We had an early anniversary dinner Saturday night at the Old Town Stock House in Guntersville, Alabama. Chef Crystal McKone knocks it out of the park by incorporating seasonal ingredients into her menu planning. Kudos Chef. Please click on the link for more information.
The lovely historic building was built in 1901. It's located in downtown Guntersville right behind the county courthouse. Everything, from the ambiance to the seasonal menu offerings, to the food, was outstanding.
When Sweet Harold called for reservations, he was asked if there was any special occasion we'd be celebrating. He told them our anniversary and we were greeted with complimentary bubbly! That certainly set the tone for this great evening.
While we sipped our bubbly and pondered the menu, our server brought the amuse bouche of the night: steamed marinated crab claws. Isn't that lovely? Perfectly cooked with a very light oil and vinegar dressing. Needless to say, we enjoyed these little "bites."
Five selections were available on the "small plates" offerings. I was definitely intrigued by the Fall Salad. All of the ingredients are some of my favorites: baby lettuces, roasted squash and beets, candied pecans, citrus, blue cheese, maple vinaigrette.
I was a little disappointed in the amount of blue cheese, but I should have trusted the chef. The amount was perfectly balanced with the tartness of the citrus and the richness of the roasted vegetables. I could have this salad every single day.
And Sweet Harold totally surprised me with his choice: pan roasted quail, candied fennel, cherries, lardons, bacon toast, arugula. Now if you're wondering what bacon toast is, well, it's not toast with bacon on top. It's bread, buttered with bacon droppings, and then grilled. Re-read that. Yes, it was THAT amazing.
The quail was succulent and melted in your mouth. A delightful Fall small plate!
While we studied the dinner menu, we ordered drinks. I already had my mind semi-decided on my entree, so I decided a big girl drink was in order. How about a Dirty Martini with blue cheese olives! Oh yes. Sweet Harold ordered one of his favorites, a Long Island Ice Tea. Both were made at the bar directly across from our table by the House Mixologist, Reece Dodd.
A basket with hot rolls and butter were good to nibble on while we waited for our entrees. A small thing, but I really wish the butter had been room temp for ease of spreading on these delicious rolls.
Now to the main event. Sweet Harold can have first billing this time. He chose the Airline Chicken Breast served with white rice, red bean gravy, Alabama andouille. This was a more than adequate serving of chicken. He reports that it was very moist and the red bean gravy was nicely seasoned. He allowed me ONE bite. Usually, he shares more than that, so I think that says a lot!
I decided to go big! I was thrilled to see a filet on the menu. An 8 oz. grass-fed filet, potato gratin, seasonal vegetables (for this meal it was haricot verts and mushrooms), red wine reduction. You can tell when you are served high-quality ingredients. This filet was cooked medium per my request. The red wine reduction is definitely one I wish I could master.
We normally don't order dessert, but this was a special meal and we wanted to see if the perfection from our Chef would carry over to the dessert course. No need to question that!
As you know, pecan pies are my weakness. Now you add chocolate to that....and then add ice cream and caramel sauce....oh my goodness. The pie was served hot and the ice cream was just beginning to melt down into that chocolatey pecan goodness. I wasn't able to eat all of it, but trust me, I really wished I had it a few hours later!
Sweet Harold almost chose the Earl Grey Crème Brûlée. but then he noticed the poached pear in a chocolate shell, with shortbread crumb, vanilla ice cream, candied ginger. I couldn't wait to see the presentation for this dessert. We weren't disappointed.
As you can tell, there is SO much attention to detail in the plating. We thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of our evening. We'll be back!