Thursday, August 21, 2014

Weekly UpDate

I suppose the big news around these parts - meaning 870 High Street - is that Cafe Sado's owner has signed a lease to take over this space currently known as Brooks Tavern, as of October 1.  Our last day of service will be Saturday, September 20th.  Tony Wong hopes to open his new venture later this fall.

There are some naysayers who predict that an Asian style restaurant won't be able to make it in Chestertown,  but I think it is a great fit.  Plenty of us drive to Middletown or to Mr. Wong's place already for our sushi fix.  Plus, if you look at the menu on Cafe Sado's web site, you will see that it is not just sushi - there are tempuras and stir-frys, even crab cakes and filet of beef.  I don't believe Mr. Wong would be the success he is at his Chester location if he wasn't doing something right.  And he's not just starting out - he's been an owner-operator for 6 or 7 years.  Maybe people will be surprised.  At the very least, having an ethnic restaurant come to town will certainly liven up the local dining scene, not to mention add some much needed variety.

That all being said, it is a very bittersweet time for us.  First of all, we have never closed a restaurant before.  The previous two businesses were handed over to new owners in a barely noticeable fashion.  This time, not only are we shuttering the doors, but a whole new concept will be re-opening them, with no connection to us, our menu or our style of operation.  We hope Mr. Wong takes on a few of our staff - some familiar faces in the dining room might be a comforting sign for our regulars - but Kevin and I will have gone up the road by the time sushi comes to Chestertown.  We will have a bit of a rough time, I predict, saying our farewells not only to our great customers but to the restaurant life altogether.  We have never done anything else, for the most part.  I am not sure yet how we will handle this transition, but I do know there will be wine involved...

So, just what are we up to?  Well, one thing for certain, we are NOT retiring, despite what you might hear.  That door is not open.  What we have planned is a small business in our old Kennedyville Inn building, which we still own and which needs to pay its share of the bills.  We will be opening - hopefully this fall - the K-B Kitchen School and Market.  Of course we have never run anything like this in our lives and have no knowledge of either culinary school or retail.  A bit of a gamble, eh?  Plus, with the recent change in schedule, we need to be up to speed a little sooner than we had originally thought.  Still, we think, with a little self-education (like taking a cooking class somewhere) we have an idea for a business that could be welcomed in the community.  Picture a professional kitchen that looks like a home kitchen, a room where the home cook would not feel intimidated like they might if they were faced with a wall of huge ovens and yards of stainless steel.  A pleasantly home-y kitchen that serves a professional meal.  Imagine arriving on a Friday night with your SO, getting your hands dirty learning to make homemade pasta with Chef Kevin, drinking a little red wine, and then sitting down with the class afterwards for a meal you helped prepare.  Recipes included.  Expand on that theme to include classes for kids, butchering classes or simply knife skills.  Then get into team building, girls night out or a birthday celebration.  Once you get going, the idea becomes sort of addicting, no?

As for the market, we envision it morphing into shape while the Kitchen School evolves.  We don't plan on any perishables; instead maybe things like Rise Up Coffee or Shippen Creek cutting boards.  Perhaps someone has honey they want to sell, or garden baskets they weave from phragmites (wouldn't that be nice!  something with kudzu perhaps?) or skeins of rabbit wool.   Food related items that are produced right here on the Eastern shore.  It is obviously still a work in progress, but hopefully you get the picture.  We have our construction permit and we are working with the K.C. Planning Office, who have been very helpful I might add, on the business plan.  Those on our email list will get advance warning notice of what is happening; let me know if you want to be added to it.  In any event, change is in the wind, whether we are ready or not.  We hope to succeed at our new endeavor and we certainly hope Mr. Wong does too. 

Our last day of service here at BT is September 20th.  On Tuesday September 23rd we are going to hold an open house, from 4PM until 7.  All of our customers and friends, purveyors and industry peers are invited.  Maybe we can even get Mr. Wong to come and make it a welcome party for him!

One of the problems with my being on the bar Wednesday nights is that I am not able to take pictures of the Wednesday menu as it exits the kitchen, especially when it is super busy like it was last night.  And not only was it super busy, but we had two new bus girls on the scene, one training to host and one training to bus, both of whom were being supervised by Kaitlyn - on her last night - while she also was expected to host and bus herself.  Ha!  That's what you get for leaving us, Kaitlyn!  It was hectic as all get out, and I'm sure there was more than a little stress among the dining room staffers.   I can only hope that things went relatively smoothly, but with two new girls who were probably not too well trained lose on the floor, well, you get the idea.  I am sure it was not perfect.  And I am also sure that Kaitlyn was quite glad when the night was over!

The menu looked terrific though, and I'm sorry I only got a shot of the first course.

That would be a mozzarella roulade with basil and roasted peppers.  The entree was slow cooked chicken in cream with tomatoes - I would have loved to have had a plate of that - and dessert was Mrs. Fry's favorite: walnut roll.  Kevin doubled that recipe, so it will be on the dessert menu today at lunch. 

The chicken we have been running lately begins with the original "sous vide" method of cooking.  The old fashioned poach-until-165-degrees method.  Who needs an expensive machine when you have a big pot of water and a thermometer?

 Kevin took a break from the veal and pork sausage to make some andouille...

...which is included in the shrimp gumbo on the lunch specials this week.

Meanwhile, at dinner, the lamb shank proved a popular item.  Pretty hefty drumstick, eh?

We've been supplementing the regular delivery of Redman cherry tomatoes with some from our own vines this month.  Volunteers in our bed, the best kind of tomato plant!

On Monday we picked up a box of peaches from Godfreys.  If you haven't gotten any of their peaches yet this summer, you better move fast - they will be shutting down the operation after Labor Day weekend.  Their peaches are delicious.  We laid them out on a table on our porch before bringing them into the walk-in at work.  They ripened up perfectly.

Peach pie was the first thing they went into.  No photo proof, however, since it was on Wednesday night.  Peach up-side down cake on the dessert menu today.

Bill delivered this spectacular box of Redman's peppers yesterday - and now I have a new screensaver.  What beautiful colors!  They'll be roasted and used for all manner of things, including topping for the special burger tonight.

I have a feeling the next few weeks are going to fly by.  We have a lot to do to prepare for the next phase of our lives, while still doing what we do here at BT.  Is it going to be fun?  Probably not particularly, but it will be a challenge.  I just hope I can keep my emotions in check...

Peace out!


  1. So I guess a Sibling Cooking Class might work??? Why not!!!! You are not shaking loose of the Herr family that easy. Brooks Tavern will be missed........but Onward!!! Shari

    1. OMG - I wonder if we could handle the Herr Family Cooks Night???!!!

  2. Will there be a K-B Kitchen School and Market blog (including construction/preparation)? Sure hope so!

    1. You know me - document, document, document. Will you agree to be my editor?

  3. I'm so sorry to read Brooks is closing but so happy to see that K-B Kitchen School and Market will be a new edition to the community! What a great way to incorporate and engage your customers!

    I remember when Barbara took a chance on me and gave me my first real serving experience at Brooks. One of my favorite papers for undergrad was writing about Kevin's culinary experiences. I will certainly miss Brooks Tavern but very excited and wishing you both the best of luck in your next endeavor. From what I've learned, you guys always land on your feet, successfully.

    I will try my best to the shore again for one more burger before September 20!

    -Cheryl Paschall