Every day, at least once, I am asked, “What’s good on the menu?”
Now, my mind works in odd ways. If someone asks what’s good, does that infer that I think there’s something bad? Regardless, my answer is always the same. “Everything is great!” And then I review what the table has already ordered or is in the mood for, give a few suggestions and hopefully add to their culinary curiosity.
In reality, I can tell you why each item is on the menu and why it is good. That’s often more than the inquirer wants to know. So, since my menu is rather broad, I’ve honed my favorites to 10, in no particular order, and with some major omissions.
1. Pan Roasted Shrimp – The tasso ham gravy is great, the pink shrimp perfectly sautéed. The sweet corn grits cake and the fried green tomatoes bring it all together.
2. Chicken Paillard – I love the black bean, mango and avocado salsa. I love the crisp skin with the Ancho chili crusted on. I eat the wings first!
3. Togarashi Seared Tuna – We serve it rare only. We cut it thick so it can be cooked rare and still well seared. A little spice – well balanced by the fruity and buttery Yuzu butter sauce.
4. Veal Chop – When I want meat and I want to eat carefully. A good portion size – not too large. I love the grilled, crisp vegetables and the garlic confit demi-glace. I do chew on the bone.
5. USDA Prime Burger – I love a good burger and this is a great burger. Freshly ground USDA prime beef, hand packed. Why 10 ounces? It cooks best that way. It is pan-seared and finished in the oven. A perfect medium is my goal. Full red-pink from top to bottom. I love it medium rare as well, but perfection for me is medium my way. I add very little, as I love the meat flavor.
6. Chicken Pot Pie – My cold weather standby. It sells well year-round. We stew fresh whole chickens so the meat is fresh. There is both white and dark meat. It’s rich and creamy. Need I say more?
7. Pork Belly – I am a chef; of course pork would be on my list! It’s crisp, flavorful, meaty and fatty at the same time. I love the cider reduction and the apple and fennel slaw.
8. Clam Chowder – Chowder at its simplest. Pancetta (our answer to fatback), shallots, thyme, finely diced potatoes, clams, clam juice, cream, salt and pepper. No flour, no gooey mess. The taste of each ingredient is present.
9. Pan-Seared Salmon- When I’m being health-minded. Love the accent from the lemon confit vinaigrette. I also love my salmon cooked medium rare.
10. Pan-Roasted Mussels – A long-term classic. Garlic, lots. Butter, lots. Flavor, tons. Garlic and butter-crusted Focaccia bread to soak up the tomato sauce. It does not get any better. Oh, by the way there are Prince Edward Island Mussels in there too.
So when you come in and ask, “What’s good on the menu?,” these are the personal favorites you’ll probably hear about – and more, depending on the level of your culinary curiosity and virtuosity.
No matter which, we need and want all of you. Hopefully, you won’t ask which of our customers is best. That would be a large book, and quite funny, too.
See you soon, and we can talk about food.