their game surviving on housemade bread alone.
Family meal, also know as staff meal, is a time for servers, chefs, line cooks, bussers,
dishwashers, and hosts to eat and plan before opening for business. From inspired
uses of surplus ingredients to entirely off-menu dishes like tacos or hot dogs,
the idea is basic: A well-fed and organized staff is an effective one. This is the first of
Nosh Pit’s occasional looks inside restaurant family meals around the city.
The Restaurant: La Medusa
The Meal: Campanelle fava bean macco. In a wide ceramic bowl, beckoning staff from a waist-height
kitchen cooler sits a steaming bundle of Sicilian delight, prepared by line cook
Christie. The campanelle, a chanterelle-shaped pasta, moist and chewy, tossed with a paste of
fava beans and topped with pine nuts and parmigiana is an Italian aria. An aria a paying customer would (and should) order in a heartbeat. Although the campanelle is one of the rotating entre items, the family meal at La Medusa is not always an on-menu experience.
Other Favorites: Family meal isn't always this fancy. Recently, owner Julie Andres brought in fixings for hot dogs--buns, French's mustard, relish, the whole shebang. Breakfast food for Medusa's family meal isn't exactly frequent, but it's not uncommon. And reportedly, one former sous chef only
ever served spaghetti and marinara sauce. "I got so sick of pasta," says longtime
server Donna Diedmann. "I'd go over to the bakery (that would be Columbia City Bakery) for a
sandwich…mortadella is so good."
Feeding Time: At La Medusa servers grab and go. The meal hits the serving dish
no later than 5pm, which is when the restaurant opens, so there is no formal
dinner table. A forkful here, a spoonful there, that's how it goes. But with meals
like campanelle fava bean macco, the servers are not complaining. And with the
neighborly service at La Medusa, no patron is complaining either.