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I asked about the disappearance of luxury appetizers from the menu. "It's the clientele we were getting," he answered. "We scaled the menu back to make it more user-friendly for our clientele. Our whole thrust now is to educate the staff so they really understand the classic techniques -- how to sauté, how good the meat comes out when you braise it until it's falling off the bone...Everything is house-made except for the bread. We went back to the basics of our culinary life, and developed a menu that had all the different styles of cooking, all the different techniques, and we brought in a young staff that we could train, that was still excited about learning. And we want to carry that to the front of the house as well -- to educate the clientele as to why you can't get a medium-rare braise. We've actually had people ask for shortribs braised rare.

"We're trying to be a place that will appeal to locals as well as conventioneers and vacationers. It's sort of been a roller coaster. Some nights, when the hotel isn't full and there's no game at Petco, we're slamming all evening. Other times, when the hotel occupancy is high and there's a game, we won't be busy at all, but the garage will be full up."

What are his favorite dishes on the menu? "I love the garlic soup, and the short ribs, and the whole fish. And the risotto. I just love risotto."

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