Posts Tagged The Pantry

Coming Soon to Hillcrest … District Fare

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While the loss of Hillcrest Artisan Meats, Little Rock’s most beloved butcher/sandwich shop, was painful for our town’s culinary scene, it was comforting to hear that veteran restauranteur Tomas Bohm would be taking over the space. Bohm, who also owns The Pantry and The Pantry Crest, is about as well-respected as anyone in the industry, primarily for his consistently quality food and a genuine, service-oriented mentality that permeates throughout his restaurants.

His latest venture will be called District Fare, a deli concept specializing in house-cured meats/provisions and sandwiches, along with offerings of local and international products, grab-and-go dinners, and much more.

For Bohm, the decision to increase his footprint in the popular Hillcrest neighborbood wasn’t an easy one. “I always loved H.A.M., and I thought long and hard about it, but Hillcrest accepted our place on Palm Street and I want to continue to represent this amazing neighborhood and our city.”

Moving forward, Bohm’s biggest challenge will be splitting up his time between the three places. “I will spend a lot of time at District Fare at first, but fortunately, we have a great team of very dedicated people that help me make this possible. One hundred hours a week … here we go!”

District Fare has an estimated opening date of sometime in March or April. Operating hours will be Mon-Sat 11-7, Sun 12-5.

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20 Suggestions for Valentine’s Day in Little Rock

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We’re less than 14 days from Valentine’s Day, which is the perfect time to start looking at menus and making reservations. I’ve scoured the internet to find local menus, specials, and places that are taking reservations. I’m sure there are many more specials, but these are the ones I could find thus far. Also, this is not to say these are the only restaurants you should consider going to on V-Day. If prix fixe menus aren’t your thing, many restaurants are open for business and offering their standard menu. In short, if going out on Valentine’s Day is your thing, check out the info below and click on the links for more details. Finally, if you’re a restaurant who is offering a special that I failed to include below, please message me and I’ll be glad to update the post.

Menus…

The Southern Gourmasian
South on Main: available 2/10, 2/11, 2/14
One Eleven: V-Day hotel package also available
Table 28: V-Day hotel package also available
Cache: available 2/10, 2/11, 2/13, 2/14)
Capeo: 3-course wine dinner, available 2/13 (click the link and scroll down for info)
Vesuvio Bistro
Heritage Grille, Steak and Fin
Del Frisco’s Grille
Canvas at the Arkansas Arts Center

Taking Reservations…

The Pantry and The Pantry Crest
Arthur’s Steakhouse
Kemuri

Other Specials…

Flyway Brewing: The Flyway Bouquet
Rocktown Distillery: Whiskey and Chocolate Pairing, available 2/12
Izard Chocolate: So Hoppy Together, available 2/12
Cocoa Belle Chocolates: Pop Up Shop on 2/10
Cocoa Rouge: Per 1/30 FB update, has delivered fresh chocolate to Eggshells and Colonial Wine and Sprits
2017 Chocolate Fantasy Ball
Blue Cake Company

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Thoughts on Trio’s, The Root Cafe, and Izard Chocolate

From The Root Cafe's Dinner in October

From The Root Cafe’s Dinner in October

 

Random thoughts and ramblings on local food and drink…

The annual TMR dinner at Trio’s“An Evening in Oaxaca”–was held last Thursday night in the Pavilion Room adjacent to the restaurant. Co-owner Capi Peck, Chef Shanna Merriweather, and crew put together a delicious 5-course meal for 50 guests, highlighting many of the ingredients and cooking techniques Peck picked up on her recent visit to Oaxaca, Mexico. The evening started with an open bar, which included a variety of tasty, mezcal-inspired cocktails created by Merrick Fagan, along with wine selections from Alexia Elichiry of De Nux Distributors. A table sat near the bar area, filled with guacamole, molotes (imagine an empanada), elote (street corn), and chapulines (grasshoppers) for entering guests to start the meal. Truth be told, I think many folks, including myself, loaded up on these starters, and by the time the actual 1st course hit the table, stomach space was at a premium. Here’s a quick run-down of the rest of the menu: (1st Course) shrimp cocktail with cactus, (2nd Course) squash blossom quesadillas, (3rd Course) Grilled beef tenderloin in four-chile sauce with chicharrones and chile de arbol, corn tortillas with Oaxacan red mole, chayote with roasted poblanos, quesillo, and chepiles, and black beans, and (4th Course) flan, pastel de tres leches, and copita de mezcal. From start to finish, the food was truly fantastic, and while I had to wave the white flag by the middle of the third course, I can tell you every dish was planned and executed to near perfection. Peck knows her way around a dynamite shrimp cocktail and this one with its bits of cactus was no exception. I also loved the perfectly cooked, medium rare tenderloin topped with the chile sauce, but felt like the bits of chicharones were a little tough and added a texture that wasn’t needed on the plate. This was all part of a main entree course that included the star of the evening, an intensely flavored red mole. Peck, herself, made the rounds to each table, topping dishes with the extra sauce while gabbing with guests, something no one in this town does better. Kudos to Peck and her entire staff for once again pulling off an amazing evening.

I attended The Root Cafe’s “Dinner in October” the following night. If you’re thinking, “Wait, The Root is open for dinner?’ The answer is no, not quite yet, but they will be probably sometime in early 2017. For now, diners can get a taste of things to come, as ownership puts together these monthly communal dinners in The Root’s charming, one-of-a-kind setting. Chef Jonathan Arrington and Pastry Chef Sara Slimp created a masterful, 5-course dinner that had a touch of sophistication, while still holding on to The Root’s unpretentious qualities. Highlights of the evening included a gorgeous plate of  red and black lentils (pictured above) with turnips, carrots, and apples, along with the main entree, a plate of pork belly, pinto beans, pickled boy choy, and cornbread pudding. While the dessert course of honey molasses layer cake was also a winner, the cake itself was a tad dry, but fortunately, had this amazing ginger infused, orange cream frosting that was also elevated by a spicy red chile sauce. Long story short … the food, company, and service were all fantastic. Keep an eye out on The Root’s Facebook page for details on the next ticketed dinner, which is typically held on the second Friday night of each month. I would not hesitate to sign up. The Root also does an open seating dinner on the 4th Friday of each month.

Have you ever been inside the Izard Chocolate storefront located just across the street from Hillcrest Kroger? You should. It’s a cool place and owner Nathaniel Izard is making a variety of excellent dark chocolate. Come to find out, he’s also starting to roast some of his own small-batch coffee. I’ve yet to try it, but if the coffee is anything like the chocolate, it should be a nice addition to the mix.

Speaking of coffee, did you know Honey Pies makes one of the better cups in town? I’m partial to their pour-over, which uses Leiva’s Coffee. And this from the store…”For every cup of coffee you buy, we donate a meal to a hungry child in Central Arkansas.”  Just a heads up, Honey Pies new-ish hours are Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m -7 p.m.

Quick hits: I sat at South on Main’s bar and downed an Old Fashioned while listening to the tunes of Shawn Camp last Wednesday night. Just an overall great evening. Taziki’s is quietly one of the best take-out options in town. The chicken pasta salad on the weekend is a must-order. Juice Bar in Midtown (near Big Orange Midtown) serves this wildly addictive acai bowl. It’s filled with 15+ healthy ingredients and perfect for breakfast. The Pantry does it again …  my go-to salmon wrap for lunch never disappoints. Shout out to our server, Bonnie, who once again proved why the restaurant has some of the very best food and service in town.

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Your Favorite Burger in the Little Rock Area

Arkansas Burger Co.

Arkansas Burger Co.

 

We’re back at it again, trying to gauge exactly what we truly love to eat here in Little Rock.  This time around, we’re taking a look at one of the most subjective food items out there … the burger. Here’s the question I posed on Facebook…

“What is your favorite restaurant to get a burger in the Little Rock area?”

We had 74 comments, with 38 different burgers being mentioned and 116 total votes. As always, these are very informal polls, so please treat this post as just a nice resource for quality burger options in our area. Here’s the crazy thing that struck me right off the bat … of the 38 places mentioned, I had not even had the burger at 24 of them. Granted, I’m not a big burger guy, but it still speaks to the quality options we have in the area.

So who reigned supreme? To no surprise, Big Orange and David’s came out on top. Both places are wildly popular, produce a consistently great burger, and have multiple locations to hit a wider audience. Big Orange took in 16 votes and David’s came in second with 14. There was a considerable drop-off after those two. The next tier of spots included: The Box, The Root Cafe, Gadwall’s Grill, South on Main, Arkansas Burger Co., and Capital Bar and Grill … all receiving between 5-7 votes. Of these, the South on Main burger, which I’ve written about quite a bit of late, is my personal favorite. I know several folks who claim that The Root’s cheeseburger is the absolute best burger in town, but I can’t speak to that one, as I haven’t had it in a few years.

Tier three consisted of these spots: Cotham’s (original location), Buffalo Grill, Hillcrest Artisan Meats, The Pantry, Grumpy’s, Alley Oops, Midtown Billiards, Sports Page, Burge’s, Purple Cow, Bobby’s Cafe, Burgers Pies and Fries, Four Quarter Bar, and Monkey Burger … all receiving between 2-4 votes. The H.A.M. is served only on Fridays, and when they run out, they run out, so get there early. It’s a decadent burger that’s sure to please even the pickiest of palates.

We had several places that each received one mention. These included: Skinny J’s, The Spot, Ciao Baci, The Southern Gourmasian, Leo’s Greek Castle, Mick’s BBQ, Brewster’s II Cafe, K Hall and Sons, VFW on Kanis, The Butcher Shop (Friday), Canon Grill, Markham Street Grill & Pub, JoJo’s Bar-B-Que, The Terrace, Jacks Bar and Grill, and Doe’s Eat Place. If you haven’t had the chicken burger at The Southern Gourmasian, please put it on your to-do list. Also, the Ciao Baci burger is super underrated.

Finally, a few reactions from readers…

Karin Schoultz: “We looooove old school, straight up, plain Jane good old Buffalo Grill burger!!!!!”

Laurie Ringler: “David’s or Gadwall’s, but that’s only because I live north of the river. Special occasions call for Big Orange.”

Emilie F. Partis: “Top choice is always and will always be the herbed butter burger at Purple Cow (with a triple treat chocolate malt just to insure the heart attack factor!). Second runners up would be the cheeseburger at Big Orange or at Cothams in Scott.”

Alicia Tuggle: “When The Butcher Shop does their Friday lunch burger, other than that I mostly go for terrace restaurant for convenience for the taste and the price is good too. Plus it’s usually enough for me to have 2 meals out of due to the fries too (I always order the night time fries if it’s lunch).”

Vicki Funkkjunkie Weber: “Big Orange Midtown always. Hickory smoke burger. And dying to try the Razorback! And we now have one of the Burgers, Pies and Fries places that started in Jacksonville here in Conway. It’s a great burger but I’m not a fan of the “cheese” or the bun.”

Danny Huber: “I like all the burger comments. The hidden gems in this thread are Bobby’s Cafe and Monkey Burger. If you haven’t been…GO!”

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