Monday, March 28, 2011

Gaines Ridge Dinner Club

On Saturday evening, we had the lovely privilege of visiting Gaines Ridge Dinner Club for a meal. What a delightful place! I could rave and rave about the delectable food, the understated charm of the house, the gracious helpfulness of all the staff. Wait, did I just rave anyway?  It was such a nice evening.  This is not a place just for eating; it's a place to enjoy every moment. Here's the front door, which is reached after a long, dark driveway lined by trees dripping with Spanish moss. Gaines Ridge maintains a casual, homey atmosphere.
But I wouldn't call the inside "casual, "exactly.  The house itself, the furnishings, and china everywhere -- all of it says "elegance." I would say, unpretentious elegance. Everything is perfect.
Here are our two angels of the evening.  Miss Betty is on the left; she owns the home and runs the restaurant. The lady on the right tended to our every need at the table. They have lovely smiles even after a long evening. Betty is amazing. She's been running Gaines Ridge for 26 years, but does many other things.  I suppose she's never still. Her work is a blessing to her community.
This is just one little corner, showing what I mean by "china everywhere."  I have a weakness (a serious weakness) for china pitchers. I felt my heart fainting away when I saw these shelves!
Our group sat in the back room. This room is not original to the house, but Betty added it on because she needed the space.  She carefully chose everything so that it would still have an "old" feel, and she did succeed! Don't you love the long fireplace? The weathered wood? The blue bottles and farm implements?
I have to tell a story on Peter.  After our appetizers (fried pickles, fried tomatoes and delicate, thin, crunchy onion rings which were decadent!), and our salads, our main dishes were brought. Peter had ordered a steak sandwich.  I tell you, that sandwich arrived, and he inhaled it silently before I knew he'd done it. I looked over at his plate with a few crumbs and a dribble of steak juice on it, and asked, "Where's your sandwich?"  He smiled sheepishly and shrugged his shoulders.  "It was really, really good!"  he said. A kind lady in our group said, "Do you want another one? Order another one!" And he did.  He ate that too. I suppose he was hungry, but I also think it was just a very delicious steak sandwich (or two).
And all of the food was that good - steak, shrimp, crab cakes, tilapia.  Just wonderful!

The outdoors at Gaines Ridge are as beautiful as the dining rooms. Betty has ornamented the porch and patio area with twinkle lights, beautiful plants, and all kinds of lovely things hanging from the boughs of the trees. There's a quaint archway with a Lady Banks rosebush clambering over it. It was dark, so this photo does not do it justice.
Betty is also a quilter, and this thrilled Anna! She had several of her quilts brought up to the house for Anna to see. Betty has only been quilting for six years, and she does it all on machine -- she says she doesn't have time to do it all by hand, considering all the wonderful quilting ideas she wants to complete. Here are a couple of examples of her work:

For dessert, we had Black Bottom Pie. We were told that Gaines Ridge's Black Bottom Pie is among the 100 things a visitor to Alabama must experience, before leaving the state, and I believe it! Anna and I split a piece. It had a ginger snap crumb crust, and there was a wisp of liquor in there with the chocolate -- rum perhaps? It was wonderful.
We left Gaines Ridge satisfied and content.  Or, as they say in the South, "fat and happy." If you are traveling anywhere near Camden, AL, you must eat here.  Here's a website with a little more information. And if you go to Google or Youtube, you can find an interview with Betty, in which she relates the ghostly experiences she's had in the old house.  Exciting!

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