Wednesday, March 26, 2008

kitchen tour: front of the house

Once upon a time, a streetcar ride east of Bathurst away, there was a magical place called the Restaurant. Wondrous tales of its beauty had spread far and wide, and many travellers from distant lands came to sample its famed hospitality.

Recently, I had the good fortune to visit this vibrant, manic, and altogether inspirational home to food lovers and dreamers alike. Happily, I was welcomed by faces both familiar and new; it has been quite awhile, but to some places, such as this, and their memories, one will always be fond.

My gratitude to you, dear staff, for letting me be so obnoxiously snap-happy amidst your busy selves. Spending even a partial service watching everyone hustle about made me feel (first, a little tired, to be honest) proud and inspired by the sheer amount of labour and love involved in working here. (Not that life lived here is all sunshine and hand-holding, not at all, but you know how it goes: what doesn't kill you...) Much respect to all the talented and hard-working guys and gals that make this machine run so very beautifully.

And what about all those parts to be played in that creature we call service? Let's start at the front of the house. Physically, this is the area the diner sees; the main dining room, the bar, the lounge. The front staff includes all the servers, food runners and bartenders (otherwise known as "Them" by those cooks who choose to take up the historically longstanding battle of the "Us" vs. variety).

While we are here, I believe that a little tour is in order. Shall we?

The main floor, dressed, pressed and ready for her closeup.

The Colonel is watching you...

R takes reservations. Flattering lighting provided by dividers made of stretched ostrich skin.

The lounge area. (Pinups courtesy of Playboy Shanghai, 1939? Just a guess.)

Still life in pepper, egg & bone.

Through the back doors of the kitchen, the private room awaits.

More still life, in the form of an installation of miniature trees, coloured light boxes, and a zen rock garden.


Marble-sized kumquats provide colourful and edible (I wonder if people do?) table pieces.

The room feels graceful, still now, but full of the promise of a spectacular show to come.

Back through these doors, the tranquil illusion ends.

Get ready to roll up your sleeves, kids, we're going into the kitchen...


  1. haha, is that Daryl in the background?