Stop the Presses
Your regularly scheduled Friday cocktail post will not be seen today. Instead, we bring you this breaking news.
The Hollywood Brown Derby, one of the four Times Union four-star reviewed restaurants is completely revamping its menu. I’m sure chef Larry Schepici has better things to do with his time than to read this blog. But the changes he and the restaurants owners are making will sound very familiar to regular readers of the FLB.
Steve Barnes wrote an overview of the restaurant’s makeover in yesterday’s Times Union. A discussion of the changes is also underway on his Table Hopping blog. For the most part people are receptive to the changes.
After all, who wouldn’t applaud “great food and service at reasonable prices”? Steve reports that the average price for an entrée is now $23, which is about $10 less than on the previous menu. Plus there is now a greater emphasis on local foods, including a spiffy leaf icon on the menu for dishes where items come from local farms.
And yes, the farms are named. What farms you ask?
Well, longtime Schepici suppliers Tarbox Farm and Haber Farm are supplying arugula and tomatoes respectively. They both worked with Chef Larry back when he was at Tosca, and it is great to see them getting prominent position on the new menu.
Sheldon Farms out in Salem, New York is supplying Yukon Gold potatoes. It’s a family farm that has been growing varietal potatoes successfully for over 150 years.
Maplebrook Farm is a dairy that supplies both whole milk ricotta and mozzarella curds that are then hand pulled into cheese at the restaurant. All of the milk they use comes from Vermont cows that were never treated with rBGH.
I couldn’t find out much about Belleview Farms out in Genesee, but their chicken is now prominently featured on the Brown Derby menu.
However, it’s not just about farms, it’s also about fish:
Eating fish these days is tricky. Thankfully the good folks at the Monterey Bay Aquarium have created Seafood Watch and an easy shorthand for deciding which seafood to eat and which seafood to avoid. Most restaurants are full of seafood to avoid. The Brown Derby is not.
They now have Wild Alaskan Halibut on the menu, which is listed as a “Best Choice.” Also a best choice is mussels, which are specifically sourced from Duxbury, a purveyor outside of Boston. “Good Alternatives” on the menu also include Gulf shrimp, Jonah crab and Littleneck clams (which can sometimes even be a best choice).
But wait, there is more. Despite lower food prices, the menu is still rife with super-high-quality ingredients. Parmesan isn’t just parmesan but it’s Reggiano. And prosciutto isn’t just prosciutto, it’s prosciutto di Parma.
Most notably they have Berkshire pork on the menu in the form of a pork osso bucco. Some may know it as Kurobuta pork, but it is listed on the menu as Snake River Farms pork. All of it is synonymous for delicious meat that come from this noble breed of swine.
The Brown Derby continues to promote its selection of USDA Prime beef. Their last menu didn’t mention if the short ribs were a prime grade, but the new ones certainly are. As is the slow roasted rib of beef.
Now about those prices.
The last menu capped off at $42 and $44 for steak entrées. Now the most expensive things are seafood, the $30 Boston Style Lobster Pie and the $32 Wild Alaskan Halibut, but there are six entrées that are $21 or less. Among these six are the Slow Braised Prime Beef Short Ribs (that come with Utica Greens), the Brick Roasted Belleview Farms Chicken, and the Hand Rolled Semolina Ravioli with Maplebrook Farm Ricotta.
I have just one thing to say: Bravo!