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Everything posted by Mussina

  1. Thanks everyone for the replies. We do have a website which I update with our menu every week. We also have an email newsletter which we send out to subscribers once a month. We are currently offering a Thursday and Friday prix fixe dinner (which we also offered in May) in addition to our regular menu. It definitely boosts business on Friday nights but seems to erode the Sunday brunch crowd. We tried a "First Seating" special (because the prix fixe people seemed to come earlier) but that wasn't terribly successful and we had people arriving at 4:40 to be sure they were there in time. We opened late last summer so we are still in our first year (and what a year it has been!). We seat 59 (we started with 50 but added more seats to accomodate the crowds on Sat. night). On a slow night, we will remove some of the table and set four tops for two which we hope makes it feel less empty.
  2. We have a small restaurant located in a lovely, but remote location. We get no drive by traffic -- everyone makes a reservation. Since we've been open (a short time) we've received some really nice reviews and good publicity. That said, we are almost entirely dependent on word of mouth. People have the perception that we are an impossible reservation and some will book months in advance. Saturday nights are usually packed and we do have to turn people away most Saturdays. Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, however, can vary wildly from very busy to depressingly empty. Here is the question -- what would you, the dining public, think if you came to our place on an off night and found 15 people in the place? Would it depress you? Could you have a good time if everything else was to your liking - food, service, etc? Would you think the place was failing and does that impression have greater ramifications (i.e. do people start spreading the word that that the restaurant is not making it - a perception that could snowball - or do people give us the benefit of the doubt since we are new?) I am curious as to your thoughts. We torment ourselves about about a really slow night more because of its effect on someones dining experience than even the effect on our bottom line. Thanks!
  3. Mussina

    Loose tea

    I am looking to buy some good quality loose tea that (ideally!) would be produced in the US. It will be made in a bodum tea pot. Is there good quality tea produced in the US or does the rest of the world the franchise on tea? Where would you recommend getting tea? Thanks!
  4. Just back from a 24 hour eating binge in NYC (report to follow -- Gramercy Tavern, EMP and Jean Georges). GT and JG had similar menus -- heavy 4 color paper covers with replaceable inside pages. GT's menu pages even seemed magnetic. Does anyone know where one could order this style of menu? Many thanks!
  5. Thanks everyone for all the responses. As always it is interesting to get reactions from every perspective. As an update, we haven't made any changes to our policies (but it felt good to vent!)
  6. Curious what other restaurants do to avoid this situation. We make most of our money on Sat. nights. It is reservation only and every seat is called for. We have a party of four (who have been to the restaurant before) reserve for 7:30 (our prime time). Their order - 2 entrees to share for four people and no apps. We average $65/person so this does hurt us. We also serve a bunch of amuses/post dinner truffles which we gave to all four even though there were only two orders. What is the industry standard as far as plate sharing charges in high end restaurants? How would you have handled this? (We did nothing but get annoyed). Many thanks!
  7. Thanks everyone!! "First seating" was exactly what I came up with after reading the first service suggestion. It implies "get out of your seats at 7:00" ever so subtly. I love the pre-theater recommendation as well and wish we had a theater but being in the country (Connecticut) the only theater is our local high school. Also, being a bball fan (hence my screen name - my favorite pitcher - love that knuckle curve) I also like the twinight idea. Maybe that is something for the fall when it gets dark sometime before 9:00. Thanks again.
  8. We are planning to offer a prix fixe menu for early arrivals and would like to describe it as something other than an "early bird special". Any thoughts would be appreciated!
  9. Two questions -- 1 -- is the Union Square market open on Wednesday this time of year (specifically will it be open next week on Wednesday)? 2-- any first hand reports of what the farmers are selling? Asparagus, ramps, fiddleheads etc? Many thanks in advance!
  10. Mussina

    The Perfect Burger

    I'm with Chappie on salt: and a very little grated onion makes it for me. May I ask - when you say '1x' and '2x', do you mean 'once' as in 'one time', and 'twice' ? Or is this some designation of grinder plate (and if not, what is your grind size - my plates are 3/32", 1/8", 3/16" &c) ? ← I am with you on the salt. By 1x/2x I am referring to the number of times I grinded the meat. I had high hopes for the 2x grind but the texture was less appealing - tougher. As for size of the plate, I have a cheapo kitchen aid attachment grinder and I am using the smaller plate. I can honestly say that I have eaten more beef this week that I have my entire life combined (and now I can't seem to stop -- not a good thing!).
  11. Mussina

    The Perfect Burger

    By this statement, do you mean that Kobe beef is less fatty? Interesting. I always thought it was prized for its near butter like quality and fat marbling.
  12. Mussina

    The Perfect Burger

    Cheap cuts of American Kobe are just that - cheap. Around $7/pound. Granted it costs more than traditional chuck but nowhere near $100 pound.
  13. Mussina

    The Perfect Burger

    Funny you say that - I might have been imagining it because I wasn't all that keen on using it. Happier to go with the pure cow.
  14. Mussina

    The Perfect Burger

    Thanks for the input - just did a hamburger cookoff. Tried 100% Kobe (chuck) ground 1x and 2x; 2:1 Kobe to Hanger steak ground 1x and 2x; 100% hanger; and 1:1 Kobe to Hanger ground 1x and 2x. The winner was the 2:1 Kobe to Hanger ground 1x. The pure Kobe was too flabby tasting and lacked that distinct steak flavor. The 100% hanger lacked some succulence. The 2x ground was tougher for some reason. The cornstarch made for a nice crust but there was a bit of an aftertaste. Thanks again all!
  15. I am looking to create a sublime burger but not being much of a red meat eater I could use some advice. I am starting with some American Wagyu chuck beef. I ground some last night (courser grind), added a little salt and pepper and grilled it up. Nothing special. Any suggestions for creating the perfect burger? Perferred grind? What, if anything, should I add? Someone recommended cornstarch - should I dredge the burger in the cornstarch or add it to the meat. Could it be that the Kobe beef is the culprit? Does anyone add soy sauce or the like to their meat? Thanks in advance!!
  16. I am the only person who wasn't wowed by Bouley Upstairs? I am a Bouley fan of sorts. My favorite meal of all time (1994) was an absurdly late dinner at the original Bouley (ahhh- the apples) . Close second on the list was an unexpected and unplanned lunch at Bouley Bakery (Want to stop and get a sandwich and some soup? Why not. (what did we know??) Low expectations and one of the best meals I have ever had!) After reading all the press (and truthfully after several disappointing followups at BB) we were off to Bouley Upstairs. D. Bouley was not to be found. The stock simmering on the display stove seemed a bit contrived. It was hot. Then it was freezing! Depending on where you sit the HVAC system may torment you. Twenty one dollars for lobster is a good price - BUT only half a small lobster tail? The is about $3.50 as far as cost of goods sold. You decide if that is a good value. I had a decidedly "non-haute cuisine" beet salad (come on - beets are glorious and colorful - it is easy to make they jump off the plate - these were just cut up and thrown together). "Seasonal and local" (despite being trumpeted on his website) were not on display on the menu. Corn/fresh peas/fava beans in December??? That is fine but please don't spout the local thing. I know - it may be a different animal when DB is in the house. But for us - for one night - it was an expensive (wine list and cocktail list is dear), not very haute (and, more to the point, not very good) experience.
  17. Nathan -- when you say that the steaks can sit for up to 4 hours do you mean in the water bath or at room temp?
  18. What about veal breast? I am thinking this might far well in a sous vide environment? Would you recommend 54C for 36 hrs like short ribs or going the pork belly/confit route at 180F for 10 hours or so?
  19. I LOVE Luna's pizza in West Hartford (simple plain pizza is perfect). Way better than Harry's (greasy) or First and Last in my opinion. Luna's does not get the recognition it deserves for some reason. Simply divine. New Haven pizza rests a bit on its laurels I think although I do like the white clam at Pepe's. Also, if in New Haven try the pizza at Bru (I have only had the clam) - it is good as is the beer.
  20. Exactly! If you want to match traditional confit texture then you need to be 170F / 77C to 180F / 82C, and generally for at least 6 hours. The exact time depends on how tough the meat is (which cut etc). You can up to 12 hours, especially if you got at the lower end of the scale. In general I don't like to cook hotter than 82C in a water bath because the water evaporates too fast. However you can cook confit-style items up to 212F/100C. This is convenient in a combi-oven. Or you can use a pot of boiling water on the stove (which will generally be below 212F) but if so be careful the water does not evaporate. Or, a conventional crock pot on High will usually cook around 180F. I have not detected much of a difference in cooking confit at 212F versus 180F. However the cooking time will be shorter. If you leave it in too long the meat can just fall apart, which is sometimes the idea, and sometimes not. You certainly can cook pork at 130F/54C - the US FDA food code approves of that from a safety standpoint as long as you hold the meat at that temperature for longer than 112 minutes. As predicted above, the texture will be totally different than confit. Connective tissue will still be tough, and fat will not render. So for a tough or fatty piece of pork the low temperature approach is not a good idea. However, it works well for pork tenderloin. ← Thanks for the input. I have had the problem of the evaporating water at 180 degrees as well and I wouldn't think it would be very viable at 36 hours but 6 - 10 is worth a try. It is a pretty tough piece of shoulder with lots of fat running through it. I have cubed it into 1" x 1" pieces and plan to confit it with some rendered pork fat so the higher temp. probably makes sense. On a slightly different topic - I read in Ruhlman's book that Keller does his lobster tail sous vide. Ruhlman claims he cooks it at 125 degrees and suggests that it stays in the water bath throughout service because it can't overcook at that temp. Does that sound reasonable or will the lobster start to deteriorate after a few hours? Many thanks to all for all the fantastic information shared in this thread.
  21. Thanks - I'll let you know how it turns out.
  22. Pork confit question. I have made pork confit from pork shoulder a few times (salt overnight and then cook in duck fat for several hours over a low temperture). I have not been thrilled with the results and I am thinking of trying to confit it via sous vide. I sous vide duck confit at 180 degrees for 11 hours. Would this work for pork as well or should I cook it more like short ribs (lower temp - 54C for 36 hours)? Many thanks!!
  23. That might make sense. So if they are pouring more than one bottle of red wine at a table they will mark the second glass so that you know it goes with the second bottle. Many thanks!
  24. It is both - general behavior (don't run in the dining, no chewing gum etc.) and sequence of service - when to present menus, when to deliver first amuses, when to remove cocktail glasses, etc. I am glad to hear that I am not the only one unfamiliar with the dots. It doesn't make much sense to me.
  25. I am in the process of writing a service manual for a restaurant. I am looking at a couple of other manuals and there is a reference to "Marking the Glass" "a second white or red should have a red dot, two dots for the third red or white. Any clues what it is referring to? This is a high end restaurant and I cannot imagine that they are writing on the glass :-) And maybe it is the term "marking" that is really throwing me for a loop. "Frontwaiter marks the table for the first course" Thoughts? Thanks folks!
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