My First Weak Back


I’m exhausted and sore.  Not only did I start working again after a 7 month lay-off, I’m overweight and a decade or so beyond middle age.  I also worked my off day on Sunday for a previously scheduled pop-up event with my friend Daniel Chessare.

I did drop eight pounds this week and had a great time doing it.

It’s often tough taking over an existing kitchen with a staff already in place but my past tenure at WB made the kitchen comfortable and the staff in place appears to have a genuine happiness that I’m there and they seem eager to learn and advance their knowledge.  As well, I think this may be the most dedicated FOH group I’ve seen there.  They are mature, experienced, and ready to take a step or two forward.  I’m pleased.

It was a pretty quiet week until Saturday night when I was challenged.  I’ve still got some moves and as a group we were able to deal out the plates pretty well.  We’ve still got some work to do as far as getting used to each other in the fast environment but our core group is very promising and I think as we roll out our new menu we’ll be able to provide some great food.

The menu will be quite simple, and I’ll be doing a few old favorites (or at least variations of those favorites) until we get our wheels turning at full speed.  Spring should see some exciting stuff.


Nuts – Sweet and salty cashews, pecans, almonds, and pistachios   7

Warm Olives – Mascarpone, pine nuts, and orange zest   8

Whipped Feta – Spinach-walnut pesto, warm pita   12

Tartare & Boquerones – Beef tenderloin, marinated anchovies, caper berries, olives, pickled red onion, radish, chives, olive oil, and grilled bread   13

Chicken Liver Pate – Pickled pearl onions, and grilled baguette   10

Egg on Toast –  Soft scrambled egg, toast with chive butter, vodka spiked creme fraiche, caviar, and cracked pink pepper.  12

Cauliflower Soup – Curried sweet onions, apple gastrique, crouton, fennel frond   9



Simple Bibb lettuce, radishes, red onion, fresh herbs, and shallot vinaigrette   8

Arugula – Fennel, orange, red onion, olives, toasted pistachios, and citrus vinaigrette   12



Cheese – San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella (vegan option), and basil.   10

Eggplant –  San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, smoked gouda,and Parmesan  13

Mushroom – Mozzarella, fontina, and Brie, mixed mushrooms, shaved truffle, and soft baked egg   14

Chorizo and Peppers –  Mozzarella, manchego, chorizo picante, and shishito peppers   14


Beef Tenderloin – Pan-roasted tenderloin, potato pavé,  Carmenere pan sauce, shallot-cracked pepper butter.  18/34

Lamb Chops – Pomegranate glaze, pine nut gremolata, eggplant and honey, charred fennel, yogurt.   17/32

Cod Loin – Papas arrugadas, mojo verde, chorizo emulsion.   15/28

Moroccan Chicken – Chickpeas and spinach, spicy-sweet carrots.   24  

Tangerine Duck – Seared breast, confit coquette, wheat berries, beets, green peppercorns 16/30

Farmhouse Ragú – Beef, lamb, and pork ragu, duck egg pappardelle, and goat cheese crumbles.  14/26

Burger – Chuck, brisket, and short rib blend, American cheese and caramelized onions on grilled challah roll with shoestring potatoes.   15

Eggplant Tagine – Eggplant, chickpeas, potatoes, carrots, olives, tomato, and couscous.  17


Chocolate-Cardamom Cake – Ginger caramel, bitter chocolate ganache, and pistachios.   12

Lemon Tart – Sweet pastry, lemon custard, ricotta, and honey.   10

Blueberry Crumble – Maine blueberries, cinnamon, oat and nut crumble with vanilla gelato.   10

Gelato Selection – Local, small batch.   8

Happy Hour

Hummus –  Classic preparation with warm pita  6

Warm Olives – Grilled Baguette   6

Cheese and Charcuterie – Chef’s daily selection   6

Simple salad – Bibb lettuce, radish, red onion, shallot viniagrette   6

Tacos – Duck confit, hoisin, Thai coleslaw  /  Cod, pico de gallo, avocado puree /

            Black bean and sweet potato, spicy corn crema   4 each or 3 for 10

Cheese Pizza – San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, basil   8

Steak frites – Grilled and sliced tenderloin, shoestring potatoes, and cracked pepper butter.   15

New menu rolls out Friday.

As I’m writing there’s a study group here at Uncommon Grounds behind me.  The words like, literally, and metaphor are being used an awful lot.

My return was posted on Table Hopping.  The picture isn’t flattering but it’s certainly a fair picture of me.  Steve said I had a long resumé which isn’t true.  Yes, I have worked at a lot of places, but my resumé only lists relevent experience.  Most of my experience hasn’t relevant.  OK, I do have a long resumé.

I can’t decide if I should buy a new bathrobe or not.

With our government shutdown I was wondering how long we could go without it. Leave the essential people, pay them, and ditch the non-essentials like the elected officials.

The long layoff has definitely given me a new clarity of thinking.

It’s really feeling like I never left.

I don’t like beanies.

Please don’t garnish with a sprig of rosemary anymore.

Someone called me a drama queen for talking about my personal issues as they relate to my line of work.  We have a lot of problems in the restaurant business.  Just last week a fellow chef in Saratoga took his own life.  I’ll talk about these issues all I please.  If you don’t like it then that’s too bad, don’t read my blog.



6 thoughts on “My First Weak Back

  1. p.s. Re title of post. There’s an old joke about someone with a bad back being asked how long he’s had the problem. Your title contains the (misspelled) answer 🙂.


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