Sallye Irvine samples local restaurants.
photo by Elise Poché
If you are looking for hot dates, Aurora’s is the place. They just happen to be the specialty at the popular Fairhope eatery. These dates, while perhaps the perfect combination of spicy and sweet, are not of the eligible variety but of the edible instead. We’re talking tapas not romance; however, Aurora’s might be the place for both as the weather gets warmer.
Tamara Wintzell, owner of a succession of popular restaurants in the area, opened the establishment in autumn of 2010. (Aurora is Wintzell’s middle name.) Both Aurora’s and one of her other current eateries, Tamara’s Downtown, were featured in the first three episodes of reality television show “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Wintzell calls her latest venture, “laid-back, comfortable, relaxing and airy.” It has a casual, friendly feel with an open, glassed-in, sunroom-style dining area and an eclectic assortment of chairs. It also boasts a big deck, ideal for eating al fresco, along with a lively bar. There is a martini menu of more than 30 specialty martinis and a dandy wine list with more than 20 wines offered by the glass.
A tasty array of tapas (small plates) and gourmet pizzas are the restaurant’s signature items. Soups, salads, steaks, a burger and grilled chicken sandwich round out the menu, along with seafood options of ahi tuna, fresh fish of the day and a jumbo crab cake. Aurora’s also frequently features live music and has well-priced weekday happy hour from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
On the Menu
These delectable bites offer an intriguing mix of tastes and textures. The dates are stuffed with Spanish-style chorizo sausage then wrapped in bacon. They are savory, sticky, slightly sweet, lightly spicy and salty.
The grilled wedge is a delightfully different spin on salad. It’s served a little warm, drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette and loaded with crumbled bacon and shards of Parmesan.
For gorgonzola fans this is heaven. The pie is a lovely marriage of creamy salty cheese and sweet, tangy pear chutney on good homemade pizza crust all laden with roasted red peppers, chunks of grilled chicken and a generous scattering of fresh arugula.
A layer of chocolate cake is capped in a light caramel mousse with an oozy caramel center all encased in a chocolate dome shell.