Dinners at the Farm is a summertime project of River Tavern Restaurant in Chester, Connecticut.
It grew out of an idea that Jonathan Rapp, owner of River Tavern, brought to Chip and Carol Dahlke of Ashlawn Farm in Lyme, CT, in the late winter of 2006. His idea was to create a summer-long series of outdoor dining events that would celebrate the richness and vitality of Connecticut's agricultural and fishing community. He wanted to showcase a direct and visceral collaboration between local farmers and River Tavern’s team of cooks by using only the most seasonal and locally sourced produce, prepared right on the fields where it was grown.
The first summer of dinners, 13 in all, began in 2007 with Jonathan and his team preparing exceptional feasts of up to 11 different courses at 12 different local farms. Each night’s menu never being the same, but always based on the day's available produce and cooked from scratch on the flatbed kitchen aboard his vintage 1955 Ford F-600 firetruck.
Honors and awards soon followed including an invitation to the White House to help former First Lady Michelle Obama launch her “Chefs Move to Schools” program; an invitation to cook at FarmAid; and the distinct honor of being the 2008 recipient of Working Lands Alliance's PathFinder Award for their support of local agriculture.
In addition, Dinners at the Farm has been featured in local and national media including: Food & Wine, Yankee Magazine, Cooking Channel's Unique Eats, BusinessWeek, TIME and Travel & Leisure among many others.
Over the last 12 years Dinners at the Farm has made significant financial and promotional contributions to Connecticut's agriculture through the more than 140 dinners produced to date.
Greetings! Join us for dinner.
Each evening begins at 6:00pm, dinner is served at 7:00pm. Tickets are per person and are $125 (Wednesdays, Thursdays), $150 (Fridays and Saturdays). Upon arrival, you will be greeted with an orchard fruit cocktail and passed hors d’oeuvre and invited to join a lively tour of the farm with our warm and engaging farm hosts. Following the tour, you will be seated beneath a spectacular white tent at long candle-lit tables set with gracious tableware where you will savor course after course of freshly cooked food with ingredients just picked from the fields outside the tent. You will break bread and raise a glass with the farmers, fishermen, and others who make up Connecticut’s vibrant agricultural community. A truly memorable dining experience. We look forward to seeing you down on the farm!
White Gate Farm
A stunning 100 acre farm in East Lyme, CT with organic produce, poultry, eggs, and flowers including a fully stocked, on-site market with produce, flowers, baked goods and prepared foods. White Gate is an original Dinners at the Farm host.
Dates we'll be cooking here are:
July 29-Aug 1, 2020.
Barberry hill farm
Family run since 1909, Barberry Hill is nestled in the charming coastal town of Madison, CT offering a wide variety of lush produce & flowers as well as an active farm stand and is one of our longstanding farm hosts.
Dates we'll be cooking here are:
August 05-08, 2020
Consider a gift certificate and impress that foodie in your life with a very special summertime dining experience.
How can I contact you?
If you need to contact us regarding Dinners at the Farm, please e-mail us or call the River Tavern at 860-526-8078.
How can I stay connected to news & upcoming events?
Stay connected to Dinners at the Farm and River Tavern by checking timely updates on River Tavern's Facebook Page.
What should I wear and what should I bring?
Dinner is literally at the Farm. Therefore, the terrain will be uneven, dusty, and possibly muddy so please wear practical shoes. Dress is typically casual, so dress comfortably. Dinners will be held rain or shine, so please wear or bring appropriate layers. Sunscreen, parasols, sweaters/wraps and sunglasses are all appropriate accessories. Also, given the season, time of day and our various locations, it can’t hurt to pack some bug spray as well – just in case.
What happens at the dinners – what time do they begin and how long do they last into the night?
The evenings begin with cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvre at around 6:00 p.m. There will be a farm tour at 6:45 p.m., guests are then seated at 7:15 p.m. under a tent at long tables and dine by candlelight. A typical dinner consists of approximately six to seven courses and usually lasts two and a half to three hours. In addition, the dinners provide a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with local farmers whose food you will be enjoying.
Can I be silly and rowdy at the dinner?
Seating is communal with a large group and we hope that all dinner guests will respect those seated nearby. While we’re happy to see folks enjoy themselves it’s never any fun when someone overdoes it. Please be respectful.
What’s included in the dinner price?
Dinner includes orchard fruit cocktails, passed hors d’oeuvre, a multiple course meal, wine and service. Also, please know that Dinners at the Farm donates a portion of the proceeds to each of the beneficiaries and therefor is not a tax deduction for individual ticket purchases. We tried this one year and it was too complicated.
What’s for dinner?
All of the food for the dinners comes from local producers, much of it from the dinner site itself. Each dinner is cooked from scratch and showcases that day’s best produce. Because the ingredients are sourced daily from local farmers, ranchers and fisherman, our menu will be different each evening and we are not able to provide one in advance. However, we can assure you that you will have an incredible dining experience with the most local, fresh and flavorful foods available!!
What should I do about special dietary needs?
Our confirmation email will offer a chance to let you notify us of any special dietary requests. We are able to accommodate vegetarians and severe food allergies but only if we are told in advance of guests attending the dinner. Please notify members of your party too. It is too difficult to make last minute changes to plated dishes.
How do I buy tickets?
Please visit the tickets page of our site to buy tickets through PayPal. You will receive a confirmation email which serves as your tickets.
Can I specify the people I sit next to?
Yes. Our confirmation email will offer a chance to let you notify us of any special seating requests.
How many people attend each dinner?
We have enough seats for 200 people at each dinner.
Can you accommodate children at the events?
What’s fun for adults is “boring” for children. With that in mind we do not consider our dinners suitable for young children, long sitting times and lots of adults chatting...not a favorite of children.
How do I get there?
Please visit the Tickets page of our site for direct links to the farm dinner sites.
What if I need to cancel my reservation?
Due to the nature of our events, we are not able to give refunds for cancellations; however reservations are transferable to another party for the same dinner. Reservations will only be honored for the dinner for which they were issued. If you cannot attend the dinner and wish to transfer your reservation to another guest/party, please contact us with the revised information prior to the event.
Can I purchase Dinners at the Farm gift certificates?
Yes, you can purchase reservations to give as a gift. Please visit the tickets page of our site to purchase gift certificates. Be aware that folks receiving gift certificates must go to our site to redeem their gift certificate for a specific evening. After redeeming your gift certificate you will receive a confirmation email.
Can I schedule a private dinner with Dinners at the Farm?
Please email us with private event inquiries.