed the dish.  

The calves liver was skewered with our house-cured bacon and garnished with water chestnuts.  Well, at least some of them were - Kevin forgot to put the chestnuts on all but the last one...

There was much debate at one table as to the difference between "skewer" and "brochette".  Turns out, the definition of brochette is "skewer".  Ha!  Food on a stick, basically.  The french term of brochette comes from "broche" which means "pointed tool".  In the end we agreed that you could pretty much use the terms interchangeably; then you get into kebob or kabob...

Dessert was the classic cream caramel:

Overall, despite the lack of liver-lovers, it was a pleasantly busy night, with plenty of hub-bub in the dining room to lend an air of healthy conviviality to the atmosphere.  Included in the melee were Steve and Monica Quigg, of The Kitchen fame.  Their popular restaurant - The Kitchen at Rock Hall - shares more than a few regulars with us, and they were on a busman's holiday for dinner at the BT bar last night. Of course, when you are a local business owner, this often involves some meet-and-greet while you are at it.  I approached Steve at the bar with a suggestion that if he felt compelled to get down off that bar stool and get cooking, Kevin sure could use his help in our kitchen, but he didn't take me up on it.  Instead, he countered with an affirmation the he too had heard that he and his wife were indeed buying Brooks Tavern.  They are also taking over the old Lemon Leaf space, moving into Luisa's and taking over the kitchen at the Imperial.  Luckily for him, only the last has a spark of truth to it, negotiations being underway for just such a takeover.  It would be a good plan for the Quiggs, who have quite a following at their space on Rock Hall's main street, which already includes a large Chestertown contingent.  Certainly we would welcome another hard-working restaurateur into our midst, especially two as affable as the Quiggs!

The reason I suggested to Steve that his presence might be welcome in our kitchen was not simply flattery - we really could have used an extra hand!  We had a classic start to our week this week, with three call-outs on Tuesday morning culminating in the absence of Jay - the vital sous-chef - whose daily presence is all I think there is sometimes between Kevin and Insanity.   We managed to cover all the positions - thank goodness we have a seriously good back-up plan in place - including Mandrell stepping up to Jay's spot on the line.  (Okay, maybe it was a bit of flattery, asking Steve to help out - Mandrell was already doing an excellent job...)  One of Mandrell's strengths, besides his overall capabilities, is his skill as a leader.  He doesn't take any "stuff" from his younger and less experienced co-workers and actually was extremely helpful to Kevin in attending to the management needs for the past two nights, during Jay's absence.  That being said, there is a lot of work that Jay does that of course was picked up by you-know-who, and stress was rearing its ugly head last night.  I must say, I was exceedingly proud of Kevin's patience with the situation with which he was faced - he never let his frustrations surface, and meanwhile, with Mandrell at this side, dinner service proceeded with a minimum of issues.

We changed up the S'mores cake a bit - Kevin made a chocolate fudge cake on the graham cracker crust, and the results were what we've been looking for:

The marshmallow cream is just perfect, and of course who doesn't like to use a propane torch to brown desserts?

Teddy Bear delivered two new-to-us lettuce breeds into our kitchen on Tuesday - baby iceberg and mini romaine heads.  The first is shown above, in the guise of the classic "wedge" salad, seen here cut into quarters, with the blue cheese dressing and bacon garnish as required by law. I invariably order any wedge salad I see on a menu, so I am hoping this will find itself on a plate near me soon.  The mini romaines may bring about a change in presentation of the incredibly popular romaine salad on the dinner menu - the hope is to cut back not only on the waste that occurs when cut lettuce begins to brown around the edges, but also eliminate that labor of cutting lettuce in the first place.  I'll keep you posted.

Kevin has been taking liberties with "chowder" lately, and serving the fish of the day in such a manner as to mimic the famous northern soup.  Last week it was branzino, this week cod, served on a bowl of creamy clam stew with chunky potatoes, slivers of leek and celery and then either scallops or shrimp to guild the lily.  It has been a huge hit, one of those special presentations that the guests request be placed on a regular rotation of seafood options.

Smelts have their own fan base - mostly people who enjoy sardines.  Here the tiny fish are being fried and then tossed in lemon garlic vinaigrette before being place on a balsamic dressed salad.  They are really delicious and not too often seen on menus around here. 

Finally, an update on the ongoing technical issues challanging the BT office - our Digital Dining software is half-way installed into the new desk top.  The good half, I guess.  But, because the half that doesn't want to move in is the processing of reports - which we need to see daily - we have to keep the old computer up and running until something more permanent can take place.  Still, it's getting easier - yesterday I managed to do the house accounts and create two PDFs to email as well, successfully!

Peace out!

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