Drinking on the Farm and Dining With Tim McKee

With the cost of events so high, food critic Joy Summers asks: What’s worth the price of admission?

My finger hovered over the mouse as I silently goaded myself into clicking, “yes.” I was about to pay an ungodly amount of money for a ridiculously wonderful dining experience.

Well, I didn’t know how great it would be at the time. I argued with myself long enough that the link timer threatened to kick me off the page before I got my ticket for what could best be called The Great Experience. At this point, you’ve likely seen the announcements: dinners by huge name chefs with wild backgrounds for seemingly bank-breaking ticket prices. 

It’s left me pondering: What is the price of a transformative dining experience? Obviously, I’m not the average eater. I clearly put more value on each plate of food served by one of these cooks than I think an average (read: sane) person might. For me, though, to see these brilliant minds, these insanely organized crews, and to get the the chance to place those flavor bombs in my mouth—it’s all hard to quantify. These experiences are nights that I will carry with me for years to come. It’s the tapestry I’m stitching together. I’ll weave these moments together with memories of my kids’ milestones; times I’ve laughed until I peed; shoulders I’ve cried on; and the occasional wrong dropped on my doorstep. When I’m old and most of these days are forgotten, I’ll place this blanket of memories over me—worn and tattered, comfortable—and cherish what I have left, and the way these experiences shaped me.

In case you find yourself like me—a fan of experiences over things, meals that might be plated with tweezers or plucked from the nearby ground or labored over long before we arrive at the table—I give you three events that I know will be worth every penny of the ticket price.

Dinner on the Farm with Saint Dinette and Tattersall

Once there was a magical place where the minds behind Tattersall and Saint Dinette worked together under the same roof. Now, these businesses have grown up and come into their independent own. Saint Dinette is Lowertown’s beloved French-influenced bistro with the fantastic cocktails and gorgeous plates of food from chef Adam Eaton. Meanwhile, Tattersall is the bustling Northeast distillery, with what I’d say is the best cocktail room around. What remains in common is that both businesses are wonderfully focused on hospitality. Guests will always feel welcome inside these doors. For one magical night they’re going outdoors and serving what will be an unforgettable Dinner on the Farm. Tickets are $75 for the Sunday July 30 dinner at TC Farm out in Montrose. [NOTE: EVENT HAS JUST SOLD OUT]

Chefs Tim McKee and Donald Gonzales Pop Up at Green Lantern

If you’ve been missing the fare from James Beard Award–winning chef Tim McKee and Minnesota Monthly’s Chef Challenge Champion Don Gonzales like I have, you’re in luck. Since McKee decided to shutter La Belle Vie, he took up a new career working with The Fish Guys. The chef is now helping supply restaurants with incredibly fresh seafood. Meanwhile, Gonzales has been working with the Madison restaurant group to open their newest venture. These two towering talents are getting together for one night only at Green Lantern, the Lowertown basement bar (across from Mears Park). Reservations are still available by calling 651-348-6456 for the Wednesday April 26 evening. Tickets are $76.79, which includes tax and gratuity.

Heyday Turns 3

But hey—maybe these events are a little pricey for you. I get it. My money’s funny, too. The best excuse to get to Heyday this week is that Jim Christiansen’s incredible Lyn/Lake eatery is turning three. The boundary-pushing cuisine has garnered national attention for good reason. This Sunday the party gets rolling at 2 p.m. when a plate of barbecue, plus sides, will cost just $14. Not to mention, there will be drink specials.