It’s THROWBACK THURSDAY
As COBBLESTONES counts down to our 25th anniversary celebration, a weekly installment (on Thursday), will share some historical “business” –menu item specials, special memories, funny stories…the special(s) of the week selected from old crowd-favorites, and some “How to survive 25” stories that you may oir may not be interested in!
This special Continues: The Comm Ave. This 1994 original sandwich favorite was named after late nights, pre COBBLESTONES, after the Brookline bars had given last call. We’d be standing in line at Riley’s Roast Beef waiting to sink our drunken teeth into a warm, juicy roast beef sandwich—and crinkle cut fries!! “Chef Ed…it must be on our menu!”
Enjoy it at COBBLESTONES for the next week or so, whenever we have ‘leftover” prime rib!
(We will also be featuring The G-Man Sirloin Special back from 1998–a period of time that we were embracing a roaring 20′s vibe and excess–A sirloin topped with high end crumbled bleu cheese, caramelized onions and portobellos–the ubiquitous mushroom in the ’90′s!)
After some serious ‘digging,’ I have unearthed COBBLESTONES very first menu, to use in celebrating our 25th year in the months to come! Let’s play, “who will remember…”
I was excited to have found it, to review it, and relive the excitement, and also horror, of those earliest days.
I found the 2nd menu, too by the way—one that was written only a month later, very late into the night—a work of two desperate rookie-partners, Chef Ed Z and I, as we realized quickly that we had bitten off way more than we could chew, despite the best intentions of a young and eager staff.
Armed with a six pack that night, we sharpened a pencil and started drawing lines through roughly a third of the menu deemed “non-essential.” Survival mode kicked in as we feared losing many guests forever!
Looking back, that menu was about as stupid an endeavor as we could have conceived.
It represented all of ME—full-on Plath as a friend says—no limits, no shut off valve.
“Yes, yes, bbq needs to be on there, ribs and “The Total Pig Pen sandwich.” “And your great culinary must be represented Chef Z! Smoked chicken and pasta, turkey-cashew pate, chicken and lobster wellington with a lovely mushroom duxelle and a lobster reduction sauce cross utilized from the lobster bisque!” AND Italian of course—Cacciatorre and Parmagiana and Francaise and Alfredo and Scampi!” Fongool! What a fool.
And we can’t forget homage to the community—A Prince Grotto Salad—and Lowell’s history, the Ben Butler wings. Let’s not forget the emerging vegetarians—A Big Dipper and a Primavera and Courtney’s Garden steamed vegetable and the Holy Panoli—gotta have a panoli, right!”
“Let’s also remember our New York roots—A Reuben and “mile high” deli sandwiches! And surely there should be duck. And pork. A carved loin and a saute item with apples and brandy and…”
“Duh, steak of course—Lowell is a ‘steak and potatoes’ kind of town—Let’s go with three then! A sirloin, a filet, some tips….oh wait, and a Prime Rib. Every night. Two sizes! And why not a “This and That” combo option where guests can choose between their steak or meat and their seafood.” (It actually says on the menu, “for those of us who can’t make up their mind.” Like me. ) HELL-OH! (I. am. so. sorry Ed!)
(Now picture John Belushi in Animal House… “Holy Shit-th!” WHAT were we thinking!
From the minute we opened those doors “unofficially,” we were rocked. Lines through the lobby, food slips off the board as we say, cooks banging into each other, servers trying not to cry, and guests patiently (mostly) waiting 40, 50 or more minutes for their food. “Holy shit-th.” WE. ARE. SCREWED. THEN, the Lowell Sun dedicated a front page story to us!
Want to bring a kitchen line to a grinding halt? Put “Burger by design” on your menu. “Ordering: Bacon, Swiss, mushrooms, medium. Ordering a cheddar, bacon, onions, medium rare. Ordering a Swiss, bacon, onions and mushrooms, medium well. And ordering a bacon well done, cheddar and Swiss, onions light, mushrooms on the side, medium to medium rare.” Holy shit-th.
How did the cooks not stab me back then??! How NOT to survive 25.
(Note: As it sort-of happened again 15 years later when we opened moonstones… I’m thinking, when we open the next one, we will have just (5) things on the menu! When we’re ready, we’ll add a sixth. Then seventh! Less is more Plath, less is more.)
As we celebrate 25 years, we celebrate the mistakes too. The hard lessons, the fixes, the resiliency.
Ed too was true to form back then. He said, “sure” and “yes” and “we’ll do our best” to all my stupid and zany ideas. And then he did, 24/7. If my chef-friend-partner was still alive, I’d say sorry a hundred times. Sorry for thinking we were that good on day one—sorry for being overzealous and crazy and fearless, and foolish and unprepared and under trained and….
We surely write the book on how to survive 25 years. And by and large, how not to. Our actual book would begin with quite a few “don’ts,” learned the hard way!
Thank YOU for bearing with us when we were less than great. We learn something every damn day.