A Sprenkle of Deliciousness:
‘Let the chef surprise us’ 4.0
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.
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 Sprenkle is a classicallytrained 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 runnerup 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, 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.”
Sprenkle also features Wacky Wednesday, which offers a selection of chefinspired burgers in addition to the fine dining menu. It’s a bustling night. The burgers change quite a bit. 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. 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 Watermelon Gazpacho shot with cucumber, rosemary goat cheese, citron sea salt and Fair Share Farms pea leaves
COURSE 2 Sweet Corn Puree with Blackened Alligator and ramp oil
COURSE 3 Roasted Oyster Mushrooms with oloroso sherry natural sauce
COURSE 4 Spanish Lobster and Chorizo sausage
Torte with eggs, potato, chili relish, cilantro, lobster tamale, lobster roe, cilantro
COURSE 5 Vadouvon Spiced roasted cauliflower with onion, pancetta, basil and Argentinian Extra virgin sunflower oil
COURSE 6 Hill Top farms ostrich and havarati cheese quesadilla, spicy chili relish aioli
COURSE 7 Tasting of Orange scented crÃ¨me 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 Dion Sprenkle’s cuisine is distinctly Mediterranean and he says he tries to source as much locally as possible. “I will always buy locally when I can, but to me the importance is quality.”
Keep in mind that Chef Dion Sprenkle is a BYOB establishment, and as is customary for such restaurants, they do charge a corkage fee ($10/bottle of wine and $1/ bottle of beer). Sprenkle told me that 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,” Sprenkle said. “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 five 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!”
If you’d like to participate in a future “Surprise Gathering,” follow triadfoodies on social media for all the details. Hint:
Next stop in late July 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. !
KRISTI MAIER is a food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.
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