Dining With Denise Neil

Idyllic outdoor farm cafe in Valley Center opening for the season, adding lunch

Elderslie Farm's outdoor Bramble Cafe opens for the season on Saturday.
Elderslie Farm's outdoor Bramble Cafe opens for the season on Saturday. Elderslie Farm

The Wichita area's dreamiest farm-to-table cafe — so dreamy that the cafe is actually on a farm — returns for its summer season this weekend, and this year, it's adding lunch.

Bramble Cafe, the idyllic, blackberry bramble-adjacent eatery that opened six years ago at Elderslie Farm in Valley Center, will make its 2018 debut on Saturday as part of the farm's Blossom Festival, a day full of activities designed to get people ready for blackberry season.

The cafe, which is set up on the farm's expansive patio, has served breakfast since it opened, and the menu has always included scones, yogurt parfaits and quiche made using ingredients from Elderslie farm and from neighboring farms. Those breakfast items all will be back along with some new dishes like blackberry custard tarts, blackberry lavender muffins and a savory bread pudding. Breakfast will be served from 7 to 11 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

New this year: People also can enjoy owner and head chef Katharine Elder's edible creations at lunchtime on Fridays and Saturdays, when she'll be serving flatbread pizzas topped with local vegetables, cold and hot soups, green salads, grain salads and more. To accommodate the new lunch service, the cafe will remain open until 1:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and diners will be able to order wine and beer starting at 11 a.m.

The Bramble Cafe will be open through July 28.

"Our aim is to feature the produce we get from all these fabulous growers," Elder said.

During the freeze that hit the area in April, Katharine and her husband, George, who run the bramble and the cafe, were worried that the budding blackberries would be affected. A big part of the farm's business is its you-pick blackberry season, when visitors are able to fill buckets full of giant, sweet, plump blackberries that they've plucked themselves from the bushes.

But the berries survived.

"They seem to be doing fine," Katharine said. "The long field is just popping open, the leaves are growing aggressively, and the bud structure looks decent at this point."

Blackberries are usually ready for picking the second week of June, and reservation will be posted five to seven days before each picking day at http://eldersliefarm.com/berry-picking.

The Elders also are still serving their upscale, formal farm-to-table dinners, which have increased in popularity and frequency over the past couple of years. Katharine changes the menu every month, and the five-course dinners are served in the property's renovated farmhouse Thursday through Saturday nights (with Wednesdays added starting in June) and cost $58 a person with wine pairings available for extra.

The May menu includes items like Scotch quail egg with goat sausage, asparagus vichyssoise, rabbit roulade and flank steak served with spring peas, arugula and whey polenta. Reservations are available at eldersliefarm.com/formal-dining/.

Saturday's Blossom Festival, which lasts from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., will include breakfast and lunch service, music by the Haymakers and a new event called "Bramble Scramble," which will turn visitors loose in the bramble, where they can "pick" berry cookies for $5.

Families who visit on Saturday also will be invited to visit the goats and horses, play lawn games, test out the swings and see the site of the farm's future creamery. (Look for more information on that soon.)

The farm is at 3501 E. 101st St. North in Valley Center. For more information, call 316-305-2984 or visit eldersliefarm.com.

(FILE VIDEO - JUNE 16, 2017) Elderslie Farm near Valley Center is hosting farm-to-table dinners on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in June and July.

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