A SpringHouse Birthday

“We literally ordered one of everything on the menu.”

For my birthday this year, we spent the weekend at a little slice of heaven on earth, Lake Martin, Alabama. We arrived late Friday evening and promptly went to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, SpringHouse. We arrived early in hopes of having time for cocktails and to also catch sunset off the upstairs porch. We arrived just in the nick of time and caught the sun just beginning to set behind the rolling hills and pine trees that color the horizon.

After enjoying our cocktails, we were seated near the chef’s counter in the downstairs dining room. One of our friends attending dinner with us this night was the opening bar manager at SpringHouse, so returning here for him was a very special treat. Before any of us could make an order, he told the waiter that we would just have one of everything on the menu, which is exactly what we proceeded in doing.

Some of the highlights of the starters were the boiled peanuts. You cannot get much more southern than serving boiled peanuts. I love them. They are the perfect southern snack. I enjoy them hot, and I enjoy them cold. I have even had a delicious boiled peanut soup that was simply boiled peanuts pureed into a smooth soup and seasoned to perfection. Another simple delight were the dressed cucumbers. This dish is very reminiscent of a dish my grandmother always has in her refrigerator during the southern summer months, cucumbers dressed in vinegar, salt, pepper, and a little bit of olive oil. When our summer garden produces cucumbers, this is something I love to have on hand to snack on. I like adding a little bit of sugar in some warm vinegar before pouring it over my cucumbers, but they are equally delicious without the added sugars. The final two highlights of the starters we had were the heirloom tomato pie and the grilled chicken sausage served over a delightful warm potato salad. The tomato pie was bright with acidity, and savory full of oozing pimento cheese. I could have eaten the entire pie by myself. The grilled chicken sausage was delightfully smoky, and the bed of potato salad was a southerner’s dream.

Our entrees were equally satisfying. Mr. Jim’s vegetable plate is one of the standout dishes for me. It was one of my favorite things to order at SpringHouse during the summer. I love fresh vegetables, and I love them even more when prepared by Rob McDaniel. The creamed sweet corn is to die for, and really could be your meal or your dessert. The squash gratin on the vegetable plate was also quite yummy. The squash still had a good bit of tooth to it, and you can pretty much put cheese on anything, and I’m going to love it.  For our proteins, we ordered the Tanglewood Farms chicken breast, the Black Angus ribeye, the pompano, and the pork loin. My favorites of this bunch were the ribeye and the pompano. You could not go wrong with any dish, but these two were my standout favorites.

Next time you and a group of friends go to dinner, just order one of everything on the menu and have a family-style dinner. Share laughs, delicious food and wine, and make memories that will last a lifetime!

SpringHouse sunsets cannot be beaten!

June 15, 2018 Menu

Grilled Chicken Sausage on a bed of creamy potato salad.

Dressed cucumbers.

Heirloom tomato pie.

Head-On Gulf Shrimp Cocktail.

Sauteed Squash.

Mr. Jim’s vegetable plate.

Tanglewood Farms Chicken Breast on limas and cornbread with a buttermilk aioli.

Hickory Grilled Pork Loin with balsamic and basil pesto.

Wood Oven Roasted Whole Pompano.

SpringHouse O.G.’s (L-R) Rob McDaniel (chef), John Mark Davis, (opening general manager), Grant Landry (opening bar manager)

Blackberry Farm Dinner At SpringHouse

Last night we had the pleasure of attending the first beer dinner held at SpringHouse on Lake Martin. The beers featured for this special event were from Blackberry Farm out of Walland, Tennessee, about thirty minutes south of Knoxville. Blackberry Farm has been on my dream destination list for a while, so I was excited to at least get a little taste of their experience through this evening’s dinner.

Blackberry Farm is nestled on 4,200 acres of the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. This luxury hotel will transport you into an idyllic farm experience, with “out of this world” amenities, food, and service. It is one of the most celebrated small luxury resorts in the world due to their impeccable attention to detail and superb cuisines. Tonight we were able to try a variety of the beers curated at the farm, alongside Chef Rob McDaniel’s awe-inspiring culinary skills. Matty Hargrove of Blackberry Farm Brewery was also in attendance, and enthusiastically walked us all through the beer pairings for the evening.

As we walked into SpringHouse we were greeted immediately with our first tasting of the Classic Saison by Blackberry Farms. This beer had a medium body and a refreshing effervescence that paired nicely with a Smoked West Indies Salad on a house-made cracker and crispy thin catfish with fermented rutabaga tartar.  If you have not ever tried West Indies Salad, I highly suggest you do. It is a dish that has origins in Mobile, Alabama, and can be characterized as a crab meat ceviche. However, Rob’s version for this bite was prepared using wreckfish. The catfish was also sensational. I do not consider myself a fan of catfish, but the thin, crispiness of this dish with the unique rutabaga tartar sauce was a delightful bite. They also had the Wild Saison available for tasting during the cocktail hour. It was nice to try the Classic Saison next to the Wild Saison and make comparisons. I found that I enjoyed the floral and slight fruitiness of the Wild Saison.  The Wild Saison is made with a native yeast found on the farm, which really adds to the uniqueness of these craft beers. We were also offered the Barrel Series Brett Saison and the 18 Month Brett Saison from behind the bar. These two additional saisons were very interesting tried side by side and were paired with a hickory grilled chicken oyster coated with a mustard barbecue sauce. All hor devours were butler passed on some of Tena Payne’s beautiful pottery from Earthborn Studios in Leeds, Alabama.

Daniel Goslin, SpringHouse general manager, welcomed everyone to take their seats by ringing the large dinner bell on the impressive hearth in the heart of the restaurant. The entire restaurant and surrounding property is truly breath-taking. We had lots of friends attending this event, so we ended up with a pretty fun dinner table. The conversations were flowing, just as easily as the drinks.

The first dish brought to the table was a Chilton County Peach focaccia. I loved the sweetness of the peaches contrasted with the funkiness of the Asher blue cheese by Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville, Georgia. I love ALL cheeses, but I especially enjoy testing out unimaginable cheese pairings and being delightfully surprised by them. This course was paired with a Barrel Series Brett Belgo IPA.

This dish was followed up by the smoked Manchester Farm quail, which was served with baby carrots cooked in hay and glazed with Poirier’s Cane Syrup.  This was paired with the Native Series Sorghum Saison. The quail was markedly tender, and the carrots were equally sweet and savory. It was an overall nice dish and pairing.

We were then poured a very nice intermezzo in the form of the Sensibility Farmhouse Ale, a collaboration brew between Blackberry Farm Brewery and Stillwater Artisanal out of Baltimore. This farmhouse ale was aged in French oak barrels. There was a lot going on in this glass, and it’s depth and character were perfect to reset our palates for the next two courses.

The third course was my favorite of the night, a hickory grilled scamp with seasonal marinated vegetables, ramps, and corn. I thoroughly enjoyed the white, flakiness of the scamp, and the nice sweetness and texture brought to the dish by the corn. This course was paired with a Native Series Tennessee Cream Ale.

The fourth and final course of the evening was a delightful dessert of Chilton County Strawberry cobbler with sassafras syrup and a sweet cream ice cream. This sweet treat was paired with the Abbey Quad Belgian Ale. This beer that comes in at over 8% ABV was robust and malty with beautiful notes of berriesan outstanding way to cap off another truly memorable evening doing what we love.

Front of SpringHouse restaurant.

Exquisite dinner menu featuring Black Berry Farm beers.

Hickory grilled chicken oysters with mustard sauce.

Crispy catfish with rutabaga tartar sauce.

Chilton County Peach Foccacia with Asher blue cheese and black walnuts.

Smoked Manchester Farm Quail with baby carrots and Poirier’s sorghum syrup.

Hickory grilled scamp with early summer vegetables, ramps, and corn.

Chilton County Strawberry Cobbler with sassafras syrup and sweet cream ice cream.

(L-R) John Mark Davis of International Wines and Beer, Rob McDaniel executive chef at SpringHouse, and Matty Hargrove of Blackberry Farm Brewery.

Hornsby Farm Spring Harvest Dinner

Last night we attended the Spring Harvest Dinner at Hornsby Farms in Auburn, Alabama. The farm is a short drive from Auburn,  located just south of town off College Street. After turning off the main highway, you make a short drive down a dirt road and you land in what feels like the middle of the country. The weather was mild and enjoyable, and there was not a cloud in the sky. The beautiful orange and blue sunset sky that is the embodiment of life on the plains was a beautiful backdrop for the commencement of our evening.

The chef for this particular dinner was Caleb Fischer of Acre in Auburn, Alabama. The chef for these dinners rotates around, and we were really pleased to have to opportunity to enjoy some of Caleb’s cooking. He is currently the Chef de Cuisine at Acre, and he will be the Executive Chef at their new restaurant Bow & Arrow when they open later this year. We were able to celebrate a little bit Caleb making it to the finale of the Spring Baking Championship on the Food Network last evening. I know the entire community has enjoyed watching him succeed in the competition, and cannot wait to see what other great things are in the future for him.

All the food that was served for this event came directly from the farm, including the pork. Truly farm to table. Hornsby Farms grows over one hundred varieties of fruits and vegetables on their farm year round. They offer weekly produce basket deliveries in the local area. They also work with many of the local restaurants that you may have dined in, such as, Acre, Moores Mill Club, Amsterdam Café, and SpringHouse, to name a few. We were able to tour the farm prior to dinner, and I really enjoyed getting to see all the chickens, ducks, pigs (Okra and Squash), and hear Josh tell us about what he had planted for the upcoming summer months.

After the sun had set, we all gathered around the barn. The Hornsby family welcomed everyone out for the evening, and Chef Caleb discussed his preparation of all the food we were about to eat. It was interesting to hear his story of harvesting the pig and the care and consideration they took in the butchery of the animal. The event was very reminiscent of a boucherie in Lousiana, which Caleb made reference to, full of food, libations, and fellowship.

Along with the savory pork we were served stewed cabbage with radishes, succotash full of limas & corn, a roasted cauliflower and broccoli crudité salad, and very tasty dirty rice. Instead of providing the traditional, typical sauces served with barbecue, we were offered a variation of their farm made jams and jellies, my favorite being the peach habañero jelly. I also put a dollop of the jelly in my succotash, like you would a chow- chow. The meal was soulfully delicious and getting to know all the other people at our table made the evening that much more interesting.

For dessert, Caleb finished the meal with a cornbread cake with strawberry preserves. The cornbread cake was divine, and Caleb incorporated some of Beth’s Sweet Heat Pepper Jelly into the strawberry mix, adding a little bit of a surprising heat to the dessert. The only thing that could have made it better, would have been a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

As the night dwindled down we gathered around the bonfire while we finished our desserts and sipped on what wine we had left. I could have stayed in that exact spot all evening if my schedule would have allowed. The peaceful silence, cool air, and the starlit skies almost made me want to consider farm living. If you ever have the chance check out Hornsby Farms and all the wonderful things they have to offer!

Beautiful skies over the farm.

Farm tables made by Josh Hornsby.

Campfire seating area.

All food, minus the pig, this evening was cooked in cast iron on the open fire.

This little piggy went to market.

Happy plate full of dirty rice, succotash, pork with Beth’s pepper jelly, cabbage with radishes, and broccoli & cabbage crudité salad.

SpringHouse Sunsets

We had the most perfect evening the other night at SpringHouse on Lake Martin. During the last wine dinner we attended at Café 123 in Opelika, we discussed with some friends about taking advantage of the Wednesday and Thursday night special that SpringHouse offers. You can order an appetizer, entree, and dessert for $40 per person.

I have written about SpringHouse before and probably will do so many more times. It is one of our favorite places to dine. In the summers when we have to chance to spend time on the lake, not only do we enjoy dinners here, but we really love to have brunch there on Saturday or Sunday mornings too. You can even arrive on your boat if you want. The restaurant is not water side, but they have a golf cart service during the summer that will transport you to the restaurant. Riding through the property is beautiful. You get to take in the rolling hills, the stables, the beautiful horses, and the other wildlife that this property offers.

We arrived at 6:30 in the evening so that we would have time for a cocktail and a gorgeous SpringHouse sunset. We ordered our cocktails at the upstairs bar. I always like to try something new off their specialty cocktail menu. Tonight I tried the Tee Time cocktail, which consisted of Bombay dry gin, a yummy mint, cucumber puree, salt and lime. It was bright and refreshing. After getting our cocktails we made our way outside to see the sunset. Off the back of the restaurant are rolling hills that eventually make their way down to the lake. I have witnessed numerous breathtaking sunsets here. It is an incredible way to start your evening. The upper patio was closed this particular evening, so we were welcomed to go out back to the little garden off of the well house.

As soon as you walk out onto the garden, you are immediately greeted with nature’s beauty. The mini garden itself is so picturesque. I have had friends that have gotten married in this little spot and have had their dinners in the well house afterwards. My husband celebrated his bachelor weekend here with a group of his guy friends in the well house. It is a perfect place for celebrations. Not only are you provided with a beautiful back drop, but you also have incredible food and libations. What else do you need?

We timed everything perfect. We were able to finish our cocktails and take some beautiful photos of the sunset. After the sun had dropped out of sight, we made our way back up stairs to begin dinner. The dining room of SpringHouse is large and open. The open kitchen, and stately fireplace are definitely focal points of the restaurant. We were seated in the front of the restaurant near the wall of windows.

The kitchen sent out one of my favorite small bites, the pimento cheese stuff peppadew peppers. I had never had a peppadew before having them the first time at a wine dinner months back at SpringHouse. It was love at first bite. They are briny and sweet, and with the creamy pimento cheese stuffed inside, they are divine. They also sent out the wood oven roasted beef marrow with short rib marmalade, celery salad, and grilled ciabatta. Everyone loved the marrow and short rib marmalade, but I just could not get enough of the celery salad. It was crispy, and had the best flavors. Celery salad is not something you typically see on a menu, and I was delightfully pleased with how delicious it was. We also ordered the deviled eggs and shared as a table. Rob’s deviled eggs are delicious! I do not normally like anyone’s deviled eggs besides my own, but his have this creamy, whip to them that I adore.

For our entrees, I ordered the duck dish and my husband ordered the pork chops. We like to order different dishes and then share. The Jurgielewics Farm Duck was served on top of a spring vidalia onion romesco that was superb, along with roasted beets that had been preserved in an orange vinaigrette. The duck was tasty, tender, and delicious, although I must say I would have thoroughly enjoyed this dish minus the duck. The spring vidalia romesco puree was so tasteful and bright, and the beets were tender and slightly sweet. Marvelous! My husband ordered the Hickory Grilled Bone In Pork Chops served with green rice and a sweet onion gravy. This is a dish we have shared before, and it is delicious. The bone in pork is full of flavor that the wood fired grill enhances with a touch of smoke. This is one of those dishes that reminds you of something your mom would make. We shared a bottle of the 2016 Raeburn Pinot Noir. It had lush notes of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, and a touch of spice that all paired wonderfully with my duck and his pork.

I was beyond full at this point, but we still had desserts to order as part of our dinner deal. Can you ever really say no to dessert? I had a little bit of the pinot left and craved something chocolate. I just ordered a scoop of the chocolate ice cream, which was plenty enough for my full stomach. My husband tried the strawberry shortcake, and another guest had the buttermilk panna cotta.

Everything was delicious, as anticipated. We were planning our next visit before we left the table. Definitely give SpringHouse a try if you are truly wanting an all around memorable dining experience.

img_0004

Tee Time cocktail

img_0005

Sunset off the back of the well house.

img_0010

Wood Oven Roasted Beef Marrow w/ short rib marmalade, celery salad, grilled ciabatta

img_0027-1

Jurgielewics Farm Duck spring vidalia onion romesco, roasted beets, preserved orange vinaigrette.

img_0028-1

Hickory Grilled Bone In Pork Chops w/ green rice and sweet onion gravy.

img_0029-1

Pan Seared American Red Snapper w/ charred broccoli, cauliflower, garlic breadcrumbs, pecan vinaigrette.

img_0030

Strawberry Shortcake

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.