Valentine’s Dinner At SpringHouse

The first dinner date my husband I went on was at SpringHouse, on Lake Martin, Alabama. I had to meet him there because I had to work late that evening. We met first at a friend of his lake cabin, where we would be spending the weekend. I got lost on one of the many dirt roads that led to the cabin, and I couldn’t help but think, “where is this man taking me?” When I finally reached the bottom of a red dirt hill, it opened up to a quaint cabin nestled on a slough on emerald green Lake Martin. We had an amazing weekend, and share many fond memories from this time we were falling in love.

SpringHouse was the absolute first choice for our Valentine’s celebration, which was also the kick off to an extended weekend vacation. I highly recommend reservations if you are planning to dine here. It is by far one I’d the best dining experiences in the state of Alabama. My husband and I prefer sitting at the chef’s counter, where you can witness the dynamics of the kitchen. We have had many memorable celebrations here over the years, and once you visit, you will certainly see why.

Chef Rob McDaniel has a dumbfounding way with his cuisine. I have never had a dish there that didn’t blow me away. He makes me enjoy such things as sweet breads, duck, and octopus. I feel safe exploring stranger cuisines when I know he is preparing them. I can’t think of a time I have ever been disappointed.

We started our evening out at the upstairs bar. Of course, it being Valentine’s Day, the entire restaurant was bustling with chatter and laughter. My husband had his usual, Maker’s on the rocks, and I tried the Lemon Twist cocktail. The weather was mild enough to go out on the patio deck and take in the view of the stables, and in what seemed like seconds, our seats at the chef’s counter were ready. I highly recommend getting here early enough in the evenings to watch the sunset. It is breathtaking.

For starters we ordered the pimento cheese stuffed peppadew peppers {a favorite} and the deviled eggs. We also had an order of the Benton’s ham and biscuits with red-eye gravy and cane syrup. If you’ve never had Benton’s bacon or ham, try it immediately! All of these dishes were spectacular, and we were left with very ‘happy’ plates.

For our entrees I ordered the bone-in pork chop. The set consisted of green Carolina rice and a sweet onion gravy. It was perfectly seasoned and delicious. My husband ordered the duck. Typically we each order different entrees so that we can share and try a wider variety of foods.

Not to slight the pork chop, but the duck was on point. I am not a huge fan of duck either. It has to be prepared perfectly for me to really enjoy it. Chef Rob didn’t disappoint. The skin was extra crispy and complete perfection. The duck meat was prepared medium rare per chef’s recommendation. It was delectable. It didn’t have a gaminess or chew that some duck I have had in the past that was not to my liking. The duck was atop a yummy farro, butternut squash, pickled raisin, and kale bed. It was a beautiful and well thought out dish.

All of our dinner was paired with a 2014 Domaine Louis Boillot Gevery-Chambertain which was an excellent compliment to both main courses.

For dessert we had the caramel pot de creme with pecans paired with a Madeira flight from Rare Wine Company’s Historic Series. It consisted of three different Madeiras; the Savannah, the New York, and the Boston. I loved the combination of the different dryness levels with this dessert.

I cannot fail to mention Daniel Goslin and his service staff. They were attentive and helpful throughout the evening. Their immaculate service did not go unappreciated. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful dinner at one of our favorite places. We can’t wait for our next SpringHouse experience.

French Wine Dinner

Last night was a wonderful start to Valentines week at the French Wine Dinner at The Depot ( in Auburn, Alabama.

One of my favorite things about this restaurant is that the building has an incredible amount of historic charm. Located in the heart of downtown Auburn, bordering the railroad tracks, the original train depot was built in 1847. The current owners renovated the entire building a few years back, and the results are amazing. I love all the decorative details; from the massively impressive chandelier in the main dining room, to the smaller details like the host stand being made entirely of suitcases stacked on top of one another.

We started our night off in the bar having cocktails. I started with the ‘Parasol’ and thoroughly enjoyed it. Anything with St. Germain and Veuve and I’m sold!

As the building started to fill up, we grabbed a table with friends in the main dining room. We were served hors d’oeuvres, which consisted of a yummy vegetarian French onion soup, and something new for me, escargot. I really enjoyed the first wine paring, a Jacques Pelvas Brut Rosé. I love most rosés, and this did not disappoint. This wine was also paired with the first course, a salmon tartar, which was also a new food experience for me. The wine pairing was perfection, and the traditional food preparations were a nice balance to start out the dinner.

The second course was a Barramundi Meuniére. Executive Chef Scott Simpson described this as a fish from the Red Sea that was cooked in a simple traditional French method that consists of a simple sauce with lemon, butter, and parsley. I do not eat a lot of seafood. I was delighted to try another new type of fish, and I really enjoyed the Barramundi. The wine pairing for this course was a 2015 Henry Natter, Sancerre. This was my absolute favorite wine of the night. They could have left the bottle at the table! It was a crisp, light and overall delightful wine. It paired wonderfully with the Barramundi.

For the third and fourth course we moved into the red wines. The third course was a veal and mushroom ragout paired with a 2015 Louis Latour, Santeney Cote de Beaune. The fourth course was a Boeuf a la Bourguignonne, which was prime beef and smoked bacon that had been simmered in the red wine. This was served with a brie and truffle Duchesse potatoes. I think our whole table agreed that we all could have eaten our  weight in the potatoes. The sauce on the prime beef had a delicious smokey, tanginess to it, which I thought paired wonderfully with the 2015 Chateau La Case Bellevue St. Emilion.

The final course, and what was the most memorable course to me, was yet another new experience, Floating Egg White Islands on Vanilla Creme or “Oeufs a la Neige”. I was very apprehensive about eggs and the crumbles of blue cheese, but it was pure deliciousness and genius. It did not have any semblance of egg to me, and the blue cheese was fit nicely into the palate of the dish. It was more like a fluffy cloud confection. This was paired with a slightly sweeter Sauternes, a 2013 Chateau Lions De Suduiraut. For me, a Sauternes is not a wine that I would drink on a regular basis, but it’s purpose here as a dessert wine worked marvelously.

The French Wine Dinner was a great way to start Valentine’s week. The combined efforts of the chef, sommelier, and service staff made the evening a delightful experience. I appreciated the chef’s traditional approach on all the dishes, and I was delighted to experience so many new cuisines. We cannot wait for another opportunity to dine at The Depot.

The Dining Winos

Being a long time wine enthusiast, the Lord knew what he was doing when he fated me to meet my husband, a wine sommelier.

We enjoy our life together spending most of our time traveling, trying new restaurants, seeing live music, and drinking wine of course.

We are based in Alabama. Follow us on our adventures, and I promise to never steer you wrong on a restaurant or a wine.

Photo by: Sarah Van Hecke Photography

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