Wining & Dining in Auburn-Opelika with the Dining Winos


Wining & Dining in Auburn-Opelika with the Dining Winos

Part 1

Merideth Davis | The Dining Winos

Join the Dining Winos this summer as they 'wine and dine' through some of Auburn-Opelika's favorite dining spots! This summer series will feature their experiences at local restaurants with exceptional wine lists, delicious food pairings, and other fine things that would appeal to any level of wine lover. 

And without further adieu, the Dining Winos

Join us this summer as we 'wine and dine' through some of Auburn and Opelika's favorite dining destinations. Our focus in this blog series will be on restaurants with exceptional wine lists, delicious food pairings, and other things that would appeal to any level of wine lover. We will be answering the questions we often consider when choosing where to go ourselves and enjoy a glass (or bottle) of wine. Is the wine list diverse in pricing, origin, and varietals? Is the staff knowledgeable on wine and pairings? Can they make a pairing suggestion? Can you buy food? Does it pair with wine? How is the ambiance? What is the style of the wine menu? Is it easy to read?

Our "Wino In Charge," John Mark, graduated from Auburn University in the Hotel Restaurant Management Program in 2004. He spent many years working in clubs and fine dining restaurants before moving out of the operations side of the food and beverage business. Through these experiences, John Mark learned a great deal about what diners want to see on their menus and the art of fine-dining service. For the past decade, he has been working in wine distribution. He cannot help himself when 'wining and dining' but consider these questions above. I must admit he has rubbed off on me some as well.

Our first stop is Amsterdam Café. Located on Gay Street, just a few blocks off Auburn University's main campus, Amsterdam Café has been a staple in the area since 1991. John Mark worked in the kitchen for a couple of years during his undergraduate studies at Auburn. Many renowned Alabama chefs got their start in this kitchen over the years. You may be familiar with some of them, like Rob McDaniel, owner and chef of Helen in Birmingham, and David Bancroft, owner and chef at Acre and Bow & Arrow in Auburn, to name a few.

We enjoyed a tasty calamari appetizer during our recent visit to Amsterdam Café. Their calamari are lightly breaded, then flash-fried, and served with a red pepper coulis, a fancy name for a fruit or vegetable puree used as a sauce. We paired this with a 2020 Les Roches Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley of France. This crisp, bright white wine pairs perfectly with seafood, especially the coulis' spice. It is offered by the glass and by the bottle at Amsterdam Café.

Our next stop on this 'wining and dining' adventure will be another one of our favorite places, Acre. I mentioned the chef and owner, David Bancroft, above when speaking of Amsterdam Café. David started working as a prep cook at Amsterdam Café in 2004 during his senior year in college at Auburn University. He quickly worked his way up to the executive chef and now is the owner of Bow & Arrow and Acre Restaurant in Auburn.

Acre certainly has one of the most comprehensive wine lists in the Auburn, Opelika area. With over fourteen pages of selections (450 different labels), broken down by varietal and origin, it is easy to find the perfect pairing for your dining experience at Acre. Acre is typically at the top of our list when are wanting a pleasant "wining and dining" experience. The by-the-glass offerings here are superior to some you may see on other wine lists. It is always great to try a nicer wine-by-the-glass versus committing to the entire bottle.

Our final stop this month is The Depot in Auburn. The Depot's wine list aims to be both unique and discerning. Their wine list includes wines from smaller boutique-style producers and some more well-known producers. The list draws from coastal city trends to pair elegantly with the coastal cuisine featured by executive chef Scott Simpson.

Matt Poirier, owner of The Depot (& Sneak & Dawdle & The Hound), is our wine case collaboration this month! Head over to our Instagram @thediningwinos to read about the wine selections chosen by Matt in this month's wine case available for purchase locally. These wines are also available by the glass at The Depot, while supplies last.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about our wining and dining experiences this month and hope you will join us next month to see where we go!

John Mark's Pro-Wine Tip: When dining out with a group and you find the responsibility of ordering from the wine list falls to you if you are unsure of what direction to go to possibly pair to everyone's dishes and tastes, ask your server! At all the places we have mentioned here, their staff is well trained to assist in matters like these. You may even find a new favorite by letting them help guide your experience. Cheers!




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