THE RESTAURANT TABLE THAT DIDN’T EXIST

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The best table in our restaurant did not exist.  We had forty chairs in the dining room and four more chairs in “the vault”.  The vault was the original vault for the building. It made an intimate dining room for four very good friends.

This is how the best table in ROXY’S was created.  It was a very busy night.  Every table in the restaurant was booked.  A regular customer walked in hopeful I could squeeze one solitary diner in for  dinner.  He looked tired. In need of care and nourishment.  I knew he was involved in a particularly long and unpleasant court case.  How could I possibly send him away.

“I have one table.  You won’t be able to order off the menu.  It’s a little crowded.  A bit hectic and definitely on the warm side, but I can promise you, you won’t leave hungry.”

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So I sat him at a table just big enough to hold a plate and a glass of wine.  Wedged into a corner, his knees tucked in to avoid flying waiters, our kitchen began to feed this hungry soul.  As each order was filled a nibble of this, a taste of that,  landed on the best table.

He watched the ballet of kitchen.  The line worked in perfect unison.  As carefully choreographed as a ballet.   Night after night the ballet was repeated.  Everyone knew the steps.   Quiet, calm, and the occasional laugh as waiters and chefs worked together.  We were a family.

My customer finished his meals.  Then sat late into  the evening, reluctant to leave the warmth and comradeship he had experienced at “the best table in-house”.  The table that didn’t exist.

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21 thoughts on “THE RESTAURANT TABLE THAT DIDN’T EXIST

    • Lorraine, when I was writing my blog this morning I was thinking about how at the end of the evening I would put on my white chef’s coat and go into the kitchen and make the Grand Marnier baked souffles for you and Ed. You are often in our thoughts, for those were wondrous days indeed. XXOO V.

  1. Oh to have been that lucky customer! Years ago, I was president of the board for the Medical Group Management Association and when we would have our monthly dinners and speakers, the restaurant where we held the function always set a table for me in the kitchen so that I could quickly get to the podium and enjoy my wine and meal without someone bothering me…….I have such pleasant memories of those times. You were so kind to provide this intimate view of the culinary ballet.

    • Tin Man I believe that the true restauranteur has that nurturing instinct that takes great pleasure in comforting and feeding people. When you watch the reality shows with the screaming and temper tantrums and the disrespect to those in the kitchen – that is not the true professional kitchen. All of us at ROXY’S felt those years were the best years of our life. Can there be more joy that providing sustenance to those who are hungry. XX V.

    • The table that didn’t exist went on to feed and care for other customers. Those who were sad, over-whelmed, stressed or just plan hungry. Our kitchen was a joyful place and one could not help but take some of that joy away with them. We all loved what we were doing and it was our pleasure to share. Virginia

  2. How many nights we sat in the vault and recuperated from a very full day. We had many reasons to love the kitchen staff.
    The food was ALWAYS just right, the other customers ..lots of regulars. like a family.
    How I wish that there was a ROXT”S in this tiny fishing village on the south shore of Nova Scotia that I now call home.
    Some how the blog fills in a big hole. Thank you..

    • June, you and Dunc have been with us from our very first restaurant. At Roxy’s the table under the blackboard with it’s ever changing additions to the menu was so high profile no one wanted to sit there. I always filled the table with a huge bouquet of flowers. You arrived on one of those nights where there wasn’t a single table available … except … I said .. this one. “I’m starving. We don’t care.” From this vantage point you could see everyone in the restaurant. and it seemed everyone knew you. Everyone stopped to chat – leaving or arriving. It was definitely a “June moment”. I remember what you ordered for dessert. The house-made praline ice cream in almond tuiles with caramel sauce and Chantilly cream. XxOO Virginia

    • There’s countless stories from the restaurant days. I would always be considerate of our customers because many of them were well known professionals in the city and members of the Legislature. But the stories are funny. V.

  3. I have many fond memories from the Bistro, and yes, we ( I had the pleasure to work with Larry and Virginia there) certainly were as close as any family. I have since had the pleasure of working in several first class kitchens in Vancouver and California, but none could match the ‘feel’ of Roxy’s. When is the reunion?

    • Those are lovely words Tim, my dear. The other day Nancy, who was with us in our first days at Roxy’s, called in. She is now living in Kamloops. You’ll remember Jeff. He and his son follows me on my food blog MRS. BUTTERFIELD.
      Last week a complete stranger ( thought) came up to me in a shop. He was so excited about running into Miss Virginia of Roxy’s Bistro. Turns out he had been a waiter at The Diplomat and reminisced about our waiter Claude. As we said our good-byes he handed me his business card – just in case we opened another Roxy’s. He wanted to work for us. With great affection. Virginia

    • Tim, you still look just the same. Same brilliant mind, same wonderful smile I see in the photograph of you and the guys in the kitchen at Roxy’s Bistro. XXOO V.

  4. What a lucky customer to have experienced the joy of the best table in the house! I often think of what goes on in the kitchen and just marvel that the chefs bring it all together and I appreciate dining out! I would have loved to visit Roxy’s at any table.

    • We would have loved to have you at our restaurant. We didn’t have a terrible posh or pretentious decor. ROXY’S was very much a French bistro. Small tables (covered in blue and white checked cloths and blue napkins) and close together. But we cooked from the heart and our customers knew that and trusted us. XX Virginia

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