By Lenora Dannelke
Photos by Ryan Hulvat
Title Photo by Cindy DeSau
History melds with modern sensibilities amid 33 picturesque acres of rolling lawns and a series of spring-fed ponds. The property’s 1730s farmhouse has been lovingly refurbished, and the addition of two wings connected to the house expands the range of hospitality options to include both a restaurant and an event center.
A new barn structure—with a soaring ceiling, elegant chandeliers, and a wall of windows that showcase sweeping vistas—now hosts everything from incredible weddings to top-notch corporate events.
The restaurant—formerly the Cascade Lodge, a landmark destination that operated on this site for 70-plus years—delivers a delicious experience of enticing food and spirits, superb service, and a one-of-a-kind setting. Tables topped in white linens and silver plate flatware clearly send a message of style. However, the simple elegance of the décor—and the clean architectural lines reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright designs—keeps the vibe relaxed and unintimidating, with an abundance of warmth. Original captains chairs give a comfy nod to the restaurant’s heritage, and surrounding windows let guests decide which view is their favorite: the serene surroundings or the artfully arranged dishes placed before them.
An intimate retro-chic bar, accented with warmly glowing copper trim, boasts mid-century modern upholstered stools and a large banquette in eye-popping colors. It’s easy to imagine Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack making this a favorite watering hole. (The well-crafted cocktails would also win their approval.)
A private dining room that accommodates 10 guests and houses a carefully curated wine cellar, enclosed by a glass wall, boasts with a near-magical ambiance. A natural spring that flows through the house and into a shallow pool on the floor keeps wines at a cool, steady temperature year-round—the eighteenth century version of refrigeration.
TRIP THE LIGHT FANTASTIC
Put on your dancing shoes when Michael Arenella & His Dreamland Orchestra perform fabulous Jazz Age tunes for swing-dance and energized ballroom fans. The event is held in the “dance box” party room, and dining guests that evening receive complimentary admission. Those who arrive just for dancing (or listening pleasure!) have a modest two-drink minimum. Check with restaurant for live entertainment schedule.
Co-founders Dan Fehlig and Ian Humphreys purchased the property in 2017 and masterminded the dramatic transformation that was unveiled in late 2018. While Humphreys serves as marketing director, Fehlig acquired restaurant expertise working his way from waiter to captain to management at such celebrated New York locales as 21 Club and the Four Seasons. He branched out on his own by starting The Upper Crust, a successful New York City catering and event-planning company, in 1983. (Durham Springs also offers off-premise catering and event design services.) Having degrees in both architecture and theater, artistic director Fehlig utilizes these skills to design impressively stylish events. The owners now live in Lower Saucon Township. They had owned the home for 24 years as a country retreat, and Fehlig says “We’ve always enjoyed being here. We came home.”
Executive Chef Jon McCain, also had a homecoming to the region. This native of nearby Pittstown, New Jersey, arrived at Durham Springs by way of Chicago and New York, where he worked with such rock-star chefs as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Grant Achatz. His meticulous and innovative approach to cooking features clean flavors. McCain values “restraint”—that is, creating dishes that are not overly-busy, enabling guests to savor the tastes individually.
A menu that continually evolves reflects the availability of fresh products—many from such local sources as Trauger’s Farm Market, “Farmer Jennifer” who lives just past a bend in the road, and other suppliers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York—and flavors that cater to seasonal appetites. “A lot of places will change menus four times a year, but that doesn’t line up with how vegetables grow,” says McCain. “We change a dish or two every week.”
The chef notes that they are more than a farm-to-table restaurant. Under the broad heading of Contemporary American cuisine—“That basically means we’re going to cook whatever we want to!” quips Fehlig—McCain draws on his broad culinary experience to create dishes from all over the world that star local ingredients.
Dishes with bold flavors from India, North Africa, and other exotic locales are presented with appealing accessiblity. One such entrée is Venison seared with vadouvan, a fragrant French-Indian spice blend, complemented by kale, delicata squash, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate. For a refreshing Mediterranean start to dinner, Fried Green Tomato Caprese features Farmer Jennifer’s super-tasty tomatoes paired with smoked mozzarella, basil, and a balsamic glaze.
Other luscious entrées include Duck—sous vide-cooked for ultra-tenderness then rendered and crisply crusted with honey and chestnuts—that arrives with celery root purée, cherry jus, brussels sprout leaves, and cherries, and Heritage Breed Pork, enhanced with corn purée, butternut squash, pickled cabbage, mustard, caraway, and pork crumbs.
McCain also heads the culinary offerings for all Durham Springs events. Fehlig, however, directs the team that designs every wedding, corporate or non-profit event, and social occasion of differing sizes—such as rehearsal dinners, showers, and memorials—to suit individual styles and needs. Weddings, in particular, provide an opportunity to take this celebration to the next level of dream expectations. As wedding producers, rather than wedding planners, they are able to attend to every detail—from décor and entertainment to flowers and lighting—with a full coordination of services for a beautifully flawless start to a marriage.
Whether dining or partying at Durham Springs, expect to meet Fehlig or Humphreys as they circulate and offer a personal greeting to guests. Their mission of providing pleasurable hospitality is paramount at this extraordinary country destination.
A BETTER WAY TO BRUNCH
More than just a meal, brunch is a social celebration replete with savory and sweet delights, plus favorite early-day cocktails. And Durham Springs has rolled out, quite literally, an updated concept for this popular Sunday repast. Instead of requiring guests to navigate the dining room with plates piled high at a steam table buffet, roving carts circulate to tables, offering a wide assortment of small plates fresh from the kitchen—a style the restaurant has dubbed “American dim sum.” A selection that changes weekly may include duck confit hash with a duck egg, frittatas, maple glazed sausage, fruit tarts, muffins, shrimp and grits, and Dutch babies served in individual skillets, and guests may indulge in sampling as many as they like for one inclusive price. Wine and classic drinks are available, but the signature brunch cocktail—Pamplemousse—is de rigueur for light and lively refreshment.
- 1 oz. pink grapefruit juice
- 1 oz. Combier Pamplemousse (grapefruit liqueur)
- Sparkling white wine or champagne, as needed
- Thin grapefruit twist for garnish
Pour grapefruit juice and liqueur in a flute glass and stir gently with a straw to blend. Fill glass with your choice of sparkling white wine or champagne, hang grapefruit twist on the side, and serve at once.
As seen in the Winter/Spring 2020 Issue
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