Last October, we held our first Outstanding Dinner in the Garden. Modeled after the traveling Outstanding in the Field ™ dinner party, we set one long table for 54 guests outside in the vacant lot next to the garden. A string of white paper lanterns illuminated the table, serving beef, chicken, and fish and three other courses family style. Last year, everything was so PERFECT that we didn’t want to change a thing.
This year, we hired the same chef Chef Soren Pedersen, formerly of Sorrel Urban Bistro, now a private caterer, to plan and prepare a 5-course menu. We envisioned the same, long table in the vacant lot, but this year longer to accommodate more guests. We anticipated thanking Adam Gonzalez of Ramm Excavation for his supervision of the construction of
our beautiful new pergola, and serving appetizers and cocktails under this new meeting place. The only thing we changes is that we upped our wine game, with the Houston Wine Merchant pairing wines specially to each course of Chef Pedersen’s menu. We promptly sold out the 80 available seats.
It hadn’t rained in Houston in over six weeks. Houston was in a drought. The weather for the citywide block party on October 18th was perfect. However, shortly before our party, Hurricane Patricia came up from Mexico, rain came in from the west, and strong winds came in from the east. We were in the vortex of three storms with severe street flooding projected. Many weekend events were canceled. We had to make the decision to get tents, go inside, or cancel. Plan B was tents: Renting tents was cost prohibitive and none that were long enough were available. I bought four tents online, but the never arrived. Maybe that was for the best, as the heavy rains saturated the grass and there was a threat of lightening. Plan C was to go inside the fire station next door to the garden. The firemen pulled the firetrucks out, cleaned the floor and turned over the building to us. We set three long tables, dressed in white linens inside the stark building and strung white paper lanterns over the space. We greeted guests in the city hall lobby with prosecco, our signature “Outstanding Cocktail.” and passed hors d’oeuvres.
Then we moved into the fire
station for the remaining four courses of gazpacho, salad, main courses of trout, chick and beef, and dessert of chocolate chili cake and pound cake, all paired with a lovely wine chosen by Scott Spencer of Houston Wine Merchant. Some inadvertent entertainment was provided by the firefighters who had to dress and respond to an electrical fire in the middle of the party!
Being plan C, the venue and ambiance wasn’t perfect, but it was still OUTSTANDING! We had a great turn out and guests were raving about the food and the fun of the whole event.
Special thanks go to Scott Spencer and Barb DeWitt for the wine donation, the firemen and Assistant Chief of Police Ulysses Serrano for donating their space, and Jennifer Anderson and Ron Shimkus for the chair rental donation and for their hard labor in turning a fire station into a charming restaurant. If you missed out, don’t worry: We’ll do it again next October–hopefully outside in pleasant weather.