The past week has been a rather slow, emotionless, never ending week. Every day felt like Thursday. I’m sure the first week of this long winter season lacks the properties of motivation and inspiration. The lack of sun does something weird to people. It’s kinda fun since we all know the sun is gonna raise tomorrow, and maybe there is a small chance we will see it. At least the chill in the air brings our every ones appetites.
The start of the week was highlighted by the departure of 2 servers, one who was caught red handed stealing from the restaurant, and her friend. It’s a good thing, this type of thing keeps everyone on their toes. There is no way to weed out a thief until they’ve already ripped you off. There has to be a lack of trust, in a twisted way it is the only way there is any respect between people. The bigger issue was that those 2 bodies represented exactly half of our service staff. Filling those shifts is the real dilemma now.
Joe and I have begun a very pleasant tradition of visiting the West Side Market every Friday between lunch and dinner service. On Fridays we both work a double shift 10 am for lunch, not finishing until after 12 hopefully. It makes all the difference to leave those four walls of the Wonder Bar for 2 hours and see the world. Luckily we are very close to the market. We are able to find those finishing touches to our specials, and find inspiration for next week at the same time.
This week-end specials played out very nice. I got back in touch with Ed and Betty Frank from Veggie Valley Farms in Sandyville, Ohio. We have done business together in the past and they grow the most tasty potatoes, and some unique squashes, and beets as well. This week I used the beets. First I roasted the beets covered with a little water in the pan for almost 2 hours at 350 degrees. Separately I made a syrup of balsamic vinegar and maple to dress the beets. The beet salad was served warm, glazed with the syrup and topped with pickled red onions, blue cheese, parsley and fleur de sel. I already like beets, but I think the added sweetness of the glaze, and the bite of the blue cheese enhances the flavor of the beets without overpowering it.
Squash soup was another special. I’m so happy to have Joe working with me because he is very capable of making something creative, and wonderful with only the slightest guidance from me. I asked him to make a squash soup and spice it up... I suggested some caraway. Well, Joe made an amazing soup with caraway, cinnamon, coriander, and the texture was right on. A little roux helped hold everything in suspension without turning thick and gluey. We sold plenty, and the uniform response was, "I really liked that, it’s different." That is a perfect response.
Lastly I was infatuated with curry banana and bacon combination. I twisted things around in my head for a day or so, and came up with using the mashed mixture in a soft taco in place of a traditional guacamole. After spicing up some pulled pork with smoked paprika and cumin, we combined that with our curry banana and bacon "guacamole" topped with some crunchy lettuce and a squeeze of lime juice. The flavor combos came off just right. The sweetness of the banana really balanced everything out by keeping the curry flavor in check. I was so happy with how this turned out I think we are going to work it onto the new menu somehow.