Posts Tagged One Eleven

Admit It, You’d Miss These 10 Dishes

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If you moved tomorrow, have you ever thought about the dishes in Little Rock you’d truly miss–the ones you’d absolutely crave months, heck, years later? I think about it all the time. These dishes are not only delicious, but also scream Little Rock. Finding such food and drink might not necessarily be the easiest task in other areas of the country. Here are my 10 Most Miss-able Dishes:

Smoked Turkey Salad at Burge’s
If I had to guess, this smoked turkey salad would be on the top of a lot of folk’s lists. Often referred to as “crack salad,” it looks like a pile of mush to the untrained eye. Burger’s is able to somehow transform a mundane menu item into one of the most crave-inducing bites of food in town. The smoky, pulverized meat is just too hard to resist.

Fried Duck Wings at South on Main
I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking, “Fried duck wings? I’ve never seen those on the menu at South on Main?” I think they used to either be a bar-special or a seasonal menu item. All I know is I’ve never seen them on a menu anywhere else. Couple that with the fact that they’re fan-freaking-tastic, and you see why they make my list. Think chicken wings, but a little bigger, and a lot tastier.

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Chocolate Glazed at Mark’s Do-Nut Shop
We always end up missing sweets. Think back to your last vacation. I bet there’s a dessert you just can’t get out of your head. Mark’s is like that for me. You could travel far and wide and not find better. The fresh glazed at Shipley’s (610/Ella) in Houston are a close second.

Baked Pimento Cheese at Boulevard Bistro and Bar
This is a Little Rock list, and at least one pimento cheese representative had to be on here, right? In general, I’m not the biggest fan of pimento cheese, but there’s no denying the awesomeness of Boulevard’s warm, melted version.

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Any Pizza at Deluca’s Pizzeria
This is the best pizza in all of Arkansas, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on a few prominent national lists in the near future. The pizza is just that good. It really doesn’t matter what toppings you order–they’re all great. The true miss-able quality is the light, crisp, yet chewy crust. After we moved from Boston, my most missed dish was the pizza at Regina’s. And Deluca’s is better, so I know for a fact it would drive me crazy.

Soaked Salad at Doe’s Eat Place
Yeah, yeah … I know. How does a simple side salad make such a list? Well, I happen to love soaked salad, and it’s my list, so deal with it. Heck, I didn’t even know what soaked salad was before I moved to Little Rock, and I enjoy how this Doe’s version doesn’t have bits of green olives like many of the others.

Old Fashioned at South on Main
I had to include one cocktail on the list, and it doesn’t get any better than David Burnette’s Old Fashioned. Those who’ve tasted one know what I’m talking about. If I left Little Rock tomorrow, I’d be craving one of these by the following Tuesday. Again, it’s a standard cocktail you could find at any bar, but good luck finding one better than at South on Main.

Thin Fish at The Faded Rose
I only had this dish for the first time a few weeks ago, but damn would I miss it if I moved to Tucson or Omaha or Providence. Thin, perfectly fried catfish filets don’t grown on trees in other areas of the country. Nor would you want them to.

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Leek Salad at One Eleven
Hey, look … it’s another salad! I love leeks, and what they do with them over at One Eleven, pairing with bits of bleu cheese and pecans, is simply brilliant. Can you get leeks at a million other restaurants across the country? Yes, but they probably won’t be this good.

Coconut Cream Pie at Charlotte’s
Have you had better coconut cream pie in your life? I haven’t.

Others I’d miss: Deviled Eggs at The Pantry, Banana Pudding at Capital Bar and Grill, Fried Alligator Bites at Maddie’s Place

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Exciting Times in Little Rock’s Food Scene

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By all accounts, 2014 was a damn good year for Little Rock’s food scene. We added some excellent new establishments like The Pizzeria at Terry’s Finer Foods, Good Food by Ferneau, Butcher & Public and Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co. We even saw seasoned restaurantuers like Scott McGehee, Tomas Bohm and Jerry Barakat expand their footprints with the already successful ventures of Lost Forty Brewing, The Pantry Crest and Kemuri, respectively.

Our beer scene has exploded. We have a baker turned chocolatier (and still baker). Heck, we even have a bakery that makes crazy things called kouign amanns.

Hidden gems like Zaffino’s, Super 7 Grocery Store, Mike’s Café and La Regional impressed.

And places that have been around forever, including The Faded Rose, Scallions, Milford Track and Brave New, all continue to delight customers.

I was cautiously optimistic this time last year on what the future would hold for Little Rock’s food scene. Good things were happening, but not enough to cause genuine excitement. With 2015 quickly approaching, it’s obvious that things have improved tremendously over this past year. Will we ever be a New Orleans, Dallas or even Memphis? No … but Little Rock is slowly making strides to becoming a true dining destination.

I say “slowly” because it really does take time.

So, what needs to take place for the culinary scene to continue to move forward? In my humble opinion … it would be great to see these things happen:

We need places like Natchez, South on Main, One Eleven and Capital Bar and Grill to keep churning out great food and to step outside the box every now and then. These restaurants are so important, as they not only house some of our top chefs, but also are quite popular with tourists/out-of-towners.

The Southern Gourmasian must transition from being Little Rock’s best food truck to an elite brick-and-mortar. Chef Justin Patterson is truly one of our best chef’s in town and I’m guessing his passion and creativity will only expand with a permanent home.

The old Starving Artist spot needs a new tenant. Capeo, Mugs Cafe and Good Food are all strong, but the Argenta District could use another shot in the arm with a dynamite eatery in that space.

Whether it’s for the development of a limited edition product, the coordination of a charity function or just a couple of talented folks sharing ideas, we need the collaborative efforts between chefs, bakers, ice cream makers and brewers to continue.

We need a chef/restauranteur to take a chance on Park Hill. The neighborhood is charming, beautiful, historic … and, most importantly, is close to the epicenter of Little Rock. For all those reasons, it has the potential to be the next “big thing.”

Most (not all) local restaurants must step it up on social media. Even something like a simple webpage and a decent presence on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook go a long way in connecting with an audience and potentially improving sales. The excuses of not having the time and/or money to do these things are tired and weak.

Food writing, in all honesty, must continually strive for improvement. Those of us writing- myself included- should challenge ourselves to cover all places–new, old, popular, and hidden gems–and not only praise but provide constructive criticism when warranted.

In general, Little Rock diners need to not only be willing to support local restaurants, but also do so by getting out of their comfortable neighborhoods every so often, driving an extra 10-15 minutes, and “spreading the wealth,” so to speak. Does this sound familiar?

“I live in Midtown. When are we getting a Local Lime, because I hate driving all the way out to West Little Rock.”

or

“North Little Rock? I’m not driving all the way up there for dinner.”

or

“You drove out to Benton?”

The fact of the matter is that almost no place is too far, especially when you take into account that Little Rock has minimal traffic most of the time. If we want to see these restaurants thrive, it’s going to take a conscious effort on diners to, at times, literally go the extra mile.

Finally, adding more and more ethnic cuisine restaurants will only help improve the diverse offerings in Little Rock. Just in the past few months, we’ve added two new Thai restaurants (Oishi and kBird), and it would be wonderful to see more of this in 2015.

Did I miss something or am off base with any or all of my opinions? Please let me know in the comment box below.

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The Little Rock Food Blogger Round-Up

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Little Rock’s food scene is at an all-time high. With it, comes an increase in writing on blogs, publications and social media. This is a good thing. These insights and opinions get people talking, helping lead to a stronger food community. The Little Rock Food Blogger Round-Up grabs links from a variety of sources throughout the city, putting them all in one post for your reading pleasure. So, let’s get to it.

In the mood for some Fattoush? Ever heard of Fattoush? Just want any excuse imaginable to say Fattoush? Christie over at Fancy Pants Foodie has you covered.

Georgeanne at Eggshells Kitchen Co. offers up 5 Discontinued Foods We Tots Miss. Hint: the KFC Doubledown makes an appearance.

Kat Robinson checks out Glasgow’s from her recent expedition up to Bentonville.

In need of a good cocktail? Joel DiPippa from Southern Ash brings you The Spice Road. It just sounds cool and I’m sure it’s quite tasty.

Speaking of libations … Sync’s Nate Olsen has this feature on One Eleven’s Lee Ingold. While you’re there, check out the bad ass pic from Arshia Khan.

Who doesn’t enjoy a good rub? Or two? In one post.

Did you know our favorite ice cream shop in town has some new seasonal flavors? They do … and yours truly tells you about all of them over on Rock City Eats.

Only one man can pick a fight between two muffins. And that man is Daniel F-ing Walker. His latest food fight pits heavyweights Mylo Coffee Co. and The Root Café.

Here’s Little Rock Soiree’s sneak peak at the soon-to-be-opening Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co.

And finally … Delicious Life serves up this Turkey Bolognese recipe.

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Top 10 Restaurants to Take Out-of-Towners

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Living in Little Rock for two years has finally allowed me to build up a strong list of restaurants to bring my out-of-town guests. These places must obviously have excellent food, but also offer great service and an atmosphere that truly reflects the essence of Little Rock. So, I figured…why not create a list of my Top 10 Restaurants to Take Out-of-Towners? Here goes…and these are in ranking order:

10. Big Orange Midtown
One of the restaurants from Little Rock’s greatest success stories had to make this list, so I opted for BO Midtown. The atmosphere is hip, the cocktails are in the top 3 in the city, and the food is usually on-point.
Tip: Sit at the beautiful bar and gab with the knowledgeable bartenders while crushing a cocktail and a turkey burger with sweet potato fries.

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9. One Eleven
One Eleven, the new version of the old Ashley’s, is located inside the Capital Hotel and definitely belongs on this list. For one, it’s fine dining at its finest, and a “special occasion” type restaurant needs to be included.
Tip: Go for lunch and order the $16 express lunch … a great value and you get to try out several small dishes.

8. Lassis Inn
It ain’t fancy and may not be in the nicest area of town, but I personally could care less. The old school setting and insanely small booths will leave your guests with lasting memories. And so will the fried catfish and buffalo ribs.
Tip: Order an ice-cold 40 oz. beer, but remember, no dancing.

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7. The Southern Gourmasian Food Truck
The brick-and-mortar is in the works, but for now, The Southern Gourmasian is a food truck, and a damn great one. The best, in fact, Little Rock has to offer. Take an out-of-towner and watch their face light up after a bite of the spicy chicken and dumplings.
Tip: Go for breakfast at the Hillcrest Farmers Market and order the Moco Loko.

6. Doe’s Eat Place
Does it have the character of the original in Greenville, MS? Maybe, maybe not. But hell, this is where Clinton did his thing back in the day, and the food, especially the 3-lb Porterhouse, is simply fantastic.
Tip: Save room for some fried shrimp and soaked salad…and yes, even the Delta-style tamales.

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5. Hillcrest Artisan Meats
This new-school butcher shop with old-school values sits in the heart of Hillcrest and consistently churns out one of the best sandwiches in Little Rock. Seating is limited, but that’s part of what gives H.A.M its charm.
Tip: Pass on the bag of chips and get the lentil salad as your side.

4. The Root Café
The kitchen is small, and thus, the service can at times be slow, but The Root Café IS Little Rock. It’s one of the few places in town serving a quality breakfast, and that alone earns it a spot on this list.
Tip: Vegetarians rejoice…the tofu scrambler is legit. Carnivores should definitely order the sausage gravy and biscuits.

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3. Vino’s Brewpub
Sure, Vino’s is a little musty, but that just spells c-h-a-r-a-c-t-e-r. The pizza is some of the best in town and so is the beer. Take a guest, sit inside by the beer tanks, watch a game and tell me that’s not all Little Rock.
Tip: Don’t sleep on the chef’s salad … it’s good.

2. Capital Bar and Grill
CBG is right across the way from One Eleven inside the Capital Hotel, but is a bit more casual and has a menu more reflective of what Little Rock does best, highlighted by their famous pimento sandwich.
Tip: Get the smoked catfish burger and thank me later.

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1. South on Main
No place puts the entire package together like South on Main–great food, casually cool atmosphere, top-notch cocktails and consistently good service. If you have only one spot to take guests, this is your place.
Tip: Check out their website for scheduled musical performances. It doesn’t get any better than listening to some jazz while downing an Old Fashioned and some fried duck wings at South on Main.

Quick hitters:
Grab a beer: Stone’s Throw Brewing
Pop in for a pastry/coffee: Mylo Coffee Co.
Cool dessert:
Loblolly Ice Cream (inside The Green Corner Store)

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