This past Saturday night, I rounded up some friends, packed a cooler full of sparkling Crémant d’Alsace and pink pét-nats from Bar & Garden, and headed down to Bonton Farms in South Dallas. On a fluke, I had spotted Daron Babcock’s Facebook post about a Farm-to-Fork dinner, and we managed to snag the last four seats at the table.
It had been a hot and humid day, so we weren’t sure how pleasant dinner on the new cafe patio would be. But it couldn’t have been lovelier. As staff finished strewing the long, wooden tables with sunflowers, Daron brought us a large handful of grape vines to feed the eager goats. We wandered down the rows of tomatoes and peppers. Then we sat down under the string lights, popped some corks, and introduced ourselves to our table mates. Turns out we were seated beside some of Daron’s college wrestling buddies.
The four-course meal included gazpacho topped with fried pork belly from the farm extension’s Mangalitsa pigs; creamy burrata with gorgeous heirloom tomatoes from the garden; a seared picanha (also known as the sirloin cap) from A Bar N Ranch with chimichurri sauce and sweet mad hatter peppers; and a deconstructed lemon ice box pie with a brittle made from Bonton Farms’ own honey.
After the sun had set and the tables had been cleared, musicians Ro & Will performed acoustic covers of Elton John and Rita Coolidge. Abilene native Andrew Holmes happened to be in the house, and he performed a couple of Americana originals after briefly being run off the stage by an errant sprinkler.
For $50, all of which benefitted the farm, we were transported for a night to what felt like a vineyard in Sonoma or a farm in Tennessee, all while sitting in the shadow of the Rochester Park levee where Bexar Street ends. It made me long for more. You’ll have to follow Bonton Farms on Facebook to find out about their next event. In the meantime, I’ve tracked down four upcoming options to satisfy my new craving for long-table dining en plein air.
Summer BBQ Garden-to-Table Dinner
A Tasteful Place at the Dallas Arboretum
Friday, July 26, 6-8 pm
$75 for non-members; $65 for members
It’s the closest you’ll get to an outdoor dinner with air conditioning. Set in the Dallas Arboretum, A Tasteful Place is a glass-walled pavilion with a chef’s kitchen and 3.5-acre potager garden. This Friday, they are offering a three-course barbecue dinner presented by Smoky Rose with craft brew pairings from Oak Highland Brewery.
Patina Green Market Dinner
Saturday, July 27, 7-9:30 p.m.
$85 (beverage tasting of sustainable wine available for an additional $40)
On select evenings, Patina Green offers a multi-course dinner for up to 34 guests. At the downtown McKinney restaurant, service is casual and ingredients are intentional, focused on seasonal local vegetables and ethically sourced proteins. Tickets are sold for tables that seat 2, 4, or 6 guests.
Main Table Fort Worth
Sunday, September 22, 5:30-8 p.m.
The main table at the annual Main Table Fort Worth event spans four blocks, right down the middle of Main Street. Cozy up to friends and strangers and enjoy a steak dinner featuring food from five downtown restaurants: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle SteakHouse, GRACE, Reata Restaurant, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and The Capital Grille. Come early for the Champagne reception and hors d’oeuvres from Jon Bonnell’s Waters Restaurant.
Outstanding in the Field at Pure Land Farm
Saturday, October 12, 3 p.m.
Outstanding in the Field founder Jim Denevan is the pioneer of pop-up, long-table dining. His roving party comes to Pure Land Farm in McKinney this October. Father-daughter owners Jack and Megan Neubauer will host a dinner featuring food from chef Graham Dodds, who left his post as culinary director at The Statler last fall to open The Mayor’s House in Oak Cliff (any day now).