Last night a restaurant was born and it was an immaculate conception. Chez Bunkhouse opened to rave reviews.
When I use the word ‘rave’ around here it is usually used in the context of character assassination. Not this time. This time ‘rave’ is used as in a celebration. Of the mind-blowing kind.
Readers may know that we (the community) have a few communal buildings. We have the bunkhouse and the Q-hut and a few ancillary locations that aren’t so much ‘ours’ as occupied by us (the community) on a pretty-much exclusive basis. The Post Office, for instance, is a small, floating Federal shack on the public Federal wharf but, in reality, it is a hangout for the locals for the days when the mail plane arrives. The bunkhouse and the Q-hut are more ‘ours’ but we tend to spread around a bit depending on the activity.
Last night the magnet was the bunkhouse. The bunkhouse is a small building that might be 1000 square feet if every nook and cranny was counted in. It consists of a main floor in which a newly renovated and expanded kitchen shares the space with a larger room and the entry way. Upstairs there is a small loft of sorts. It is small but it was big enough to accommodate over thirty people and entertain them royally for four or so hours. It became on this occasion with not just a little effort, the ultra chic, newest (and only) restaurant ‘Chez Bunkhouse’ complete with hostess, chefs and ambiance. Haute cuisine in the forest.
Honest to God, last night Chez Bunkhouse put most of the finest eateries in most big cities to shame and it was the opening night!
A while ago a few of the local women (lamenting the dearth of good restaurants in the area) decided to do something about it. And they did. And they did good.
Forgive me for cheating but I will quote my own (edited to preserve the anonymity promise) review written for the local paper:
Very few restaurateurs are drawn from the kitchen by spontaneous applause from their patrons but on Friday night a crew of magic chefs set a new standard in the restaurant business and the patrons responded in kind. The local inaugural evening of fine dining was a stupendous success and set the bar at a ridiculous height even for a professional restaurant in the city. This was literally haute cuisine in the rainforest.
As a grumpy curmudgeon, cynical of just about everything, I wholeheartedly give it two Michelin tires, two thumbs up, a huge grin and I have already placed my name on the list for the next time.
I give it two Michelin tires because the value of the meal compared to the city rooms was at least the equal of two brand new Michelin LT245/75R16 tires. Maybe two and half Michelin tires? The setting? Magical. The gracious hospitality? Priceless.
Being greeted at the door by the ever-present head chef and the lovely hostess was a particularly nice touch. Right from the start one felt welcome and the ambiance and mood was exceptionally warm and inviting. The bunkhouse – remarkably ‘in it’s element’ last night – had been transformed for the guests with candles, draperies, art and instant hospitality. The table was set for royalty and though few amongst us qualified as such, all rose to the occasion. Bonhomie filled the air. Immediate and ready-to-hand delicious appetizers were followed by attentive wine-pouring and the evening flowed as readily. Rarely have I felt as comfortable. I was there for three and a half hours (a social record for me) and it went by in a blink. Somehow our chatelaines set a pace and rhythm that was natural, gracious and efficient without being in the least intrusive. This restaurant knew how to be there when you wanted them and invisible when you were busy in conversation or eating. It is the stuff of restaurant legend.
Bear in mind that this was a 24 seat setting. That meant that for every diner to be in sync with their table companions, dishes had to be removed and fresh courses delivered almost simultaneously. And while this was being done, wine, water, bread and dinner conversation had to flow uninterrupted. Serving staff were subtly magic in this and the kitchen was always ready. And this was their first time! This is a skill that many restaurants aspire to and never reach. Ever. It was truly amazing.
And then there was the food! OMG!
This curmudgeon is not skinny. And I had not had a bite since the morning. You’d think I would be a force to be reckoned with but they could have handled 24 of me and still had food left over. In fact, my dinner companions were half my size and were still accepting every dish with relish long after I had surrendered. Literally, my table mates defied physics by putting away more food than they had room for. If the food was amazing, the appetites stimulated by such wonderful offerings were mind boggling. Also bear in mind that the spontaneous applause occurred only half way into the meal! Our collective impression was so favourable so early on that appreciation broke out before the show was half over!
It was delightful.
I have never read a critical review of a restaurant that called for higher prices. It is unheard of. But there is no way that this meal could be duplicated by anyone else for the budget that our neighbours and friends worked with. It is not possible. And, given that all the guests also spontaneously requested a repeat performance, this harsh, hard-to-please critic has to recommend that one small change be made in the menu – I want to pay more, please.
Ya know.………..this remote, off-the-grid, back-to-basics, wilderness place never fails to surprise me. Last night it showed up as sophisticated as a city slicker! Who woulda guessed?