I'm having a little trouble posting this week - too much office work mostly, that pesky stuff - and too many other things that are simply demanding my attention elsewhere. For instance, when there are no daytime cooks in the kitchen by 10:30, it's time for me to come to the aid of our SuperChef and help prep for lunch service.
It's been such an odd summer, business-wise. Up and down, busy and slow. It has not been unusual for weeknight dinner service to be busier than the weekend which follows. Lunch has been steady - despite the trepidation that our traffic circle brings - but dinner is totally unpredictable. Last Thursday night was not so busy, which I blamed on the competing music in the park, but this Thursday: more music but very busy nonetheless. There is definitely some confusion whether we are actually open or not, which may explain some of the lightness of the weekends. I am fairly certain that we are open, otherwise why do we have so much to do here all day?
Wednesday prix-fixe featured a cold fruit soup and a hearty ragù, sort of a mixed signals kind of meal, given that we are pretty much smack dab in the middle of the summer. Kevin has been serving several hearty dishes lately, mostly involving braised meats, but when combined with the seasonal vegetables served alongside, they seem to be acceptable to our dining clientele.
The soup was a cold cantaloupe soup - Redman's cantaloupe of course - with ginger and mint. It was met with much success by those ordering the menu. Cantaloupe is not my favorite melon - I'm holding out for some of Redman's seedless watermelon - but the combination was found to be a refreshing and light starter.
The main course was a veal ragù over eggplant and mozzarella cheese. Not so light, this. In any case, several diners mentioned that they typically do not like eggplant, but this was the exception. We have been serving eggplant as a side veg too: roasted and mixed with honey, soy and hoisin sauce, garlic and ginger. Eggplant haters - some of them anyway - have been seduced.
The dessert Wednesday night was a chocolate zucchini cake, but my picture makes it look pretty unappetizing, so I opted out of sharing it.
One of the aforementioned braised meats includes local lamb shoulder with Kevin's new favorite sauce, mint yogurt, as morphed from Bobby Flay.
Burger mania last night featured these tomato cucumber slices, as being prepped in this photo by Sheronda. The stacks were dressed with a sweet and hot pepper vinaigrette and then put on the burger with a slice of Jack cheese melted on top. I like the idea of the cold/hot contrast; I just hope the tomato salad didn't slip out of the sandwich in a disconcerting way.
Bill is delivering corn several times a week from Redman's. Everyone just loves seeing that bushel come in, because they just love husking it.
Yellow and green zucchini are coming in also, as seen here in this sheet pan full of sautéed summer color.
The latest batch of sausages are made with St. Brigid's Farm veal. Kevin considers these his best effort yet, with both the right texture and flavor he is striving for. They are served under a bridge of onion rings, which in themselves are a special treat.
Haddock last night was a fiesta of shrimp, tomatoes and capers. In the background you can see some of that corn that gets cut off the cob for you and mixed with peppers and onions, and also the eggplant that has earned itself some new friends.
There seems to be a lot of local restaurant news in the works right now, which, if all of it comes to pass, will add some new dining places to our already vibrant dining scene. The most exciting is the future of the Betterton spot once dominated by Frank and Betty Bonass and known as the "Dublin Dock". Barbara Edmonds, local hospitality industry professional, has taken over the lease of the building and will be opening the bay side spot sometime - she hopes - in September. This is great news not only for Barbara but for Betterton as well, a town that would happily support her endeavor to bring some additional dining life to the Jewel. We've been to all of the post-DD incarnations and none have made it more than a season or two, for reasons most likely beginning and ending with the food. That being said, we used to love taking a Sunday drive with the dog to Still Pond Landing and then ending up on the deck of that restaurant with its amazing bay vista in the foreground. We look forward to reviving that tradition!
In Chestertown, word on the street is that a very successful restaurateur from Rock Hall will be taking over the Front Room in what used to be the Imperial Hotel. This also is great news, since the downtown dining scene always welcomes the arrival of a new popular spot which will bring more diners to support the dining scene downtown.
At Molly's in Kenndyville, local chef Matt Whitehair is now at the helm, which is again really good news for us personally, since we are only a five minute drive for lunch on Mondays. We have not been in there much since Jeren's departure, but this recent development would be enough to spur us into revisiting.
And, on the home front, we are encouraging Tony Wong of Cafe Sado to open a second spot here in this prime location in the Radcliffe Mill! The fact is, Mr. Wong has long been looking into possible locations in Chestertown to add to his already successful business on Kent Island, but has yet to find a suitable spot. He is considering being a tenant in the Mill, but so far he is not sure if it is too much kitchen and not enough dining room for his needs. Still, a sushi restaurant in Chestertown gets a very strong "yes" vote from many people, no matter where it ends up being, so we are hoping he finds a place to land very soon.