Hosting a restaurant operation is a brand-new experience for me. For decades I have patronized upscale restaurants in many of the world’s metropolises and food shacks in Caribbean and South American backwaters. All those years I never even once thought about the logistics involved in the dynamics of operating a restaurant floor, let alone the kitchen. In the past couple of months I have gained a new-found respect for the people that make a great dinner experience create a lasting experience for their guests.
It’s pure algorithms at work. Between reservations and walk-ins, allocating wait staff with tables so that the evening’s outcome is fair for staff and patrons, last minute table changes from outside patio to inside window seating, forced by unpredictable weather changes, changing table settings on the run, to match the number of guests at a table … all that is just the beginning.
The reason I’m actually writing this however, is to give tribute to our chef and his kitchen staff. Accurately predicting how many patrons will come in for dinner is almost as ‘iffy’ as the daily weather forecast. Twenty reservations may turn into eighty seatings in a matter of minutes, yet the chef and his staff need to be able to turn out consistently superb quality dishes and get it to the table inside of a reasonable timeframe.
And that’s what our kitchen staff does six nights a week, consistently delivering what mainlanders don’t expect on Beaver Island: an absolute top level restaurant!
We’re all on the outside until we’re suddenly made aware and brought to the inside. And that’s when admiration is due. In my many travels I have learned that, often undeserved, there’s mania, there’s virality about new and popular restaurants, but at the heart of it there has to be damn good food and superb service to be qualified as top-notch.
I was reminded of that the other night, when the patio was filled to capacity with guests, who after dinner expressed their satisfaction with a spontaneous applause for the chef and the entire staff. Guests were shaking both my hands, thanking me for the great dinner experience and I felt awkward, like stealing the spotlight from Chef Jason and his kids ‘slaving’ in the kitchen.
And, since my head is always filled with thousands of memories and thoughts, another one came to the surface. In my early corporate years, when living in the Netherlands, to be more exact, in the southern province of Limburg (Limburger Cheese anyone?), on a handful occasions in summer I would take my car on a Sunday morning, loaded it up with friends and drove three hours to have early dinner in one of my favorite restaurants in Paris – Roger La Grenouille (https://www.roger-la-grenouille.com). My favorite menu item…Cuisses de grenouilles à la provençale. It has been on the restaurant’s menu since 1930!!! That’s the consistency that drove me to take on a seven hour roundtrip drive. It was THAT GOOD!
The Sunset Room at the Beaver Island Lodge, (yes I’m making an overt attempt to get that name to stick) has been gaining that same reputation in recent years.
Maybe that’s why last week three guys and their spouses flew in on separate planes, just for dinner. It was the third time this year they honored us with their patronage.
And yes I would do the same as in my Paris days and take a two hour ferry ride back and forth, for a great Sunday brunch at the Sunset Room at the Beaver Island Lodge (Maybe next year?!). It is THAT GOOD! And yes, if devious Bacchus would have seduced my ability to focus with his wine list, I would take a room for the night at the Lodge. Pretty convenient I would say, and definitely a memory worthwhile.
by Johan R.