Schoolhouse restaurant charms in Spring Green
Homecoming provides a convivial atmosphere with farm-to-table dishes.
Having a meal at Homecoming feels a bit like being invited to a large dinner party. You may not know all the guests when you arrive, but there’s a good chance you’ll make a couple of new friends before you leave, perhaps while in line to order food, or when you’re waiting for a generous slice of chocolate sheet cake to arrive for dessert. The restaurant, located on North Lexington Street in Spring Green, is housed in two rooms on the first floor of the “White School,” a four-room schoolhouse built in 1877 that is now a Sauk County Historic Site. The building was used as a school until 1985 and became a spot for a community pizza night beginning in 2017. With its 12-foot ceilings and a chalkboard still in use in the dining area, the space was transformed into Homecoming by its new owners, Kyle Beach and Leah Spicer, when they took over during the summer of 2021.
Spicer grew up on a 40-acre farm outside of Spring Green and moved to Asheville, North Carolina, for college. There she met Beach, who is originally from the Greenville, North Carolina area. After several years spent working in restaurants and starting a family, the couple returned to Spicer’s family farm during the pandemic. The decision to take over the White School was a fairly easy one. Beach soon recruited Chance Spivey, a friend and chef originally from South Carolina, to join them.
Open Friday, Saturday and Monday nights for dinner and on Sundays for brunch, the restaurant features an ever-changing menu that spotlights seasonal produce. “Our focus is on highlighting the bounty of our community,” Beach says. “We have some incredible vendors here.” With an open kitchen and a wood-fired oven located in the restaurant’s sprawling backyard, the Homecoming crew creates rustic, homey dishes worthy of a celebration.
“We made a stuffed pasta for a special event [last winter], and [Chef] Chance [Spivey] and I have been making a ton of pasta since then,” Beach says. “[Now] it’s part of our restaurant’s identity to always have a fresh pasta on.” The type of pasta might vary but the dish sometimes features a ragu made from lamb, beef and pork with a local tomato broth, and it gets topped with Sartori Parmesan cheese. “It’s so delicious, so we keep doing it,” Beach says.
Trout from Rushing Waters, a trout farm located in southern Wisconsin, is classically prepared: wood-fired in a hot cast-iron skillet and lightly seasoned with butter, salt, pepper and lemon. Usually served with beans or succotash, the dish sometimes features creamer peas from Anson Mills, a bean and grain company located in South Carolina, as an homage to Beach and Spivey’s Southern roots.
STAR OF THE SMOKER
Pork belly from nearby Enos Farms or Seven Seeds Farms is smoked in a cinder block-and-rebar smoker that Beach and his crew constructed in the restaurant’s backyard garden. “We do a lot of our smoking on that with hickory wood,” Beach says. One version of the dish featured the pork belly finished with a Korean-style barbecue sauce and served with marinated collard greens, miso polenta and fresh pickles.
Homecoming’s menu relies on local produce, meat and grain vendors, including Steadfast Acres and Meadowlark Organics. The menu changes a lot. “Loosely, there are about eight seasons for seasonality, maybe 10, for how often we are switching things up carte blanche,” Beach says. The way the dishes are presented is also always evolving. Beach likes to encourage ingenuity in the kitchen. “I want to create space in our limited capacity to always feature people’s ideas and things they are working toward,” he says. Look for the restaurant to change things up even more during the winter months. “[Last winter] we did an Indian street food pop-up in January, an Asian pop-up in February and a Southern food pop-up in March,” Beach says.
Find Homecoming: 242 N. Lexington St., 608-459-5313, homecomingspringgreen.com
Erica Krug is a contributing writer at Madison Magazine.
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