I've thought about opening my own restaurant. Haven't we all?
Restaurants are a lot of work, or so I'm told. It's said that around 9 out of 10, or 90% of new restaurants fail within their first year. That means you've got to be one hell of a worker or one spectacular cook to beat those odds. I can put in a hard day's work...and I can cook some darn good grub...but I don't think I'll ever be crazy enough to open a restaurant.
But traditional restaurants aren't the only option when it comes to making your living through food. You can cater. You can own a food truck. Food is so "in" right now that a unique concept and some great grub might be the only ingredients you need in a recipe for success.
I was searching for our Friday night restaurant last week and stumbled upon this place called Wiltshire On Market. To be honest, the only reason I checked it out was because it was yet another restaurant named _blank_ "on market" or _blank> "on main". It had minimal internet presence and not a whole heck of a lot of reviews, but the more I looked into it, the more intrigued I became.
The website focuses around their catering business called Wiltshire Pantry. But if you look closer you'll find that they also run a restaurant...albeit a somewhat unconventional one.
Their restaurant, Wiltshire on Market, is only open Thursday through Saturday evening. What an awesome idea! I mean, I can't tell you the last time Nick and I went to dinner on a Monday or Tuesday evening. We eat out every single Friday night, and sometimes on Saturday. I have a feeling that most folks do as well. So if you own a catering business but aren't catering 24/7, why not open a storefront and share your amazing(seriously...AMAZING) food with the town 3 nights a week?!? Genius!
I called for a reservation at noon on Friday, for Friday at 7 and got a 6:30 spot. I'm so happy they had an opening because Nick and I had a great time and an even greater meal.
Wiltshire on Market is decorated the way I would decorate "my" restaurant and open three days a week like I would like my work week to be. I said this when Nick and I sat down and he laughed...because I talk about my fake restaurant all the time. It was rustic and minimal with a very inviting bar, lovely wood tables and romantic (read: just dark enough) lighting.
We perused the menu, which changes weekly, and were happy to find it to be short and very sweet. We couldn't resist starting with the Opah ceviche. I love a good ceviche but hate making them as I can never get the acid to heat ratio correct. This one was perfect. Just enough citrus...just enough heat...not too watery...fantastic. It was the perfect dish to share because it was served with a heaping side of fried veggie chips which invited you to scoop, munch and share.
For his main course Nick chose the bison hanger steak and I chose the cassoulet. I believe they were both $18, and goodness gracious, what a deal.
The minute Nick saw the hanger steak cut of meat on the menu his eyes lit up. Hanger is his favorite cut of meat and one that you don't see often enough(see my post on meats to learn more) . His bison was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was served with a lovely bourbon sauce and alongside a purple potato and sweet potato hash as well as some smokey braised greens. It was a quintessential fall meal.
My cassoulet(pictured at top of page) was, I thought, the star of the evening. It was more of a deconstructed cassoulet as opposed to a soupy stew. There were a few delicious components on the plate, that eaten all together connected the flavor building blocks of a traditional cassoulet. There was a white, weisswurst type sausage, a smoked, kielbasa type sausage, and the piece de resistance...the shredded duck confit mixed with white beans. To round out the plate there were lovely caramelized brussel sprouts and two yummy little cippolini onions. It was one of the best cassoulets I've ever had...honestly...and after plowing through that mountain of food I couldn't have been happier.
Ok. Strike that "couldn't have been happier" line...because we ended the meal with a cheese course and THAT made me even happier.
The waitress brought us one heck of a cheese board for $9. The cheese was lovely (the usual blend of a soft brie type, a nice blue and a hard cheese...exactly the combo I would choose when making my own), but the accompaniments were the stars. There was a fantastic green tomato jam, a cherry compote, some sort of apple something or another(I'm sure it has a better name) and some cornichons and pickled peppers. The waitress even swooped in to get us more bread without needing to be asked. I know that sounds like a silly thing to be happy about, but it's a BIG pet peeve of mine and I've run out of toast/bread/crackers more times than not.
The only thing that I would change...and I mean ONLY...is their method of posting the nightly menu. They use facebook, and I am probably the last person on earth that doesn't. Sorry...I just don't like it, and would rather they post the menu some(any) other way.
I would and will, however, return to Wiltshire on Market even if I have NO idea what they're cooking that evening. I have complete faith in the fact that whatever it is...it will be amazing.
P.S. Sorry about the dark pictures...had some technical difficulties with my camera that evening...the pictures don't do the dishes justice