We'll get to the service issue shortly, and yes, this is my little sister, and no, I can't take credit for this, her friend John in Ireland made it. But first, the menu!
So, I've spent the past month or so whittling down our menu and painstakingly pricing out each recipe. And now I'd like to hear from you. I'm hoping that we've come up with tasty snacks and dishes that will appeal to Antigonishers and our visitors, reflect our regional bounty and character, and be interesting and delicious without derailing your attempts to eat well–asolutely no nasty preservatives or additives or excessive grease to worry about! I've built it around foods that are readily available in our area, and the vegetables that have the longest growing seasons or that keep well for most of the year. We'll be changing it up and adding new things fairly regularly to reflect what's in season, and keep things interesting, but this will be the core of the menu.
Brewpub and Local Eatery
Large Plates for sharing
Antigonish Co’s own double Gloucester cheese, house made pickles and chutneys, some fresh fruit/veg, house made soda bread (or gluten-free crackers), and your choice of Smoked Sausage, St. Mary’s River Hot Smoked Salmon, or a wedge of our hearty Spanish potato and egg tortilla.
Or all three!
Bombay hummus and one other seasonal dip with a pile of veggies, GF crackers, and soda bread for dipping and spreading.
NS Cheese Plate
An assortment of local cheeses–Antigonish’s Knoydart Farm Double Gloucester, Rancher Acres’ creamy chevre, Foxhill’s sharp cheddar, That Dutchman’s cumin-spiked gouda and That Dutchman’s Dragon’s Breath Blue-Cheese–with GF crackers, house-baked soda bread and chutney.
Roasted potato wedges
Organic Maritime potatoes roasted in olive oil and ready for dunking in your choice of house made dips–like Rohini’s Tomato-Curry Sauce or Wasabi Mayo!
Smaller Plates for a light meal or combining
Giant Samosa–hot flaky pastry packed with veggies and spices, served with chutney or hot sauce
Double-Stuffed Potato–jacket potatoes filled to the brim with goat’s cheese, caramelized onions and herbs
Tortilla Español–a hearty wedge of potato and onion omelette with chutney on the side
MacMaster’s Sausages–2 smoked and roasted sausages, served with sauerkraut and hot mustard
Totnes Salad–named for the town in the south of England where my sister discovered it, the Totnes salad has savoury green lentils, tender-crisp green beans, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and NS feta cheese on a bed of arugula with a Balsamic dressing
The Townhouse Salad–crisp apples, sweet grated carrots, crunchy cabbage and toasted sunflower seeds in a ginger, maple and apple-cider vinaigrette
Seasonal Green Salad-changing regularly
Roasted Potato Wedges–with your choice of dips
Townhouse Irish Soda Bread–with cheese and chutney
The Soup Bowl
2 soups made from scratch, daily! There is always a vegetarian option, and soups could include:
NS Fish Chowder, Potato Leek Soup, Curried Red Lentil Soup, Beef with Barley and Leeks, Finnan Haddie, etc.
Served with a Townhouse salad or our Lightly Pickled Veggies, specials could include:
Shepherd’s Pie, Chicken and Leek Pie, Steak and Guinness Pie, Baked Penne with Blue Cheese, Nasi Goreng, Pad Thai, etc.
Chocolate Almond Torte–rich and intensely chocolatey, and it just happens to be gluten-free.
Seasonal Fruit Crisp–served with our decadent yogourt-cream (yogourt and whipped cream combined with maple syrup, vanilla and lemon-zest).
Guinness Gingerbread–rich and delicious, served with yogourt-cream, or vanilla ice cream and balsamic drizzle.
So, what do you think of our proposed menu?
Is there enough choice? or Could it be even smaller?
Anything crucial we're missing?
As you can see, it's not hugely extensive. As we will be spending a bit more on high quality, locally produced ingredients and making all our food from scratch, we need to come up with a new model for making our business work financially. We don't want to cut costs on food by ordering pre-packaged, highly-processed stuff from a large distributor, so we need to look for ways to cut costs in other areas. Labour is one of the biggest expenses in the restaurant biz, so we've tried to design our menu and figure out systems to keep things as simple and streamlined as possible, thereby keeping our staffing needs to a minimum. If we can hire fewer people, we can train them better, and pay them a little better (hopefully minimizing staff turnover, too!), and charge you a little less for food.
With this in mind, I'm asking you how important is table service?
In Ireland, none of the traditional pubs I visited had table service. We took turns going to the bar for rounds of drinks, and if we wanted food we'd just order at the bar, and it would be brought out to us directly. I quite liked the very casual order at the bar style, there was no one hovering over your table constantly, and it meant the food needn't be outrageously expensive.
Do you think such an approach could work here?
Or would you rather pay a little more for table service?
Let us hear it...