Outdoor dinner tips from the author of Picture Perfect Parties

Annette Joseph teams up with Cakes & Ale’s Billy Allin to create outdoor dinner party

Southerners love to entertain outdoors. Chef-owner Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale and his wife, Kristin, have the perfect garden for a soiree, set on two acres in Decatur. For an intimate party, Allin crafted a menu of fresh-picked ingredients. Annett Joseph, stylist and author of Picture Perfect Parties, created a sophisticated but relaxed table, where family and friends clinked glasses and dined in the fading sun.


  1. Tangerine, carrot, fennel, and olives
  2. Herbed green garlic aioli
  3. Grilled trout, scallions, and asparagus
  4. Grilled potatoes
  5. Oysters on half shell, Champagne mignonette
  6. Cucumber, marinated beets, and lamb’s quarters
  7. Cakes & Ale dandelion greens, eggs, and pickled onion
  8. Rosé and sparkling wine
  9. Strawberry tart and soft whipped cream (not pictured)

Annette’s Tips
Add a little twine bow and a flourish of herbs or baby thistle to your napkins for a touch of natural beauty.

Layer a tablecloth and a runner to give texture and interest to your tablescape.

If your menu includes citrus, try a centerpiece of lemons, tangerines, and oranges. Slice some in half so guests can use them to dress fish or salads.

Look for mismatched vintage flatware at flea markets. it’s a fun way to add a little whimsy o a fine meal.

No need for a formal centerpiece. Flowers in vintage jelly jars, test tubes, and glass milk bottles provide bits of color all over the table.