Pretty damned close on finishing the menu. The sous came across with 3 ideas one of which we're using, a salmon spaghetti with kalamatas, basil, capers and lemon. My strongest line cook who would be sous if he wasn't so shy and actually spoke English bought himself a cookbook with recipes in Spanish and went wild with dessert making on my days off. I'm glad he's interested but he left us with little butter and eggs for the weekend so I'll have to stop by the store this morning.
So we've got all the things I mentioned previously plus lamb with gorgonzola-cherry popovers, halibut with hush puppies, spicy slaw and tartar beurre blanc. On the pasta front, wheels with salami, mozzarella and marinara, tagliatelle with Vidalia onions, bacon and cheddar cream, pappardelle with chicken cacciatore. Still need to get together a couple of apps and we're good to go. I didn't come up with a compelling vegetarian/vegan option. Still thinking about it and if something wonderful strikes we'll add that also.
Found out we're going to be listed in the AAA guidebook with a three diamond rating. While my ego wants to say we really should be in the four diamond category after reading their description of the rating here, I have to admit we're in the three diamond category. Particularly taking into account the last sentence of the four diamond description. The only problem is once this out there it's hard to change, at least for the better. In other words, even if we were to substantially upgrade certain elements of our experience to the level of four diamond status, it would probably go unnoticed by the AAA staff. We would probably have to shoot for five diamonds to maybe achieve four.
Not that this in any way changes what we do or who we are. We used to call ourselves the neighborhood restaurant that overachieves. I still feel that way and never want to lose the neighborhood feeling. Unfortunately, that sends a mixed message to some potential diners, like those last night who thought the statement "we welcome well-behaved children and parents" on the menu meant it was appropriate to let their kid scream and create such a commotion the GM had to ask the child to tone it down (after two other tables left and one requested to move due to the noise). The offending family got offended and canceled their entrees and left the waiter no tip on the $20 or so appetizer tag. In fact all of her tables last night were problems. We hope this is not an indicator of summer.
We (or at least I) want to think there is some magic combination of price, location, menu and ambiance where these problems melt away. Do people wander into El Bulli sit down and leave because they don't offer fish and chips? They are after all near the water. I know there will be people who have no sense of public deportment no matter what you do, but we seem to get more than our share of them. If a three diamond rating helps to discourage ten of those people a year, I'll be thrilled.
PS- After initially posting this I read this also from AAA. As far as the food goes, we're four diamond, as far as most of the service, four diamond. Decor however, three.