Skip to content

The Magic Formula

July 13, 2018

Magic is probably the wrong word. And I think we’ve talked about this in the past. In a crowded field of places to eat, how do you stand out? How do you get butts in seats?

Put out great food. For a great price. And the world will beat a path to your door.

Figuring out how to do this while remaining a profitable business is where things get trickier. And that will depend on your labor costs, rent, and raw ingredients. Minimizing waste and spoilage are also key drivers.

Chefs are known for their cooking skills and ability to put together delicious flavors. But good chefs also have another skill. They can work fast. So at least in theory, it should make financial sense for a restaurant to make its own stocks instead of buying them.

Last weekend, I was very lucky to get a table at the Field Notes brunch with Little Miss Fussy. Because they’ve nailed this formula, and in their second week of brunch service, had more people show up than they ever imagined.

It’s a good problem to have.

For the sake of full disclosure, I am working with Field Notes on an Official Yelp Event later this month. But these things are entirely separate. When I first saw the brunch menu from Joan and Kyle, I knew I had to come and check out brunch. But then when I saw Joan making her scrapple, while I was picking up a raspberry pie from Lansing Farm, my desire caught fire.

The menu for these farm brunches change based on what’s in season, but I knew there would be scrapple, and Little Miss Fussy was up for the adventure.

While waiting for a table to open up, my daughter and I were browsing in the farm market. Okay, fine, we were also munching on an apple cider donut. We only got one to share, because neither of us wanted to ruin our appetite for the meal.

In the market, we saw what was fresh from the fields, including snap peas. I love young peas, early in the season, where even the shells are crisp, sweet, and delicious. And I lamented not bringing a cooler, so I could pick up some of these to bring home. But since we had errands to run after brunch, these wouldn’t have survived the journey.

My hope was that they would appear somewhere on the brunch menu. And they did.

I was struggling when looking at the menu to try and figure out how a pea salad could fit into brunch. So I decided to make brunch more like the lunch part of brunch. Little Miss Fussy, thankfully, went the more traditional route. She wanted bacon with her scrambled eggs and toast, but I asked if we could also get a slice of scrapple on her plate too. Because I simply had to try it. That meant I could order the pea salad for myself, and a bowl of the homemade ricotta with seasonal fruit and granola for us to share as dessert.

Can we just take a minute to look at the pea salad? Because a week after brunch, I’m still thinking about it.

Here’s the thing. Little Miss Fussy wasn’t convinced that peas, mint, pickled onions, and radish would go well together. She just couldn’t wrap her mind around those flavors, so her instinct was to avoid the plate. However, I assembled a composed bite, and encouraged her to try it while closing her eyes.

She loved it. This was when I explained to her how important it is to find talented chefs and trust them to expand your culinary horizons.

It was then that I noticed jennifer_in_saratoga who attended the first Field Notes brunch, and was back for more. She was there with her family, and was able to score a seat by sharing a large table with another couple. As she said in her IG post, “as a certified brunch snob, I can tell you that this is one of the best brunches I’ve had in a very long while.”

While we were there, I also saw another prominent local chef shopping in the market. Unfortunately, I did not actually see what she bought.

It’s hard to photograph scrapple, but it was delicious. Joan likes it sliced on the thicker side, so you get a contrast of textures from the soft silky center between a crisp top and bottom.

The farm made ricotta with seasonal fruit and granola was also banging. When simple food like this really sines, you know it’s made with great ingredients and care.

So here’s the thing. Field Notes is still working out the kinks of brunch. You’ll have to keep your eyes open to see if they will have a brunch this Sunday. I hope they do. But if you go, be patient. Relax. You’re on a farm, it’s Sunday, and the place is charming.

They are working hard to get a shelter built which will serve as a larger dining area for Sunday brunches. Last week, there were just a few tables in front of the market. And the demand for those tables was astounding.

But it’s no surprise. They nailed the formula. Now I’ve just got to figure out how to return for one of their Saturday dinners.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Rhonda Rosenheck permalink
    July 13, 2018 10:57 am

    Hiya, Dan. Great post, but with many more typos than I’m accustomed to from you (usually none to one). Including the place name in your first mention. You okay? — Rhonda

    • July 13, 2018 11:07 am

      Thanks for the heads up. I’m fine. Just a bit behind in some work stuff, and my copy editor is on the road. So I rushed this a bit, and posted without even giving it a cursory read.

      It was hubris. And you totally caught me.

      The subject deserves better, so I’m going back right now to make some edits. Hopefully I catch the worst offenders.

    • July 13, 2018 11:25 am

      Eek! Man, that was ugly. Ugh.

      It’s not perfect, but it’s better. I think my keyboard might also be sticking. Old machine. And just for the record, Fieldwork is a brewery in Berkeley that I also love. I get names of things I love jumbled up all the time.

      Thanks again for the notice. It’s good to know that my copy editor earns all those meals I cook for her. She’ll get an extra helping of gratitude when I see her again tomorrow. Cheers!

  2. July 13, 2018 12:03 pm

    I was so bummed to not be able to get the pea salad, it looked beautiful but alas, I am allergic to raw peas.
    The polenta with vegetable bolognese though…so delicious and not at all too heavy for a summer brunch.
    I need to get there for a dinner!

  3. Emily Lang permalink
    July 16, 2018 8:11 pm

    I dream of this brunch! I hope they continue this menu every weekend.

  4. HellUpInHarlem permalink
    July 19, 2018 12:23 pm

    Am I reading the menu correctly? $4 for 2 eggs, homefries, toast and meat?

    • July 19, 2018 4:18 pm

      It’s “hash” and not homefries. But… yes! And it’s all made from great local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients. And it’s prepared by two talented and well seasoned chefs.

      My hope is they don’t change their prices for brunch, and continue to use this once a week meal to lure people down to the farm and get a taste of the awesomeness happening in their kitchen. But prices are one of those things that are always subject to change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: