Blog from the kitchen

Thoughts and words from the chefs upstairs in the kitchen at The Bookshelf.

July 06, 2014


Pair & Share / Food & Beer
Choose two drinks and two snacks
Steamwhistle - Pilsner
Beau’s Lug-Tread - Lagered Ale
Caprese Salad
Mini Red Potato Salad
Truffle Oil Bacon Mac-n-Cheese
Sesame Chicken Tenders w/ Indo yogurt dip
Pulled Pork Sliders w/ coleslaw
Lamb Sliders w/ cherry tomato relish

Available at the eBar and Greenroom

June 24, 2014

Fourth Fridays Y'all

The eBar and greenroom does Fourth Fridays

We’re excited to announce that the eBar and greenroom have been invited to join downtown Guelph’s stimulus plan: Fourth Fridays. What better way to celebrate great food, cold beer, beautiful weather, and an awesome town than getting out and experiencing some of what you might be missing right here in your own backyard?

This upcoming Friday (June 27th) we’re launching our Pair and Share beer and food menu, henceforth offered Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays.

I don’t know what inspired me more, the fantastic book launch and tasting that Mirella Amato held here last week (check out ‘Beerology’, available downstairs at The Bookshelf); my love of local beer (of which I’ve drank my fair share over my twelve years in Guelph); or a passion for creating delicious culinary treats. Whatever the inspiration, I’m tickled it befelled me.

$22 gets you two pints and two appetizers! So come out this Friday and come back often to find what you didn’t even know you were missing.

- Dave

Lamb Sliders with greens are just one of the items you can expect.

October 22, 2013

Tales From the Pass

This past week has been a busy one for the Greenroom. Events and new specials were in motion while at the same time we were sorting out new ideas and planning. One night presented a unique opportunity for customer service that left everyone involved feeling great. I thought I'd share this tale with you.

Most people that work in the service industry are very friendly; some aren't, it's true, but I'm sure they're trying. Here at the Greenroom we have a completely open kitchen:

 There's literally nowhere to hide.

This isn't an issue for us, however; we try to use this to our advantage when we can. All of our chefs are friendly and happy to help, and of course our knowledgeable serving staff. The latter has the advantage of being able to move a little more freely, and is more often presented with questions than (we) the former. Enough of that, on to the story. I'll start by painting the scene for you:

A busy dinner service has recently ended, I'm cleaning up and doing a little prep for the next day while I prepare to close, and I notice in my peripheral vision someone approaching the pass.
More often than not, this is someone just asking where the washrooms are, or if they can acquire a beverage from me. This time it was someone who had some questions, maybe more than a few. They asked in advance if I had some time to help them, which I did. After looking over our menu they asked about the details of a number of items. All legitimate questions any discerning customer may have, that I was happy to answer.

Footnotes, preparation details, ingredients, and portion sizes don't all fit on to a menu. At some places when you ask these questions you just get a blank stare, or a cloud of cartoon dust as the person runs away to maybe ask someone else and possibly return with an answer for you. Many times have I faced that problem when dining out, and it's not something I let happen if I can stop it.

The customer, not finding too many items interesting, suggested maybe just going somewhere else. I said I'd understand, but that I wouldn't mind continuing to help trying to find something for them here. I had gathered a few notions based on what they didn't want, about what they might like and not like; I asked what they had in mind with a bit more detail.

They wanted a balanced meal, nutritious, involving some protein. Understandable. I suggested our Veggie Burger, explaining that it's made from a seasoned, roasted vegetable blend with chick peas and lentils in it. After getting a few more details about the preparation they asked what it is served on, and with. We offer a plain white bun normally, but since we had just baked some Foccacia there was enough that I could substitute. Settling that, we talked about sides, which are included with the burger in this case. The customer asked if combining two sides was possible, salad and fries. It's something we offer and is ordered fairly regularly. After a few more questions about how we prepare our Caesar salad, it was all settled. In case you were wondering too, our vegetarian Caesar dressing is made in house, as well as vegetarian croutons, fresh parmesan cheese and double smoked lardon goes on last.

The customer asked where they could pay, and if it was alright that they ordered from me instead of a server. I said it's not something we do regularly, but in this case (my already being involved in assisting) it was fine. I spoke with a server and explained the situation, the order, and they promptly prepared the customer's chosen table and provided some water.  After eating, the customer wanted to tell me how much they enjoyed the whole meal. They said everything was perfect, and they can't remember the last time they had such a good Veggie Burger. It might be worth bragging at this point, that we often hear customers tell us we have the best Veggie Burger in town; and personally I wouldn't look any further.

We chatted for a little while after and I found out that this particular customer was having a very bad day. They seemed to be in decent spirits, and didn't explain too much to me, but they did say that the positive experience and good food had really helped them feel better. This caught me a little bit off guard, because I can usually tell when people are having a bad day. I said, genuinely, that it was my pleasure and wished them a good evening. As I was mopping I considered the whole situation. It felt great to make someone's day like that, and if on such a bad day someone could still be so polite then on any regular day there's no reason I couldn't be kind and affording.

You don't get these kinds of meetings in closed kitchens.

October 09, 2013

Food & Movies

Food and the movies have long been friends. Many people, myself included, like to watch television at home while eating a snack or meal. And film-goers are inclined to associate going out to the movies with their favorite theater snack--in my case, popcorn.

But here's an intriguing angle of the relationship we don't always notice: Food in the movies. For example, when characters are shown eating food of a certain emphasized quality, poor or high, it's very likely to convey a tone or feeling to viewers.

Consider Marie Antoinette: the desserts are bountiful and decadent, and this reinforces our notion of wealth. Especially when she isn't even interested in them.

And that movie where Michael J Fox eats spoiled milk in cereal without first noticing. I'm pretty sure it's Life With Mikey, but I couldn't remember anything else about it at first and it took some searching to remind me.

And, of course, in any movie where someone, or something, is eating raw flesh of any type, it's clearly done to show a monstrous quality and usually to promote a little fear in the viewer. Seeing the eating of anything not actually digestible, like spoiled or poisoned food, will generally stick in your mind. Just think of that scene with the chicken in Poltergeist, or of the gang's dinner at the palace in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. Live snakes, anyone?

Personally, I'm still reminded of that aforementioned Mike Fox scene (from a movie I recall nothing else about) every time I have the bad luck of pouring some less-than-fresh milk. Those are just a few examples that came to mind, and I won't even dare touch the darker, truly taboo, area of this subject. The type of films attempting maximum disgust, with the 'gross out meter' up to 11 from the start.

It's likely that this affects some of us so strongly because of an ancestral instinct. Before humans could so easily learn about food (such as what is good to eat and what isn't) by reading or talking, we had to rely on experience. If you ate something that was bad and it made you ill, it's unlikely you'd try it again. That's still true for us today because of the same survival mechanism. If you saw someone eat something that killed them, you would steer clear of it altogether. This is tied to our instinctive reactions to rot, death, and other potentially dangerous things. Michael Pollan mentions this in The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Another way food is used in movies is as a prop, or effect; in this case, the food is disguised as something else and we may not even notice what it really is. So what movies use food like this?

Alien: Resurrection comes to mind. Some may argue it's not a great movie, but it was produced at a time when expensive computer animation was just beginning to step into films. And along with this animation it also features some awesome non-animated effects. In one scene an alien egg is shown opening, and lining the inside is (probably) caul fat. That is the fat which lines the intestines of pigs or sheep. It's thin but strong, mostly see-through except for some thick vein-like bits running through it.

Here's a link to some behind-the-scenes footage from the movie; the first bit shows what I'm referring to. Overall, caul fat is very alien in appearance. It's likely that real caul fat is used in this prop because it would be cheaper than replicating it. Having seen this substance on-screen, viewers would probably be surprised to learn that it can be found wrapping various tasty menu items such as terrines.

On the flip side, consider food that is delicious but made to look otherwise. Would you try it? Looks worse than it tastes, I bet.

Other films using disguised food include the first two movies in the Evil Dead series. There, various liquids and nasty guts and colourful Deadite fluids are actually things like 2% milk and creamed corn that's been dyed green, respectively. Another good example is The Exorcist, featuring actual pea soup in one of the iconic scenes in the movie. It's so thick.

For a few months now, we've been doing a Guelph Movie Club, featuring classic flicks democratically chosen by movie nerds, for movie nerds. It's still in the works, but we're doing our best to pair pre-movie specials with the movies themselves. For instance, when Jaws was the monthly selection, we featured beer battered haddock. This past month, the Halloween selections included The Exorcist. The plan was to make hideous but delicious pea soup for that event, but alas, the people--maybe expecting our gross-out plans--chose John Carpenter's Halloween instead. Which leaves us scratching our heads: what special to pair with a slasher flick? We've got some gory ideas in the hopper, but we're still open to suggestions. So you tell us, What special would you like to see paired with babysitter murder? Two Popsicles and a can of pop? You tell us in the comment section below.

Or, just in general, tell us if you have any favourite movie/food relationships you cherish, or fear, whether it's your favourite food for a certain movie or show (fish fingers and custard, anyone?), some food you noticed as a prop in a movie, or food presented wonderfully or weirdly in a movie.

September 03, 2013

The Skinny on Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is fairly common in most restaurants these days, but it's not always outstanding in flavour and texture. In this post we're going to look at a few things: What is it—what makes it "pulled," anyway? Why can it be so very different from place to place? How can you make it at home? And lastly, I'll tell you why you should come in and try ours.

This all starts with a pork shoulder, also sometimes called a "Boston butt." Why? Because misdirection, that's why. The name actually originates from the cut being commonly prepared and packed in Boston many years ago during the period of the revolutionary war and shipped out in barrels or casks called "butts" for some reason. As they do, old confusing terms tend to stick.

This cut is very tough and filled with collagen and fat which is broken down during the curing and cooking process to a wonderful texture and flavor. Typically the meat is cured and then slow-cooked. A dry or wet rub is used to coat the shoulder, tenderizing it and infusing it with flavours. In our case, we use a dry rub. Of what I cannot be specific, other than to say it consists of some lovely toasted herbs. This is one of the major reasons you can find such variance when  ordering this item from the menus of different restaurants. Different ingredients and styles of rub will greatly affect the final taste. And on top of that, it makes a big difference whether the meat is cooked with a sauce or if the sauce is added after. In our case it's cooked in the sauce. The closer you get to the American South, the more often the preparation involves smoking as a standard. Not everyone can use such equipment however, so around here it's OK to just use the oven or slow cooker. That being said, if you want to try a smoked version you'll want to look for places specifically stating BBQ in their name, or on the menu.

After curing, the shoulder is slow-cooked at a slightly lower-than-normal temperature, or in some cases smoked, for several hours. This blends the flavours and breaks down the fat and collagen we talked about. At the end of this process the meat shreds, or pulls, very easily from the bone. This is where the name comes from. In many recipes, like ours, the meat is worked apart and then mixed back through the sauce.

 After seasoning and containing, this is the delicious product that we pan fry with a totally separate Kentucky BBQ sauce before serving with spinach and coleslaw on a bun. You can get it with any side, but for true indulgence get sweet potato fries and a side aioli for dipping.

Our pulled pork is special because I've never seen a cure and sauce combination come together to create such a deep and awesome flavor. I've worked at plenty of places and prepared and eaten each one's pulled pork. Few compare to this one, and the ones that did, you can't get anymore. Our pulled pork is also made entirely in-house from an actual pork shoulder.

This is a great thing to make at home and store for many future meals. Play around with dry rubs and wet rubs, even coffee or beer cures! Google will find you a myriad of interesting recipes. The easiest way to cook it after your cure is with a slow cooker. Failing that you can use the oven, but don't leave it unattended. And if you have a smoker at home, well, let's be friends.

If you do make pulled pork at home, or come in for it, please tell us how it went in the comments or via Twitter.

July 24, 2013


We have started to make our own desserts in-house. This is exciting for us, but truly bittersweet for us too (pun intended) because the reason we have stopped outsourcing is that the long-time provider of our previous desserts, Eleanor Faulkner, is no longer able to. She was the baker for the original Bookshelf Cafe back in 1980, and we want to thank her for providing years of reliable and quality service—not to mention a delicious carrot cake recipe that will be hard to top.

These are the cookies that we bake for the cinema. Deliciously soft chocolate chip, a true standard. Grab one on the way into the movie and you won't be disappointed. And if you go often enough, you're bound to catch a batch fresh out of the oven, like this one here.

This Carrot Cake is awesome. We took the time to find the perfect ratio of fresh grated carrot, chopped walnuts, and comforting flavours like nutmeg to round this off perfectly. Taking it even further, this cake gets coated in our smooth cream cheese icing and dressed with toasted almonds along the outside and a light sprinkle of toasted coconut on top. Caramel sauce garnishes the plate.

Cheesecake, who can say no? This velvety-smooth dessert is also made from scratch now, and changes with each incarnation. Offered as a feature dessert, we express our creativity by coming up with new flavours each time we make it. Of course we keep it sensible and draw on palatable flavour combinations.

The slice pictured is a dark chocolate mocha cheesecake. That's the caramel sauce showing off again on the plate.

Worth noting: this cake is gluten free.

Cheesecake is one of our varied feature desserts. Our feature dessert will change as we see fit, so you may find cheesecake, pie, or some other delicious monster we've created. Come often, and leave room for dessert!

And while you're here thinking about desserts, drop us a line on Twitter or comment here and kindly tell us what kind of treats you'd like to see made.

July 23, 2013

A Few Dishes That We Offer

Some time ago a professional photographer came in to take some pictures of our food. Here they are.
I'll tell you a little bit about each dish, too.


This first dish is a large Quinoa Salad. We take fresh quinoa and mix it with diced sweet and jalapeno peppers, cucumber, fresh herbs and green onion. The dressing is house made from fresh lime juice and a blend of oils and seasoning. To finish it off we add fresh flat-leaf parsley and coriander.

Add chicken or shrimp to this and it's a well-rounded meal.


Here is one of our best sellers,  Sautéed Mexican Shrimp. Fresh peppers, fennel, carrots, spinach, and shrimp get sautéed in our house-made picante sauce. We make that with blended ancho and chipotle peppers, lime juice, and our own finely adjusted blend of spices. Served with sour cream and corn tortilla shells. ¡Este es delicioso!


This last picture is a great example of our pizza of the day. We like to get really creative and you never know what you'll get here, except that it's going to be great. All of our pizza shells are made from scratch in the kitchen and fire grilled for a great texture. This one in particular has our scratch-prepared pizza sauce as a base, prosciutto, spinach, fresh red onion, and goat cheese.