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Round Top’s Reimagined Butcher’s Ball Charms its Lucky Diners With Top Chef Power

The Bigger Foodie Event Format is Coming Back in the Fall

BY // 03.24.21
photography Emily Jaschke

Mid-morning on Saturday, a bevy of workman scurry through a yet-to-be completed building on Texas 237, a stone’s throw from Round Top, while at the back a wood-fired grill crackles and smokes as line cooks prepare for arrival of two topnotch chefs. As surprising as it might have been, this bustling scene at The Halles (formerly the Bone Yard) would unfold before sunset into a vibrant dinner tableau.

This was the Round Top Butcher’s Ball 2.0.

The immensely popular feast, a Round Top favorite practically since its founding in 2016, has pivoted for the Spring Round Top Antiques Show from a feeding fête for some 2,000 to a series of four elegant al fresco dinners that allow for COVID-19 safety precautions. And if the first of those white tablecloth dinners is any indication, less really is more.

The 100 diners (the most allowed at any one dinner) arrived sporting typical Round Top finery as they gathered in the, yes, spanking new, mostly open-sided building that is sure to be the scene of many festive happenings. Each had ponied up $125 for the five-course meal and open bar, both of which more than met the highest expectations.

Spirits ran high. As the 2020 Butcher’s Ball had been cancelled due to COVID-19 and this was one of the first group gatherings since vaccinations become prominent and the first of the spring antiques show’s biggest festivities. Before seating for dinner, gents in western hats and boots and ladies in jeans or prairie dresses socialized while sampling Houston-based Highway Vodka, Maker’s Mark 46 and the remarkable Desert Door Texas Sotol (move over tequila).

Chefs Dawn Burrell and Dominick Lee Chef Dominick Lee headline the Butcher’s Ball held at The Halles in Round Top. (Photo by Emily Jaschke)
Chefs Dominick Lee and Dawn Burrell headline the Butcher’s Ball held at The Halles in Round Top. (Photo by Emily Jaschke)

Rather than a bevy of chefs cooking specialties for the vast throng of yore, chefs Dominick Lee and Dawn Burrell charmed diners with their five-course feast, each course reflecting each chef’s signature cooking style. New Orleans native Lee, former Poitín Bar and Kitchen chef, is headed for a year of culinary study in Italy. Burrell’s new Late August restaurant is expected to open in, no coincidence, August and she joins Bravo’s Top Chef in April.

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“We figured we should expand our footprint and do some of these smaller dinners,” says publicist Jonathan Beitler, who co-founded the Butcher’s Ball with chef Jason Kerr and event producer Elaine Dillard. “Round Top is the perfect place to celebrate the local farms and ranches. Everything is here is being sourced locally within 100 miles of Houston.”

Featured farms and ranches at this first dinner included Whitehurst Heritage Farms, 44 Farms, and Inland Seafood.

All four of the Butcher’s Ball evenings sold out well in advance. Beitler tells PaperCity that the ball in its original format will resume with the fall Round Top Antiques Show, dates yet to be set.

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