Last week I became a lady who lunches.  You  know the type.  The type who just up and goes for lunch at a restaurant in the middle of the afternoon during a work day but it doesn’t matter because for some reason they have nowhere else to be.  These ladies are easily recognized by their manicured hands and crazed look.  Or maybe that’s the look of being rested.  I’m not good at recognizing that look in people. It’s basically a mythical look nowadays.  Something you read about in books and insane asylum pamphlets.

When I worked in an office (albeit a super-cool office in one of the world’s most innovative television stations) I remember there was this guy who quit. He didn’t really know what he was going to do, he just knew he couldn’t work in an office anymore so he up and left.  A few months down the road he came back to the station, wandering through the halls and offices saying hi to everyone. He was wearing shorts and a cruddy tee shirt and looked not exactly homeless but … something.  He looked something totally foreign to me. As I squinched my eyes and tried to place what was so strange about him, it hit me.

He looked relaxed.

He mentioned he was wandering past the building on his way to lunch and thought he’d stop in.

On his way to lunch.  Wandering.  In the middle of the day.  Like a homeless person.  Or drug dealer.  I understand people eat lunch.  They even go for lunch when they work in an office.  But I but I never did.  I worked during my lunch so I could leave early and beat traffic.  Leaving early by half an hour could shave 2.75 minutes off of my 4.5 hour commute. During the drive I often gnawed on my steering wheel looking for leftover, salty, hand sweat to eat but … I got home 2.75 minute earlier.  Unless it rained.  Somewhere in the world.  A raindrop anywhere was really quite enough to guarantee a 17 hour drive home and a myriad of men throwing pop bottles filled with yellow liquid out their car windows.

Now that I work from home you’d think I’d take advantage of being able to “lunch” and  wander around in a most rested and relaxed manner.  I don’t.  I work through my lunch even in my home office.

So last week was kind of special.  I even had eyebrows as my neighbour Jane remarked when she picked me up.  And I did.  I shoved them on there with powder and a powder brush like I did in the olden days when it was my job to look pretty.  For real. In no small part my job, my actual job, was to look good.  It was exhausting.  And it’s hard to look perpetually pretty when you’re eternally exhausted.  Even with the salt lick steering wheel it was difficult to keep up that level of

So off we went, ladies who lunch, to meet another lady to lunch with.  This particular lady showed up to lunch with a very weird Mexican marionette she bought on the way.  So maybe not something an actual lady would buy. Plus one of us got a stain on our shirt within seconds of being at the restaurant.  And I proclaimed I hated talking to anyone for longer than an hour so I might just wander out the door and down the road at some point.  I just didn’t want them to be alarmed when it happened.

Now that I think back on it we were really more dames who dine than ladies who lunch.

The food was meh, but the conversation was good and even MORE exciting was the restaurant next door.  My little town is kind of becoming a hot spot for exceptional quality restaurants.  Insanely accomplished chefs are abandoning Toronto and it’s putrid traffic and home prices for my city, just 45 minutes away.  (if there’s no rain, construction, other cars on the road or bugs flying around.)  Just next door to the place we lunched in is one such example.

The Heather.

It’s a teen tiny place with an open kitchen and just 6 tables that seat 2 people each.  There’s no ordering, it’s a set menu.  A 7 course tasting menu where you might get this.


What’s that you ask?  That’s fermented steel cut oatmeal + mountain oak + stinging nettle + dry roasted crickets of course.

That’s worth the price of admission right there.  The price of admission is $75 Canadian.  For me?  That’s totally worth it for this kind of innovation.  And this kind of dessert …

Pickled strawberries + milk ice cream + spruce tips + meringue

Seriously.  But I like food.  I, in fact, love food.  I like cooking it, growing it, looking at it, and eating it.  But when I told a friend I wanted to go to this particular joint they just kind of shrugged their shoulders and said, yeah but that’s your thing.  What?? What’s my thing??? EATING?  Yeah, that’s my thing, isn’t it everyone’s thing?

He meant extreme food.  I don’t just eat to fill up I eat to be entertained.

So $75 is nothing for this kind of entertainment and sustenance.

But it did get me thinking.  I want this kind of restaurant to survive in Hamilton.  I want more of them.  I want everyone to go to them.  But will people?  Would you?

Would you pay $75 a plate (7 little plates in this case actually) for dinner?  Or is that just insane to you?  What’s your limit when it comes to eating out?

If nobody agrees with me I’ll know to run to The Heather before the chef can’t afford to stay in business any longer.

Before he’s wandering the streets in shorts and a cruddy tee shirt minus the look of relaxation, heading to lunch.

Have a good weekend.  Yo.  (All this food talk is making me sassy)




  1. Lisa says:

    Hm, just checked out the website, the menu seems a little pretentious. There were 2 items I had to google for not knowing what they were (Samphire? Haskap?). I can’t want to pay that much for artsy food, but that’s not our style. They’re offering something unique, if only 3 evenings a week. I hope, for the sake of their dream being fulfilled, they succeed.

  2. Kim says:

    You are paying for a unique dining experience, the creativity of the chef, the time, talent and experimentation that went into creating the meal and so on, so I say it’s worth it if the food is good. My husband and I recently did a similar set 7 course meal (mine vegetarian and his non-vegetarian and his was with beverage pairings) at Locovore in Ubud, Bali. Everything about it was wonderful. It was our longest meal ever at 3.5 hours, and most expensive meal ever at just over $300 CAD, so that makes the $75 look pretty well-priced. Of course it was Bali, we were on holidays, and it we thought of it as a once in a lifetime experience. I hope The Heather succeeds.

  3. Kathryn Carruthers says:

    When I had a job with a paycheque I used to occasionally go to a couple of places that did a chef’s tasting menu for $75-100 per person. No bugs though.

  4. Catt-in-Kentucky says:

    No. That bowl of fermented brown stuff was just not appealing. I would have to stop off on the way home for a cheeseburger or something and no bugs please.
    By the way, The Ladies Who Lunch is an old Stephen Sondheim song from the Broadway Musical “Company”. Long song with interesting satirical lyrics.

  5. Jo says:

    Nope! No How, No Way! I do not.have money for extras, especially when it involves crickets. A very special meal for a very special occasion? Maybe.

  6. Jennifer Ramirez says:

    Yup, I’d go.

    A fellow foody

  7. TucsonPatty says:

    Um, yeah, no. Won’t be eating crickets! My dad had chocolate covered grasshoppers when I was a kid, and I ate them for the chocolate only. I shudder now, tomthink of that. Having said that, I would eat the dessert thing with ice cream and meringue and pretty pink powder…looks awesome. I think I might spend that much for a meal if it were every favorite thing I ever wanted…but not strange and exotic foodstuffs. I have been watching Chef’s Table on Netflix and they have pretty amazing food and locations, etc. It is very interesting, but I don’t want to eat any of the food. I wonder why I like watching?

  8. Karen says:

    Have you seen the musical Company. Elaine Stritch sang this song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=virv-1o2KjE

  9. Rktrix says:

    Please don’t take over a restaurant: you know how a restaurant makes a million ? They start with three!

  10. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I’m way to cheap for that and plus yuck!

  11. Alisa Kester says:

    I paid $50 once for a meal, but that was a one time splurge. In Iceland. For whale and puffin and frozen skyr with wild blueberries. I wouldn’t pay money to eat bugs. I can do that for free when they fly into my mouth while hiking.

  12. Sherry in Alaska says:

    Nope. Not for me. You better catch those crickets before they’re gone.

  13. Kristy says:

    $75 is special occasion dining to me now, so I want to enjoy my meal… which unfortunately (fortunately?) doesn’t include crickets in any form. I can catch those in my yard, but only see that turning into a meal in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Even then the zombies would have to kill my chickens and deprive me of eggs. And I hate eggs, but I’d eat them before I ate crickets.

    Which is the loooooooong way of going about saying enjoy it while it lasts. (sorry, I don’t live in Canada so I couldn’t have helped anyway)

  14. MrsChrisSA says:

    Erm, you lost me at the crickets!
    Thats like our South African mopani worms which are a delicacy here.

    Dont eat worms or bugs……………….

    • Thandi says:

      And my dad is still trying to convince me that Mopani worms are utterly delicious. Ha! I’m still not falling for that one dad.

      • MrsChrisSA says:

        Don’t blame you one bit!! But I do know it is considered very much a thing of great culinary value – but not for me either!

    • Irene says:

      I had ONE mopani worm, just to say that I have done it. It just seemed like a crispy shell filled with salty water. Eh. Meh.

      On a side note, does anyone else get the progressively narrowing text column as people reply to a comment, right to the point where one ends up with one letter per line?

      • Karen says:

        Hi Irene. It’s an issue with the mobile site when people constantly reply to one comment. :) It’s because the comments are staggered. Too many replies and you’re right, you get that super narrow text. Maybe I’ll get rid of the staggered comments. thanks for the reminder. :) ~ karen!

  15. AmyB says:

    Hmmm…$75 a plate. I’d pay it if I knew it would be amazing food. I wouldn’t go for a place that does “extreme food” tho…I prefer insanely delicious comfort foods, or variations there of, to crickets and forest aromatics, especially if you’re talking about a set menu. I’d go now, if I were you 😕

  16. A guy says:

    Dames with gams doing lunch. Nice.

  17. MartiJ says:

    YES! Because It is Better to Eat Interestingly than to Eat Well. But $75? I’m probably too tight for that.

    I would, however, rather have wacky homemade Asian Fusion (and I have some truly wack ideas on fusing anything!) than roast beef, medium well. Go Karen!

    How were the roasted bugs? I had an “Adventure Dining” group over last month and we did a tasting menu of protein bars made by the college where my Dad used to teach food sci. The main component of the bars? Crickets. Four flavors, including one that bff described as “tastes like dirt.” So? Yours actually looks like it tasted like dirt. How was it all?

    • Karen says:

      I haven’t actually gone to the Heather yet. :) It was the restaurant I visited after having lunch next door. ~ k!

    • MartiJ says:

      Then… how did you get the bug-meal-photo?
      I still have 4-5 of those bug-protein bars. They were the “prize,” but nobody wanted to take them.

  18. Mama Toto says:

    Didn’t exactly get me salivating! Seems a bit gimmicky to me.

    • Linn Caine says:

      I have to agree, Mama. I am so over having my dinner served on a plate bigger than my head with a silver dollar sized entre placed artfully in the center. Give me creatively combined, delicious, satisfying meals anytime. I don’t even mind paying a lot for said meals.

  19. Patricia says:

    I love innovative food, but alas, 75$ a plate is for the special occasions in life at this point..also, I draw the line at bugs….I’m not that innovative lol.
    I am a foodie at heart, but my husband is not. He would not look forward to the meal you described and you had me until “crickets” . All that said, I wish Heather great success.

  20. Jane M Cudmore says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    I can almost walk to The Heather, thanks for reviewing it.

    I’m also a refugee from one of those Toronto jobs (and a Hamilton one too). I have that rumpled wardrobe, face that never gets out of the jar, and relaxed face.

    I prefer lunch because it’s more manageable on my ‘fixed income’.

    I’ll look for you when I go!

  21. marli says:

    There’s a place local called The DreamAway Lodge. Real popular with the artsy types. Used to be a brothel (not kidding, I’ll find a link). Anyway, they did a similar thing, set price meal with two choices for each course (I think there was 4 last I was there, years ago). The food was to die for, the setting was amazing, totally eclectic and funky. Now I have to go there again soon…thank you for reminding me of this!
    (the tapas bar: )

    ( the dreamaway, slightly changed since last I’d been, but still: )

  22. Muff Hackett says:

    $75 for 7 little plates is a bit outside my realm, even on a ‘splurge, it’s our anniversary or a birthday that ends in 5 or 0’ sort of day. Also, I cannot imagine being intrigued enough for either of the above dishes to appeal. I like my food fairly straightforward in general. Sometimes I think that dishes of that nature are designed more for discussion than for eating. I’d rather eat, thanks. Now if you are suggesting a meal at either the Front Street Brasserie in Penticton or the Red Door Bistro in Whistler (both of which have excellent, small and very seasonal menus with imaginative and tasty offerings comprised of a mix of things I am confident about and things I have to look up to be sure) then I am your girl! You are welcome to the green dust on roasted crickets – enjoy!

  23. Sharon says:

    Just paid a great deal for for a dinner in Ottawa with a similar approach – $75 is a steal

  24. Paula says:

    I have paid $75 for a meal of several courses, I’m not sure about the content of your meal though. If the food is innovative and delicious, it is completely worth it!

  25. marli says:

    Well…I’d say you better run fast to The Heather. Cause no.

    But that’s just me. Mind you, I love a good tapas, but…


    • marli says:

      Also…it’s 85 on their website. And they’ve burned at least two things (eggplant and milk) and have no qualms telling you this.


    • Karen says:

      Oh that’s funny because one of the only restaurants I’ve gone to and thought … um, no … was a tapas restaurant! It was expensive and I left hungry. ~ karen!

      • marli says:

        Haha! You’ve got a point. I don’t go for an actual meal, only for the music and to eat almonds and olives and dates (oh my!). There’s something about munching on strange foods whilst listening to open mic.
        But yeah, eat dinner first. :)

      • You have to go to a tapas restaurant in Spain.
        The more remote the better.
        Think Formentara.
        Best kept secret and beaches are to die for.

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