Eden East Farm’s Supper Club Flips Farm-to-Table Dining in Bastrop
A new outdoor dinner series connects diners, winemakers, farmers and ranchers
By Laurel Miller
Interior and farm photographs by Courtney Pierce
Bastrop may be a mere 33 miles from Austin, but when you’re eating alfresco in the 20-year-old pecan orchard at Eden East Farm, enjoying a meal cooked and sourced on-site, city life feels light-years away.
On an evening in late spring, Sonya Coté and her husband, farmer David Barrow, hosted their inaugural Out on the Farm Supper Club. The event showcased guest winemaker Rae Wilson of Austin’s Wine for the People, which produces three brands, Dandy Rosé, La Valentía and the Grower Project in collaboration with Andrew Sides of Lost Draw Cellars. The dinner was also the first event to be held at Eden East, which in early 2020 relocated from East Austin’s Springdale Farm to Bastrop.
The move came about because the couple had reached the end of their lease on Springdale Road. Coté and Barrow, who had fallen in love with Bastrop, found a 5-acre property on a rural stretch of Main Street. At the time, the land was little more than a patch of overgrown weeds with a small, neglected orchard. Within 18 months, Barrow had transformed it into a thriving suburban farm bursting with row crops, herbs, edible flowers and fruit trees.
Today, there’s a sizable greenhouse, a chicken coop, farm dogs and gregarious cats prowling the grounds. A pole barn provides sheltered communal seating, while other tables are spaced out among the orchard. In total, the farm can accommodate up to 120 for private events like weddings and educational tours.
For the launch of the new farm dinner series, arriving guests chose one of Wilson’s wines to sip during self-guided tours, serenaded by local musician Todd Roth. As servers delivered the first course—a salad of butter leaf lettuce, pickled beets, watermelon radish, red onion, Suyo Long cucumber, fennel pollen and toasted pecan—the group of about 25 attendees raised their glasses of Wilson’s Dandy Bubbles and toasted the fledgling farm. After a brief, entertaining talk from Wilson on her wine pairing, a low-intervention sparkling rosé made from 100% Texas grapes, Coté visited each table to chat with her guests.
Education and collaboration are key components behind the developing farm series, and Wilson was the perfect first guest. With the main course of smoked quail with purslane, preserved lemon, perilla and wild dewberries she introduced the Grower Project’s the Source Sangiovese, made with grapes from Letkeman Vineyard in Gaines County.
“It’s great to be able to bring people back together after this past year and feel a sense of community and connection,” Wilson says.
Coté and Barrow share her enthusiasm, both driven by a passion for “connecting the farm with the table.” They work tirelessly to promote and support their foodshed: What they don’t grow themselves, they source from sustainable Texas growers, ranchers, food artisans and fishers, both for the farm dinners as well as their new restaurant, Store House Market + Eatery, overseen by chef de cuisine Kate Rousset. Barrow also runs the Wednesday and Saturday farm store that operates out of the couple’s garage.
“I’ve always operated under the belief that restaurants should support the local food system,” says Coté. “We introduced our farm dinner series because it takes the experience a step further by bringing the guest directly to the farm. That allows them to experience and better understand the nutritional and environmental benefits of supporting their foodshed.”
The supper club, which will continue through fall, is a series of collaborative events with regional winemakers who, like Wilson, use 100% Texas-grown grapes for their low-intervention releases.
“One of the most rewarding things about my work is having the opportunity to partner with farmers and chefs who are so passionate about what they do,” Wilson says. “Sonya and David are an inspiration in the way they connect people to the food they eat and the ground beneath their feet; their dedication shows through in everything they do and provides a sense of place. Having my wines at the inaugural farm dinner was such a thrill.”
Education will remain an essential focus as the farm dinner programming develops, with the next Out on the Farm installment scheduled for July 11. The event will feature winemaker Randy Hester of C.L. Butaud, and a portion of all proceeds will help Eden East Farm repair residual damage from the winter storm.
“We’ve received so much support from our friends, neighbors and growing community in Austin and Bastrop ever since we decided to move the farm and open a new restaurant in downtown Bastrop,” says Coté. “These communities mean everything to me.”