Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chef's Menu aka "Dinner for Six"

We featured a five course "Chef's Menu" along with regular service tonight. Over a third of the guests had the "prixe fixe" dinner. As expected we learned alot of lessons our first night out. I really wanted to visit the diners this evening but was just too damn busy. I hope to hear feedback.

Here is the run down. (Click the photo for close-ups)

Sweet pineapple, ripe strawberry, micro Thai basil, linen smoked sea salt, 25 year old balsamic syrup.

Lobster bisque, smoked wild golden char roe, tobiko.
Catena Alta Chardonnay, Argentina, 2006

"Maki" Salad
spring greens, golden pea shoots, petite red amarinth, petite southwest herb blend, tuna tataki, creamy sesame, parsley oil.

Texas Bobwhite Quail
Handmade paperadelle, truffle cream, aged Bel Goioso Parmesan, spinach.
Terra Andina Reserva Carmenere, Chile 2005

Twin Akaushi Kobe Medallions
Foie gras, shredded Burgundy truffle, crushed potatoes, foie gras infused demi, root vegetable.
Merryvale Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 2006

Banana cream pie, flourless chocolate, sauces, green apple sorbet(Not pictured).
Trefethen Late Harvest Riesling, Napa

Thursday, January 29, 2009

La Brigade de Cuisine

Miguel, Second Garde Mange

Eduardo, Master Sanitation Engineer.

Juan, Senior Garde Mange

Cacho, Sous Chef

Jeff, Saute

Justin, Foodie in Training

Victor, Master Saute

I bumped this up because it occurred to me some people might think less of this crew because of the lack of proper garb. Ask yourself, would you feel differently about this "brigade" if they wore starched white jackets and tall hats? No, really think about it. I already know the answer.

I've never been about pretenses, not big on sizzle or formality. I'm a substance guy. Anyone of these guys could work where ever they put their mind to. Not a bad apple in the bunch. Loyal, honest, tolerant, punctual, trustworthy and can work together like few crews I've seen before. Not a weak link in the bunch. I'd put this bunch of under-achievers against any kitchen any where.

Somos monstruos!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Menu Tweak

Tweaked the menu a bit. The new one should be up on our website.

A couple photos of new items.

Tuna Carpaccio

Kurobuto Pork Tenderloin

Traying a typical four top. Two filets, tuna and a pork.
I've said in the past that I'm not a "sauce over the protein" guy but in this case Bearnaise has to go on top of the steak. Here it started to liquefy from the heat of the steak and started running down the sides. (Personally I like it that way.) Same with the Granny Smiths on the pork.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

La Brigade de Cuisine

Miguel, Second Garde Mange

Eduardo, Master Sanitation Engineer.

Juan, Senior Garde Mange

Cacho, Sous Chef

Jeff, Saute

Justin, Foodie in Training

Victor, Master Saute

Thursday, January 15, 2009


As always I encourage you to click on the photo for a closeup.

Uber fresh sable fish, braised with mirin, sable stock, coconut milk, peppers, micro Thai basil. Purple sticky rice and a little garnish. Killer.

I'm just filling with some recent photos. Above is the ever present tuna tataki. The colors look especially good in this shot. The tuna was exceptional as well. Big-eye out of Hawaii

Our apple turnovers fresh from the oven.

I'm not a sauce over the protein guy but I needed some contrast between the golden pancake and salmon.

Special salad we did tonight. Spring mix and romaine rolled in a nori sheet with golden pea shoots, amaranth and typical sesame dressing.

I really like the title pic. It's kind of interesting when you zoom in on specific areas. I love the clothes pins. Been there a long time.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Another Fireman Story

Not sure why but this one's been popping up in my head lately.

I was working on Engine 28 that night. 28's is a fairly busy engine in an old "Victorian" neighborhood. Old mansions mostly broken up into small low income housing units. Also the nut-case capital of Milwaukee. A number of group homes and halfway houses are located in 28's "first-in" area. Also a neighborhood I used to call home.

In the middle of the night we got a run for "smell of gas." It's a common call that usually turns out to be a neighbor who left the stove on or something minor. Anything significant we call the gas company and ventilate the building. No big deal. We pull up to a three story brick apartment building on N 27th St. Looks like a heavily populated 12 unit building. We were first in and was joined shortly by Ladder 9. We walked in the front door and immediately realized it wasn't a "gas" smell it was GASOLINE! Very nasty stuff. A substance that every Firefighter respects. Extremely flammable. It doesn't have to touch a spark to ignite, It's fumes can reach many feet in search of an ignition source and when it finds one watch out. It all goes up at once. If your in the same area the only thing you can do is get away and if you're in the same room you are dead or you will be in a week.

We begin to search for the source. It seems to be coming from the basement and the only door we can find is blocked by a stack of cinder blocks. Coincidence? I don't think so. This is beginning to get scary. We had that stack moved in no time and entered the basement. It's dark, real dark. The only light is from our flashlights, a fire fighter's best friend, everyone had their's on. Old couches and furniture are stacked up against the walls and wreak of gasoline. It looks like someone loaded the basement with fuel and soaked it in gas. We walk into the next room and some one's light shines on a pile of rolled up carpeting. Immediately every one's lights reveal three or four large rolls of carpeting. On top of the rolls is a glass jar half full of a clear liquid with a long taper candle sticking out the top. The candle is lit. The contraption was a simple fuse intended to light the gasoline fumes in the jar and the room. Obviously someone was trying to torch this place and didn't care how many people they killed doing it. The room was full of highly flammable fumes and additional fuel for the fire to consume. The fact that it hadn't blown by now is amazing. It was was overdue to ignite and would any second.

SOP would have been to get the hell out of there as fast as possible, call for a full assignment and start laying lines. (Hoses) Of course by now the candle would have ignited the fumes, the basement would have exploded and getting those 50 or 60 people out of that burning building would have been a daunting task. I'm guessing we lose a bunch. That's if we make it out. If we don't, the truck (Ladder 9) calls for multiple assignments (Alot more firemen)and a rescue operation begins for us and 50 or 60 people.

It was one of those moments when time slows down. What took a second seemed to take minutes. We all looked at each other for what seemed like hours, in a heartbeat we all saw in each other's faces what our fate would most likely be. We seemed frozen in indecision, panicked beyond comprehension, as if we were looking at the devil's work and his goal was to kill us.

It only took a second to cover the ground between us and the candle. After what seemed to be an excruciatingly long period of time a firefighter confidantly covered the distance between us and the candle and wisely snuffed out the flame with his gloved thumb and fore-finger. If he'd blown that candle it may have been enough to introduce those rising fumes from the jar to the flame and we'd all be toast.

As with most runs I didn't give it alot of thought at the time but it keeps popping back into my head (along with others) and don't fully understand why. For an instant we all faced death together and an hour later it was if it never happened. I do believe it was one of those runs that in a another world could have gone much differently. Perhaps because of skill, pride, determination and some balls things came out as they did.

I use it as a lesson to myself. Sometimes things come out as they do for a reason. Not luck or destiny. Efficiency, skill and good foundations may be enough of an edge in this world to get ahead, tip the scale in your favor and perhaps change your life.
It wasn't luck that we didn't get fried in that basement. It was a well funded fire dept. that prides itself on 3 minute response times, well trained firefighters, fit firefighters (we had that cinder block "wall" down in no time) and a tradition of aggressive firefighting and pride. Another day, a different crew, another city, who knows how things could have turned out.

Especially in these tough economic times and this tough profession. Improve, practice and pay your dues. Sometimes it works.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


The beginning of 2009 will see a small wine list tweak. I'm 86'ing a couple of wines because of poor service from the distributor. (ahem, Badger) Unfortunately I have to deal with them to get a few liquor products but there is alot of good wine out there that people can choose from. We'll probably lose a couple glass pours as well. I think currently we have 14. That's too many during a slow time of year.

Small menu tweaks are ahead as well. I found a good source of sustainable grouper that will allow me to put it back on the menu. I'll also change the tofu to a non vegan vegetarian dish. (I know that's going to piss some people off) Most likely a grilled mushroom, spinach and vegetable polenta lasagna. We ran it New Year's and it was well received.

We hope to concentrate on the garden this year. We are looking for a part-time gardener to help tend to it.

We will be advertising in Milwaukee. Something we really haven't done before. We are virtually unheard of north of the county line. We are 30 minutes from downtown Milwaukee with comparable food, better prices, service and tons of convenient parking. They should be beating down our doors. If they start coming look for us to spread our wings culinary-wise.

Knock on wood but I think 2009 will be a good one. (It can't get much worse)

Sunday, January 4, 2009


A few comments on NYE's service. In short, a great night. We topped last year's customer count and sales. More importantly things went smoothly and I'm confidant our customers noticed. Despite the absence of a server (called in sick, never fails) the dining room ran like a clock with my wife Patrice and guest hostess Cory,(Our daughter)at the helm.

As far as 2008 goes, I'm glad it's over. A rough year dominated by the closing of The Yellow Rose. A seemingly "all consuming" task. That should be put to bed once and for all within a week. You add the dismal economy on top of that and it makes for a bleak year business-wise.

Personal-wise, we have sold our home and will be moving very soon. The added stress of selling a home in this market hasn't helped our already amped stress level either. The up-side is we are now prepared for whatever this economy throws at us.

With all that behind us we're excited about 2009. Building improvements and new marketing plans will be our focus. A new website is also a priority. We also hope to travel more and spend quality time in Door County.

Food-wise, I think you're going to continue to see an emphasis on sustainable and natural. Local sourcing and chef to farmer hook-ups. It will be all the rage. The benefit of this movement is I think it will bring the focus back to the food. Simple, real and comforting food. I think restaurant design will follow. In other words "retro" with a sleeker more modern look. Prices will be an issue. Operators will want to keep the prices down but will have ever increasing budgets to cover. For the big guys, something's got to give. Their customers won't notice it for a couple more years yet. Then they'll go the way of Cork and Cleaver, Steak and Stein and my Alma mater Victoria Station.

Let's hope it's a peaceful and prosperous year for us all. Happy New Year!