Tag Archives: casual

Review: Chef Dion Sprenkle

A Sprenkle of Deliciousness: “Let The Chef Surprise Us” 4.0

You can see this story in YES! Weekly

This is the continuing story of how we allow the chef to surprise us. We’re kind of changing it up recently. We now get a group of foodie friends/followers together and hit up a local restaurant. This time, Chef Dion Sprenkle…way out in Lexington (actually, a mere half hour from many cities in the Triad). I had visited Chef Dion’s restaurant a few weeks back after he attended a previous foodie gathering at 1703 Restaurant and then he volunteered himself for a similar event the next month. At the end of this post you’ll see where we’re headed next! 

Just as much as a focus on the food, this gathering was an opportunity to meet the chef and get to know him better. Chef Dion Sprenkle is a classically-trained chef, graduating in 1992 from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.  Before making his way South, Sprenkle was the chef de cuisine at the New York Palace Hotel, executive chef at The Water Club and at Spazzia Restaurant and chef de cuisine at Spartina Restaurant. He says he also gained valuable experience in the kitchens of Gotham Bar & Grill and The River Cafe. Previously in the Triad, Sprenkle was Executive Chef at Old Town Club in Winston-Salem.

Last year, Chef Sprenkle placed runner-up in the local Competition Dining series, getting edged out by Graze’s Chef Richard Miller in the final battle. Many people took notice of this incredibly talented chef, tucked away in Davidson County. We wanted to know…what on earth brought him to Lexington, where alcohol sales in restaurants are not permitted? “After an extensive search for restaurant locations in Winston, Greensboro and Salisbury areas, none of which suited what I was looking for, this space was available and we quickly realized the need for an upscale restaurant in the area,” Sprenkle told us. “Many people live in Davidson County and work in Forsyth, but come home to no restaurants and then have to travel back to Winston to get something to eat besides BBQ.”

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Sprenkle also features Wacky Wednesday, which offers a selection of chef-inspired burgers in addition to the fine dining menu. It’s a bustling night. The burgers change quite a bit, but the night that we checked out the burgers, I enjoyed a House-Smoked Pastrami Burger. It was a sizable, perfectly cooked burger topped with, I kid you not…a good inch of smoked pastrami. And it was delicious. The pastrami was so smoky and flavorful. It was almost a fork meal. Well, I turned it into a fork meal, anyway.

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Mr. foodie ordered a chicken dish from the menu and I forget what it was but it was really tasty.

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And he sent out dessert…strawberry  bread pudding

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We were then looking forward to what surprises he had in store for us when we got our group together.

At our gathering, course after course came and it went a little something like this:

Course 1

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Watermelon Gazpacho shot with cucumber, rosemary goat cheese, citron sea salt and Fair Share Farms pea leaves

Course 2

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Sweet Corn Puree with Blackened Alligator and ramp oil

Course 3

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Roasted Oyster Mushrooms with oloroso sherry natural sauce

Course 4

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Spanish Lobster and Chorizo sausage Torte with eggs, potato, chili relish, cilantro, lobster tamale, lobster roe, cilantro

Course 5

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Vadouvon Spiced roasted cauliflower with onion, pancetta, basil and Argentinean Extra virgin sunflower oil

Course 6

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Hill Top farms ostrich and havarati cheese quesadilla, spicy chili relish aioli

Course 7

Tasting of Orange scented crème brulee and Ricotta cheese panna cotta with strawberry balsamic glaze, basil syrup and lemon confit.

As you can see, this is a great sampling of some of the menu items and a few “surprises,” just the way we like it. Chef Sprenkle’s cuisine is distinctly Mediterranean and he says he tries to source as much locally as possible as long as it’s of the highest quality. “I will always buy locally when I can, but to me the importance is quality.” 

Keep in mind that Chef Dion Sprenkle is a BYO alcoholic beverages and as customary for such restaurants, they do charge a corkage fee ($10/bottle of wine and $1/bottle of beer. Sprenkle tod me if you bring in a Davidson County Wine (Childress, Weathervane, Junius Lyndsey, Native Vines, or purchased from Tastings Wine and Beer Store) they only charge $5 per bottle.

The chef also says he’s not resting on his laurels and is looking at expanding to other areas in the Triad. He’s also consulting on another project that’s due to open in Winston-Salem in mid-July. While working on those efforts, Sprenkle says he doesn’t mind being “tucked away” as we call it. “Our clientele is diverse and see us as a destination restaurant, but the locals of Lexington sometimes dine with us at least three times a week and see us as their home dining room. Our location allows people in Winston, Clemmons, High point or Salisbury to arrive within 15 minutes. We also get quite a few people from Greensboro or Charlotte. They may stay in town for the weekend to visit the wineries and then come have dinner with us.” He adds, “We’ve survived now for 5 years in a location that is off the beaten path and without alcohol sales. Like I always said when I lived in NYC, If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere, and we have!”

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Wanna go? Chef Dion Sprenkle is located just inside Lexington at 5479 Old US Hwy 52.
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 5-9pm. The restaurant is also open for special holidays and brunches and is available for private events and catering. chefdion.com

If you’d like to participate in a future “Surprise Gathering,” follow triadfoodies on social media for all the details. Hint: Next stop is Tuesday, July 26 at Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar as Triad’s Best Chef (as voted by YES! Weekly readers) to get to know Chef Tim Grandinetti and let him surprise us. Just message me at Kristi@triadfoodies dot com to reserved your spot. We usually max out at 12-14 people to keep it intimate and it’s about $25 per person. 

#PantryRaid…Day 2 of My Shelf Purge

It’s the 3rd day since I announced my challenge, but day 2 of raiding my fridge and pantry.  I got up this morning and hit those shelves hard so I could mentally calculate and get an inventory of what I have. After taking much of the snacks away to put them in the “kid snacks cabinet” in another room, I feel much better. And it looks better too.

So now I can really shop from my shelves and breathe to tell you the truth. And after looking at this, it’s not so terrible actually. Except all the mustard and sauces. And baking mixes. Other than that, it’s staples, lol.

This morning, my little girl wanted eggs in a basket so I used up the heels of a loaf of bread and cooked her 2 eggs in 2 baskets, fried up some bacon and then I quickly took another egg and threw it into the skillet and got it good and dippy and tossed that into some pasta along with the bacon for an on-the-fly carbonara. Really tasty! No photo though.

Day 2 Dinner:

The remainder of some thawing ground beef, some leftover chili, the last 4 Miss Jenny’s Salt & Pepper Pickle slices and the last of some provolone for a delicious burger. And we polished off a salad and added the last 1/8 of a bag of rosemary fries. I still have a lot of mustard.

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I may not be getting skinnier. But I feel lighter in the shelves anyway.  I really want to do this as healthfully as possible. Which is why you see 12 fries above :\ However doing this paleo or low carb is going to be a challenge.

We went out to eat Saturday night so in the queue is my husbands lamb tacos and some refried beans. And I have 3 BBQ chicken wings that I’m going to have tomorrow with some quinoa and I’m going to add it to some Nopalitos dip (cactus, avocado and some spicy stuff) and add some toasted chickpeas for a side salad. I sat that right in front in my fridge so I won’t forget.  That before we get busy for a couple of days then we’ll be shopping from our shelves again on Wednesday.

Have you purged your shelves today? Comment and let me know what you’re cooking!

 

foodie b’eat: #followmeto A Greensboro Burger Crawl

From @YES Weekly…

So who needs a hashtag or a National anything to celebrate…well…anything? Certainly not me…and I bet you neither. But since National Hamburger Day, aka #nationalhamburgerday is coming upon us this Saturday, May 28, we thought we’d get in on the fun and do a burger crawl! That’s right! But….there’s a caveat. See, Greensboro is kind of known for being a burger town. Always has been since back in the days of Hamburger Square downtown where there were burgers on every corner. 

Today, there are some really good burger joints to choose from. Hops, Burger Spot, Emma Keys, Burger Warfare are some of the recent greats…and while we give these burger places their “graces” for being burger royalty, this crawl is taking you to the spots in the Gate City that you might not have heard of or even know that they serve pretty darn good burgers. Not classic burger places either. Not even places known for burgers at all.

Shall we go over the rules again? Always more fun with two people. That way there’s more sharing, which means more tasting without getting so full. Burgers can be quartered so that’s what we did. Plus it’s also good to get opinions. Mr. foodie and I enlisted, Randy Barnes, who writes the blog Hamburger Square. He considers himself somewhat of a burger expert. I pretty much let him choose all the places. Our comrade, chef Lynn Wells (Thyme Well Spent Personal Chef), was our fourth “man.” We kept the burgers simple (#baconischeating) because if you can keep it simple and do it well, then your other burgers are sure to be darn good. Plus it made for a more fair comparison.

First stop: Tony’s Citgo, aka Tony’s Food Mart, 3300 Edgefield Road      

It’s a gas station, people. Full-fledged. You can get a tank of gas and a 1/4 pound, 1/2 pound or even one whole pound burger. Our chef, “Brandon” has been manning the grill for 2 years. The meat comes in fresh daily and the burgers are griddled on the flat top to order. You can get an order of fries or onion rings and they even have homemade ranch. The burger was a great size (we split the 1/2 pound 4 ways), nice and wide, thick and perfectly cooked. Juicy too. There are picnic tables on the side of Tony’s near the kerosene tank for relaxing. But it was looking stormy so we opened some of Randy’s folding chairs and each ate our quarters at his TV tray and I dare say, it was charming.

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If you’re not on a crawl, your dessert can be one of those disgusting packaged pink snowballs. To each his own.

Stop #2: Jams Deli,  5707 Friendly Avenue

Mostly known for all kind of sandwiches, Jams has a really great vibe. I love the checkerboard and 50’s feel. But you might not know they have a pretty decent burger. It was one of Randy’s top burgers of the year. “I love it because it has shredded lettuce and not many places shred their lettuce…I call it the special sauce.” This burger was a bit smaller but still cooked nicely. Tony’s still wins.

Stop #3: Mark’s Restaurant, 616 Dolley Madison Road

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So Mark’s is a little more “high falutin” than most burger places. We sat down in the bar, ordered some cocktails, and decided on the Kobe Original burger, which comes pretty basic with a tomato and grilled onion (just lightly seared on the grill). This was the fanciest and most expensive burger of the evening….$11-12 (because of the Kobe). Mark’s actually split the burgers for us and plated them individually along with our sweet potato chips. It definitely was the prettiest presentation and boy was it juicy and had just the right about of salty crust. The vote: Mark’s moves out to the front (even though Kobe might be cheating). Maybe you wouldn’t choose Mark’s for your burger night because you might think you’re going more upscale. Just know, you can eat in the bar or on the patio, wearing flip flops and really enjoy that burger. Plus, Tuesday nights is gourmet burger night where you can get a Kobe burger with a fried green tomato, pimento cheese and pepper jelly and doesn’t that just sound amazing?

Stop #4:  Libby Hill Seafood, 3920 Cotswold Avenue        

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Late last year, LH added a burger to the menu and they recently started adding more.  I mean, you come to Libby Hill for inexpensive seafood. But for that one problem person in your group who doesn’t like seafood, this may be a solution. The burger is a great size and ours was perfectly prepared. This burger was the one out the whole night that tasted like it could’ve been cooked in your backyard. It had a nice grilled flavor, juicy red tomato, leaf lettuce and smear of mayo. Solid.

Stop #5: Reel Seafood Grill, 2002 New Garden Road

Starting..to…get… full….

Not exactly where you would think to get a burger but they do have a burger on the menu when all you want is surf but your dining companion(s) want turf. The burger was a decent size and pretty tasty overall and cooked perfectly. We opted for a side of grits. Ha! However, we were all in agreement on one thing. Reel Seafood does seafood real well…it’s where they shine. So much so that you should order what they do when you go there. Especially if you want seafood. Especially order the whole flash fried flounder. See why here. 

This burger crawl was Greensboro-focused and we want to send a shout out to those spots who keep us on our toes. Classic rock star props continue to go to out to: What-A-Burger (the locally owned), Beef a.k.a Biff Burger, Tipsy’s Tavern, Lindley Park Filling Station, and the aforementioned burger royalty at the top of the article. Crafted-The Art of the Taco also should get props for having a burger that some say is just as good as the famous tacos.

Honorable mention for burgers also goes to The Porterhouse Burger Truck. I haven’t eaten at the restaurant (Porterhouse Bar & Grill) on Market Street, but recently I had a Mushroom + Swiss burger from the truck and it was one of the best shroom burgers I’ve ever had. The mushrooms were hearty and still had a bite, the onions were sweet and caramelized, the swiss cheese was thick enough that you could taste its sharpness, the burger itself had a salty crunchy exterior and was perfectly cooked inside. And it was all on a fluffy bun. You could taste all the layers in every bite. See? 

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And so we don’t leave out some of the Winston-Salem greats, we’re currently loving the Burger Supreme pop-up at Mission Pizza at lunch on Wednesdays, the Camel City Grill food truck . Read the blog post review here (try anything with pimento cheese or the peanut butter, baconCamel City and pepper jelly)–by the way, the food truck is for sale. First Street Draught House, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, Foothills Brewing’s burger and recently Chef Travis Myers has been adding creative burgers to Willow’s Bistro menus. And Graze has this ridiculous burger with fried chicken on it (blog post here)!  And if you don’t mind the short drive, Chef Dion Sprenkle has Wacky Wednesday, which features three different burgers topped with crispy onions or an amazing house-smoked pastrami.

Tell us some of your favorite burger places. And I’d like to do a crawl in Winston-Salem that’s all burgers. Where do you think we should go?

foodie b’eat: Crafted Brings Its Art to Downtown Winston-Salem

From YES! Weekly….

If there’s one thing Chef Kristina Fuller has gotten the hang of, it’s how to create a bit of a clamor when it comes to “will she, won’t she?” or “what’s it going to be?” After two successful restaurants in Greensboro (Crafted— The Art of the Taco and Crafted—The Art of Street Food) Chef Fuller and her mom and business partner, Rhonda, finally announced what thousands have been hoping for a couple of years now…..Crafted—The Art of the Taco is coming to Winston-Salem. And very fittingly, to the Arts District downtown.

We’ve been talking to the Fullers for a couple of years now about expanding their “taco joint” (it’s not a Mexican restaurant) into the the Twin City. There’s always been a “oh, we want to,” from them. Then Street Food opened, so we waited. And I’ve even sent them photos of spaces for lease when I would run across them downtown. The dynamic mother/daughter team simply wanted to take their time and make sure they had the staff in place so that the chef could focus on a new restaurant. Fuller says they were ready and finally looking at a space along 4th Street when they got an email that the property at 527 N. Liberty Street was available. “it really just kind of chose us. We set up a meeting with the landlord and realized it was a great relationship. It’s perfect.”

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Owner, Mike Stinnett, has already gotten to work on improvements to the stand-alone building which used to be 3 different barbershops. The windows out front will be opened up even more, with an additional window being added to one side of the building for more light. There will be the Crafted customary open kitchen concept with a rustic, urban chic feel. Fuller says they plan on using one wall along the bar to feature the specials. The space already has exposed brick and the wood that is now the subfloor will be taken out and repurposed as table tops. “We really like to be as sustainable as possible and re-use what’s already here. Mike has barns and he’s just pulling fixtures from ” The main dining room will seat about 50, the bar will seat another 15 and the patio will hold about 28 seats. “We just want it rustic and a bit industrial, but clean and simple.” Fuller says elements of unexpected design like graffiti and chandeliers will be present at the new location as well. Fuller says Stinnett will be creating offices in the upstairs portion of the building. The lower level beneath the restaurant will be used for storage and hopefully be expanded into space for special events. “It has a lot of possibilities…art showings, parties, it’ll be a great space.”

There will be a small parking lot with about 14 spaces, then parking is usually pretty easy to find along Liberty Street. Fuller says they expect to be open in about 8 months. The Fullers also last week announced the opening of a food truck. Fuller says the truck will be used for special events but on she plans to have it On The Road 7 days a week, adding “We’ll also be putting the food truck out front at the WS location just to drum up excitement and word of mouth in the weeks leading up to the opening of the new taco joint this fall. We wouldn’t want folks to forget about us or wonder when we’re going to open.”

In the meantime, Fuller will be dividing her time between two successful restaurants and a food truck, with Street Food about to celebrate its one-year anniversary. Fuller says Crafted—The Art of Street Food opened with such fanfare that it took a while for them to find their ground. “In the beginning, we got hit so hard and sometimes we were on an hour wait and when it’s like that, you can’t always know what’s going wrong in the midst of all the crazy. But then the newness wore off and honeymoon phase was over and we were able to hone in on our recipes and know what was really working.” Fuller says the new menu that’s just come out is a reflection of that. “I feel like this is us perfecting all the food that people love, tweaking it and putting out what is a seriously good menu.” You’ll find a few more Asian dishes for sure, evidence of the chef’s recent travels. Fuller visited Thailand a couple of months back, so you will see some inspiration from trip like noodle dishes, Pad Thai, Thai curry shrimp, some Indian dishes and as always, favorite like poutine, Bao, and the ever-popular, ramen. Thank goodness….Fuller says, “Oh yeah, the ramen’s not going anywhere.”

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Wanna go? Well, you’ll have to wait until about October/November for the new location at 527 N. Liberty Street in Winston-Salem. Until then, find the Crafted On the Road wherever it may be or Crafted—The Art of the Taco at 219 S. Elm Street or Crafted—The Art of Street Food at 600 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro. eatatcrafted.com

foodie b’eat: Dining for a Cause and Providence Restaurant

You know how much mr. foodie and I HEART Chef Jeff Bacon and Triad Community Kitchen. This past summer, the folks at Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC announced that a dream has become a reality—that TCK, would finally have a full-fledged restaurant. Here’s a look back at their Grand Opening and how the new Providence Restaurant will keep changing and enhancing lives as you “Dine for a Cause.” This is a story not to be missed.

Read about it here in the latest CHOW!

Stay local, foodies!

Kristi

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