I’M A LADY WHO LUNCHES NOW. SO THAT’S WEIRD.

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)

 

 

133 Comments

  1. 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…

    No.

    • 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.

      No.

    • 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.

  2. 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!

  3. Sharon says:

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

  4. 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!

  5. 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: )
    http://www.missionbarandtapas.com/

    ( the dreamaway, slightly changed since last I’d been, but still: )
    http://www.thedreamawaylodge.com/the-legend/

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. A guy says:

    Dames with gams doing lunch. Nice.

  11. 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 😕

  12. 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!

  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. Sherry in Alaska says:

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

  15. 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.

  16. Nancy Blue Moon says:

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

  17. Rktrix says:

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

  18. Karen says:

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

  19. 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?

  20. Jennifer Ramirez says:

    Yup, I’d go.

    Love,
    A fellow foody

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. Kathy K says:

    Ahhhhhhh no-
    That’s very pricey for lunch. $75 per person, that’s a special evening dinner price for me and most of the folks I know. I appreciate the artistry and innovation but I think most folks go out to lunch or dinner to relax. If I were to go to a restaurant like that, it would definitely have to be a late night dinner with a candlelight atmosphere. I hope he becomes successful but it seems like a “one-time” kind of restaurant for most……..so maybe run before the chef has to relocate. I’d be more interested in working with the chef than just sitting there eating his food.

    • Karen says:

      It’s not lunch. I went for lunch at the restaurant next door and popped into The Heather to meet the chef while he was prepping for the evening meal. . The $75 is for a 7 course dinner. ~ karen

  27. Jen says:

    I am an eat-for-entertainment try-anything kind of gal, but that first dish does not appeal to me in the least. As a former chef, I think he’s going to have trouble moving that one. I would definitely pay $75 per person for well-prepared interesting food, as long as it isn’t innovative just to be weird. Know what I mean?

    • Other Karen says:

      My sentiments exactly Jen! Best meal we’ve had in Hamilton lately was at Rapscallion Rogue Eatery! http://www.rapscallionrestaurant.com

      Sooooooo delicious!!

    • Karen says:

      I do. I get what you’re saying. But I’ll tell you, ever single person I know who has gone to this restaurant said everything about it is outstanding from the atmosphere to each and every dish. So I don’t think he’s doing it just to be weird. This is a guy who really does k now what he’s doing. Heston Blumenthal I’m sure had the same reaction from people and he’s one of the most successful and admired chefs in the world. 🙂 ~ karen!

  28. Jody says:

    It looks like an adventure. I’d go if someone else paid. To be perfectly honest the food is cool looking, like art, but doesn’t look luscious and delicious which is what I go for on a splurge.

    • Karen says:

      My line of thinking is I can make boring delicious food all on my own. I’m more willing to pay for something I’m never going to make at home myself. 🙂 ~ karen!

  29. Jenny W says:

    Pickled strawberries, instead of fresh, “fermented?” oat dust, crickets and tree needles – perhaps this innovative chef is trying to keep his costs down by shopping the ground in his back yard 😉
    Luv me some tapas, and charcuterie boards, paired with a nice red, of course, and I’m always up for trying new things, but to spend close to $100 for ALL the Weird Foods, nope.

  30. danni says:

    I’m not very adventurous with food, at least to that extent, and I’m “frugal” (cheap) and grow some of my own food so the thought of dropping that much $ on one meal… no.
    And I have eaten enough bugs just mowing the lawn and panting with exertion. Damn, ain’t no way to pant without your mouth wide open as an invitation for some juicy mystery bug to try to fly down your throat!
    Which leads me to this question… is it worse to swallow the bug, or hack it up and have it pass over your tongue the second time…? Hmmmmm?

  31. Karen says:

    Let’s pretend I don’t even know the price. Just based on the description of your first dish alone. No. I actually thought you were kidding when I first read your list of ingredients. That’s not cool. I loved to be wowed by food. I’ve been wowed by $75 food. But I’ve also been wowed by a $45 meal. Likewise I’ve been disappointed by a $100 meal.
    But I would never even consider paying $75 for a bug and oak tree meal. Good luck.

  32. Kari in Dallas says:

    I live in Oak Cliff, Dallas with a view of the skyline (2 miles away) in my backyard. back in the 30’s it was hopping…then white flight…then in the past five years major gentrification. As a result artists, creatives and awesome chefs have set up shop here. It’s a foodie paradise and just the place for that restaurant. We love food as entertainment especially when there’s a Chik Fil A on every corner of every other suburb in town.

    In short, I love the concept and the fact that the chef is pushing boundaries, utilizing local, seasonal ingredients in a creative way. If I’m ever north of the border, I would definitely make a point to go there,

  33. Maggie says:

    You said it was innovative, but I don’t think you said it was delicious, so I’m having a hard time buying it. I assume you found it delicious if you’re so into into, but can you describe your experience a bit? The flavours, the texture? I love food, and will splurge, but $75 is steep for sure. I’ve definitely had mind blowing eats & drinks for less.

    • Maggie says:

      PS. If you like spruce tips, order the deep fried pickles at The Wild Caraway in Nova Scotia! Now those are spruce tips (amoung other deep fried pickled things).

    • Karen says:

      I didn’t go yet. I went to a lunch next door and popped in to meet the chef at The Heather while he was prepping. And every person I’ve spoken to who has been to the restaurant said it was definitely delicious. ~ karen!

  34. Susan Claire says:

    That’s not food, it’s landfill. Another “trendy” pretentious restaurant doomed to fail. They’ll tell everyone that the clientele just wasn’t sophisticated enough to appreciate their offerings and a pizza joint will move in.

  35. Monique says:

    No.
    I did for a cooking class that included lunch..in a charming home w/ a famed cookbook author..and it was worth every single penny and more..mind you this was 7 yrs ago;)but no:)

    But I love the post.

  36. Carolyne says:

    No, just No.

    and i work in Hamilton. I might drive by.

  37. Brian says:

    Waiter ! there is a Fly in my Crickets !!! Is that extra?

  38. Mary W says:

    NO – I would pay a lot more that for an extremely rare meal that I knew would be delicious. I don’t want to eat weird stuff just because it is weird even if it was beautiful and someone said it was ‘fun’. I’d rather give the money to a soup kitchen and to make it really interesting I’d help serve or cook the meal. Of course I also love to know there are really rich people in the world that lead really interesting lives with their money by doing really wonderful things. I can enjoy a delicious cup of plain rice pudding while reading your blog and have a completely marvelous morning.

  39. jaine kunst says:

    No, not $75 for 7 little plates. And the bugs broke MY food rules…I don’t eat food that is still moving, nothing with suction cups, no bugs and nothing I can’t pronounce. Although I’m adventurous in real life, I like my food pretty straightforward. I’m not ashamed to admit that Crackerbarrel is one of my favorite places to eat. I know, I know.

    • Amy in KC says:

      I love Cracker Barrel too! I am somewhat adventurous with food but I like the “regular” stuff too…a lot. 😉

  40. susan says:

    I love being adventurous with food and appreciate a chef who has the opportunity to be really creative. Would definitely go. On the other hand, unless Hamilton has changed a lot, the location is a little strange. For you Americans, it’s about the equivalent of plunking an innovative, expensive, cosmopolitan restaurant right down in the middle of the heaviest concentration of steelworkers in Detroit.

    • Karen says:

      Barton Street is starting to be the place for really great restaurants. Hamilton has definitely changed in the past 10 years or so. HUGE, huge art and food scene. Like, huge! It makes me very happy. ~ karen!

  41. Matt Cowan says:

    Thanks for the lovely mention Karen! We hope you can make it in for dinner soon! It was lovely to meet you!

  42. judy says:

    My first consideration for going out to a restaurant is “can I make it better at home”? If I can, we eat at home. That being said, I know I would not hold a candle to this restaurant, but I also don’t know that I would go more than once because it has too many courses, takes a long time and offers a lot of unusual things in those 7 courses. I’m not a picky eater but I don’t crave that much adventure in a meal either. And then there is the price, which would also limit how frequently I would eat there. Sometimes mac and cheese is all I need ((homemade of course).

  43. Brenda says:

    These types of restaurants are like the editorial pages of a fashion magazine. Yeah, it’s interesting to know about and see, but you’re not likely to wear that exact outfit. Most people aren’t likely to pay to eat bugs and the same tree needles that cover my front yard. This guy would be better off having two, 7-course meals, one with “normal” food and one for the people who want to eat bugs. Then he might have a shot. I’d also recommend he find a way to lower it to at least $50.

  44. Kathy says:

    When I worked in TV a very stressed out salesman quit his job one day bought a metal detector and moved to Florida where he became a beachcomber. Good choice.

  45. Lisa Kinnison says:

    Once upon a time, before life got ugly, I would have gone. And enjoyed the weird and wild ideas. But today, not because I’m older, but because I throw my money at other things like braces and college tuition~ so my answer is…ah hell no. I don’t know much about Hamilton but any smallerish town I’ve lived in just doesn’t have enough of the wandering 20 somethings Thursday evening through Sunday late morning that are willing to throw money at wild food without blogging for advice, checking reviews, debating whether they are crazy or something else that I’m simply not cool enough to know or feel. That is the kind of clientele this restaurant is looking for, idle money. If Hamilton has it, then take your time. If it doesn’t, leave now. And…please describe in details. I would love to hear!

    • Karen says:

      Well, Hamilton has about half a million people so not tiny. And I don’t think they’re actually looking for the 20 something hipsters. 20 something hipsters don’t have $75 for a meal. I think it’s more for professionals willing ot make reservations, who love food. 🙂 10 years ago this wouldn’t have worked in Hamilton. But Hamilton has one of the fastest growing food scenes in the country now so It *might* just work. I’ve already decided that I’m definitely going so I’ll let you know. ~ karen!

  46. Jenifer says:

    I MIGHT pay $75 for a dinner once in a great while for very well-prepared food but I don’t eat crickets on purpose. I guess extreme food is not my thing. Supporting local indie restaurants and chefs though gets two thumbs up though!!

    I hope it came with wine…

  47. Allison says:

    Yes, I’d pay that, but not for a meal of bugs. I’m from Houston, and a really good steakhouse is going to run $45 or up for a steak, so $75 is reasonable for a nice night out at a place where the food is an experience.

    We went to a wonderful place in London called Hunan. It’s basically tapas that doesn’t stop until you tell them you can’t eat anymore. The server asks if there are any dietary restrictions at the table (mine was no organ meats and no raw meat, another at the table didn’t eat beef). Then the chef makes individual servings of different tasty things and brings them out one after another until you tell the server you can’t eat anymore. You have no idea what will be next, but it’s all delicious. It’s not really Chinese food per se, but the owner/chef is from China, so there’s definitely an Asian influence on the dishes. I think it was about GBP65 (so about $85 USD) per person for dinner, not including wine, and worth every pound. If you are ever over there, make reservations and go!

  48. Andrea says:

    I would totally pay $75 for that experience! I love being surprised at a restaurant. And I live about 1,5 hours from Hamilton, so if you need a dinner date… 🙂

  49. Amy Watson says:

    Oh hell no, I am from the south, if I pay 75 dollars for a meal it better have a big piece of meat some kind of potato something green, cabbage, green beans, peas, Butterbeans etc…..and a big piece of German chocolate cake or pecan pie…..it’s not about the money, it’s the food and neither of those pictures looked like food to me.

  50. Sharon says:

    No. For a very skimpy lace under item, yes. But not for drawings on my plate. And I live in the capital of nothing but drawings on your plate. But they have the decency to charge somewhat less.

  51. David in Oakville says:

    Interesting discussion today. $75 is fine if the food is good. But for $75 the restaurant had better have a great mix of good food, great presentation and atmosphere. If I left the restaurant simply thinking “that was different” then they have failed. I want to leave thinking wow, would have never thought of that, glad I tried it. And really, it only takes one dish to wow me. Different for the sake of different or innovative, I am not really interested in this. It seems like this chef goes out of his way to source his ingredients and spends a lot of time thinking about (and hopefully testing) his dishes before presenting them to customers. As far as Hamilton goes, I think there are enough people there interested in this type of cuisine to make a go of it and his location is fine. Best of luck to him!

  52. Carolyn Boyd says:

    Hubby and I would love to go there when we visit our son in Kimberly. We have a little place in Halifax (also a small city with lots of terrific restaurants) called The Kitchen Table. They have an amazing communal table which seats 14, plus another 6 can sit at the kitchen bar, overlooking all the action. Have eaten moss 3 times; yummy stuff. Eight courses for $85, plus wine or you can BYO. The chef even makes his own salt (another advantage of living on the coast)

  53. Kipper says:

    No. For that much money I could get a week’s worth of groceries or the dog groomed or get a lot of feed for the chickens.

  54. Ev Wilcox says:

    UMMM, no! I understand the concept from an art standpoint, and the need to charge so much since the ingreds are prob not common but costly. And the chef is most likely very artistic. But, when I go out to eat I make sure my dishes are done and the kitchen is ready for bed. I do not expect coming home hungry and everyone that went wandering around the kitchen and perusing the fridge for leftovers, etc. Especially after paying $75! So, do go there very soon and support the place, please. Unless you live in a ritzy place full of mansions and $$$, I am guessing this restaurant will be moving on. but good luck to them anyway.

  55. SBoo says:

    Their website says $85 per person + $50 for wine pairings. With tax and tip you’re talking about a $350 meal for two. I appreciate food and am willing to spend for a great experience, but at that price point the food, ambiance, and service all need to be truly excellent. The nettle oatmeal crickets are a bit “woo woo” for me.

  56. Lesley on the Mountain says:

    Seventy-five bucks eh? I wouldn’t pay it, not for lunch anyway. The Heather will survive because it’s in Dundas, close enough to Ancaster too, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but it’s not just the chefs who are abandoning Toronto, it’s the regular folks too. I doubt that many new Hamiltonians would batt an eye at $75 for lunch. I love that our fair city is finally being recognized for something other than the steel mills, and THAT SMELL when you drive over the Skyway, but I’ve also noticed a ton more traffic, and a ton more people who are in far too much of a hurry to even consider that they might not be the only person on the planet. I guess this is the price we pay for no longer being too blue-collar for our neighbours up the highway. Anyway, I digress…enjoy your lunch!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lesley. It’s for dinner, not lunch. 🙂 ~ karen!

    • Chris says:

      The Heather is on Barton St East, in central Hamilton. No where near Dundas or Ancaster.

      • Lesley on the Mountain says:

        Omg, I just assumed it was near Karen, in Dundas. Nope, not going to that part of town for a $75 meal that I don’t even get to choose, especially not in the evening for dinner.

  57. Linda in Illinois says:

    I’m not that kind of girl. and I work for pennies so no.. you have a good time though and think of me when you have a cricket stuck in your throat, tooth, second day floss taste..

  58. Beth says:

    12 seats x $80 = $960/night x 3 nights = $2880 x 4 week = $11, 520. If rent is cheap and if they are full every night they should be around for a while but those are big ifs.

  59. Rebecca says:

    I’d go for the experience and have no problem paying $75 for the 7 plates. I like this kind of thing.

  60. Renee Ryz says:

    I have paid that much and more for smaller plates of interesting, and delicious food. Where my son works, I could never afford to go all the time, but it was a special occasion. Might have been a little on the smaller portion size, but it was great & I can use losing a pound or 50 anyways. I did not look at the website for this place as I am in Chicago, (tons of places to try) but while the desert might have me intrigued, alas the crickets did not. I would try something made with cricket flour, but I just cannot fathom crunching on dried fish bait & paying that much. However, I do wish them well. The restaurant business is not an easy one, and it takes alot of very hard work.

  61. Sabina Missana says:

    You said “pop” bottle, I love you!!!

    But no, I would not pay $75 for crickets, a tomahawk steak and lobster maybe, but not crickets.

  62. Lin N says:

    Hmmmm…it intriques me but the restaurant would need really good reviews to coax me in for a $75 lunch….maybe a ‘star’ would help. 😋

  63. Jan in Waterdown says:

    I quite like Quatrefoil in Dundas and have spent a heckuva lot more there so my response is maaaaybe . . .
    So glad to see Hamilton’s rebirth, no longer a lunch bucket town!

  64. Jennie Lee says:

    Nope. Not even for my favorite foods. And if I really want to eat crickets, I’ve got a sizable population of them in my basement.

  65. Nicole says:

    Not for me, not any more. Pre-kiddo and mortgage however, I’d have tried it! With a total of 12 seats to fill in Hamilton three nights a week? I imagine it’d be full every night with former Toronto dwellers happy not to have to make the trek into Toronto for a similar experience (speaking as a former Toronto-dweller).

  66. janpartist says:

    Being somewhat a foodie, of course I would pay that but I would expect slightly less exotic choices-bugs no, bunny rabbits, yes. I’m really rather over pretentious food and presentations. Hate squiggles and tear drops. So, it would have to be otherworldly for me to enjoy teeny dollops with spritzes, foam, and swirls.

  67. Rachel says:

    Nothing about that menu looks or sounds appetizing to me. I hope that $75 includes a lot of cocktails! 🍸❤️😂

  68. Bonnie Gutierrez says:

    I agree about paying for food that you will not make at home, but not anything too weird !

  69. amanda says:

    I would so do that! I love fancy fun food. And I’ve even eaten crickets before.

  70. traci says:

    I could never pay $75 for a meal. As someone who grew up poor, I just can’t justify it. I also won’t ever do a fixed menu. I’m not paying a whole lot of money for you to give me something I don’t like. At least give me some choice. I’m okay with limited choices, but there has to be at least a few choices.

  71. Linda says:

    Those crickets better be hand-dipped in Belgian chocolate served by Tom Hardy in buckskin chaps.

  72. Roseann says:

    I would go! Well, to be honest, I would want very much to go but would have a hard time finding someone to go with that would also enjoy it (someone who wouldn’t spend the whole meal making negative comments as each plate is served) even if I paid for both of us. I could go alone but an experience like that is best shared so in the end I probably wouldn’t go and regret it every time I passed the place.

  73. Melody says:

    Absolutely! No qualms.

  74. Thera says:

    First off just no, too expensive, too gimmicky and ewww bugs!
    Then there is this…
    “For you Americans, it’s about the equivalent of plunking an innovative, expensive, cosmopolitan restaurant right down in the middle of the heaviest concentration of steelworkers in Detroit.” which I agree with PLUS Hamilton is the New Jersey of Canada also known as The Armpit of Ontario. Sorry if this offends anyone especially you Karen 🙁
    I am sure Hamilton is trying to improve, I am not so sure it will ever lose it’s bad reputation.

  75. Esther De Vos says:

    Makes me think I should be reading the comments more often – did this particular post strike a chord? Many lame comments and a little surprising the inaccuracies in not fully reading what you had to say. No doubt you’ll go soon and go again. All the best to The Heather.

    • Karen says:

      I a definitely going soon Esther. This is my kind of thing and my kind of place. I was surprised at how many people the word pretentious for food that … well just isn’t chain food. Also surprised people couldn’t seem to read past crickets. ~ karen!

  76. Lynne Burns says:

    In 2006 I had one of the most memorable dinners of my life. I was in Chicago and had been reading of the new art and science meets food and had to go. Alinea proved to be the most fun, provocative and delicious meals I have ever encountered. It was also very expensive. (MUCH more than $75) But, I still to this day think about and talk about it……. So I say, get it! Don’t miss out on what could prove to be one of your most memorable dinners!

    • Karen says:

      OHhhh pfttt. I’m going, lol! I was just curious if others would. I’d much rather spend $75 on a memorable dinner than just about anything else. 🙂 ~ karen!

  77. Robyn says:

    The only time I have ever eaten food that costs more than a night in a hotel was in Paris at the Moulin Rouge and we got to see the show. I think it was like $500 USD for the two of us and we got a meat, a potato, a salad, and a bread plus a half bottle of wine each. And a dessert. The food was good but it was the experience we were paying for. And it was well worth it.
    But I like real food and plenty of it so I would not be interested in The Heather!

  78. Denise says:

    I’m late reading this one, but just now thinking of going to a local bar for a wonderful half-pound mushroom swiss burger with fries (split between my husband and me) with two sodas for $11.25. Life is good!

  79. I love the idea of eating crickets but I think they can be presented more creatively. They’re a super source of protein, so why not grind ’em up and mix ’em into something, so we’re not crunching on their exoskeletons? We need to warm up to bug eating. The spruce tips intrigue me, and the pickled strawberries…yes, I think I would pay for this sort of theatrical fare, providing it’s not too precious: That means the portions are decent and the wait staff are well informed and friendly. Also, the kitchen needs to run efficiently. When all the stars align so that the food is good and the presentation is professional every step of the way, $75/person is a bargain for an evening out. Good luck to The Heather. Any cattails on the menu? They’re delicious! : )

  80. Stephbo says:

    Nope. In my book, that kind of restaurant is for people with two many dollars and not enough sense.

  81. Leslie says:

    yes I would – do it several times a year, I love the idea of eating something I will not take the time to make at home

    • Karen says:

      My thoughts exactly. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • leslie says:

        interesting discussion – my eldest son is a chef and what they try to accomplish is getting people out of the chain restaurants and come and try new things with good not over processed ingredients that people don’t have the time to make at home themselves. Some of the items he prepares takes a month or several days in advance to prepare (fermenting, pickling etc…) They majority aren’t trying to be trendy (most chefs dislike the term Foodie) they love food, and like being creative and bringing good food to people so they expand past the chain restaurants) I don’t always think I will like everything on a tasting menu but I try it and usually find I like it or at least glad I gave it a shot. I bought up some black kale this week (thanks Karen) will be giving that a try tonight 😉

  82. Emma says:

    Experiences are priceless!!! YES I would go but someone else would have to pay…
    turns to hubby at this point… He might too I think.
    (We are foodies. So yes we would. Once.) BUT…
    That is steep dough.
    I grow food, he cooks it.
    Hamilton is a great place, friends just moved there from TO. They love all the coffee places and the arts/culture. Love your blog Karen! My garden is a wild child. Okay enough about me! The heat has turned me insane.
    No luffa planted yet… next year.

  83. Chris says:

    Definitely not for me! If I’m going to a restaurant to eat (and I eat out often enough), I don’t want someone else to tell me what to eat; I want to choose my own meal. At any price. And for $75, it better be a special occasion and even better food. The Heather is gimmicky and I doubt it will last long in town. Only until the Toronto people get tired of driving into the “bad” part of the city to check it out. There are a lot better places in town that the locals prefer to patronize.

  84. Blogging must be lucrative if you can afford $75 for lunch, or in other words, not for me.

    • Karen says:

      Yeah, it pays the bills when you work 12 hours a day 7 days a week. ~ karen!

    • Karen says:

      Oh! And it’s not lunch. It’s a 7 course dinner. Also I don’t drink, don’t smoke, rarely go out, grow my own food and make/do every single thing myself. So if I want to spend $75 on dinner I have to say, I don’t feel terrible about it. ~ karen!

      • Sorry, I was confused, I thought it was lunch. I too do not smoke or drink, make and do everything myself, even my own soil (vermicompost, you should try it, you’d love it, I’ll set you up with some worms if you like) rarely go out, have my own business and work similar hours. Regardless, not for me. Not that I wouldn’t love to treat myself and spend that much but I would have to LOVE the food to warrant it, not just meh.

  85. Jamieson says:

    Hey, was I this quitting person in the cruddy t-shirt? I can’t remember if you had already left before I up and quit and then came back to a new position months later. At CHUM Television, I mean, not the time I did that at my current company. Or the time I did that at the company I worked for before CHUM. Because as you know I up and quit every 6 years or so and then eventually come back when offered a new job once I’m feeling more relaxed and fulfilled!

    • Karen says:

      Nah, twasn’t you. You aren’t the only up and quitter. I forget his name actually. He was a producer and he left and became a freelance producer. John I think. You’d know him. ~ karen!

  86. kelli says:

    I’ll probably never pay over $30 for dinner, but I have, lazily, become a lady who lunches as well. Or…maybe just a lazy lady. Unemployment for several months will do that. I have all the time to BE a lady who lunches but now…I can’t afford it. OH the irony. However, I’m with your coworker, don’t know if I can go back to the corporate world again, at least not the hard-driving kind. Really, it’s hardly worth the stress of it all. Maybe I’ll just find a nice receptionist job or do some freelance writing…either way, my cat will still love me. 🙂

  87. shannon says:

    I would spend this kind of money for dinner very cautiously; I would have to have it on good recommendation that food was always spot on and delicious. It would have be for a special occasion (after all, for a couple it would cost twice that). And I want to choose what I’m eating (even off a limited menu).

    I’m not afraid of unique food, but bugs with tree parts is not food to me. Definitely wouldn’t pay that much for “innovative” food that I might hate.

    I wish I could eat out all the time, but I find even the cheaper places expensive. It’s just hard for me to just eat a lot of money. I feel the same about expensive wine. But, that said, if I had a much higher income I would do it much more often!

  88. Kristin Ferguson says:

    I’m kind of flabbergasted that it would only be $75. I took my daughter and her boyfriend out to dinner at The Inn at Little Washington, only to discover that it was a $150-per-person prix fixe arrangement, meaning we got to choose one starter, one main and one dessert plus the chef sent out amuses bouches (tiny, beautiful savory bites) before the meal and mignardises (tiny, beautiful dessert bites) after the meal. But that was a very special dinner on the occasion of accompanying her to Maryland for university.

    But seriously, $75 is cheap for such a meal as you describe. I guess things are different in Canada, because $75 for a nice dinner is normal for Los Angeles. Not something I do every day, but once every week or two maybe. I wouldn’t want to eat the bugs, I’m not gonna lie, though I hear they’re delicious. I tried to eat a cricket once, but the second it was inside my mouth and I could feel its little crickety legs, I had to spit it out.

    • Karen says:

      Yeah, I actually don’t think it’s too bad. I mean it’s $20 for me to go to McDonalds! (of course I’m a bit of a pig but still … ) It’d be $50 for a half decent dinner somewhere else with no dessert. ~ karen!

  89. ruth says:

    Hi, Karen,

    So glad you get to go there. I hope you enjoy it if you do go, and let us know all about it.

    We do have a LOT lot lot of good food here in the Hudson Valley……. (Culinary Institute is across the river. And farms. We have farms.)

    Still, I don’t know of a place that sounds like this one. It’s a chunk of money….. then again, think of how often you eat meals that cost little. Very little. It all works out.

    ruth

  90. Amy Foster says:

    Yes! I love restaurants that are both entertaining and delicious. I’m not 100% sold on the crickets but that dessert looks amazing. We usually reserve these places for more special occasions but always enjoy them when we go!

    If you are ever in Montreal may I recommend Europea? My husband and I visited there on a mini getaway and $300 later (worth stepping away from the budget) had both the most entertaining and delicious meal ever! Think jerky on a clothesline, salmon in a smoke filled box, a tree sculpture with desserts hanging from it and the largest meringue I’ve ever seen to take home. Probably 10 plates in total. I would definitely recommend it if not for the entertainment factor alone!
    http://www.europea.ca/

  91. I lived for a decade (and learned how to eat/dine/cook) in the top wine area of California. $75 for a dinner seems cheap. And I’m a huge fan of prefixed meals. Less decisions for me to make.

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