Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Irish Heather - Long Table Series

I attended my first Long Table dinner at Gastown's Irish Heather a few weeks ago. Affordably priced at $16 per meal (which includes a pint of local craft beer), these events reflect owner Sean Heather's nostalgic affinity for the traditional and communal "sunday dinners" of yore. In an Occidental world of conveyor-belt sushi, take out suppers, and latchkey kids, it is refreshing to find a business that is promoting casual, communal dinners...with a fine dining twist.

I have always liked Gastown's Irish Heather, but their regular menu is fairly average with its focus on British pub fare. The Long Table menu features a rotating selection of meals - independent from the standard Irish Heather menu - which include roast suckling pig with rosemary apple sauce, leg of lamb with turnips and kale, and braised pork hocks with homemade sauerkraut. There are about four Long Table events every week, and the ever-changing menu items are posted the Irish Heather's Long Table blog

We booked places for the turkey dinner, and were impressed with the speedy service and generous portions. Upon making our reservation, I pictured a single chef removing several cumbersome birds from a giant oven and slowly carving each carcass while forty hungry patrons waited impatiently at the (long) table, making awkward chit-chat to distract themselves from their grumbling tummies. This was not how it went down. After downing a few pints of Blue Buck in the Irish Heather, we were summoned to the long table in the adjoining room and were immediately served a pint a of beer. The turkey, with the customary stuffing and mashed potatoes, arrived but a few minutes later, a crew of four chefs having plated the fowl as us diners took our first sips of the hoppy Riptide Pale Ale (from Lighthouse Brewing) placed before us. It was a great meal and a fun night out, although I didn't really make new friends within this communal setting. I hope I didn't let Sean down.    

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