Are you looking for a chic, on trend theme for your next dinner party? Think Gastropub. Don your jeans and t’s or other ultra casual college wear and gather your friends for a night of “comfort eats | drinks. Serve craft beers, boutique wines, and gourmet sausages, turkey chili, fancy mac and cheese, and even scallops wrapped in bacon. Party Hearty!
A few years ago, my husband and I were finally invited to join “the dinner club.” For years we were a regular guest couple, slowly insinuating ourselves into permanent status. If we only knew then what we know now. First, before I even begin complaining — I adore all the couples in the group. They are bright, witty, fun, easy to be around, amazing chefs, and yes, a bit quirky – but I happen to like quirky.
Here’s my issue – the first time I hosted a dinner at my house, I sent around an email asking for any dietary restrictions. Here’s the list of forbidden foods I compiled after everyone responded saying how easy they were:
- beef, pork, lamb
- anything raw — ie sushi, carpaccio, oysters, and so on
- breads, pastas, wheat, soy (basically anything with gluten)
- shredded coconut (that’s my addition)
- anything that might be deemed “challenging”
- Strong general preference for low fat, low carb, sugar free meals
So what we are left with is chicken and salmon (I served trout once, and that was ok too. ), vegetables and fruit, and water. I am sorry — how can any group with this many dietary restrictions call itself a “gourmet club”? At first I threw up my hands in dismay, but eventually settled down and chose to view the experience as a culinary challenge. I quickly decided that I would not be able to cater to everyone’s unique needs but would instead make sure that the main entree be appropriate for everyone and that each course would offer at least one option that all guests could enjoy. So for example when faced with a choice of fish ceviche or shrimp ceviche, I would go with the fish ceviche so everyone could enjoy it, serving some in shot classes (for the gluten free gal) and others on mini corn tortillas for those who wanted a bit of crunch. On the other hand, I would serve cocktails and wine for those who chose to imbibe and offer non-alcoholic alternatives for those who chose sobriety.
Having laid out my parameters, you will now better understand the some of the reasons why I have chosen specific themes and also why I spend so much time and effort on dinner club decor.
Dinner Club Theme: Gastropub Craft Beer Dinner Party
In honor of our extra special guest, one of Matt’s college buddies in town for a convention, we chose to do a modern twist on Saturday nights at Jonesy’s. We invited our guests to don their jeans and t’s or other ultra casual college wear and join us for a night of “comfort eats | drinks” at Gr8Gets Gastro Pub. …
This was one of my all time favorite dinner club themes because my husband and I had as much fun planning the party as we did hosting it. Since we had an out of town guest, we wanted to showcase the San Diego local craft beer scene and California’s boutique wineries so we spent an entire Saturday traversing the county searching for interesting beer and wine with great stories attached. I particularly got a kick out of the Anti-Wine “Genesis” Anti-White Blend (and the winemakers wild manifesto) and really enjoyed some of the specialty release holiday brews.
Setting the table: I used craft paper rather than a table cloth. I couldn’t find brown craft paper so I settled for white craft paper and ran a single row of brown paper bags down the middle third of the center of the table. Then I randomly distributed a handful of the large bottles of craft beer and a few bottles of wine interspersed with half burnt olive green candles placed in old amber colored short candlesticks. I added a few bottles of hot sauce and gourmet mustard bottles as a fun and practical touch. On top of the white paper, I used paper towels as individual place mats. I did use cloth napkins and my dansk dishes rather than paper tableware. Also, at each place setting I set out either a large wine glass or a chilled beer mug and added a mini wine tasting glass and mini tasting beer pilsner so that my guests could sample the many beverage options available to them.
We have been mulling this idea for a while now so decided to just throw it out there — we would love to hear your thoughts! It might be a very interesting twist to your gathering for everyone to chip in and enroll in either a wine club or craft beer club and have new and interesting wines or beer delivered to your house as part of your festivities. You will not only be enjoying fantastic wines and interesting beers, together you will learn since in addition to the libations, each shipment arrives with product notes and interesting product facts.
Appetizers: Truffle fries served in paper bags, mini barbeque pork sliders, scallops wrapped in bacon, pigs in a blanket, and fish ceviche on mini corn tortillas or served in shot glasses
Soup course (served): turkey chili in a bread bowl with sour cream, scallions, and shredded cheddar fixings. I served the gluten free gal hers in a playful bowl.
Buffet Main Course: Platters of gourmet grilled turkey sausages, 2 huge salads, platter of specialty cheeses, mini turkey meatloafs, and a baked mac & cheese casserole
Dessert: Ice cream sundae bar with all the fixings including gluten free brownies and cookies
And yes, we had way, way too much food but the kids were all coming home from college right after the dinner so I wasn’t worried that it would go to waste.
I can’t believe I once again forgot to take pictures of my table before the guests arrived. I pre-set the table days in advance – I have absolutely no excuse. Next time, I promise to take pictures.
Looking for coordinating invitations? Party favors? All the little extras? Look no further.
Invitations for your Gastropub Craft Beer Dinner Party
Party Favors for your Gastropub Craft Beer Dinner Party
All the Little Extras for your Gastropub Craft Beer Dinner Party