We are participating in the Spring 2013 event from April 22 – May 5 with a 3-course dinner menu at $30.13 Prix Fixe and 3-course brunch menu at $20.13. Since 1992 in New York City, and as always, Restaurant Week menus are definitely worth the visit!
In 1992, a small number of enterprising restaurants in New York City coordinated efforts to create the first of what would become a “Restaurant Week.” These pioneer restaurants offered a lunch-only $19.92 prix fixe menu from Monday through Friday of the same week, and its great success has since altered the promotional schedules of restaurants throughout the world. From the entire country of Brazil to the city of Bangalore in India and almost everywhere in between, diners can find opportunities to choose from specially priced menus for a limited time each year.
It just so happens that in a few days we’re joining up with eleven other restaurants for our very first Manchester Vermont Restaurant Week! … Well, it’s not actually a week. It’s going to be every day for TWO weeks from October 29th through November 11th with the idea that, since we’re not in or close to a major city, extending the number of days will make it easier for diners to include us in their travel plans.
Each town’s, city’s, county’s, region’s and country’s Restaurant Week promotions are different. Some events last for only a few days, others are many days or only week days and may occur more than once a year. Prix fixe prices vary, also. There are Restaurant Week events that coordinate with area festivals or have developed programs such as beer tastings or cooking exhibitions. The size and shape of the Restaurant Weeks are as varied as the places where they occur.
With homage to the original Restaurant Week when the lunch price was based on the calendar year, our event’s 3-course lunch menus are offered at $20.12 and dinners at $30.12. If this event is as successful as the area’s restaurants predict, this could be “the first annual Restaurant Week” as we plan our $20.13 lunch and $30.13 dinner menus.
Bussers run the show at Brasserie L’Oustau. This entry-level position is one of the most important jobs in the entire operation and critical to providing constantly smooth and professional service overall. They must understand the importance of their responsibilities, be hyper-aware of what the most important thing is that needs to be done at every moment and then do it. Constantly moving, they are relied upon to be where they should be at all times.
Running a brasserie isn’t just about making food. Diners have an entire army of people working for them who have nothing to do with food preparation, but they’re the ones the customer is most likely to meet. These are the workers who at the end of the day are going to make the place sing or make it crash no matter how good the food is coming out of the kitchen.
When you dine with us shortly after you’re seated your water glass will be filled by a busser. Your busser may then bring your bread and butter, present your amuse bouche, supply appropriate tableware, bring your order from the kitchen, clear the dishes away and keep your water glass filled. Their responsibilities extend beyond your visit to include resetting the table with new linen and tableware, refilling sugar containers and salt shakers and pepper mills, polishing silver, wiping glassware and folding napkins, keeping the water pitcher filled… and that’s just the start of the list of what they are expected to do.
We interviewed two people recently, one a young man looking for a steady evening job while attending college and the other a recent high-school graduate. Neither candidate ever worked in a restaurant before. Both are bright, pleasant and very enthusiastic. Both have been hired.
Good bussers don’t stay bussers for long if they want to move up; it’s a quick promotion to server, hostess or sometimes even prep cook. With the promotion would come a higher salary and the possibility to benefit from the support of a busser.
Please know that your quiet busser will be given a percentage of the tip you leave; the server could not possibly be as good as they are without their help.
Let’s imagine that you’ve entered Brasserie L’Oustau for an early dinner and see there are many tables still unoccupied. You walk to the podium, tell the hostess the number in your party and that you have no reservation (it’s an early dinner, after all). The owner Michel Boyer and hostess take a quick look at a computer screen, murmur a few things to each other, confirm, ask you to follow one of them and you begin your journey into the maze of tables. What just happened? Why are you being led to THAT table?
The computer display at the podium has a simple layout of all the tables and indicates which are currently occupied. Upcoming reservations are listed and tables for larger parties have been grouped. The servers have been assigned specific areas of the restaurant where they will be responsible for all those tables for the evening.
With that internal information, certain things are evaluated at the time you arrive such as which sections aren’t busy at the moment, which sections aren’t expecting reservations soon, which sections need your table to distribute the customers evenly, and which table is the “best” in the section that rises to the top. If you have a preference for a location (as in the front room, rear or upper dining area) you should feel comfortable to mention it as soon as possible.
The best table in each section constantly changes based on real factors: there are children (in your group or next to a table), the number in your party, the mood of your group (soft conversation or more jovial) and so on. Each of the criteria is assessed in the few moments Michel and the hostess consult the seating chart. Ultimately a table is chosen where they think you’ll be most comfortable based on your request, what they know about the available tables and what they perceive about your party.
There are other and more specific facts that could also determine which should be your table. If you’ve dined with us before and ask for a favorite server, he or she will be assigned a specific section where you will be seated. Also, in order to be able to seat walk-in parties of four or more, two tables for two will be left open next to each other as long as possible.
But even if there are many open tables it’s possible the restaurant will delay seating anyone without a reservation to accommodate meal prep timing in the kitchen. This is when you might be asked to wait in the bar for a few moments until your table is available. It is in no one’s interest to have too many customers ordering at the same time.
By now you understand that your table selection is a somewhat complicated process.
All that said, on the way to your table you might see a different one that you would prefer. Unless it is being held for a reservation arriving soon, that table will be yours. The ebb and flow of seating assignments will adjust to your request, and we wish you “bon appétit!”
The Brasserie L’Oustau style and menu, explained in an earlier article, can be traced to ancient French breweries; the proprietors would have developed menus to serve customers sampling the beer – the “Hops” in the title of this article.
The “Skitch” refers to the Brasserie L’Oustau bar itself which had been owned by reknowned musician and composer Skitch Henderson in New York City. Although the address or business name can’t be confirmed, the bar was purchased at auction in the late 1980s by the family who constructed our building, thus making the “Jump” to Vermont. Word creativity aside, the bar is one of the more salient features of Brasserie L’Oustau and fully dominates the eastern half of the restaurant’s interior.
The handsome mahogany bar features three tall backboard mirrors separated and framed by stained glass oval sconces, and the carving details are bold enough to be noticed but not distract from its expansive top. It is truly a beautifully balanced piece of furniture.
The wood has been maintained and repaired over the years but it has not been refinished and retains its antique character and proof of years of appreciation. We look forward to adding many more years of appreciation and would love your help.