Dunham's "Warm Heart Family Restaurant", a Great Local Favorite
By Nancy Helmuth
Right in the heart of the lovely village of Dunham is a restaurant aptly called "Au Cour Chaud". This "Warm Heart Restaurant" has become a great local favorite since Janet Clough (63) purchased it in November of 2010. Janet starts her workday by baking between 12 and 18 loafs of traditional "white and brown" bread every morning. While the bread is in the oven she will start prepping for breakfast and the restaurant opens at 7am, seven days a week. She hangs up her apron at 2pm but will cheerfully put it back on if there is a special birthday party, anniversary or other social event booked for her premises that day.
"It was always my dream to own a place where I can cook just like my grandmother" smiles Janet. Her husband Bruce, a frequent weekend helper at the place is a senior snow plow operator and has worked for the town of Sutton for 11 years.
On Thursday at 12:30pm the little place which can seat about 20 people was packed and Janet was all by herself yet she handled everything in stride, sauteeing on the oven, then slicing onions while those two delicious smelling hamburger patties were getting ready. She makes the yummiest home fries in the area, every little batch carefully seasoned and browned to perfection. Her pancakes are legend as are the rich "Hunter" breakfasts which consist of two eggs any style, bacon, ham, home fried potatoes , pancakes and toast and coffee. All for $ 8.95.
There are daily specials chalked on the board and every day there is a freshly made scrumptious soup. "I learned to cook from my grandmother and it is mostly her recipes I am using", says Janet. Her menu is very traditional country fare but ever so often she ventures forth with interesting specials like those fruit filled pancakes I could not get my husband away from. It was funny, just last Thursday he wrote a story in the Sherbrooke Record about Sutton's Le Cotillon arts and crafts emporium where he mentioned a gentleman who has his jigsaw puzzles mounted and framed there.
When we came into the restaurant "Junior Harvey" intruduced himself as the very person of jigsaw puzzle fame.
Dunham is a very beautiful place but it is very seasonal. While in summer people will enjoy the great open spaces to cycle or to use Shelby lake, in winter there seems to be a stagnation as everyone is in Sutton for the skiing. But for Janet that is not a problem. "I have a core of loyal locals that come in here almost daily and as long as they enjoy the food and I can keep the prices affordable for everyone, I do not forsee a problem". We enjoy the informal atmosphere, the lovely simple decorations which are mostly finely mounted posters of the many Brome County Fairs and the fact that conversations seem to flow from table to table and pretty much everyone knows the other's first name. You never have to sit by yourself here. Just join the crowd at the next table and you will be welcome with a "Warm Heart" at "Au Cour Chaud".