Good coffee is increasingly finding a home in the culinary world. More and more restaurants around the world are upping their coffee game to something above “cursory”, from Atlanta to London, Amsterdam to Los Angeles. Those sad, thin pod days of yore, documented on Sprudge by Oliver Strand, seem to be increasingly in the rear view mirror, as events like Mad Symposium embrace high-end specialty coffee as part of the progressive food world. The best restaurant on earth serves incredible coffee. High quality coffee and food are inexorably drawing closer together.
And here in Dallas, Texas, the team at Method: Caffeination & Fare have introduced a new concept to the city, in the form of an event rudimentarily called “Coffee Dinner”: a monthly five-course meal focused on creating dishes that pair with coffee, not the other way around. Never one to turn down food or coffee, I booked it over to the east-of-Downtown shop in the name of #journalism to check out the scene at the first-ever Method Coffee Dinner. To steal a headline from another Sprudge article, it did not suck.
The affair was small but intimate, with only 10 diners seated at a communal table just barely fitting into the 780-square-foot shop. Owner Louie Corwin, himself a one-time culinary student, partnered with Spirited Cooking to create the five dishes, each utilizing coffee in a different way in order to highlight its diversity as a component. The coffee being used in each dish was Cuvee Coffee’s honey-processed Fazenda Pantano from Brazil. “We wanted to bring a unique experience to Dallas that was built around coffee,” Corwin told me, “and with our kitchen and coffee knowledge, we are able to bring something to Dallas that not many other shops can. It’s also a way for us to further our relationships with our very supportive customers. The dinner is a chance for us to sit down with them and hopefully have a night of great conversation.”
The meal started with an aperitif, a 50/50 blend of Cuvee’s Black & Blue, their nitrogenated cold brew, and Cervejaria Colorado’s Bertho, the Brazilian brewer’s seasonal American Brown Ale made with Brazil nuts. If the theme of the night was coffee, the sub-theme was Brazil. Shortly thereafter came the first course—crostini with brie, pickled jalapeño, and a savory whiskey coffee jam.
The next two courses, both salads, fully displayed coffee’s versatility as a component. Whereas most dishes that incorporate coffee tend to shade towards richer, heavier flavors, these dishes were much lighter. The first was a traditional caprese salad—fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, basil, a little pesto—finished off with a coffee vinaigrette. Next came the roasted butternut squash and red quinoa salad made with goat cheese, dried cranberries, walnuts, maple syrup, and a coffee-infused olive oil. Dense for a salad but overall still light, the dish was a good mid-point between the crisp, acidic caprese and the heavier fourth course to come.
The undoubted star of the show was the coffee-rubbed pulled pork. With smoked gouda polenta and whiskey coffee barbecue sauce, the pulled pork had the rich, smoky profile generally associated with dishes prepared with coffee. And it was delicious.
Finally, the dinner was finished off with a lavender panna cotta topped with a coffee-infused vodka whipped cream. Actual liquid coffee made its first appearance since the first course. Diners were offered the Fazenda Pantano served as espresso or pour-over (both Kalita Wave and V60 were available) or both, if you happen to be a coffee writer.
Corwin tells me there is a lot of room to grow in the coming iterations of the Coffee Dinner. Different origins, varying brew methods…he has quite a few ideas in the works, but this one was a test to gauge the interest in this sort of event. Next month, Texas coffee paragon Lorenzo Perkins is scheduled to attend, and Louie Corwin is understandably stoked. “He’ll be here to talk about the coffee we choose to serve that night,” Corwin told me, “maybe create a few coffee cocktails at the beginning, and obviously make coffee at the end of dinner.”
But the first Coffee Dinner was a success, even in its nascent “Is anyone gonna come to this?” stage. In the end, everyone left fat and happy, slightly over-caffeinated, and a little tipsy. There’s not really a lot else I could ask for in a meal. Maybe more coffee.
Zac Cadwalader is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.
Photos by Cara Michelle Smith for Sprudge.com.