Holiday Musings & a Burger to Boot

Living the Ridgway by Tony Ridgway

You can feel the holiday spirit at Ridgway. Wynne and her elves decked our halls, reservations for Christmas dinner are pouring in, and there's a holiday party happening every night.

Thanksgiving week was wonderful. The night of the Festival of Lights had perfect weather. Santa, Mayor John Sorrey and the beautiful Snow Queen paraded down Third Street to the Christmas tree in front of Tony's Off Third, officially kicking off the festivities; many thanks to Wink TV for their continued support of Third Street.

We set a record for Thanksgiving with 720 dining guests. It was fun for all of us. The entire staff did a wonderful job, but a big shout out to Gary Sharp and his prep crew for all they did.

The beep. beep, beeeeeeeeeeep of the construction lifts around our building has gone silent. The renovation work looks terrific and the construction crew did a great job, causing fewer problems than any one would have imagined; a good job done by all. Thanks to all of our customers who came in during the construction process.

We have lots of events and special happenings coming up in the next few week.

Sukie's very special Champagne and Sparkling Tasting is tonight. We have over 100 guests registered to attend. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by, we can make a little more room.

Gia, our general manager, is preparing a Captain Morgan party on Thursday, December 13th at The Courtyard Bar. The "Coast-to-Coast Shipwreck Party" kicks off at 5:30 pm and will go until The Courtyard Bar closes that night. There will be lively Caribbean music and giveaways! All the details can be found HERE.

Tara, our specialty pastry chef at Tony's Off Third, has Gingerbread Houses in full production. Priced at $45.00 and $60.00, you can also talk with Tara to get one customized. We have cute hand-made sugar Santa and Reindeer pieces that can added to your Gingerbread House scene as well. Heck, we can even create an entire Gingerbread Village if you wish. But don't wait too long as we have a limited number we can construct, so call quickly. Tara is happy to consult with you on any special requests. There is a picture book that displays many of her creations available for perusal at the counter in Tony's Off Third.

The bakery team is also busy making - from scratch - all your favorite holiday pastries, which will be on sale in the pastry case or by special order starting Friday, December 7th. Here is the holiday pastry items we are making:

Buche de Noel $45, feeds 12-15
Wreath Cake, $30, feeds 6-8
Pumpkin Tart, 11.95
Reindeer Snowball, $3.95
Kahlua Pecan Tart, $18.95
Truffles Carrot Cake, $36
Flourless Chocolate Cake, $36
Red Velvet Cake, $36
Key Lime Tart, $14.95
Large Decorated Sugar Cookie $2.95
Decorated Gingerbread Men, $4.50
Assorted Decorated Holiday cookies, $9.95/dozen
Christmas Tree Cupcakes, $3.50

Cakes are 8" and serve 8-10 people. Tarts serve 6-8 people.

PLACE A CUSTOM ORDER BY CALLING 239.262.7999

Employees of Ridgway Bar & Grill, Tony's off Third and Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar will once again be celebrating the holiday together at Tony & Wynne's home on Tuesday, December 18th. We have done this for several years and it is a great family occasion. All three restaurants will be closing a little early that day so all our staff can enjoy the party.

Christmas Eve reservations are going quickly. We have so many extended families that join us that evening. Hopefully you and you family will begin a Christmas tradition by dining with us for Christmas Eve or for Christmas Day. We will be open regular hours on Christmas Eve and serve from noon to eight PM on Christmas day. Check out our Christmas Day menu HERE.

Every Dish Tells a Story

When asked about my menu, I generally tell someone why each plate is special to me. For example, let me tell you about my burger. I used to spend a lot of time in Lake Forest, Illinois and shopped at Don's Finest Foods, a wonderful local grocer with a spectacular meat counter. His ground chuck was the best! I wish the store were still open. When I opened Ridgway Bar & Grill in the fall of 2001, I wanted to have a great burger on the menu and set out to do so. I spoke with James at Grand Western, they were at the time and still are today our only meat purveyor. My objective was to replicate Don's Finest Grocery ground chuck.

The basis is USDA prime chuck meat, freshly ground and then hand packed at the restaurant where it gets seared on a flat top griddle. The first mix was 80 percent lean to 20 percent fat. It was good, but not great. My second attempt was a ratio of 70 percent lean to 30 percent steak fat. The burger cooks like a steak and taste as good as any hunk of meat. We pan sear the burger because the open flame on the grill might get a little too active with the fat bursting onto the coals. I also like the more neutral char the heavy grill gives the beef. So that's my story on why The Ridgway Burger is so good. Thanks to Don for his friendship, guidance and inspiration from years ago. And thanks to Grand Western for knowing that quality and taste are the only way to go. Next month I'll tell you my Carrot Cake recipe story.

Welcome Neighbors

Our building is now filled with a superb collection of retailers. Stop by and say hello to all of them from all of us. The Beach House opened with us in the fall of 1976, Kathy and Annie have been at Tickled Pink for years, Katie and Ted are celebrating a year on the corner at St. Tropez. And two very new stores; Sarah Campbell dress shop and Spruce Home Goods have opened within the past few weeks.

We are all getting ready for a busy and celebratory season. Please join us soon and we can talk about food and wine.

Your Friend,
Tony

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