HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >


No posts about the latest Charlie's invite?

I guess the craze is definitely fizzled out. The invitations are out and no comments on the boards.

Well, I didn't get my invite this time but a friend sent the menu to me. It's pretty interesting. It sounds like one of Anthony Bourdain's trips. There are worms, ants, scorpions and other critters on the menu this time.

I'm pretty adventurous but I don't think I can handle it, so I think I'll pass.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Ditto. I draw the line at creepy crawlies....esp. at $155/pp. No thanks.

    1. I saw the menu too. I think I could try one dish at a time spaced out over several meals, but a whole meal probably wouldn't work for me. It is interesting though.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jlunar

        Mouthwatering, and if the 4 worms in the Risotto had been politicians, I would have been all over it.
        I haven't had a good forest nymph in ages but queen ants are so yesterday.

      2. Menu & Wine Pairing
        Sumac, Chili Powder & Lime Scented Roasted Crickets & Grasshoppers
        Bodega Enrique Foster 2008 Ique Malbec
        Tempura Abalone Mushroom, Fresh Shiso, Homemade Ricotta, Pickled Wild Leek, Pristine Soy, Kabyaki, Roasted Forest Nymphs
        Bodega Enrique Foster 2008 Ique Malbec
        Ancient Chinese Scorpion Soup
        Michel Gassier 2008 Les Piliers Viognier
        Queen Ant Thai Salad
        Thai Basil, Mint, Cilantro, Green Mango, Papaya, Shrimp, Queen Ant & Kaffir Lime Cracker,
        Lime, Chili Lemongrass Vinaigrette
        Michel Gassier 2008 Les Piliers Viognier
        The Charlie “Bugger”
        Micro Chickpea & Bean Burger
        Entomeal Protein Powder
        Spicy Water Beetle Aioli & Frites
        Leone de Castris 2007 Maiana Salice Salentino Rosso
        Rhinoceros Beetle Juice Sorbetto
        Risotto Con Quattro Vermi
        Wild Mushrooms, “The King Parmesan- 5 year old”, Wax Worm, Meal Worm, Super
        Worm, Butter Worms
        Gaja 2006 Ca Marcanda Promis
        Vertical Tasting of Mimolette Cheese
        Pear Butter, Armenian Black Walnuts
        Critter Crackers
        Badia a Coltibuono 2004 Chianti Classico Cultus Boni
        Candied Micro Apples
        Crispy Meal Worms, Cinnamon Ice Cream, Cricket Caramel
        Homemade Gummy Worms
        Domaine Carneros 2005 Brut Vintage Cuvee

        8 Replies
        1. re: sumdumgoy

          That menu is pretty boring. They should have had some artisanal meal worm milk kefir and butter worm brie on the menu, then it would be worth checking out.

          1. re: sumdumgoy

            I wonder how quickly it is selling/sold out. Not for me, though...the bugs, or the price. I breed mealworms for our pet sugar gliders, but have never felt tempted to cook with them.

            1. re: Full tummy

              Do you charge your sugar gliders $150 per feeding?

              1. re: graydyn

                Hahahaha. Not yet, but perhaps if I match wines... They're marsupials, which means they have deep pouches, hahaha.

            2. re: sumdumgoy

              How much are they asking for this menu?

              1. re: sumdumgoy

                You know how when you go on the website and you click the door and it opens up your e-mail client? What are you supposed to write?

                1. re: freshfrechbread

                  I guess that you're interested in signing up. They should send you an application.

              2. They should have saved this menu for Halloween.

                1. I'm going to go. But yes, I have to go alone 'cause people read read the menu and run away in horror. Now, we've all eaten bugs before (haven't we? you culinary adventurers you?). I'm sure it will be an experience. "Risotto Con Quattro Vermi" gotta try it.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: chris.kitowski

                    I'd be willing to try one or two dishes but a whole meal? Too much for me.

                    Please report back on your experience - I'm looking forward to your observations!

                    1. re: chris.kitowski

                      That's surprising, because when I read the menu I thought to myself that I'd probably be able to handle the entire menu EXCEPT for that dish. Looking down at a plate of rice and finding maggots or worms is a little too Lost Boys for me.

                      1. re: chris.kitowski

                        Perhaps unwittingly. If I ever got to the point where I thought I'd like to give it a try, well, I just wouldn't want to do so surrounded by strangers for whom I might end up being a spectacle!!!

                        1. re: Full tummy

                          That's another thing -- despite my confidence in my own stomach, I would be eating insects with a group of other adventurous people who may have over-stepped their courage. I couldn't imagine being in the middle of eating a risotto beset with four varieties of worm and suddenly having to contend with gagging or vomiting diners around me.

                          I fear it would set in motion a chain reaction of disastrous proportions.

                          1. re: stet

                            hahaha, didn't even think of that.
                            to those going: TAKE PICTURES. Maybe video?

                      2. Guess I am out of the loop. Never heard of this. Where, when and who is promoting this dinner?
                        Just curious cuz I am NOT tasting that stuff!

                        1. I think its brilliant. Some have complained that past Charlie's menus were boring or lacking in special ingredients. Here we have a menu where it is impossible to make that claim with a straight face! Whats more this menu would be impossible to serve in a restaurant in Toronto. Charlie's going to find out a lot about his invitees by seeing who accepts this invitation. Who is going to be brave enough to pay $150 for the privilige to eat a multi course meal containing ingredients that many of us wouldn't classify as food?

                          1. I would so love to go, but, I am a university student and I can not possibly afford a $150 dollar dinner.

                            When I signed up for Charlie's, they were promising meals in the $50-80 range (IIRC). I have not had an invite at less than $100. What happened?

                            1. OK, so Charlie’s Burger January 24th

                              The location was iced on the amuse bouche? of a mini-cupcake garnished with a crunchy forest nymph…

                              On entering (it was at OMG Baked Goodness - cleared out with a large communal table in the middle with about 40 seats. I didn’t count them but it looked about 40) eager servers thrust glasses of wine and potato chips with a dollop of crème fraiche and roasted crickets and grasshoppers at us. The crunch of the potato chip disguised the crunch of the insects. It was like a potato chip with dip on it.

                              The first dish has some delicious creamy ricotta, pickled wild leeks and crunchy forest nymphs. I’m not sure what a forest nymph is really except maybe a euphemism for cricket. So far the insect population was just adding a crunchy texture to the meal.

                              Next was Ancient Chinese Scorpion soup replete with chef bringing a live scorpion around the table for us to take a bite of… no we didn’t. The live scorpion was there though and his brethren were chopped up into little pieces and were in the soup. It was a very tasty spicy broth and – I couldn’t tell there scorpion in it. Now, not knowing what scorpions taste like, it’s really hard to ascertain if they’re adding flavour or not. All I can say is – it was a damn good soup.

                              The salad course had a combination basil, mint, cilantro, mango in a spicy vinaigrette garnished with a crunchy cracker and a crunchy queen ant. Now queen ants are hard to come by since there’s only one per colony. I approached it by breaking the cracker to get salad, mango, and cracker all in one bite. Damn, it was good – really fresh, sweet and spicy with a little crunch. Once again, could not tell there were insects in this except for seeing the queen perched on the cracker before I dove in with my fork.

                              The Charlie “Bugger” was the best plate of the night. A little baby bean burger with fries and a spicy Thai aioli made from water beetles. The taste of the burger was… oh, and the burger had entomeal protein powder in it – I guess working as a bit of a binder… but the taste of the burger… after you dip it in some of the aioli… Damn. And the fries… but you have to dip it in that spicy creamy aioli… I wanted more. I want more now.

                              Next came the risotto dish bumping the sorbetto since the risotto was done – now! Which to me was apparent ‘cause mine was over cooked. Of course the woman across from me said hers was al dente but I think that was the crunch of the worms. Ah the worms in all their worm like glory. Not chopped up and hidden like little pieces of Arborio – no - unashamedly stirred into the unsuspecting risotto; the parmesan didn’t know what to do with itself so it sat there and tasted like parmesan should. I chatted with the guests that I could taste a subtle anise flavour. I may have been the only one and, of course, by this time we had consumed a large quantity of wine. Anyway, it was risotto and yes, you could really tell there were bugs in it.

                              The palette cleansing sorbetto course had a wonderfully tart taste of passion fruit and calamansi (tastes like a lime, looks like an orange) garnished with the horned head of a rhinoceros beetle. The chef explained the meat from the bodies was also in the sorbetto and acts as a palette stimulant. And it does – very similar to acid or sandpaper. But Damn it tasted good.

                              Cheese course – 3 cheeses – 6 moth, 3 year, 5 year. Mimolette cheese is noted for being aged with cheese mites intentionally introduced to the cheese to add flavour. It was served with pear butter, marinated walnuts and critter crackers. I think that the crackers distracted from the cheese. A simpler type bread would have been better. But hey, we all hanker for a hunk-a, a slab or slice or chunk-a…

                              Dessert – candied micro-apples, cinnamon ice cream, and cricket in caramel. The ice-cream and caramel cricket was great. However, the candied apple was a bit hard to get through and if one had any loose or sensitive dental work, one should avoid. Homemade gummy worms were tart pomegranate gelatine and just fun.

                              So that’s it. No gagging. No vomiting. No-one embarrassing themselves in front of strangers. In fact, the best part of the evening was talking to the other participants. We all had one thing in common – we were all willing to see what this meal would be like. No, actually we had more than one thing in common ‘cause as the evening progressed we had conversations about bread baking, food network shows, vintnery tours, I talked about living in S. Korea and my eating experiences there. People had a lot in common. And we could sit together and enjoy an unusual meal and all the bragging rights associated with it.

                              So, Charlie, keep it up. I’ll be RSVPing next time your email arrives in my in-box. Although next time – could we have some meat?

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: chris.kitowski

                                Thanks for the play-by-play Chris!!! Maybe next time I won't be quite so squeamish, and I do hope CB keeps up the interesting offerings.

                                1. re: jlunar

                                  You are much braver than I chris. Kudos to you. After reading your review I'm even more certain it wasn't for me. Sounds dreadful, really. But to each his own and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

                                  I suppose this might be one of the reasons I wasn't accepted on CB's mailing list. At this point though, fine with me.

                                2. re: chris.kitowski

                                  I'm glad everything went down smoothly. It sounds like rather than a showcase for insect flavour, it was a reminder that insects can easily sub in for other proteins and still make a wonderful meal.

                                  This, of course, begs the question as to the legality of a chef ever opening a Toronto resto dedicated to serving only insect dishes. I would gladly partake in a few dishes rather than a 7-course meal, but CFIA regulations aside, I don't know how much business they would get either.

                                  1. re: stet

                                    Precisely why this makes an excellent underground dining experience. I've been reading a few posts about it around the place and now... I wish I hadn't been so chicken!

                                  2. re: chris.kitowski

                                    Chris, was that you next to me?! I was wearing the bow tie...

                                    Very tasty bugs, but I would have liked more. It felt like an Introduction to Bugs for the Squeamish course. I was hoping for some big fat juicy maggots, grilled with a bit of lemon juice and coconut milk, or something like that.

                                    I agree, however, that the evening's conversations were wonderful. I think that the mental herbivores had self-selected out of attending, which disproportionately left people with interesting ideas and thought processes. It was pleasantly invigourating.

                                    1. re: dan.haggarty

                                      yes Dan c'est moi.
                                      I had to document the goings on of Sunday.

                                      But yeah, it was an introduction to bugs (which is fine.... it created a lot of buzz... oh my... no... no pun intendend) but it could have gone more hard-core. Then, would there be an audience at all?

                                  3. The Globe and Mail posted a review/article about the menu on the front page of today's Life section:


                                    This is curious, though, because now that Charlie has been in a national newspaper, is it really "underground" anymore?

                                    1. For those of you interested in sampling some bug cuisine there's a chance this weekend in Niagara (and a lot cheaper than $155)