Tuesday, April 28, 2009


so the much-hyped aussie masterchef made its debut last night. I have to admit, I wasn't overly impressed, and that's not because I'm a fan of the british original.

the problem seems to be the heavy-handed manner in which network ten churns out these 'reality' tv shows. execs have admitted that high hopes are riding on the success of mc after the cancellation of big brother, finales of biggest loser and dancing with the stars, and flagging ratings for australian idol.

but the only recent 'reality' food series to really connect with the aussie public seems to have been my restaurant rules, which network seven aired in 2004 & 05. viewers were allowed insight into the contestants' lives, hopes and dreams - and cared. ten's 'answer' show, the chopping block failed to deliver even after a hasty makeover for season two. and I can see the same rushed, "ignore the contestants, gush over the production values" style of mc australia.

the producers appear to have taken much inspiration from bravo tv's top chef series, right down to the padma look-alike host. but as with many of ten's productions, so far it's all style over any substance. and isn't 'reality' tv supposed to be about 'reality'?

Monday, April 27, 2009

misty mountain hop

the fireplace was put to full use over the weekend, and the diners seemed to appreciate it in the first pre-winter cold blast we've had this season. I put a hearty beef & veg stew on the specials board, we sold out by saturday afternoon.

also from the specials board: tempura fish & chips (sold huge, will probably move it to the permanent menu); chef's burger with wasabi mayo and aged bush pepper cheese; veg and lentil soup; cream of corn soup; and grilled chicken with roasted garlic mash & wild rocket:

the biggest hit from the expanded burger menu was this one - bacon chicken swiss cheese and avocado:

personally, I think the reason this one sold well was people are used to seeing a version of it on most of the commercial fast food menus.

caitlin harnett played to a comfortably full house. we met a few more regulars and welcomed some new arrivals, two who found us thru twitter. nice to see simon and amanda from pop tarts, carnsey and olson. happy b-day to ann, thanks for choosing our humble lil hideaway to have your lunch bash.

Friday, April 24, 2009

ironfest and anzac biscuits

those are two events on this weekend that may or may not have anything to do with our trade.

new opening hours are from 10am weekends, we're thinking about opening this monday but there seems to be some confusion over whether it's still a public holiday.

the new menu's ready, we're expanding our burger menu and adding more warm light meal items. the specials board will continue to feature whatever's interesting, in season and above all, of interest. it still amazes me what moves and what doesn't off of a specials board.

the sunday music sessions are finally starting to grow, we'd hoped that the cooler weather would help. grey misty days with a fire crackling and some top-notch solo singer-songwriters seems to be a good combination.

but we're still cautiously watching the bottom line. we've had to send a rather lengthy list of urgent repairs to the building's owner, and that's just the tip of the iceberg as far as what's in need of attention here.

one weekend at a time...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

time for a few small repairs

after much discussion, we've decided on a slight course correction. we're scrapping the breakfast menu and will now open for lunch at 11am.

there's a few reasons, and we think it'll all be for the best. the capper was our recent gas problem, which has actually been an issue in this kitchen since before we took over. the problem seems to lie with the stovetop burners sucking too much air back into the lines and killing the pilots. we're told by a couple of gas plumbers that the 1972-era waldorf ain't worth fixing, and we haven't got a spare $10k to replace her.

the main use for the stovetop is breakfast, we usually get by with the grill & fryer alone during lunch. so today I pulled out the spreadsheet of what's been ordered, how many covers etc. we've been doing 3 lunches to every 1 brekky. mornings start early and the stock costs are high. so dropping breakfast should actually save us money, reduce the prep hours and allow the kitchen to focus solely on lunch service.

on top of that, most of the weekend tourists up here stay in b&b's or other accom that all provide brekky.

we'll likely disappoint a few brekky regulars, but the numbers - or lack of - add up. we're struggling and we need to run this ship tight and solid. we're also having talks about combining our dining room space with a second business to increase traffic.

so I'm kind of excited about having some morning time to work on expanding the lunch menu. I've been perusing my cookbooks and various online sites for ideas and inspiration. stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

easter recap

well, the much ballyhooed easter weekend has come and gone. we went into the trade week half-stocked as our primary supplier failed to deliver. some idiot in the office put us down for a friday delivery - which, of course being a public holiday wasn't scheduled. needless to say, we're changing suppliers.

friday's trade was pretty solid, saturday and sunday were busier. overall, it was a big weekend, but, to my thinking at least - it still wasn't the mega-huge trade that all the local businesses said it would be. in spite of the stimulus package talks, people are still tightly guarding their pennies.

anyway, we did enough over the three days to cover our stock, staff and running costs. monday was to be all profit, earmarked to go towards our mounting personal debts - car payments, phone, credit cards etc. monday morning was misty and drizzly, perfect mountain cafe weather.

then the gas mains died.

we're still not certain what actually happened, as we're waiting for someone to come and examine the lines, but the pilots simply wouldn't stay lit. the stove, grill, fryer and oven - all out of action. we have a couple of electric appliances, but it was simply impossible to do full breakfasts for the dozen or so orders on the docket rail.

the only thing we could do was switch to what was doable with the benchtop gear. soups, toasted sandwiches and salads were about all. and as such, we ran out of those within an hour or so. the cappucino machine sprung a leak and we'd had enough. we flipped the closed sign and shut down, watching dozens upon dozens of people walk up to the doors and away again.

to fix all this, we'd need to dump a whole ton o' money into repairing the place. part of our deal with the owners was a 12 month exploratory lease on the proviso that any repairs or maintenance is to be our problem. two big problems with that solution: a) we don't have any money; 2) we're still not convinced that there's ample trade here at this time to make it all worthwhile.

so we're deep in discussions. at this point, we'll likely hold out until the great train weekend (another much-touted busy event) at the end of may, then... we shall see.

rebecca hancock and john sandow performing:

Monday, April 6, 2009

april no foolin'

we finally had a busy sunday, which was welcome in more ways than one could imagine. it's giving us a hint of what to expect over easter. we're still having a couple of staffing issues, but will hopefully have a full crew together by tomorrow.

peter pik put on a fabulous set of fingerstyle guitar:

from the specials board: marinated grilled lamb cutlets, on a bed of wild rocket with roasted garlic sweet potato mash:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

is that more rain?

arrived back from the city to discover two important things: a) it's still raining constantly; and 2) the roof that was repaired a couple of weeks ago.... ain't.

so the dining room has a half dozen buckets spread around, trying to catch the dripstreams, and the kitchen... ugh. not looking forward to the weekend, as the rain's not likely to lift and we can't get anyone to see about fixing things until it stops.

the upside is that we may pick up some trade as this is the pre-easter weekend. most of the local guesthouses have good bookings, we're hoping there's a few folks wandering around the village...

...in raincoats and galoshes, no doubt.