Thursday, April 10, 2014

Weekly WhineFest

I am sure, all over the nation, if not the world, there are thousands of desk sitters like me moaning about the learning curve being tossed at them this week.  The new computer, the new software, the new operating system.  It has been...interesting? to say the least.  We spent a good part of our past weekend trying to move info from the old computer to the new one, mostly to no avail - the old adage "you get what you pay for" holding true.  The so-called "PCMover" software that Windows provided to help with the transfer of files was pretty much useless.  We spent hours - over 20 actually - waiting for the software to do it's job, only to find out that just a few bits of data would work and nothing else.  Save yourself from our fate.  First of all,  don't try to do it wirelessly; I'll loan you an Ethernet cable which will make the job take 20 minutes.  But only after you waste hours trying to get it done wirelessly.  And after that, just take your new thumb drive and manually move whatever you need from old to new.  Let your browser move your bookmarks and let your mail server do the same.  Call your business software provider and let them try to install your software into the new PC; when they find that 8.1 is not working with 7, let them sell you an upgrade.  Go ahead and purchase the new hardware you need for the bar computer, which is still on the XP operating system.  And then, be ready to do it all over again in ten years.

Or, get a Mac.

In truth, I am getting used to the new Operating System, and actually am finding some of the new "tricks" to be quite useful.  It's just taking time.  Hopefully I'll be well up to speed when I start my new online class through Chesapeake College next week-"Designing Effective Websites".  Guess I better be!

Thank goodness the weather is looking up, eh?  No complaints there!

The Wednesday night prix-fixe was a winner this week, sold out by the end of service.  Plus we had Shad Roe on the menu again.  The other foods of spring promise to arrive quite a bit later this year, thanks to the brutal winter we've all endured. (How many of you have lost rosemary bushes that have managed to get through many an Eastern Shore winter until this one?)  Asparagus is looking at a three or so week delay, and who knows when Maryland Crab will be coming onto the market.  Still, it's getting there.  Soon we will need to mow the grass!

Tonight the shad roe was on a bed of rapini with lemon garlic vinaigrette.  We learned a lesson the hard way last week regarding this annual seasonal delicacy - make sure the guest understands exactly what they are ordering.  An out-of-town fellow who thought he was ordering un-cooked fish roe - aka caviar I guess - was not pleased with this version of fish eggs.  He had no idea that Shad Roe is always cooked - at least to my knowledge - and so when I approached the table after the server informed me that the guest was confused by the presentation, I explained how shad roe was traditionally served and how absolutely seasonal it is.  To no avail.  Take it away, and while you are at it, take it off the check!  I'm sure the issue would not have surfaced if the server had realized what the customer was expecting, which would have been determined by a little probing once it became apparent that this person was a shad roe newbie.  However, that is not what happened, the roe came off the check, and in the end a lesson was learned, at least on this end.  Maybe on the guest's end too!

I think this first course from last night's menu is the biggest news in food at Brooks Tavern since Brussels sprouts - the debut of BT Green Goddess dressing.  It turned out to be delicious - perhaps our answer to the ubiquitous requests for Ranch that we get (which is a recipe the cooks have  tried to master but just can't seem to get the hang of).  This GG dressing though, I think they've nailed it.  It is going to be the go-to sauce for awhile, at least until Kevin - or the guests - get tired of it!  Last night it announced its arrival on a bed of romaine lettuce, accompanied by some roasted cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese croutons.  Note to diners - the tomatoes were most excellent when eaten on top of the cheese!

The salad was followed by pork tenderloin perched on a bed of sauteed cabbage and house-smoked Langenfelder bacon.  The bacon came out a little saltier than Kevin would prefer, but that just makes it perfect for a blend-in like this - no need to add salt!  Dessert was bread pudding with caramel sauce, no picture needed.

I don't usually take pictures of the Vegetarian Plates that the Line puts out on a regular - at least weekly - basis, but I couldn't resist this one that Sue had last night.  It featured a crispy nest of fried linguine nurturing a mound of shiitake mushrooms, spinach and sundry other savory goodies.  It looked really special, and according to she who partook, it was!

I've been a little slack in the picture-taking department of late - too many other devices demanding my attention I guess - but here is one last look at the foie gras plate of the week.  Kevin got in another lobe of duck liver this morning, and, as he was prepping it,  he asked me did I mind him serving this dish that was not making any money for the restaurant.  What a thing to ask!  But you know what my response was, don't you?  "Honey, whatever makes you happy."  And as long as I get a free sample now and then!

We've had a head ache or two recently, the most distressing being a disturbance that has rocked our world somewhat. We became aware that we had the poison of internal theft.  The restaurant business can be rife with theft - lobster tails going out with the trash to be retrieved after closing, second registers brought in to the bar to ring out under-the-radar sales, or just casual rolls of toilet paper stuffed into a purse by someone who doesn't feel like buying their own.  This is not our first rodeo; we know the temptations that our business offers. We try to be diligent and at the same time we try to foster an atmosphere of trust, but sometimes you get taken advantage of anyway.  Once something like this happens to you, you tend to look at everyone a little differently, unfortunately.  Why is Mary in the walk-in for so long?  How come Ted is carrying a back-pack to work these days?  Does Susie's breath smell like alcohol when she comes back from getting a soda at the bar?  It's simply awful, especially, I think, at a place like ours where you work side-by-side with your staff and would never even think about stealing from them.  You wouldn't steal time off of their time sheets, you wouldn't cheat them out of benefits, you wouldn't deny them earned overtime, you wouldn't collect a percentage of their tips, you wouldn't rifle through their pocket book when they weren't looking.  And, in turn, you would be crushed to find that these people, your co-workers, would steal from you.  But that is a bit naive. And it is naive to make it easy for them - or anyone, for that matter - to become a thief.  Because that's what we've been doing, we've made it easy for this situation to occur and now we are twice burned because of it.

So, next time you come in and see that camera over the bar, give it a wave, because we may be watching you from the office. Don't worry though, there won't be any audio!

Peace out!

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