Catering to Almonte’sTastes - theHumm December 2018
Catering to Almonte’sTastes - theHumm December 2018
By Sebastian Weetabix
Almonte’s downtown has a Main Street which isn’t, a Bridge Street which is, and a “High Street” which is actually named Mill Street. The term High Street is a metonym for a street on which are located the defining businesses of a town — not to say all, or even the biggest businesses, but those which in aggregate can define the character of a town as well as its basic functions.
In Britain, High Street is actually the most common street name and its meaning is well understood; in Almonte, Mill Street refers to the town’s history but has functionally become the High Street. Populated with shops, banks, service providers and other businesses (including a real bookstore!), and with adequate parking nearby, Mill Street also has some attractive architecture (the old Post Office, not the new one) and notably a café, North Market, which is the proper subject of this article.
For those already familiar with North Market, it is located in a space formerly occupied by “Palms”, whose owner, having decided to move on to other pursuits, approached Rick and Amanda Herrera about taking over her already established practice. It was a good choice on both sides but not without its challenges. The Herreras are both veterans of the food service sector who refer to having their own place as the “evolution of a dream”. An established business comes with the expectations of its customers as to both style and substance — hence the need to cater to established tastes. The good news is that the standard of quality allows both creativity and flexibility so that Amanda and Rick have been able to put their stamp on the establishment while maintaining and growing the client base.
The seating space at North Market has an unusually high ceiling and is well lit without being harsh — it is informal and inviting to patrons who wish to meet over beverages and light refreshments as well as those who would have lunch. The vibe is casual comfort. A chalkboard display of items available is constantly changing depending on season, market availability and the kitchen’s ability to generate new ideas. From sampling and word of mouth, Weetabix is pleased to note that North Market has, in the short time it has been open, found its feet and is well on its way. Plans are afoot to extend hours to dinner service and add a liquor license.
There is substantial takeout traffic and that highlights another aspect of the business — catering. Basically, catering is takeout with service but not quite. First of all, the nature of the orders tends to be more elaborate and, obviously, in most cases there are multiples of each item. Sounds easy, but just as running a restaurant kitchen is very different from a domestic kitchen, catering makes organizational and execution demands that define it as a business unto itself. The Herreras have experience in both arenas and the energy and skill to combine them within the same operation. Staffing can be a challenge due to the swing loads on the catering side — especially for orders wanting full service! This is where having experience in the business is essential, since extra help is often needed.
If you are planning an event, a special dinner or just want a break from your normal domestic routine, consider the advantages of having professionals who will cater to your whims and desires — at least in the food and beverage realm. An additional benefit of having a dinner catered by skilled professionals is exactly that — they are almost certainly better at it than you are! Car ads warn of the dangers of amateur performance, and home cooking has risks that are easily avoided by engaging professionals like the Herreras. Another advantage is that you can preview your options by ordering items such as the deviled eggs or falafel at the restaurant before committing. Amanda will be happy to work out a detailed proposal and plan of execution. Both delivery and pricing are assured in advance, and the quality of the food will be outstanding. Weetabix has enjoyed some of their work and recommends serious consideration be given to use of this resource. Even for a small dinner party it is a low-stress and cost-effective route to a superior outcome — and one that does not require you to do a post-party clean up. Full service and good service! Take a look at northmarketalmonte.com where both the Café and catering offerings are on display and note that the menu for the Café is frequently updated — sometimes even in mid-day as items run out or are added. It is a guide, but flexibility is called for and substitutions may open new gastronomic possibilities. If a particular desire is frustrated, you should consider it an opportunity; the food is good and the venue relaxed and conducive to its enjoyment.
Another aspect of North Market is the Herreras’ dedication to the local community and to local farmers and artisanal producers. They also have given prominent display to some interesting art. Should you be inclined to thinking about mechanics, take a look at the large table supported on chains. North Market is open seven days a week — which is good, since lunch happens every day. Enjoy!
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