In the heart of Denton’s historic square is a farm-to-table restaurant that most people now know as the restaurant with one of the best burgers in DFW. While the praise is justified, there are many characteristics that seem to elevate Barley and Board aside from the mouthwatering, double-pattied, home-sauced champion of a cheeseburger — their never-ending creativeness and ability to make food a special affair.
Barley and Board recently began a “Community Table Dinners” event, which in the simplest definition is a food and drink pairing dinner. The first dinner was “pre-paired” with the ever-so-fitting, Community Beer Co.
If you’ve experienced either of these two establishments, you can guess that there was nothing simple about this dinner.
A spicy version of the mixed nuts on the menu, these pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pepitas were seasoned with ginger, cayenne, and Worchestershire … think of a homemade Chex-Mix minus the cereal and milk, and add the Texas Helles, a solid golden lager.
Non-salad lovers and salad lovers alike enjoyed this “salad” dish. As part of the team’s goal to have people branch out from everyday tastes and ingredients, this dish incorporated raw scallops, purple sweet potatoes, cucumbers and a reduced “aqua faba” or garbanzo bean juice. Paired with Community’s light Belgian white ale, Witbier (brewed with coriander and orange), it was a dish perfect for a summer brunch (and maybe, just maybe we can see it or a version of it on the menu!).
If you haven’t tried the Community Pubic Ale, ESB (Extra Special Bitter or English Style Bitter) don’t let the “bitter” scare you off. If you have been across the pond, or to any English style pub selling UK brews, you might grab a six pack when you see it. Malty, yeasty, and an inspiration for the entire Community Beer Co.
This course was paired with a curried apricot risotto, to stick with the Britishness of the ale, and a rich duck confit mixed in. Topped with a light arugula salad tossed in a dried cherry gastrique (because some say hops don’t count as vegetables).
Vanilla Ascension Porter: coffee beans from Dallas’ Ascension (love staying local), vanilla, and beer. Essentially, how you should drink your coffee from now on … after all, there’s an average of 1/4 cup of coffee in each 12 oz of the brew. As a sucker for stouts and porters, this brew was exquisite. Not a fan of heavy beers? Not to worry. The cold brew of the coffee lightens up the whole thing and gives you a buzz so you don’t feel worn down. This is a seasonal brew and is only out during the spring and fall, so get. it. now.
But what makes this the standout dish of the night is its perfect pairing with this pork chop. The loins were smothered in a rub of coffee, mustard seeds, and clove and smoked by Chef Chad Kelly before being cut and served with collards braised in bacon, extra rib meat, and cider vinegar. The guy really knows how to run a smoker (make it out to Argyle soon to find out yourself). The finishing tough is a sauce made of sorghum, coffee, and … you guessed it … vanilla.
To wrap up the night, the team put together a sticky toffee pudding topped with candied ginger and served with a sweet lime creme that I’d honestly buy by the pints if sold. The desert paired with Community’s ultra-complex Divinity. After obtaining some port barrels, the brew experts decided to age their Trinity Tripel in a mix of port, whisky, and wine barrels. After aging, they added fresh grated ginger and lime juice to the mix. This beer drinks like a wine, with surprising flavors bouncing all over your mouth.
The Community Table Dinners are definitely an event not to be missed. As an extra little insight into the thought and care that goes into this event, Chef Jenn Dahlen, walked us through her and the team’s approach to the menu.
- Drink lots of the beer (to figure out all the flavor profiles, obviously).
“First of all, we craft our beer dinners around the beer — it is a BEER dinner and not a dinner with beer. This means that we source the beers first, taste the ones we can, discuss flavor profiles and what characteristics we want to bring out, and only THEN do we start crafting the menu.”
- Plan to educate.
“Whether it’s exposing people to different styles of beer that they normally wouldn’t choose for themselves or to different foods they wouldn’t normally eat we always look to do something different.”
- Create a unique experience.
“Every menu we create is unique to the dinner and the pairing. It isn’t a test run for any of our seasonal menu changes or other concepts. The meal is catered to the beer and never to be repeated. This, we believe, helps to make each dinner truly special as a once in a lifetime experience.”