As many of you know, this week is officially “restaurant week”, which started last weekend. Aside from slightly shortening the menu and reducing price, we don’t change much for the occasion. Portion sizes are still the same and we are still serving the same fantastic quality food. The shortening of the menu is a necessary step for us to take to be better prepared for the rush of the weeks- The less complicated things are the easier it is for us to make sure we are completely ready for service, and the fewer dishes there are to worry about the easier it is for us to put out food in a timely fashion.
Last Tuesday night was the first night I worked during dinner service of restaurant week, and it went extremely well. The front of house staff was extremely well coordinated with the kitchen, and all of the reservations were evenly spread out so that although there were a lot of plates for us to make we were able to do them well and fast. Yesterday I worked during lunch, and was a bit caught off guard by the difference made by restaurant week. Once the orders started coming in they came in quickly and steadily for the entire afternoon, and because we were ready for it it all went smoothly.
I’ve been working all week, and there has not been a single point where we haven’t been caught up and things have been out of hand. On Sunday night I was working “Garde-Manger”, the cold station with salads and desserts. Toward the end of prep time I was starting to get worried about running out of apple crisps, and knowing that I didn’t have enough time to make filling and topping and get them in the oven, I told Pete. I’m pretty sure the last thing anyone wants to do during restaurant week is tell the head chef that we don’t have enough of something, and I was terrified that he would be mad at me for not getting them done (even though I’ve never seen him angry). As soon as I told him he just calmly asked a few of the cooks from Za to cut up apples, asked Anthony, one of the prep cooks, to finish up the filling, and got one of the dishwashers to quickly clean the giant mixer I needed to make the topping. Within 5 minutes I went from feeling panic and dread to feeling immense relief. It was a perfect demonstration of how if something is really desperately needed and a few people work together and power through it, it can get done well. It would have taken one person over an hour to get it all done, but we got through it in about 15 minutes, and had more than enough desserts for service. It was also another instance of me being grateful that I have such an awesome boss. He wasn’t even upset at me for a second for not having it done, just saw that I had none of the things I needed to make it, and saw how much else had been done, and found a way for us to finish it in time.
The team we have right now on the line is amazing- everyone has been stepping up through prep and service, getting an incredible amount of things done extremely well in a very short amount of time. It shows that for all of us it’s not just a job, and we’re not just working for a paycheck- we actually care about what we’re doing and who we’re doing it for. Everyone is tired, but I’ve noticed that morale is actually higher at the end of the night than at the beginning. There’s no better feeling than finishing service and realizing that we’ve done almost 200 covers flawlessly, or at least without panic and chaos.
As exhausting as it is, I think I’ll miss restaurant week when it’s over. It definitely gives you a rush of adrenaline and an insane feeling of accomplishment that’s usually reserved for Saturday nights. But alas, it’s nearing it’s end, so come and enjoy it while you can!