Working in the restaurant business has been a lifelong love for Antoinette (Annie) Grome. After spending many years as a server and bartender it was only natural that she would come to own her own restaurant. The Ruff Cut in Cochecton has been a community favorite for many years and when the owners were moving on she and her husband, Erwin Grome, took it over, calling it Annie’s Ruff Cut and opening in August of 2019.
You’ll find classic bar food at Annie’s Ruff Cut. Known for their famous Roast Beef Sandwiches, they also have a variety of options from burgers and fries to appetizers, to sandwiches. They even have inventive dishes like pretzel fries with a cheese dipping sauce. And quench your thirst with a delicious cocktail; there’s a special drink on the menu every day.
Steve Mutter, a Southern Chef in Yankee Country.
Barbecue is, of course, a slow process. If you aim to eat at the laid-back hour of four pm then your meat needed to be in the smoker somewhere around two in the morning. While there isn’t a huge amount of to do over the ensuing 14 hours, it’s by no means a set-it-and-forget-it operation. The temperature and the moisture within the smoker both need to be carefully maintained, and there’s no rushing the meat. If your butt or shoulder or picnic or brisket chooses to take its own sweet time to come up the final five degrees to temperature, there’s nothing to do about it but sit back on a lawn chair, open another beer, and chew the fat with whomever has dropped by while you wait. This we did, and so I came to hear Steve’s story.
Eventually Mutter moved back to North Carolina and needing work, applied for a vacant position as the Asheville Barbecue Company. “Their pit master had just walked out one day, and didn’t leave any recipes written down,” he explains, so with supreme confidence he applied for the job, despite knowing very little about the art of barbecue. Improvisation was the order of the day, according to Mutter. “I took my ideas from what they had before and added my own twist to it, and just went from there.”
Mutter’s relationship with barbecue took a significant turn when he joined the staff of the new 12 Bones Smokehouse in Asheville, NC. Neither of the 12 Bones’s owners, Thomas Montgomery and Sabra Kelley, come from a barbecue tradition, nor were they originally from North Carolina. Despite their lack of history, or perhaps because of their willingness to explore non-traditional ingredients and techniques – so-called “progressive ‘cue” – 12 Bones became enormously successful.
12 Bone’s original location, where Mutter manned the pit became a favorite of President Obama, who visited every time the business of running the country took him to Asheville. I mention he’s like Freddy, the pit mast of the eponymous restaurant/confessional favored by Frank Underwood in House of Cards, and Mutter is tickled pink, although he makes it clear that the POTUS simply came to eat his food, not to seek his counsel.