BY KAREN PHILLIPS
There is no exit 10A. A couple of friends and I went to Spring House Restaurant Kitchen & Bar this weekend. The GPS told us to get off at exit 10A and we thought we missed it, so we got off at the next exit, turned around and tried again. 10D, 10C, 10B… where’s 10A? Frustrated and confused, we were about to give up when we saw an exit that would lead us downtown. We decided to get off there in hopes that the GPS would recalculate and give us new directions.
We found the restaurant on Spring Street. At first glance, it looked like a huge, white house with a nice garden and some outdoor seating. It’s an old home that used to be located in Winston’s Millionaire’s Row. The owners just recently refinished Spring House for the opening in April. Each room is used as a dining area, and can be rented out for conferences or parties. There is a garden in the yard where they grow many of their own vegetables and herbs. They also purchase from local farmers, butchers and breweries. Their goal is to create honest and responsible New American cooking.
We didn’t make reservations. That was a mistake. We ate at the bar, which could only seat about six or seven comfortably, but there were a few cocktail tables, armchairs, and love seats around for lounging. It’s a nice area for hanging out with friends and relaxing with a drink and a good book.
Our bartender, Wendy Hensley, told us about some of the eccentric merchants who come in with local goods – like the man who brings an assortment of mushrooms, assuring us they aren’t of the “special” variety. She told us about the herbs and vegetables grown in the garden, and when we asked her how the Spring House got it’s name, she made an educated guess that it had something to do with being a house and being located on Spring Street.
I ordered a strawberry-hibiscus frozen margarita. The hibiscus added a nice, tangy touch, pairing well with the sweetness from the strawberry and the bite from the tequila. I started with a Cuban-style black-bean soup. The perfect temperature, with just a touch of spice, it was a pleasant beginning to my meal. For dinner, I had the chicken and eggplant Parmesan. I’m not a huge fan of traditional chicken parm because I don’t love the breaded chicken. The breading usually gets too soggy and falls off, and it’s not always very flavorful. This time, the eggplant was fried in a whole-wheat flour; the chicken was grilled and left naked. Together they were an awesome-twosome, topped with fresh marinara sauce and served over a bed of fresh basil succotash. The meal went perfectly with the Brooklyn lager I had.
I ordered the bread pudding for desert. It wasn’t my favorite part of the meal, but I’m not complaining about it either. It was rich and sweet, with pecans and brown sugar. I’ve just had better. Kim and Matt got the “Babysitter” Cake. The chef came up with the name based on the common response a couple gives at the end of an evening when asked if they want dessert: “No thanks, but we’ll take one home for the babysitter.” We didn’t have any leftover, though. It was a molten lava chocolate cake with a hibiscus cherry-infused sweet cream, and it was better than mine.
The waitstaff wore white button-down shirts and jeans.
It kept the level of the restaurant a couple steps down from pretentious. It was the right amount of classy, but still comfortable enough to watch the game at the bar and socialize with friends without having to sit up straight or watch my mouth.
I’m glad the GPS finally got us where we needed to be.
Spring House is definitely a place to experience. Whether a date night with my husband or a night out with my girls, I’m looking forward to going back. Next time, I’ll be sure to make a reservation.
Spring House Restaurant Kitchen & Bar; 450 N. Spring St., Winston- Salem, 27101; 336.293.4797; www.springhousenc.com