Back when I was growing up in Alexander City (“Eleck” City to the locals), there was no special, elegant restaurant at which to dine. We mainly had fast food establishments, and my friends and I frequented Hardee’s, Pizza Hut and Sonic.
In fact, I am ashamed to admit that once when I was driving my Daddy’s truck (I can no longer remember why I was doing that), I wheeled into a space at Sonic and promptly hit the tray holder. Terrified, I quickly backed up and left the scene of the accident; I plead guilty to being young and stupid at the time.
When we were seniors at Benjamin Russell High School, Amelia, Leigh Ann and I, our dates and about everyone else in our class, chose to go to Western Sizzlin’ for our pre-prom dinner. I had been looking forward to that steak dinner all week, but, alas, it was not to be. When we got in line to order, I asked my date what he usually ordered at Western Sizzlin’. Big mistake. He said, “I’m not very hungry. I’ll just have a cheeseburger.” Again, being young and stupid, I too ordered “just a cheeseburger.” Back then, I lacked self esteem and thought that I shouldn’t order a more expensive item than my date did. Wrong. Knowing what I know now, I would have ordered that steak and would have enjoyed it with a clear conscience.
Also, I made another mistake: I told my family what had happened. My Daddy and brothers teased me for quite some time. They’d say, “I’ll just have a cheeseburger. What will you just have?” Incensed, I’d yell, “He didn’t say that!” which only made it worse. But I digress.
Awhile back, my good friend Amelia and an acquaintance had told me about a very special restaurant called SpringHouse in Alexander City. When SpringHouse was featured in Southern Living, I knew that I needed to dine there.
Recently, Mike and I drove to Alex City to SpringHouse, which is currently serving dinner in a temporary location, at 57 Russell Farms Road inside the Fannie Goldmine Diner.
Unfortunately, last December, there was a fire at SpringHouse in its original location at 12 Benson Mill Road. Both Fannie Goldmine Diner and SpringHouse are locally owned by Ben and Lou Ann Russell of Russell Crossroads.
Fannie Goldmine Diner serves breakfast and lunch, allowing SpringHouse to serve dinner there until will moves back to its restored building on Benson Mill Road, hopefully in September.
McKenzie, our server, was an absolute delight. She answered all of my questions about SpringHouse and was so friendly and helpful. It was easy to see that she loves working with the staff of SpringHouse and admires their devotion to the restaurant. She was very complimentary of head chef Pete McKinney and chef de cuisine Andrew Ellis.
“Stephanie, our front house manager and wine director, has been instrumental in keeping us together in a temporary, new location,” McKenzie said, adding that many of SpringHouse’s employees drive from Auburn to work at the restaurant.
Madison, who is McKenzie’s assistant, was terrific and said she also loves working at Spring-House because “the people make you want to work harder.” This retired English teacher gives McKenzie and Madison an A+ for being two of the best service staff members I’ve ever seen.
Although SpringHouse is in a temporary home, it was warm, lovely and elegant. As first time diners, Mike and I were treated to some stuffed peppadews, which are South African peppers. They were really delicious.
For our starter, Mike and I chose the SpringHouse pimento cheese with celery and house made crackers. It was so wonderful, we gobbled up every bite. However, thankfully, we refrained from licking the plate since our parents taught us good table manners.
For his entrée, Mike chose the pan seared red grouper, which included Hickory Grove Farm’s grits, braised fennel and house made smoked orange salsa. I selected the pan seared chicken breast, which included house made rosemary and lemon agnolotti, ricotta, asparagus, truffled chicken demi-glace and basil oil. Oh my, two times. Everything was so tasty. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
Besides our delectable pimento cheese, SpringHouse offers other starters such as garden kale salad, smoked red snapper dip, mushroom strudel, roasted beet and burrata salad and crispy softshell crab.
Other entrees diners may enjoy include roasted stuffed pepper, pan seared scallops and pan seared beef tenderloin. Mike and I behaved ourselves and didn’t have dessert (again, I hope that Lynn Hudson, my diabetic specialist, is reading this) however, one day when my A1C has greatly dropped, I hope to attack the carrot cake cheesecake.
McKenzie described the view from SpringHouse’s original building: “At night, when the horses and deer come out in the pasture, it’s so magical,” she said. After that description, Mike and I had to investigate that view, so we drove less than a mile to 12 Benson Mill Road to see it.
McKenzie described it well. Although the horses and deer hadn’t entered the pasture yet, the beautiful landscape was stunning. And I am so delighted that my hometown of Alexander City has a lovely, special restaurant at which people may dine. Trust me, run and do not walk to SpringHouse so that you may be one of those people.
SpringHouse is open Wednesday through Saturday evenings from 5 to 9 p.m. Reservations are required and may be made by calling (256) 215-7080 or by going online to resy.com.
SpringHouse makes the grade with an A+ from this retired English teacher. Remember, “Pooh-sized” people NEVER lie about food. Enjoy!
Stacey Patton Wallace, who retired from teaching language arts for 30 years, is a professional diner. Her column, “Making the Grade,” will appear every other week in The Observer. Stacey may be reached at retiredlangartsteacher2020@gmail.com.