By Rebecca Combs, Foodable Contributor
We have all heard the phrase, “there's nothing new under the sun.” Yet for Louie Corwin at Method Coffee in Dallas, that phrase does not exist. Method Coffee has been bringing craft coffee to the downtown area for almost one year now but Louie wanted to do something different, unexpected and something that would excite both coffee enthusiasts and foodies alike. And so, the “Coffee Dinners” were born.
Of course we have all been to wine, cocktail, and beer dinners. But coffee? How? Why? For Louie, “the idea is to keep bringing unique experiences to Dallas that are built around coffee. And we wanted to use our kitchen and coffee knowledge to bring something to Dallas that no other coffee shop can provide.”
So one Friday night a month, the shop closes down at 6 p.m., sets up one long community table for 16 to 18 people, and serves a five-course meal with coffee pairings. The menu, prepared by Spirited Cooking, is kept a secret until the evening of the dinner. All diners know for certain is that coffee is used as an ingredient in each course.
[Disclaimer: The author is personally involved in this endeavor.]
Coffee as an Ingredient
Coffee is a very interesting ingredient to work with. As a beverage, it can be bitter or sweet or smoky. As an ingredient, it can be used to highlight those same flavors in other foods. The particular brand of coffee that is used is called Cuvee Coffee which is handcrafted in Austin, TX.
On the menu at the most recent dinner, coffee beans, grounds, and cold brew were all incorporated. The first course was a crostini with goat cheese, crispy bacon, and a balsamic/onion coffee dip. The dip had a hint of spice, a sweetness from the onions, and a smoky undertone of coffee that paired perfectly with the creamy goat cheese. Next up was a Caprese salad with a little twist. On the bottom of the plate, there was a smear of roasted basil pesto that was topped with slices of fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes. On top was a drizzle of coffee-infused balsamic vinaigrette. The balsamic vinegar is actually infused with the coffee grounds. Vinaigrettes can tend to have too much of a bite to them, but the coffee flavor served to balance this out nicely. The third course was something that was a little unexpected -- a quinoa salad with roasted butternut squash, walnuts, and cranberries. Where was the coffee? Like the balsamic vinegar, olive oil had been infused with coffee which was used to roast the squash.
The main course was the crowd favorite: pulled pork that had an espresso rub over smoky polenta and topped with a coffee/whiskey BBQ sauce. The coffee used in the sauce was the Cuvee cold brew that offered a very intense coffee flavor. At Method, one of the signature lattes is a Lavender Latte. So, that was the inspiration behind the dessert: a lavender panna cotta made with the Method Lavender simple syrup and topped with a coffee-infused vodka whipped cream.
When people think of coffee as an ingredient, it is met with some apprehension and the assumption that you are sitting down for a very heavy meal. But the goal with these dinners is to show how coffee can be used to enhance and balance flavors. Coffee clearly pairs well with rich foods. However, it can also be used to brighten food and create depth of flavor.
Fostering the Dallas Dining Community
The coffee dinners represent a new take on a dining classic and offer a chance to bring the coffee community at Method together on one evening. As Louie puts it, “The dinner is a chance to sit next to someone you may never have known and hopefully have a night of great convo and create more connections between our customers.” Sometimes dining out can become monotonous and a bit lonely. And there is sometimes a disconnect between diners, the restaurant owners, and the chefs. But Louie is shaking up the Dallas dining scene by bringing strangers together for a food pairing meal that is unlike any other in the city.
Every month is a different experience. Louie, Spirited Cooking, and the Method team are all learning as they go. “The plan for the dinners is to let them naturally evolve. Since nothing like this has been done before at a coffee shop, I feel it's best to learn from each dinner we put on and grow or change accordingly”, says Louie.
The menu is certain to change for the next dinner which is scheduled for Friday, May 29th. These dinners are a unique and fun experience that offer an almost underground dining feel. Everyone comes hungry and leaves happy, with a slightly caffeinated buzz.