Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

The last time my father-in-law visited, he mentioned that he’d been reading in The Wall Street Journal about a restaurant here in Maine, and he wondered if we could go when he comes out this summer. He’d forgotten the name, but once he described it, I knew exactly which place he meant.

“Small, sort of tucked away, hard to find. Everything is really fresh, you know, ‘farm to table,’ and instead of, like, a selection of entrees, the chef sets the menu where everyone gets the same collection of smaller dishes. There is only one seating each night and you share the table with whoever else is there. It sounds amazing!”

Yeah. He meant The Lost Kitchen in Freedom.

I had to let him down gently.

I wish I could have said “You bet!” To be completely frank, I have long wanted to go there myself. I mean, you read his description. What’s not to love? Intimate, deliberative, community based – that is my kind of experience.

I don’t even mind that in order to get a seat at the table, you have to win a sort of lottery. Each year, hopeful diners wait for an announcement that it’s time to send in a handwritten postcard and then hope they are chosen for a slot. That just makes it sort of “extra.”


The part that is trickier is that I would have to win the actual lottery to afford to go.

The reputation for delicious, magical food has grown. That, plus the weird way the world is working these days means it now costs $265 to eat there. Per person. And then there is tax and tip on top.

That’s just not happening for me.

I don’t want to dump on The Lost Kitchen. Erin French, the owner, has found a way to make a really rewarding life for herself doing what she loves. I say more power to her.

After all, there are plenty of people all over this world making scads upon scads of money from doing truly questionable or downright immoral things.

French, on the other hand, is making beautiful experiences around beautiful food while creating an economy to support local farms and aquaculture. That’s wonderful.


Why shouldn’t the market economy work for the good guys, too?

I think it is fantastic that this wild experiment in mindful dining is doing so very, very well that it can command a high-end price tag. It just means that some of us aren’t going to find ourselves seated around that table.

Which is OK.

As magical and amazing as the experience undoubtedly is, when I think back to all of my most favorite dinners, it was never about the food.

The meals that come to mind are the potluck suppers with friends and board games; the Sundays at the Common Good Cafe in Southwest Harbor with local farmers playing fiddle, toddlers dancing and grandmas knitting; pasta for two with homemade sauce by candlelight; the slightly smushed sandwiches pulled out of backpacks at the summit of a mountain after a long, long hike.

These are the meals I treasure, and none of them cost more than a new pair of boots. Which, by the way, is my new way to measure things.

So, yes. I think The Lost Kitchen is cool, and I wish the owner all the very best. May everyone who dines there come away happy.

But for my money, I’ll be picking up a new board game or two (hey, in this context, my slightly extravagant purchase of the new game Botany seems quite reasonable) and inviting a bunch of friends to whip up some tasty treats so we can all gather around the dining room table and surround my visiting father-in-law with a slightly more authentically Maine (to me, at least) community dinner.

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