Vote for BKB on WindsorEats.com

May 16, 2009

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WindsorEats.com is giving the public an opportunity to have their say. They have created 9 categories in which to show your support and give your opinions on. The voting for the WindsorEats.com Awards is open until midnight June 1. We are encouraging everyone to not only vote but visit the Windsor Eats site and take a good look around. Windsor Eats has been servicing local restaurants and foodies for years. Their dedication to promoting the local restaurant and food scene is unmatched. They care and they want people to share in that passion for food and all that Windsor has to offer. Please go through every category and weigh in on who you think is the best. We at BKB hope you will consider us for every category that we are nominated but we are especially hoping that people recognize us as Favourite Casual Restaurant. We have been committed to making great food in a stylish atmosphere at the most reasonable pricing in town. If that doesn’t equal best casual restaurant, I can’t imagine what would. So please take a moment and go to WindsorEats.com to vote. Please pass this on. We have been struggling to communicate exactly what BKB is to people. This would help immensely. Vote. Encourage others to vote. Show your support. Thanks


Time to Recognize Some Local Industry Icons

April 18, 2009

One of the reasons I started the BKB blog, aside from the obvious self promotion, was to try and shine a light on local independent businesses in the Windsor area like the Black Kettle Bistro that work hard day to day to bring you something unique and of quality. These kinds of businesses enrich the community and create a pulse for the city. When it comes to the restaurant business in Windsor we haven’t really seen too much attention paid to local enduring chefs and restaurateurs. Ted Whipp is an outstanding resource and we are lucky that someone with such a passion for food is writing the column for the Windsor Star but because of constraints and limitations we don’t get to dive to deep into any story or personality. I, along with countless others, have been lucky to learn the craft of cooking in so many great kitchens across this city. There has been a great culinary tradition in Windsor. Immigration and multiculturalism have created an epicurean dream city.

There has recently been a changing of the guard of sorts. We’re coming into a new era of new restaurants and chefs looking to continue that great tradition laid down in this city. Many of the old classic places are closing and chefs that influenced countless others are retiring. Underneath them is a slew of chefs that are maturing and showing great resilience as they grow older and leave behind the naive enthusiasm of their twenties and early thirties and enter into, dare I say it, middle age. Middle age, career wise. I reluctantly place myself in this category. One local chef and restaurateur in specific has shown that his unique approach to both cooking and business not only works but works well. Chef Nick Politi of Ristorante Nico on Erie St has become one of Windsor’s premier chef and restaurateurs.nicoThe accolades and accomplishments are too long to list. really. the one i will mention however is that he has garnered the “where to eat in Canada” award for the last 10 years. To say that the last decade has been a difficult one for the hospitality industry is a huge understatement. Not only has he survived but he continues to flourish on the corner of Erie and Elsmere. I had the great luck and privilege to work there in its inception. I was his first official sous chef. It’s a time I look back on with extreme fondness. The simplicity and humility he brings to his cooking is something that has stayed with me and helped influence the way I cook more than any other. The restaurant has always looked great and has always dedicated itself to the highest quality ingredients and techniques. there are no corners cut and no detail unnoticed. many chefs are known for their excessive ego and desire for attention. Nick has neither. he gladly shares the accolades with his staff. A testament to his business savvy and solid character is the fact that his staff stays. He has had employees for years and years. There are people who work there that worked there when I did over 11 years ago. His business model is simple. Offer exceptional food in a great environment and give great unpretentious, honest, good service. It works. It may be the best restaurant in the city. It is the best Italian restaurant in the city, probably the best Italian restaurant between Chicago and Toronto. Tall praise, yes, but well deserved.

We don’t often realize or think about who helped shape the Windsor dining scene. I think its time people started to acknowledge what we have among us. When chefs talk of their heroes and mention their influences it may seem odd to hear the names of local small business owners among them but that’s exactly where we have come to and we should stand proud. The list of people that have worked at Nico’s, for example, that have gone on to open their own successful restaurant is impressive. Rosario Monteleone (Foia), Filip Rocca (Mezzo), Enzo Mancuso (Tutto & Mancuso’s), and I humbly include myself (Vivo & BKB) on that list. Nick was also half of the original cooking team of Il Gabbiano. Nick later opened NOI with Jay and Gino and helped shape the menu and make it the great spot it is today with Jay and Gino at the helm. Many people are weary of trying out a place like Nico simply because it may be too expensive for them. While it is high end fine dining, Nick also offers an affordable, yet equally as delicious, lunch menu. Either way, if you get the chance try and make it in to Nico soon. you won’t regret it.


A Formal Introduction to BKB

March 9, 2009

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Since we opened, back in the summer of last year, it has become one of the hardest things to have to explain to people. What exactly is the Black Kettle Bistro (AKA BKB)? Before being able to answer, there needs to be a new understanding of what it means to eat at a restaurant nowadays. We’re not breaking the mold or creating a new mold, we are simply not using a mold at all. You can say we’re winging it. Our number one priority is in the quality of the food. Eating well made, flavourful, fresh dishes does not have to be expensive. Made slow, served fast. We have tried to create a menu that encompasses people’s need for quick service as well as their desire to eat fresh and well made. Alongside that menu we offer a full coffee bar featuring organic fair trade coffee and espresso beans, almost 20 organic loose leaf teas to choose from, and a short yet inclusive bar menu with beer, wines, and martinis. We have such a wide range of offerings that its been hard to introduce BKB to people. The name itself has invoked images of a more expensive fine dining place but all that was intended was to instill the primary importance on the food itself. We have tried to create a space as well that can be very welcoming to many different people and have slowly been adding more character and personality as time goes on. Today we added 4 plugs along the base of our booths to better accommodate people interested in plugging in while surfing on our free WiFi service. I am still trying to lure local artists to hang their pieces on our walls. Would be a great addition to our space. I do want to make it abundantly clear that we are a great place for lunch but we are also a perfect spot to come and hang out for a few hours during the day maybe surfing the web while sipping on some tea. We are a great spot to take in a casual cheap dinner. Have a glass of wine with one of our baked pastas. Or come in later just to have some martinis before or in lieu of going to the bars. Of course if you’;re out late on Friday or Saturday nights come by for some late night specials after last call. To make everything that much more appealing we’ll be setting up our patio in the coming weeks. So, with the risk of sounding like a shameless promotion, you now know exactly what we are. kinda. so there’s no excuse why you haven’t tried us yet and we’re quite confident that you’ll be back after that.

Here are our official hours………

Mon thru Thur 9a.m – 10p.m

Fri 9a.m – 10 p.m    (NO Longer Open Late Nights)

Sat 10a.m – 10 p.m

Sun CLOSED


Going GREEN! Good for Business, good for the Community and good for the Soul

February 18, 2009

recycling1Going green has become one of the more popular movements as of late. Its a catch phrase used by so many for so many different things. Environmentalists have been screaming from the rooftops for years but it has only become a major priority in the mainstream population in the last couple of years. Political policies seem to define the movement but individual acts are what truly have made the biggest impact to date. That is why I have decided to create a detailed and comprehensive green policy for our company. The hospitality sector has many opportunities to improve. There are a tremendous amount of challenges that face an operator. Balancing your own personal desires and goals with the economic realities can be tricky. What needs to happen is a joint effort on everybody’s part to contribute. We as operators should start moving towards change and ask our customers to do so as well. Granted, that sounds easier than it really is but we need to start somewhere. By creating a policy and strategy we can try and set goals and time lines for our goals. Change won’t happen overnight but it can and will happen if people want it to happen. A perfect illustration of this is what CBC’s The Hour achieved with their One Million Acts of Green initiative. I am a firm believer that incorporating policies in our economic plan is the only way to sustain the efforts long term. Obviously I believe that any change made on a personal level and done in our everyday lives is a step in the right direction but when companies adopt changes than steps turn into strides. We already do the basics at BKB. We recycle, we have reduced waste to phenomenal levels and try to conserve energy at every turn. That’s simply not enough. I recently visited friends in Guelph and was amazed to see that many if not most of the local restaurants have moved away from using traditional take out containers. That is probably my biggest challenge. How do we balance the economic reality with the needs of the customers all the while trying to reduce our environmental impact? This is where I need help. From customers, other restaurant owners, and suppliers. If more and more restaurants only offered take out in reusable containers that the customer provided than it would become the norm. Sometimes we can look to the larger corporations for leadership in these scenarios. Starbucks, for example, offers a discount for customers who provide their own coffee mug as an alternative to using a paper cup. Its a lot easier for a large corporation to implement strategies like that but we need to ride the new popularity of the green movement and use it to our advantage. Basically its cool to be green so why not move to be more green. Maybe I can elicit the help of other restaurant owners and start a larger initiative and get more people aware of our efforts as well as getting customers to be willing participants. How can we achieve all this? One step at a time. I will keep you posted on our efforts and hopefully recruit many of you to help by participating in our Project Green. As well I will be trying to get more and more input from other restaurants as well as suppliers who may want to participate and help turn their own operations greener. If this grows large enough they may be swayed by the amount of publicity something like this may garner. Some areas or ideas that I want to look into are the following…..

– minimizing take out containers and asking customers to bring in their own containers

– charging a surcharge for take out containers and using the extra revenue to buy more expensive biodegradable containers

– separating all food refuse and collecting it for local gardening groups for use as compost

– creating larger buying groups of restaurants to help reduce the extra cost of better take out containers

– making decisions on food choices and suppliers based on local availability therefore reducing the necessity for transport

– using earth friendly cleaning products (already 1/2 way there)

These are simply a few ideas that I have come up with but I am asking that anyone with any suggestions please comment here and hopefully we can use this medium to help initiate our very own community driven One Million Acts of Green. I will have regular postings updating our progress as well as constant pleas for input and help. After all, I can only incorporate ideas that you, the customer, see as reasonable.


Great Catering Options Offered at BKB

February 11, 2009

Since we opened our doors in June of last year we have been trying hard to expand our offerings in every sense of the word.  We have expanded to offer breakfast, lunch and now dinner.  We offer a full coffee bar menu, full menu of organic teas, and organic smoothies as well.  Our liquor license has arrived and we now offer wine, beer, and mixed drinks.  In fact there isn’t much we don’t offer.

What we’ve been working on recently is a lunch delivery system.  There have been many snags to doing exactly what we originally wanted but we have finally developed a system that works well and we are very excited about.  The system is simple.  We offer a special delivery package that includes choice of sandwich, choice of soup, house salad, and bottle of water all for an inclusive price of $10.  That includes delivery and all applicable taxes.  This is a perfect choice for staffs and offices where each person wants something unique and individually suited for them.  We also can cater with many other options.  We have catered events as large as 800 people.  We can sit down and discuss any specific ideas or requests.  Our goal is to get offices or staffs to have a regular delivery day so that they know that every Monday, for example, is BKB day.  They simply fill out the small order form (soon to be available online) and either call it in or fax it in.  We can also arrange to pick it up from the office at a set time.  We would need roughly 12 or so people to make it viable.

If you or anyone you know might be interested in something like please contact me at BKB anytime.  Leave a message here or email us at blackkettlebistro@gmail.com.

This is just another way that we are trying to meet and exceed the needs of our clients.  We are constantly trying to improve upon our original ideas and have taken much time to consult with our friends, and customers alike to see where we can improve and expand.  This is one concept that we feel will be very popular.  It has already had many rave reviews by teaching staffs throughout the city.  We hope many of you will find the value in it and contact us for more details.


Ressurecting the old notion of Family Restaurant

February 9, 2009

Its been sometime since Charlie, my youngest son (4) has been operating a restaurant out of his toy kitchen in our apartment.  It’s a small place, no employees.  He cooks, serves and does all the promo himself.  There have been times where i bust out laughing because of the exchanges we have as he pretends to run his restaurant.  For example…..he approaches me and asks what i want to eat.  I ask for a menu.  He says his restaurant doesn’t have any.  He then lists the four or five things that he does have.  If you ask for anything special he just scoffs and walks away.  The beginnings of a fine chef.  Both of our kids have a great interest in the restaurant seeing as they often come with me to work and hang out with staff in between babysitters or when we just don’t have any babysitters.  Bring your kids to work days are many for me.

This weekend was especially busy so i had many things to prep before Monday morning.  I’ve been baking all our bread fresh at BKB so the amount of prep some days can be daunting.  Sundays are my only day off and that often means i just have to go in for a few hours instead of all day.  On this particular Sunday Anastasia offered to come help and we decided to bring the kids.  When i brought the idea up to them they lit up. Funny but i can see why that would be exciting for them.  Charlie especially was very serious when we discussed how he can learn how to do all the things that it took to run a restaurant not just the cooking.  We drove down to the restaurant and immediately got to work.  I started prepping the dough and Anastasia was in charge of the crew to clean the dining area.  Dave, my partner, had just finished doing some repairs and must have thought it was a weird way to spend a day off with the family.  The kids were unbelievable.  Charlie (4) and Jack (6) cleaned the entire dining area.  They swept, wiped tables, wiped seats, vacuumed, and wiped down all the legs of the chairs.  Even I thought it would turn disastrous after a while and just lead to the boys running around playing Star Wars.  It didn’t.  They were very focused.  I was shocked to see how serious and excited they were doing it.  It was fun.  For everyone.  I’ve decided to make this a regular occurrence and give them an allowance for it.  Aside from it being cheap labour for me, it teaches them a good work ethic, the notion of working for your money and it also give them a true insight on what mommy and daddy do all day when they’re at work.  Being self employed in the hospitality business has its ups and downs but it has does have a unique sense of teamwork and bringing people together.  I so look forward to the day that the boys will want to come work with me when they’re older.  The old school idea of passing things on from generation to generation is not dead.  I love the idea of having a modern day version of the family restaurant.  Maybe one day you will be lucky enough to eat at “Charlie’s Famous Food” restaurant.  Apparently he makes the best frittattas in town.


Finally OPEN for Dinner

February 5, 2009

I’m taking this opportunity to let everyone know that we are finally opening for dinner starting Friday February 6.  The Black Kettle Bistro has had lots of success with its lunch business but we have had a hard time bringing everything together to open later and offer a great product.  We’ve got it all now.  If you’re downtown either night this weekend you should stop by and take a look at what we’re offering.  Aside from our regular menu we have a full cafe menu with roughly 20 organic loose leaf teas, organic coffee, organic espresso based drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos, and organic 100% fruit smoothies.  On top of all that we have a full bar menu.  We have beer, wine, martinis, and a range of mixed drinks.  If you’re feeling creative simply add a shot to any of our coffees or smoothies.  It’s the perfect place to stop in for a quick bite, chat over coffee or have a drink before heading to the bar.  We are also open late on weekends so after the bar stop in for your late night munchies.  Come by and say hello.  Come early, I may not be in such a good mood by 2 am.  We’ve worked really hard in striking a balance between coffee house, restaurant, and lounge.  Please stop in and let us know what you think.  Before you head out to your favorite watering hole come by for quick peak.  Besides, if you’re hungry, the phries you get at other places downtown won’t really compare to anything you have at BKB.   We’re now open from 9am to 10pm Monday through Thursday, open till 3am on Friday and Saturdays, and closed Sundays.   Hope to see some recognizable faces as well as new faces that have yet to experience BKB.