The Rieger Menus

Howard- So what all are we doing?

Jerry- Just reading the menus, no real plan.  And you know I know what’s on and off the record.

H- Awesome!

Jerry- The point is kind of I did no prep and came up with some basic shit like questions or themes to mix it up.  Not going to be like sooo….where is your emotional connection to your food?  What is your seasonal inspiration? What do you draw from there?

H- Ha, yeah, think I JUST did that very interview….ok, so first menu, here you go….

J- First menu!  Holy shit….

H- Look how small it is!

J- No shit, if I came in now and saw that I’d basically just go…bring everything.  There are two of us, we can handle this.

H- There’s that crispy pork. That was good. I got so fucking sick of making that though. God we had three beef dishes…

J- You had to!  Right out of the chute? Beef and good sides sell. Have to get your bearings before you go for it.

H- Right.

J- You got people to eat rabbit.  Rabbit pot pie.

H- Sold a ton of those.

J- Ok, so one of the things I’d written down is finding the dish on the menu that is the anti-fuck.

H- Ha, what’s anti-fuck?

J- You know, date night, nice dinner, romantic plans later, then you get fucking bombed by one of these dishes…

H- Ha, yeah, think we’re going to have to do it in the morning…

J- Serious nap time.

H- Oh man, this first one, got some good ones….all the pastas were good.

J- Hell yes, that Swiss chard gnudi, definitely one of our favorites.

H- Well, the pork, that’s rich.

J- Yeah, pork for sure. Think the rabbit pot pie is the sneaky anti-fuck.

H- You think so?

J- Well, you’d start with the charcuterie board, maybe the vitello tonatto…

H- Oh man, that dish, a lot of people hated that.

J- The veal, seriously?

H- Yeah, guess they thought it was weird, gross, didn’t know what to think of it.

J- Pretty basic shit.

H- I know, we just didn’t move many of those.

J- So those things, almost all the pastas. Gnudi, Pappardelle Bolognese, the squash risotto, you get those and still two entrees. For some reason the pot pie doesn’t sound like that big of a deal then it just destroys you. And oh shit, you get dessert.

H- You’ve got to. Oh shit! Dessert…we must have had them on a different page than the rest, what was on that one…

J- Man, trying to remember.

H- Was I getting fancy Carter desserts….OH, the Banoffee, that was good.

J- Huge favorite from the first visit, that’s a real classic.

H- Those chocolate whiskey balls.  Those were good.

J- Favorite dish on the menu?

H- Probably that pork, definitely. Usually going to be the pork.

J- You know mine?  Probably told this a few times, but no shit, on that first charcuterie plate. The wild boar rillettes.  Reminded me of that canned deviled ham I grew up on.

H- Yeah, I totally knew I wanted to do genuine rillettes on that first menu. The little jar and the layer of fat…

J- No shit, that was total sense memory. First visit, sitting over on the end by the coffee station, I ate that, one bite in and I was like this is the place…

H- That’s cool, you knew you’d be back.

J- No joke, this was the place……OH, here you go….people asking for recipes, you get foodies bugging you for a lot of recipes all the time?  Oh Howard, you have GOT to give me this RECIPE!

H- Ha, yeah, definitely requests for those.  You’re on that KC group page now, Craig and those guys do it?

J- Yeah.

H- They wanted that goat ragu recipe…

J- Whole fucking goat.  Lot of trouble for the ultimate Instagram gang fuck.

H- Yeah, kind of hard to line it out, I don’t really have a set recipe for that.

J- Kind of intuitive to some degree, need a lot of time.

H- Pretty much two steps, first one being get a whole goat.

J- People showing up at your back door, goat all hacked to fuck. “I thought that one Alex Pope class had better prepared me to break this down….oh Howard, please help me…”

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H- Early 2011….spice crusted halibut…I don’t even remember that dish….Ohhh, dukkah was the crust, fuck that was good. Then there was this little seafood sausage with it….I don’t really remember it.  Whole Grilled branzino….scallops with sweetbreads, that was a good one.

J- Scallops and sweetbreads, that was my favorite, I hadn’t really ever had that combo, but that to me was the high point of the menu. Killer.

H- I used to do scallops with braised oxtails at Room 39, back in the day.  I was always amazed that it did sell, but it did.

J- Okay, with all the prep, all the descriptions and shit, what is the shit you find yourself really needing or hoping to drill into FOH? You know, is there a specific thing…or you just expect everything? I know you test on it.

H- Yeah, I talk about the idea behind something or if there is a story or tradition it came out of, I always talk about that. And I always talk about purveyors, why this is special if so and so grows it. But I mean, it’s everything. I also try to prepare them for stuff that I know will come up, the questions.  Like this one, we had foie gras on the charcuterie board.

J- (Reading from the prep sheet) “Foie gras itself deserves and explanation here as well…it is the fattened liver of duck or goose which are fed large amounts of grain or feed, and causes them to become obese and store large amounts of fat in the liver. PETA is against this”….yeah, just got re-legalized in California.

H- Oh yeah, yup.  That was hilarious.

J- What percentage of your servers are going to be seasoned vs. pretty new, or have had foie, or…..

H- It’s a pretty good level of knowledge now, but it wasn’t at first.  Like, they’d know nothing about wine….but they liked food, they gave a shit, but weren’t expert in any way.  It’s still a mixed bag, but then you know, this guy worked at The American, she was a Bluestem, people from Chicago, Michelin 3 star restaurants and shit. We definitely get people coming in knowing all of this stuff, but I think it’s always better to say too much than not enough.  Okay, mirepoix is…..you know, try to cover it all.

J- Temperamental dishes vs. ones that can sit around at the pass…

H- Risotto, risotto can’t sit. Has to go out immediately.  That drives me fucking crazy if they don’t run the risotto.  Generally speaking it’s fish vs. meat.  I’d way rather have the meat sitting around waiting in the window.

J- Your tempura is a champ.

H- Oh, that shit can sit around forever.

J- I’ve had that shit in the fridge and it has still had texture the next day…

H- Really?

J- Not crisp obviously, but yeah goddamn it’s not just mush….your tempura has something different.

H- That’s the Heston Blumenthal  method, uses vodka in it. It has a lower evaporation point.

J- Oh, that’s right, forgot about the vodka.  That’s why I’ve never tried it at home, I don’t even cook with alcohol.

H- Basically, it evaporates as soon as it hits the oil, faster than water would, stays lighter and crunchier….

J- There’s another foodie recipe tip for you…”Vodka?  Hmmmmm. ….is it a particular KIND of vodka you find works best, Howard?”

H- Viaka. Viaka by the case.

J- Not LOCAL?

H- Fuckin’ McCormick’s is local…..Weston, Mo.

J- McCormick is too good, you have to go with the Silver Wolf.  Probably needs vetting from fucking Modernist Cuisine at Home before it’s believable.

H- Oh, Tournedos Alexander on this one…kind of made up the name to sound old school, for Alexander Rieger.

J- You know, I think that’s the dish that was on the menu the first time we brought my parents in maybe….and I think that I got my dad that dish, and that’s what won him over, and then he started coming in for lunch all the time.

H- Yeah?  That dish was GOOD, those three tiny little filets…

J- Yeah, that was GREAT…

H- And sauce Figaro…that was good.  And the onion rings, that tempura!  That was Stuart’s move to really, really slowly roast the onions until they’re totally tender first.

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H- What else…..oh, here we go, the Summer of Port Fonda as you called it….

J- Summer of Port Fonda!

H- Country Ham Terrine, remember that?  Pickled quail egg in the middle….that was good.

J- Yeah, I didn’t even drink and that was a crazy summer.  There were like those naked wrestlers and all that shit.

H- Good times.

J- Oyster ceviche?  Trying to remember that one…

H- Yeah, the oyster ceviche, that was the one in the shell.  Later on we did the one with the campachata.  But this was shucked to order then marinated and put back in the shell.

J- What all was on the charcuterie board?

H- Ummm…that was the first time we did mortadella. Oh, gravlax….chicken liver pate.

J- Oh, I remember the mortadella, you were all pissed because the texture wasn’t coming out right for a while.

H- And pickled peaches on that one…

J- Chickpea fettuccine…what is it I’m remembering about the chickpea fettuccine?  Was it a textural thing?

H- Maybe, I think we ended up going 50/50 chickpea flour and regular.  Artichokes, garlic, chile, thyme, English peas…

J- Yes!  I think my wife flipped out on that one.  That one was great.

H- Yeah, it was pretty good….oh, says right here “because the chickpea flour doesn’t develop gluten, it will have a slightly less giving, breakable mouthfeel.

J- Spinach ravioli…THAT was one that was perfect.  Sizewise they were spot on, ratio of pasta to filling.

H- Yes, goat cheese and the Crum’s smoked cayenne, beurre monte and marcona almonds.

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J- Dumbest substitutions or special requests?

H-  Ohhhh, fuck…I mean…

J- ALL of them…

H- I don’t know, I just hate it when people don’t say what they really want.  Last night, somebody  told the server they were vegan, and I said I don’t really have any dry pasta right now, everything on the menu with pasta has eggs.  She goes “oh I eat eggs”….then why did you say you were a fuckin’ vegan?  She was vegetarian and didn’t want dairy…so why don’t you just say that?  We’ll make you something.   If they’re specific we can accommodate them, or if they at least know what they want.

J- What do people ask for the most once it’s gone?

H- It seems like every menu has one pasta that people are pissed about when it goes away.  But for all time…maybe the rabbit pot pie.  People still ask for that.  Oh, that grilled octopus.  That was one of the biggest hits ever, but I lost my ass with that.  We put it on the menu with a fucking set price, and we were getting it from Greece and their economic collapse or whatever it was happened and the price tripled, but I had it printed on the menu at whatever it was at the time.  So then I thought….hey, maybe a smaller portion, but then everybody bitched…..so you just lose money every time you sell one.

J-  The rabbit pot pie has that mystique of being rabbit, but it’s a pot pie….hey I’m eating rabbit!  It’s kind of like how you build the trust with people over time….I’m gonna get you to eat rabbit, it’s not totally unrecognizable but it’s in a pot pie.

H- Something safe and familiar…

J- And then a year from now you’ll be eating rabbit off the bone….so speaking of that, with the octopus…high profit margin vs. low…that sounds like the the absolute worst.

H- That’s probably the worst by far, but I don’t know why I didn’t just redo the menus.

J- Oh, what was that one fish, wahoo or something, and you couldn’t move it so you ended up putting it on the lunch menu as fish and chips?

H- Yeah, yeah, halibut I think it was, because we didn’t want to freeze it or anything like that.

J- That was funny, you didn’t say anything when I ordered it and all of a sudden I was like, GODDAMN this fish and chips is amazing!  And you go well it oughta be…

H- Enjoy your 14.99 a pound fish and chips as that seven dollar special!   So generally your pastas are obviously your lowest food cost, but a ton of labor.  Then your high end meat and fish has the lower margin but it’s easy as shit to cook.

J- Pastas have to be nightmare prep for as much as you sell.

H- Especially at first it was just me, and then me and Stu who did it all. Now I’ve got a guy Joel {pronounced Hoel, like Jose} who has been here for about 3 ½ years, and he had a background in a bakery and knew about how different doughs behave and understood gluten, so he started out doing it until he eventually took it over and now nobody else ever does it.  Joel…we call him the Pastalero.

J- The pastas are a major draw, really consistent, texture is always spot-on.

H- Summer of Port Fonda…..so I remember when we first put this menu on, and John McClure came in by himself, sat at the bar, and he didn’t order a tasting menu or anything, he just started ordering shit.   So he ended up eating five full courses….he had like a cold app, a pasta, a fish entrée, a meat entrée…which were fucking HUGE…and then dessert.   Five courses by himself at the bar, then like two bottles of wine, making friends with everyone else at the bar and buying them drinks.  And THEN I get off work, and I’m starving, and I go dude, you want to go sit at the truck at Port Fonda and go drink beers or something?  I think we got about ten tacos and he ate like five of those…I was going how can you do that? Holy shit!

J- I was down here all the time and it seemed like he was ALWAYS here, in here or out at the truck.  I don’t pretend I knew someone more than I did after they’re gone, I pretty much got to know him that year, but I saw him hammer through some food and drink. I think the only time I ever saw him full-on completely tap out was at that first social club dinner…

H- Oh yeah?

J- The vegetable one.  He literally just backed away from the table.  I knew that was a dude that if I was still drinking, that would have been one bad fucking combination.

H- That’s hilarious. I just had Wild Turkey with his sister yesterday.  That’s what John always made us drink.

J- Wild Turkey?

H- Every time they have a family birthday or something I buy them shots of Wild Turkey. And we’re all like, wow, still hate this stuff!

J- That dude…glad by the time I got to know him I was sober and they had stapled my stomach.

H- Five full courses and five tacos.  And Michael Smith, I remember early on in here he’d come by and keep ordering pasta…he’d finish one and I’d already have his entrée fired and he’d be like “real quick, send out another one!”, so he’d eat that one in a minute and then finish his whole entrée.  For a skinny dude he can fucking eat.

J- That sucks, I hate those guys.

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H- I know. Bastards.  What’d we do with the goat on this one? Oh!  I quote you in the description!

J- What’s this?

H- It’s some goat dish…but it says “it’s an inexpensive, sustainably raised healthy meat  with great flavor and a distinctive texture that my man Jerry Fisher calls the string cheese of meats”.

J- The string cheese of meats!  I forgot all about that.

H- That’s hilarious.  You were in our menu descriptions.  And that’s a good description.

J-  I can’t remember who it was, I think it was Beets or someone, but they go “hey, you were on the server test today”.

H- Oh, I’ve done that on every one since we thought to do it, we have pictures of other chefs, people in our neighborhood, and then regulars that they should know.

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H- BBQ rabbit…

J- That was a good one.

H- It was good, but I felt like we never really nailed it.

J- But it was popular wasn’t it?  People ate the hell out of that.

H- We did that fermented cabbage but we didn’t call it sauerkraut.  Did it with cole slaw flavors, so there was mustard seed and coriander, but it was fermented cabbage and we’d roll it and slice it and you’d get three little rolls.  Remember that?  It was kind of cool. And then fucking white bread.  People blasted us for that, but it’s bbq, gotta have white bread.

J- Hooowwwarrd…is this Farm to Market white bread?  Did Fred Spompinato make your white bread?  Where did you source this white bread?

H- Rack of lamb, I don’t remember that dish.

J- I think I do, because anytime Colorado lamb pops up, I’m having that.  After good Colorado lamb, everything else is welfare lamb.  War torn Bosnian lamb or some shit.

H- Oh yeah, it’s good, it’s big, got lots of fat on it.

J- Takes that fucking sear.

H- Oh, did you hear about our Christmas staff party coming up?  We’re going to invite you. It’s (REDACTED)

J- Well there you go. Because if someone dies at the party, who’s the guy going to help you carry a body?  I don’t say shit. I’m leaving some of this on the record, because everyone can kiss my ass.  Smythe (REDACTED)

H- (REDACTED)  Oh, here’s Fall 2013 notes…

J- What menu is this one here?  Do you remember when this was?  This one might be my favorite menu.  Every fucking thing on here was good…

H- What season would it have been….it would have been fall.  Maybe fall of 2012.

J- That far out?

H- Could be 2011, I don’t know…that chicken liver salad was the shit.

J- Chicken liver salad, but everything, I mean the smoked beet malfatti…

H- OH GOD YEAH!

J- Lamb tortelli, buccatini, roasted pear risotto, I mean every pasta kills….tartare, roulade…

H- This would have been fall of 2011.

J- This might be my favorite, because seriously, we’ve got…

H- That malfatti. It was fucking good.  Man, I’m gonna come off as conceited, like everything we talk about I go “that was fucking good…I’m a genius….how did I even come up with this?”

J- But this is serious shit.  The grilled octopus…

H- Ohhh the fucking choucroute garnie…

J- The monkfish was great, the fucking scallops and sweetbreads were on there.

H- Oh! Oh yeah!

J- Sous vide lamb shoulder. That was killer.

H- What was the monkfish?  Oh, with clams and salsa verde, kind of classic Spanish.

J- Oh, the tournedos were back on this….they were so great because of that fucking thing, that fucking cromesquis!  Remember that shit?  That goddamn thing?

H- Ohhhh SHIT!  You were just talking about prep bitches?  Oh god, if I even say that word back there…these guys, I’m sure they’ve all heard of it but I don’t think I’ve forced them to make it.  My cooks hated to make that, but fuck it was good.

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J- Okay, here’s a question with our friend Dave Crum….if Dave Crum could take one thing on this menu and pimp it to the next level, what would Dave Crum do?

H- That’s a good way to think of food.

J- Yeah, I do that a lot.  I think what would Dave Crum do to totally fuck this up in a good way?  Hard to say here with this menu, maybe some real country ass shit.  He might fuck with that chicken dish.

H- Oh, we had that foie gras bread pudding with the chicken. That was Stuart.

J- Even the desserts, you’ve got panna cotta, chocolate pave and pumpkin trifle…

H- I really liked that horchata ice cream with the pave.  Choucroute Garnie was my favorite thing on this menu by far. Pork cheek ham!  This was the first time I made pork cheek ham.  You got one whole little cheek…

J- How do I order WRONG on this menu, that was actually a joke question I thought of….how would you get a bad dinner out of this…total dipshits come in who would normally not know how to order, but with this thing, how would you even do it?  But how do I order from this menu, just me and my wife?  Um, I’m gonna have to do roulade, I’m gonna have to do…all the pastas, because that bucatini a la carbonara is the shit, the lamb tortelli is the shit…

H- I think back then I was always doing one dry pasta, and it would always be some kind of classic dish but there would be one little twist.   Like the smoked oysters in that carbonara.

J- Rabbit roulade, all the pastas, and I’ve gotta get that chicken liver salad…

H- Yeah, you gotta.  Dude, white bean escarole soup with Italian sausage…I’d eat that for lunch a LOT.

J- That for sure was the shit.  Tournedos, scallops and sweetbreads or the monkfish, I don’t know, it’s tough to say, but it’s pretty bullet proof.

H- It was a good one.

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J- Ok, so now it looks like we’re going to fall of 2013…

H- Whole grilled trout…OH the vegetarian Scotch egg!

J- Whole grilled trout, wasn’t that the one where dickhead…

H- Yeah, this is it!  This is the dish!

J- That dude who wanted you to properly teach your cooks…ahhh, the one with the bone marrow and crispy oysters  on the apps menu…

H- Oh yes, that’s one of my favorite apps we’ve done.

J- The crespelle, braised TRIPE!  Tagliatelle….

H- That tripe never fucking sold. It was good though.  You know, most of the other stuff, those other offal dishes always sold. Like that Butcher’s Treat, with the brains and scrambled eggs? That always sold. The liver, stuff like that sells, but that tripe was just tough to move.

J- You know man, looking at this, the fall of 2013 and thinking about that 2011 menu I said was the absolute best…maybe it wasn’t that it was the top menu of all time, but the serious momentum had started.

H- Yeah, the earlier one you’re talking about, it was probably at that point we were really finding our rhythm with what we wanted to cook.  Oh, the francobolli, remember those with the nduja filling?

J- Oh yeah, totally, because I remember you having this soul searching discussion…can I use La Quercia and still call it nduja, do I have to actually ferment meats myself for it to be legitimate?

H- Yeah, Dave Crum was like “fuck yeah, of course you can…grind up some fucking salami, add the Calabrian chile and some fat”.  Dave totally talked me into it, because I had already tried it that way just to see if it worked, and then I went I don’t know I feel weird about it….and he just goes no, do it.

J- Dave just told you, hey man, you gotta Vietnam Café that shit.  Efficiency first motherfucker.  Don’t worry about it.  Oh, that vegetarian Scotch egg, yeah…

H- That was great, except for at first when they couldn’t get the timing right. Drove me nuts.  So I would make them cut them, because that was the only way I could tell they were right….you could check the temperature with a cake tester, but that didn’t mean shit if you overcooked it, then it cooled, and then it got back to the right temperature…it was still overcooked.  So I made them cut them open and turn them up, but then that just ruins the Scotch egg.  So I was like, as soon as you hit twenty in a row that are right, that I can cut open and see, we’ll start doing them whole.

J- And see? That’s a lot CHEAPER…

H- HA!  Than two hundred fucking trout!

J- Yeah Howard, having your cooks do twenty fucking eggs in a row vs.  two hundred trout in a row….who was that fucking dick?  Do I know him?

H- I think he was from out of town.

J- Dammit!  Yeah, it definitely wasn’t that the 2011 menu was the best, it was just where you had really started to dial it in.   Oh, that fucking Coquito Pudding, funnel cakes, oh Sweet Potato Pie!  The pie with that Noble #5….that was the shit.

H- I just like saying sweet potato pie, like JJ from Good Times.

J- I need to go spend that seventy dollars on some of that Noble Tonic.

H- So, not for the record, (REDACTED), I’m trying to stay out of it.

J- Yeah, that is absolutely not on the record.  People don’t know either, and that’s what cracks me up.  He’s a twisted bastard.

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H- Ooooh, this is the fucking octopus dish…harissa mayo, butter hummus and roasted kale. This is the one that took off.

J- At least some of that may have been my fault, I was finding my stride on Facebook and that was probably one of the first dishes I would NOT shut the fuck up about.  That dish…MOTHERFUCKERS!  YOU GOTTA GO TRY THIS!  And then I can’t remember who it was. A chef or somebody, and they came in and went…sure enough, this is a for real great dish.

H- That’s like with Corvino’s girlfriend…I mean, he has done some really cool octo dishes, cooks them sous vide and they are gorgeous and stunning.  This can be on the record…this was her favorite fucking thing here, and then it was a big deal when they started dating, she had to say she liked his octopus better.

J- Oh this is on the record! That is fucked up!

H- Yeah, I guarantee, Christina Eldridge liked this octopus dish better.

J- Corvino….loses….the octopus slash girlfriend challenge.

H- But ALSO, I introduced them, here, on New Year’s Eve.  So hey, I brought them together. She can like my octopus, it’s fine.  We’re all adults.

J- Now if HE did your dish…all pretty…

H- Maybe it’d be better. But the butter hummus wouldn’t be hot…

J- You had that on the lunch menu too didn’t you?  Because I’d eat that at lunch, and then I’d be back and have it at dinner.

H- Shit, I lost even MORE money on it at lunch. It was ridiculous.

J- I ate that until I did not want to eat it again.  I ate that a lot.  Sorry. Early 2012 was good.

H- Hangerr steak, trying to remember that.  I can’t picture how we did the swiss chard flan.

J- I always end up trying your steak dishes when I’m dining with some pussy.

H- Yeah.

J- “Uuuhh, well I guess I’ll try the steak”….well good deal, I’ll get to try the steak because I’m usually ordering everything else.

H-  It feels like we always just have that KC strip on the menus and mainly change what comes with it, but looking back I realize just how many different steaks we’ve done…we’ve had the dry aged ribeye, that bone-in ribeye…we’ve had hanger, filet…guess we’ve had a lot of steaks.

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H- Let’s see…Spring of 2013 menu….oh, that omelette.  Just had mushrooms inside and then just crème fraiche and chervil on top.

J- This was the menu when you guys had that special one night, the stuffed trotter that was insane.  When Quinn was still here, and it came with those Robuchon potatoes and I asked him to save one back because I was coming in on a Saturday and was afraid it would sell out.  You guys sent out that omelette, but with Green Dirt Bossa and some fucking morels.  That thing, with that trotter, maybe the all time top meal.  Oh, and I was dining with strangers, they were just…

H- Oh! Must be somebody around here!

J- Yeah, I’m special.  Not the good kind fuckers.

H- That trotter, that was the Pierre Koffmann trotter, the one that Marco Pierre White put in White Heat.  But we made that recipe EXACTLY…

J- It was insanely rich….ohhh lamb kidneys!  I remember eating that….

H- Those were the deviled kidneys, I have in the description “Fergus Henderson eats them for breakfast on his birthday with a Black Velvet”…I think I liked it just because of that.  So THAT sold but the tripe didn’t…

J- You would not be successful with this menu during Restaurant Week.  This would be the nightmare for people who are looking for a bargain under the guise of charity, and are never going to visit you again, they are not going to like this food.

H- Uhhh, nope.  Oh, that radicchio salad that everyone hated….it was spring, we had three salads, they could hate one of them.  Oh yeah, the watercress one with the duck fat poached egg in a potato nest, remember that?

J- Yes!  Wasn’t everyone bitching about that potato nest?

H- Oh god, they hated that, that was Marcus for sure.

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BROCK SCHULTE-  Chef, can I ask you a question real quick before it’s off my mind?

H- Yes.  This is on the record though!

BROCK SCHULTE- If I were to take an Italian cream soda..

H- Choose your words wisely!

BROCK SCHULTE- If I introduced a high acid environment into that, would it coagulate? And then if I clarified it, would it still keep that body?

H- Yeah, I mean, I don’t think they’re creamy enough, so you would have to use something REALLY acidic…

BROCK SCHULTE- If I used something like ascorbic acid…

H- But then how is that going to taste?

BROCK SCHULTE- Whatever I flavor it with, but then I want is the body.

H- I think it would take a lot of acid, but then it wouldn’t taste good. But I don’t know shit about that stuff.  Try it! It’s worth a try. I could see that working.

J- I’m totally leaving that on the record. Out of nowhere it will just be BROCK SCHULTE.

H- Oh, this was round two of the liver salad, but we used rabbit livers.

J- Man dude, rabbit livers are the best thing ever, kidneys, anything from a rabbit.

H- The last time you had that one dish with the livers, capers, bacon…I think we’re putting that on the new menu.

J- Yeah man, rabbit is like a miniature pig. It’s just the perfect little head to tail animal. Everything in a rabbit is good.

H- If only they got fat.

J- Go see if your boy Brock can make a fat rabbit.

H- If he could make some rabbit foie gras I’d eat the shit out of that.

J- Hey Brock, feed it some of those Italian sodas.

H- Sturgeon? I don’t remember this dish.

J- I think I remember seeing it but I never ordered it.

H&J- Goat au Vin! (in unison)

J- That was the shit.

H- That was one of my favorites. One of our servers was talking about that, Joe was talking about that a couple weeks ago.  We had Beef Bourguignon for New Year’s Eve and he goes “what was that goat dish you did kind of like this?”.

J- Speaking of goat, you oughta bring a bunch of people in and show them how to break down that goat and cook it down for that ragu…

H- And charge a whole bunch of money.

J- Yeah, charge a bunch of money but then at the end everybody gets a photo with you.  No additional charge.

H- (REDACTED)

J- He’s bad news.

Rieger Green Dirt Small-171

H- This was a good rabbit dish.  It was the leg stuffed and wrapped in caulfat. Hind leg, removed the thigh bone, stuffed it with force meat made from rabbit loins and pork fat, duh, and then we wrapped the stuff leg in caulfat.  That was kind of a bitch.  We cooked them sous vide and then we browned them to order, and caulfat is always sort of sticky…..that was a good dish.

J- That reminded me of one of the best rabbit dishes I’ve ever had, up at Justus Drugstore, and Jonathan explaining it…because it was stuffed with chicken mousseline, I think the leg, but so the chicken didn’t overcook they froze it first and figured out how much it had to thaw before they put it in the sous vide so that it would cook up right.

H- Rabbit semifreddo.

J- That mousseline though.  So good to look at, mirepoix made it look like a mosaic.  One of my favorite things up there.

H- I remember when we were making this it reminded me of a dish that I had at the French Laundry. It was some sort of rabbit sausage stuffed into the rabbit shoulder. So it had one joint of the front leg, and then the shoulder, and where the blade bone came out they stuffed it with sausage.  We were a six top and I just remember sitting there thinking…that would suck to prep.  That’s really tiny, really delicate shit. To stuff that and then brown it off nicely and braise it….and I looked around the table, because mine was perfect, and with six of them I wanted to see if there was one fucked up or one that was too small or where the filling came out a little bit, but it was like…..all of them fucking perfect.  Goddamn. It’s good to be TK.

J- One of the dumb questions I came up with- I’m a serious home cook, and I have a chef’s coat, and I tape my prep list to the counter with colored tape…like Thomas Keller.  My chief complaint about THIS menu is…

H- Hmmm, probably the imperfection of the stuffed leg.

J- See? That Thomas Keller! He tapes shit!  That stainless steel!  The colors they use!  I don’t  know if they color code it, but it looks, it looks just…oh my GOD!

H- Ha ha ha…do you know our system here? It’s hilarious, our walk-in is just not very bright, so even if you put a huge wattage bulb in there you still have those dark corners.  And so I like blue tape like I always have.  We have the blue tablecloths on the pass where all the food comes up, we all wear blue aprons, blue stripes on the caps I make the cooks wear, that’s our thing. Royal blue. It fits.  So one time we couldn’t find the blue tape and so I got a roll of the neon green, and we noticed that when you write with a sharpie on the neon green it showed up a thousand times better.  So you spend less time digging around the walk-in for shit. So Tom or whoever, or Quinn, was like dude, we’ve got to change.  I go we can’t!  We use blue tape!  They were like- it’s better asshole! So fine, a compromise…anything that goes into the walk-in and gets refrigerated gets green tape, but anything that sees the light of day gets blue tape.  So when I’m here and I’m walking through my kitchen I’m looking at blue tape, but when you guys are down there digging around on the shelves you can actually see on the green tape.  I thought there was no way, they’re going to fuck it up and I’ll see green tape all the time and it will piss me off and I’ll ban it. But, it actually works.  They all fell into line.

J- That’s funny, I definitely did not know that.  Just makes me think of all those serious home chef Instagram shots with the colored tape and white paper mosaics on the counter.

H- Remember those crostoli? Those little fried Italian cookies?

J- Shit yes.

H- Usually I’m against Italian cookies, but those were good.

J- There you go, there’s your Butcher’s Treat…sautéed veal brains, soft scrambled eggs and grilled bread. That was the shit.  That was the one thing I think my wife tried and was not crazy about it at all. That’s the thing, you like brains or you do not.

H- I remember Mario Fantasma came in and sat at the counter.  Yeah, he goes  “I’m kind of embarrassed, but I’m a butcher and I’ve never had that.”  I go, that’s for you! That’s YOUR treat!  You’re getting this!  And he wasn’t sure if he wanted it, but fuck that, he got it and really liked it.  I was like, do you guys just eat steaks up there or what.  “Yeah, and pork chops”, ha ha ha.

J- Oh man, here’s the steak and kidney pie that was actually good.  I had so many bad versions of that before.  Old ass kidneys….I mean, what the fuck, are they human kidneys or something?

H- Those are the worst.

J- Old alcoholic kidneys or something. But those good kidneys, because you always use rabbit don’t you? Or lamb?

H- Those were rabbit kidneys.  They’re so fucking cute.

J- And you don’t even have to cook them. Just wave a lighter next to one. Done.

H- Yeah, those were good. Well, guess I better suit up.  So did we get it?

J- Oh yeah, we got it.  Now I have to transcribe this shit. That is the fucking worst.

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