The Pantry West is known for its consistently good food, which was on full display for our table of six last Thursday evening. My entrée, the night’s special of Blackened Salmon with Stewed Vegetables, was one of the better dishes I’ve eaten in Little Rock in quite a while. The Pantry is my go-to place for salmon, but this version was the best yet, probably because of the hearty mix of seasoning that formed the fish’s blackened crust. With each bite, bits of crumbled fish mixed with the tomato-based broth and chunky veggies. I’ve never thought of salmon as a comfort food dish, but the restaurant managed to pull it off.
Another highlight of the meal was our shared Pantry Board, a popular appetizer which includes house-made ricotta, terrine, pâté, smoked pork belly and turkey, one each of a brat and Hungarian sausage, and pickled veggies. While I wasn’t a fan of the overly sour pickled veggies this time around, the ricotta and sausages kept me going back to the board in a noshing-like manner. I washed it all down with a well-made Bulleit Old-Fashioned, followed by a hearty glass of Merlot.
We finished the evening with orders of cheesecake, Nutella Creme Brûlée, and Tiramisu Affogato … the latter of which was the only one I tried, and while quite rich, gets a big thumbs up. Nothing against the other two. I’ve had them before and was pretty full by the time dessert arrived.
So you know I love the food at The Pantry West. By now, you probably also know I enjoy the great service. The servers are always so warm, personable, and attentive … and somehow manage to make the dining experience feel special, while maintaining that laid back, neighborhood restaurant vibe.
Unfortunately, and maybe it’s just a product of me getting older, but what I didn’t enjoy the noise level in the restaurant. As some of you may know, it gets a little loud in The Pantry West. We started dinner at 7:30 p.m. and I couldn’t even hear my friend who was sitting right next to me for the first half of the meal. Listen, I’m obviously no sound-proofing expert–and maybe there’s nothing that can be done to rectify the matter–but it seems like a few ceiling panels would really help with things.
This is me jumping off my soapbox.
Just as a reminder, get the salmon. Or the lasagna. Or the Jäger Schnitzel. At The Pantry West, you really can’t go wrong.