Progress 2023: Historic dining experience

Published 4:32 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2023

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Lillian’s Table offers unique dining opportunity for the modern day


By Linda Baier

Over 120 years ago George A. Hormel and his wife Lillian moved into their new home on the corner of Water (4th Ave NW) and Greenwich (2nd St NW) streets in Austin. The stately home had tall ceilings, leaded glass windows, ornate woodwork throughout, and the dining room was spacious, warm and inviting. They shared their meals with family and friends at the beautiful golden oak dining room set that George gave Lillian when they moved into what is now known as the Hormel Historic Home.

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The Hormels believed that their home should be where they could live their life free and in the best way possible. Lillian Belle Hormel is quoted as saying: “Let my home be a gathering place for all.”

With that sentiment in mind, the Hormel Historic Home started offering a culinary experience in the fall of 2021 called Lillian’s Table.

“This is a unique opportunity and one that can’t be found anywhere else” said Cindy Meany, the home’s executive director. “It is a mini fundraiser and all proceeds from this dining experience go directly into our missions which help us support our community.”

The Lillian’s Table experience takes place at the very table that George and Lillian had their meals at in the dining room. There is seating for six to eight guests and can either be a lunch or evening gathering. The culinary experience is available any day of the week unless there are other events scheduled in the home or at the Carriage Hall event center, which is connected.

Guests have booked Lillian’s Table for occasions such as family dinners, grooms dinners, engagement parties, birthday parties and other social gatherings.

“We have even had one for a family that was celebrating their mother being given the all clear, after having battled cancer,” Meany said.

Be sure to visit our online Progress 2023 section often as more stories are added

The attire for the occasions can be as semi-formal or formal. As of yet there has not been a group that has dressed in the era of George or Lillian, however the serving staff wear period clothing from the 1920s and are friendly and accommodating.

“There will be two servers catering to your every need,” Meany said, assuring they will make this experience the best that it can be for every guest.

Guests will have up to two hours to spend in the home for their dining experience. They are free to visit and mingle in the great room of the home during this time as well as the dining room. Self-guided and guided tours of the entire Hormel Historic Home are available on request for an additional and very nominal fee.

The place settings for Lillian’s Table are elegant and individualized per the group’s request, but will likely include candles and flowers gracing the center of the table, long stemmed roses for each guests, laced edged cloth napkins, with pearl napkin rings, and individual antique salt and pepper shakers for everyone. Elegantly lettered menus that let the guests know what they will be enjoying, are placed at each setting.

The cuisine you will enjoy is prepared on site in the kitchen of the Carriage Hall event center. This addition to the Hormel Historic Home was added in 2009, and can be used for meetings, wedding receptions and other social gatherings.

Your chef for the evening is Meany. It is from her that the idea of Lillian’s Table came to fruition.

“I had a passion for cooking and baking from a very young age,” Meany said. “I formerly owned a restaurant and catering business in Austin. That is where my passion ignited and really started to grow into what it is today.’’

Meany’s culinary experience is primarily self-taught. In addition she has learned different types of cuisine and pastry techniques from many workshops in various places over the years.

“Since (Lillian’s Table) is a culinary experience and I am involved in food art, there will be a variety of foods” Meany said. “Mostly things like steak and seafood with trendy,   fancy desserts and hors d’oeuvres.”

A welcome plate, pre-course, main course with accompaniments, and a dessert course are included. You will also receive two drink pairings that are designed especially for your event, and all other beverages are included as well.

In December, Spencer Medgaarden arranged for a surprise Lillian’s Table experience to celebrate his wife Nicole’s 50th birthday. Medgaarden found out about Lillian’s Table from a friend whose wife works at the Hormel Historic Home. After hearing all about it he decided that it would be a perfect place to keep a party on a smaller scale, where they could all be at one table and able to visit with good friends they do not get to see often.

Before the party Medgaarden told his wife that she would need to wear the tiara and gold birthday sash he gave her, which worked into the surprise.

Nicole knew that they would be dining at the Historic Hormel Home, but walked in hesitantly after seeing a group of friends. Medgaarden explained that they were about to experience Lillian’s Table.

“I was very surprised and I think (Lillian’s Table) is great for someone to host a small intimate gathering,” Nicole said.

As the group settled in to begin the evening with crostini bruschetta and their first specialty drink of the evening, the “Lilly Belle,” Medgaarden explained that he put himself in his wife’s frame of thinking in order to choose the menu. He wanted to make sure that they would be enjoying everything that she liked. After the welcome plate came French onion soup, the main course of filet mignon with garlic herb butter, sides of brie and bacon mac n cheese and potatoes rissole.

At the center of the table was a beautifully decorated birthday cake — carrot cake drizzled with caramel sauce.

There was plenty of laughter and reminiscing during the evening by everyone.

“We had so much fun the group is thinking about attending a Murder Mystery Dinner,” Spencer said.

This type of dinner (Germaine’s Great Gatsby Tipsy Tea) can also be hosted by the Hormel Historic Home. The Medgaardens said that they would 100% recommend the “Lillian’s Table” experience to anyone, and have in fact already done so.

“Cindy and the gals did an amazing job.” Medgaarden said, “We accomplished what we set out to do, which was to have a really neat experience.”

“The serving staff were professional and actually added an element of entertainment to the evening,” Nicole added. “Everything about the evening was wonderful.”

And so it is because of Lillian Belle Hormel, the kind and patient woman that she was, and whose vision it was for her home to be open for the good of everyone, that tradition continues with Lillian’s Table, a fine culinary experience.

Be sure to contact the staff of the Historic Hormel Home if you are interested in Lillian’s Table, “Germaine’s Great Gatsby Tipsy Tea” which is an adult tea party that comes with a murder mystery, Little Lillian’s Tea Party (for little girls) or any of the other activities the Historic Hormel Home has to offer.

Eric Johnson/


Welcome Plate (select one)

Crostini Bruschetta, Hot Artichoke Dip with Bread, Apple Cranberry Chutney Cheese Spread served with Crackers, Baked Brie with Cranberry-Pecan-Bacon Crumble, Brussel Sprouts and Bacon Personal Flatbread, Eggplant Ricotta Bites.

Pre Course options (select one)

Pumpkin Veloute soup with Apple and Curry, Beef Bourguignon Soup, Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Salad, Mushroom Tart, Apple Pecan Feta Spinach Salad with Maple Cider Vinaigrette, French Onion Soup.

Main Course (select one)

Garlic and Herb Crusted Prime Rib, Maple Bourbon Glazed Pork Tenderloin, Tuscan Chicken on a bed of Herbed Fettuccine, Smoked Windsor Chop with a Port Wine Cherry Sauce, Filet Mignon with Garlic Herb Butter, Smoked Salmon with Horseradish Cream.

Main Course Accompaniments (select two)

Ratatouille, Balsamic Mushrooms, Eggplant Parmesan, Bacon Wrapped Brussel Sprouts, Stuffed Yellow Peppers with Spicy Chard and Pilaf, Bacon Wrapped Asparagus, Macaroni with Brie and Bacon, Duchess Potatoes, Potatoes Rissole, Garlicky Mashed Potato Cakes with Parmesan and Dill Crema, Parmesan Mashed Potato Pancakes, Grilled artichokes and tomatoes.