May 02, 2017


By: Vicki Parsons - IT

The News-Press Published 8:59 a.m. ET April 26, 2017 | Updated 9:07 a.m. ET April 26, 2017

Babcock Table and Tap

Babcock Ranch(Photo: Babcock Ranch)

Babcock Ranch, Fla. – Everywhere you go at Babcock Ranch, you’ll meet people who are passionate about their role in creating a whole new way of living.  You’ll see the vision for this solar-powered, eco-centric hometown becoming a reality right before your eyes. At Founder’s Square, you’ll find a place where the full flavor of Babcock Ranch is being served up daily.  And it’s delicious.

Table & Tap, the farm-to-table restaurant located on Founder’s Square at the edge of Lake Babcock, opened in early March and has quickly developed a brisk lunch and dinner business.  Among the daily flow of 300-500 guests, you’ll find a growing group of regulars who stop by three or four times a week. And from your very first bite – you’ll understand why.

“Food is what sets us apart – not just sourcing the best possible local ingredients that I can get, but every employee is passionate about what they are doing here and it is a difference you can taste,” Chef David Rashty explained.  “As the first restaurant at Babcock Ranch our menu needs to appeal to all different tastes. We put a lot of time, thought and effort into every component and we are constantly on the lookout for new, local ingredients to keep it fresh and relevant, and keep people coming back.”

Rashty already had a strong local following when he joined the Babcock Ranch team in February.  As the leader of both the local chef’s collaborative and the area’s slow food movement, his passion for sustainable, humanely-raised products made him a perfect fit.

“Food is an incredibly important part of a healthy lifestyle,” added Matt Seiler, Director of Food and Beverage at Babcock Ranch.  “The thing we want customers to walk away with is a realization that locally-sourced, organic foods are not only good for their health, they are good for palate.  They taste better.”

No matter what you order off the menu, Rashty can tell you exactly where it comes from, and what’s gone into it.  It’s a commitment that goes far beyond record keeping. He makes regular visits to local growers and livestock operations and builds relationships with those who share his passion for getting it right. Like Circle C Farm in Felda.

“I’ve spent time there and seen for myself how well the animals are treated.  No GMOs, steroids, antibiotics – it’s 100% organic,” Rashty said.  “It’s all about the chef-farmer relationship.”

“David is very conscientious about using local products everywhere he can – and has a genuine commitment to introducing consumers to the health benefits of organic, sustainable foods,” said Nicole Cruz, owner of Circle C.  “Food is a medicine – those who eat holistically save a lot on doctor’s bills and co-pays.  They feel better and live longer with a higher quality of life.”

With such a strong focus on what’s locally available, some menu items don’t last long.  For example, the peach harvest season in Florida is limited to 18 weeks.  So, during the time peaches were available locally from Florida Sweet Peaches in Arcadia, Rashty took full advantage – incorporating them into peach cobbler, barbecue peach hot sauce for the chicken wings, a peach bourbon glaze served with the lamb for Easter, and a grilled peach salad.  Canned peaches and peach chutney will extend their life on the menu for a few more weeks.

The flavors you experience at Table & Tap tell the story of a chef who does not take any shortcuts. From chicken stock to marmalades – the only way for Rafty to know exactly what goes into the food he puts on the plate is to make everything from scratch.  If you aren’t convinced that the added effort and fresh ingredients make a difference – wait until you bite into the brisket sandwich with friend green tomato and topped with creamy coleslaw.  Seriously.  Any lingering doubts vanish instantly as the succulent meat smoked for a couple of hours, then braised for 15-16 hours in Babcock Brew and cider, literally melts in your mouth.

The menu is locally-inspired. Comfort food classics are prepared to gourmet standards.  Sorry mom, but you’ve been bested here.  Early favorites include bacon-wrapped meatloaf and beer can chicken.  Salad selections reflect the harvest season, featuring nutrient-rich produce from Urban Gardens in North Fort Myers. Refined sugar has been eradicated from all recipes but Chef Rafty substitutes a healthier alternative to delight your sweet tooth – locally produced Babcock Honey.

The farm-to-table menu is just one of Table & Tap’s attractions. It’s got a relaxed vibe that makes people want to come stay a while.  Couples linger a bit longer over good food and spirits as they enjoy live music out on the patio every Tuesday and Saturday evening.  On weekends families come out – and parents find time for conversation while keeping an eye on kids playing yard games, cooling off in the splash pad out in Founder’s Square, or fishing off the boardwalk.  Every day of the week, Table & Tap has the best seats in the house to witness what few have experienced before – the birth of a new town.

“Every morning I’m like a kid at Christmas – I can’t wait to get out here and see what’s going to be different by the end of the day,” Rafty said. “All of the energy and activity around Table & Tap is a microcosm of what is yet to come and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

To learn more about living at the eco-centric, solar powered town being created by Kitson & Partners at Babcock Ranch, visit

This story is provided and presented by our sponsor Babcock Ranch