This week my sister and nephew came to visit me from out of town and we dined together at Grange on Friday night. It was the first time they ate at the restaurant and I was thrilled that they would be able to try the desserts. Although our banquet chef, MJ and I have done quality checks before, this was the first time I had eaten at Grange as a civilian and it was interesting to experience the restaurant solely from a diner's perspective. It's fun to develop a recipe for the dessert menu and taste it as it goes from concept to reality, but when you're actually sitting in the restaurant and the dish is put in front of you it's easier to notice little things you don't see in the kitchen. Was the dessert plated properly? Is the temperature correct? Was it served with the right utensils? Was the server able to answer questions about the ingredients or components? There are so many details that go into the making and presentation of what may seem like a simple menu item and if one of those details is off the dining experience can be compromised.
As we ate our desserts we watched as other diners received their orders. One table of six people behind us had been happily talking until their plates were set in front of them - then they fell silent and just concentrated on their desserts for a few minutes. A couple next to us had the chevre tart and the cookie plate - they shared them and ate every bite. As a chef it's so rewarding to see customers enjoy what I make, but since I work in the downstairs kitchen and don't plate my own desserts I rarely see it. That's also true of the banquet desserts that we put out - they go up to the banquet rooms and Jackie and I don't see how they're received by the guests. This experience made me realize how important it is for us to make time in our production schedule whenever we can to plate desserts in Grange - there's no substitute for immediate feedback from a customer.