More Fish Stew: Heather is forced to investigate The Buttery

I don’t really like spending money at school on food, but at home there are just too many people in one small eating space. My grandparents are still here, still fixing “Cullen Skink” (smelly yellow fish stew) over-cooking meat, and boiling vegetables. The kitchen is crowded in the mornings, and it’s hard to gather food while navigating around mother, father, and granny, and granda, and the other Scottish folk packed into my house (in anticipation of my dear sister’s wedding…it’s coming soon).

So, when I get to school, my wallet is the closest thing to a lunch bag I have on me.

But it’s ok. I’ve found The Buttery. The Larkin Building at 15 Devonshire place isn’t somewhere I would regularly go, but I did the other day and I’m glad I did.

Fine, so maybe a cafeteria isn’t a grand discovery, and the fact that they only take cash (the closest ATM is in Robarts) might be a put off. But when I wandered into this foodspace, slightly dizzy from lack of glucose, they had what I wanted—an enormous serving of pasta, all warm and delicious with a home-made ground-pork-tomato-and vegetable sauce. Really—it’s big; I’m not lying.

Note – the good food is beside the cash; don’t be distracted by pizza or any of that crap. And they have vegetarian options on hand as well, though I usually don’t look too closely at those since I’m anaphylactic and allergic to tofu, beans, soy etc.)

It would have been $4.90 if I had got the vegetables that were supposed to be on the side, but my allergy to peas prevented this, and so in the end I had a huge package of pasta for $3.50. (After the uncompromising food policies at Sammy’s Student Exchange in Hart House, where opting out of a side dish doesn’t reduce the price…this is an almost revolutionary thing for me, so let’s pause for a moment to reflect on how truly wonderful this is.)


I should note that this good food is only available during lunch hours–if you amble over at 3:00pm, you’re out of luck because they, my friend, are out of food.

Anyways, the experience thrilled me, and the stuff lasted me for ages—seriously, I couldn’t get it all down in one sitting. Thank goodness I got it to go, and could carry it around with me (in a paper carton, not a Styrofoam one, yay environment!

But there is one problem.

White walls, indistinctive tables and mass-produced looking seats…nothing about The Buttery is inviting to look at. The tables are all spread out, and the only people socializing seem to be in study groups. The food is inexpensive and all-around great (the menu for the hot food changes and there always seems to be a focus on providing lots of vegetables), but this isn’t a place that seems comfortable and fun—a place where you would just happen to meet up with friends, or a place where people would walk up to you and introduce themselves.

My house was full of people, but the food was boiled and tasteless.

Hart House was a place I wanted to stay and eat at, and a place with a friendly and inviting vibe, but the menu was uncompromising and over priced.

Here, I’m happy with my pasta, but it’s lonely in The Buttery.

– Heather