Monday December 20, 2010
If you keep tabs on BraveTart via the Facebook Page or on Twitter, you may have noticed my mentions of “the restaurant,” blurbs regarding menu updates, a flurry of TwitPics and links to a Facebook album posts of various goings-on.
But for those who just tune in to the blog or those not quite certain what to make of my various tweets, let me officially announce, I have a new job! I’ve actually had it for a bit now, but leaving the leisurely life of private chef-ing and returning to restaurant work has left me with considerably less free time. Don’t ask me how, the week of Christmas, I have somehow managed to write.
Well, if you did ask me? Let’s just say I’d rather sit down and write something here than a) hit up the stores for some panicked Christmas shopping or b) address my sad stack of Christmas cards.
So, to get on with the story, back in November, I joined the opening team of Table 310: a brand spankin’ new restaurant in downtown Lexington that opened barely a month ago.
Andrea Sims and Krim Boughalem of Wine + Market (which we featured a few months back) own it and most definitely brought their signature style to the space.
Mr. BraveTart and I, devout patrons of W + M, first heard about the new restaurant in January 2010 while ordering lunch from Krim. We’d lamented that we’d love a glass of wine with our sandwiches, and he assured us that soon enough he’d have a place for us to sip wine to our hearts’ content. Intrigued, we peppered him with questions on every visit thereafter, keeping vaguely abreast of the progress.
Then, when Rosco and I went to W + M to take some pictures for your viewing pleasure Krim sat down with me to chat.
While Rosco milled about snapping pictures, Krim told me all about the new place and the vision he and Andrea had for it: a casual but hip dinner spot, a place to enjoy a glass of wine with friends. They’d commissioned a local carpenter to construct a long, funky community table to encourage people to chat with their neighbors rather than dine in isolated booths.
From the back-of-the-house perspective, the restaurant would source as much as possible from Kentucky vendors too. Rather than simply list local ingredients on the menu, many of these items would serve as decor for the restaurant, proudly displayed for all to see rather than for kitchen-eyes only. Rows of rustic paper bags of flour and cornmeal from Weisenberger Mill and jars of comb-in honey and dark Kentucky molasses lining the shelves behind the bar. Baskets of hickory nuts, winter squash, and apples from a local farmer set here and there together with stacks of spindly baguette delivered from Sunrise Bakery, located just a few steps away.
Krim said eventually he wanted everything, from bread to tonic water, made in house. He showed me photos, menu work ups, the cheese and charcuterie lists, and asked me to put together some dessert menus and think about coming to work for him.
I didn’t really have to think about it. He had me at, “we’ll make our own root beer.” But I said I would and went home to brainstorm. Later, I sent a few menus Krim’s way, expecting a volley of e-mails and tweaks. Instead, he called to inform me dispassionately, “I loved it.” He had a factual rather than emphatic tone.
“Which one?” I asked, as each menu reflected a bit of a different style. Pure French; Fusion; Modern American, BraveTartian.
“Ahhh, all of them,” he said, with almost dismissive approval. As if to say, figuring out the details is your job. “It’s great. Do what you like. Change the menus all the time. Order whatever you need.”
For those only familiar with the tableclothed half of a restaurant: those words, coming from a restaurant owner to a chef/cook/baker, have a worth greater than gold. I confess, without shame, that I hung up the phone, screamed, and possibly danced.
The phone rang. I blanched. Meekly answered, “Hello?”
Krim: “Oh, yes. Do you want a convection oven or … ?”
I answered (in a totally calm, demure, professional tone of voice: yes, indeed, I would appreciate a convection oven), hung up the phone again and resumed my wild dancing about the kitchen.
It takes a lot of work to open a restaurant, especially in a location which formally served as an office. We started out with a lot of filing cabinets, Dictaphones and stacks of unused business papers with letterheads of attorneys from the Lexington of yesteryear. But slowly the office became a kitchen. Or, I should say, the offices became kitchens.
310 has two. A hot kitchen upstairs and a basement kitchen, the full length of the building, now designated the Pastry Dungeon. Eventually, I’ll share the space with Charcuterie and a micro-micro-brewery, but for now I have the whole thing to myself.
As I constitute the entire pastry department I definitely have utilized every inch of the space. I make the crackers, jams and marmalades used as accoutrement for the charcuterie plate, quince paste for the cheese plate, and savory scones for the table. Oh, and, you know, desserts.
While I love making everything from cupcakes to Caramel Corn, I have a passion for plated desserts and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to get into a kitchen and have at it. Above: Spiced Panna Cotta with Salted Caramel, pomegranate arils, and toasted Vanilla Bean and Honey Marshmallows. Find the full recipe here, if you’d like to try it out.
For now, the restaurant has entered “Phase One” of an unknown number of phases. This phase features an outstanding cheese menu, a dozen and a half sorts of charcuterie items, an oyster bar and a tapas like menu of marinated mushrooms, olives, shaved salads and desserts. Future phases will add in pizza from our wood fired oven, house brewed beer, and full menu that will change almost daily.
If you live in Lexington, I hope you’ll come by for dinner sometime and end your meal on a sweet note! If you can’t, fear not, I’ll continue sharing my restaurant adventures and recipes here. Follow me on Twitter if you’d like to hear about daily dessert specials, restaurant updates, and random musings from the Pastry Dungeon.
24 comments and counting
Dec 20, 2010 · 7:13 PM
Oh. My. God. It’s all so beautiful! Congratulations! I’m so happy for you!!!
· Kaitlin · whisk-kid.blogspot.com
Dec 21, 2010 · 1:10 AM
Thanks girlies! I’m having a total blast. The kitchen is still a total debacle, so I can’t imagine what kind of cool stuff we’ll be cracking out once it’s all squared away! We should have lots of new 310 pictures over the next few months as I get Rosco down more often to shoot. He’s only been over twice so far.
Dec 21, 2010 · 6:14 AM
Congratulation on your new job! You have such a beautiful talent in photography. Everything just looks so amazing
· Tes · tesathome.com
Dec 21, 2010 · 7:52 AM
That dessert looks and sounds absolutely divine! Sounds like a great job – such freedom.
· Poires au Chocolat · www.poiresauchocolat.net
Dec 21, 2010 · 8:02 AM
Wicked awesome. Your post is making me consider flying out there to check it out. I can’t wait to see the crazy sweets you’ll concoct with charcuterie and beer on tap. Keep living the dream.
· J to the D · ourcookquest.blogspot.com
Dec 21, 2010 · 9:13 AM
The restaurant looks beautiful! Wish I could stop by.
· Tiffany @ Conor & Bella · conorbella.wordpress.com
Dec 21, 2010 · 11:15 AM
@Tes, glad you’re enjoying the photography!! I’m not the one taking pictures, though, my friend Rosco takes care of all that. I’m lucky he’s willing to be a part of team BraveTart cos I’d be nowhere without his fantastic photos!
Anyone who wants to visit Table 310 should send me a message or tweet and let me know! Thanks for all the cheering guys!
Dec 22, 2010 · 1:51 AM
Congrats on the new position. We’re the sort who always try and sit where we can see what’s going on behind the scenes at restaurants so it’s really fascinating to see how your new restaurant is coming together.
· Loren · www.eatingnw.com
Dec 22, 2010 · 2:30 AM
I will try to visit in February. Feed me!
· Babychili · www.youfedababychili.com/
Dec 22, 2010 · 10:44 PM
I went, I gorged, and I have to say that your desserts were flat out better than anything else I tried. That’s something, considering the refreshingly delicious menu choices. Your fruitcake that made us close our eyes and stomp our feet under the table. And I did not share my panna cotta. That may have been bad form, but I don’t regret that decision.
Dec 24, 2010 · 12:33 AM
big congrats, stella! so happy for you—that gig sounds perfect for you and your amazing talent, and your new home sounds like a place i’d love…must make the drive down to lexington, and soon! in the meantime, merry merry, and all the best to you guys for a tasty and fun new year! xo tracy
· tracy · www.essencha.com
Feb 28, 2011 · 5:24 PM
beautiful photos, i must say! i absolutely love the ambience of table 310… plus, the wine and cheese isn’t so bad either!!
· Nom & Home · nomnomnom-dot-com.blogspot.com
May 23, 2011 · 2:40 PM
I love the Internet – it allows me to connect with people that, though only a few miles away, I would probably never meet otherwise. I am already planning to make a birthday request of Table 310 (husband would probably never go for it outside of that). Or wait until Mom comes to visit… hm.
· Kate · wanderluck.wordpress.com
May 23, 2011 · 9:43 PM
Kate, nice to meet you! i so love all my internet pals. Please send me an email if you come to the restaurant for your birthday, give me some notice and I’ll try to have something special for you. Cheers!
Aug 07, 2011 · 12:02 PM
This looks and sounds fabulous- what a dream of a job- hope you are enjoying it as much as you thought you would although it must be very hard work!!
Have a great Sunday
· Modern Counntry Lady · moderncountrylady.blogspot.com/
Aug 07, 2011 · 12:05 PM
@Bea, coming up on my one year anniversary there in just over two months! I’m in love. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.
Mar 08, 2012 · 7:20 PM
SO happy I found your blog! My husband and I recently moved from California to Frankfort, KY and I’ve been poking around for blogs in my area for awhile unsuccessfully. I just happened to stumble upon yours through pinterest and I love it! I’m off to bug my husband about taking me to dinner at Table 310 now!
· Colleen · www.freakedoutnsmall.com
Mar 09, 2012 · 10:18 AM
@Colleen, welcome to Kentucky!! From California to Frankfort sounds a little culture shock-y, I hope you’re hangin’ in there okay. Definitely let me know if you ever make the trip to Lexington for dinner, I’ll make sure it’s worthwhile.
Aug 13, 2014 · 8:33 PM
I love your blog! I’m semi-local (as in only one state away) up in Cincinnati, working as a pastry chef with a catering company. I’ve been given the “do what you want” line of gold, too, but with certain limitations. So it’s fun and I can order whatever to make whatever, but I have to make sure that it is small (like one to two bites), and will remain stable while being driven to events and then sitting either at room temp or in the heat at an event. Can I bug you for some ideas for things to look at on your blog and elsewhere that might fit my limits? I love your macaron myths and commandments, and will immediately stop aging my whites for half a day, though I am reticent to give up the post-piping drying time. And your pastry cream looks a little better than the few different recipes I’ve used in the past. (But anything is better than what they were using before they hired me, which was instant vanilla pudding!!! /sadface) Anywho… yeah. Thoughts?
Aug 13, 2014 · 9:08 PM
I’m not a troll. Lol.
· CincyPastryDude · https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Sweetsgeek/
Aug 19, 2014 · 11:08 AM
HI CincyPastryDude! Always great to meet a local, I love Cincy! Nearly everything on my blog will probably fit the bill, as the constraints I had at the restaurant required all the desserts to be able to endure a rough handling. I’m partial to my pastry cream, of course, but I hope you like it. I think it has a bit more character than most. If drying macarons works for you, I wouldn’t change a thing. My recipe/method are really only there so people can have options and a different approach if others haven’t worked in the past. It’s always most important to stick with a recipe that is comfortable for you.