What’s the secret to the most memorable meal of 2014? Don’t leave your house.
With the help of the DashingRogue, a Main Line, Pa.-headquartered, beer-centric dinner party company, you can host a life-changing feast at home without having to plan, prep, or most importantly, cleanup.
But, how does it really work? The Town Dish put DashingRogue to the test.
Just a few brief weeks before my scheduled dinner party, I began e-mailing with the DashingRogue collaborative, an outfit comprised of Shannon Jones (known in brew circles as “Beer Mistress”) and Bryn Mawr resident Ian Boston McCafferty, a Michelangelo when it comes to entertaining. I was instantly impressed by the buzz-worthy duo as they made the party-planning process a piece cake. I simply provided any dietary restrictions, then they constructed a pairings menu for my approval. The evening-of, they took over the kitchen an hour or two before the party, and were ready to roll the second my guests arrived.
But, it gets better: the dinner party duo even brought the glassware, plates and serving platters, set the table and printed party menus. As my six-pack of guests began to sashay indoors around 7 p.m., they were ready for the entertaining action. Presenting copper-hued pours of remarkably sessionable Oskar Blues G’knight Red Ale and enticing us with prosciutto-wrapped smoked Gouda and green apple finger sandwiches, our appetites were piqued, ready for what was to come at the house-based affair.
The night’s gaggle of guests included several of Town Dish’s army of beer writers and photographers: Kerry Watson, Kevin Dragone, Ronna Dewey and Nina Cazille. Paul Dewey, Ronna’s main squeeze, was an honorary Dish member for the night, eager to engage in DashingRogue’s brilliant idea: beer dinners at home!
Soon, we were seated around a well-dressed tabletop, with spice-laden bowls of vindaloo butternut squash soup making our acquaintance. The course—an adult take on grilled cheese and tomato soup—included a crusty Fontina panino, the perfectly mild counterpart to our kicking pools of winter bisque. Supporting local, our warm hosts poured tastes of Troegs’ Troegenator Double Bock, a slightly boozy, malt-heavy, bronze pairing that sliced the spice and kept our palates in check, ready for our next tasting adventure.
As the dishes began to dance around the table, we encountered even more of the DashingRogue’s sharp culinary skill sets and unparalleled preparations that we, ourselves wished we knew a thing or two about. For example, eye-catching beet-soaked scallops quickly became the night’s obsession, causing a frenzy among my guests as we begged Shannon for her cooking secrets. The bright-red seared seafood met its complementary beer mate with the night’s pick of Unibroue’s golden citrus child, La Fin Du Monde, and we kept chugging along.
Hands-down, the vertical pear salad illustrated the Rogues’ true virtuoso and gusto in the art of executing dinner parties. Delicately layered upward with chunks of blue cheese and toasted pecans, we’ve never been so impressed with a mid-meal salad. Weeks after the main event, I still dream of that lofty masterpiece, never capable of recreating its beauty, but still mesmerized by its innovation. The course’s beer coupling was just as mighty, the champagne of brews—the Bruery’s Saison Rue.
As the evening went on, we learned full well of DashingRogue’s affinity to and dedication of craft beer when they revealed that for course five, they drove to Delaware to collect Adriaen Brouwer Dark Golden Ale. As a rare and roasty strong ale not available in Pennsylvania, we greedily sampled our fair shares of the sweet malt- and caramelized sugar-packed dreamer. Joy beamed from the hosts faces as we sipped into oblivion, varying swigs with bits of the garlic- and rosemary-crusted beef tenderloin that laid before us, plated with pillowy cauliflower puree. The Chimay reduction elevating the steak was yet another of the night’s masterpieces, making us wish we spent every night with our new best friends, DashingRogue.
Any girl raised in Pennsylvania Dutch country knows you have to seal the deal on any event with an incredible dessert, and Shannon stuck to her Lancaster Co. roots with this sweet ending. We forked into warm loaves of butterscotch bourbon cake in celebration of an immaculate dinner-party journey, each fragrant mini-cake finished with hunks of walnut and caramel drizzle. Of course, there was no shortage of beer for the night’s last toast, concluding our tasting with sultry pours of the rich, roasty Edmund Fitzgerald Porter from Great Lakes.
The beauty of Jones and McCafferty’s event was that they never skipped an entertaining beat when it came to amusement of our minds as well as our mouths. The two, who actually met at an improv class of the PA Renaissance Faire, are warm and hospitable, talented in kitchen and also, in front of guests. The pairings, each unique to your experience, are pitch-perfect and bold, making for a night that will be recorded in your life-of-food books.
A dinner like The Town Dish recently experienced ranges in price from $79–$109 per person, which includes food, beer, setup and cleanup. DashingRogue will customize a meal and menu for any affair, no matter how big or small your party list or budget is. Get inspired over their range of sample menus here.
To learn more about DashingRogue or book your own dinner party, visit dashingrogue.com. DashingRogue will also be hosting a public event in Manayunk, an intro to beer and food pairing at Transfer Station East on Feb. 27. Grab tickets here.
Disclaimer: For research of this article, the reviewer received a complimentary tasting.
- Photography by Nina Lea Photography