Posts Tagged Trio’s

10 Favorite Places to Sit at the Bar

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Whether it’s by myself or with a friend or two, one of my favorite things to do is sit at one of our local bars, have a drink and/or bite to eat, and just take in the scene. Last week, Mallory’s new feature got me thinking about which places I like to hang. Here are my 10 of favorite bars, almost all located inside traditional restaurants. Are they the best bar areas in town? Maybe, maybe not … it’s very subjective, but for a variety of reasons, they definitely suit me.

Big Orange Midtown
Visually speaking, this, or the bar at One Eleven, are the most appealing. The bar at Big Orange Midtown is absolutely gorgeous and is stocked with some of the best liquors in town. From a diner’s perspective, it’s a wonderful place to have a meal and a nice beer or cocktail. The restaurant is never too loud and during the evening hours has a very nice, mellow vibe around the bar. Service is always attentive and drink specials tend to be quite creative.
What to order: Thai Chop Salad w/ Steak and a Lost Forty Honey Bock

Pantry Crest
It’s not big, and it can get a tad loud, but if you can find a seat, the bar at Pantry Crest is a great spot to watch a game, have an appetizer or two, and down one of the restaurant’s seasonal cocktails or local beers on tap.
What to order: Truffle Deviled Eggs and Stone’s Throw Beer (whatever’s on tap)

Trio’s
Most folks wouldn’t think to hang at Trio’s for its bar, but as you probably know by now, I love the restaurant, and that includes the very underrated bar area. Head Bartender Merrick Fagan is a wizard with his cocktail creations and just an overall good guy to chat with (when he isn’t too busy). The bar is quiet, has a big television to watch a game, and is usually occupied by a few folks, which inevitably leads to fun conversations.
What to order: Shrimp Spring Rolls (or any appetizer special) with a Pineapple Rum Daiquiri

Raduno
I should go to Raduno’s more often, especially because I really do enjoy the bar. It’s long, can accommodate a large amount of people, but never feels uncomfortably hectic. For all you beer lovers, the on-tap selection is one of the best in Little Rock. There’s also a big, beautiful television, perfect for watching a game.
What to order: Caesar’s Salad and a beer flight

South on Main
Probably my favorite bar in Little Rock. It’s just a cool place to hang, and for lack of a better term, it has that Cheer’s vibe to it. With more and more shows going on, it can get loud in the restaurant, but even then, it’s still nice to hang at the bar. Head Bartender David Burnette is the best in the business, and whether you’re in the mood for a sophisticated cocktail or a nice wine pairing, David always has some great recs.
What to order: Fried Oyster Steamed Bun and Old Fashioned

Heights Taco and Tamale Co.
HTT is often very loud, but I do enjoy finding a seat at the bar (btw, the seats are very comfortable) and having a quick cocktail. I say quick because HTT is very popular, and I hate taking up a seat for too long. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and the drinks, whether its a beer on-tap or a cocktail, are usually spot-on.
What to order: Tamales and a Frozen Mojito

Flyway Brewing
Did I say South on Main was my favorite bar? Well, then Flyway is my second favorite. For some reason, I just feel at home there. The bartenders are always super friendly, the beer is outstanding, and the food just keeps getting better and better. The place is never a madhouse, but always seems to have a steady stream of neighborhood friendlies. The massive television right above the bar doesn’t hurt matters.
What to order: Smoked Trout Nachos and a beer flight

Maddie’s Place
This is a bar’s bar. It’s no frills and somewhat dark, but just a perfect place to grab a beer. And Maddie’s seems to always have a nice beer selection. If you’re rolling solo, it’s also a great spot to grab a quick lunch or dinner.
What to order: Grilled Oysters and Bubba’s Brews Arkie Ale

Boulevard on Main Street
Hey, it’s not all about the booze. Boulevard is my favorite coffee bar. I’m there each Friday morning and love spending about 20 minutes on my phone, while enjoying a great cup of coffee. Blvd is another place that has a steady stream of customers, and because this is Little Rock, there’s a good chance you’ll know 1 out of 10 people who walk in.
What to order: Small cup of coffee and a slice of bread-of-the-day

Local Lime
Don’t worry, West Little Rock, I didn’t forget about ya. We all know that Local Lime has the best bar in the area … another Yellow Rock Concepts creation that’s easy on the eye and warm on the soul. Ok, that was a little sappy, but you know what I mean. Local Lime’s bar just feels cool and is a perfect place to hang, especially if you don’t feel like waiting on a table on a busy Friday night.
What to order: Chips and Salsa and a Frozen Margarita

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Quick Hits: Dinner at Lulu’s Latin & The Root, Lunch at Deluca’s & Three Fold

Parillada for Two at Lulu's

Parillada for Two at Lulu’s

 

Another outstanding Friday night dinner at The Root Café a few weeks ago has me eagerly anticipating the restaurant’s upcoming announcement of a full-time dinner service. The 5-course creation from January 20th proved once again the restaurant’s ability to execute simple, local ingredients in a fun and imaginative way. Dishes like pork belly with chilaquiles, cabbage soup with apple slaw, and turnip risotto all hit the spot, while also illustrating the restaurant’s focus on incorporating local ingredients into the menu. I do, however, hope management looks into adding some sound proofing to the new dining area, as it was quite loud during the dinner. That said, once dinner service does get going, it wouldn’t surprise me to see it quickly embraced by the community. Chef John Arrington and Pastry Chef Sara Slimp are both very talented and are primed to help The Root join SoMa’s growing nighttime dining scene.

Mylo Coffee Co.’s new side area addition is complete and it’s not only gorgeous, but quite seamless. Once you walk through the door, turn to the right and take a gander. As for the product, I deviated from my regular pour over coffee in favor of a latte (with almond milk). Excellent.

Speaking of deviating from my norm … I actually went to Three Fold and didn’t get the dumplings. I’m not sure why, but I instead got the noodle bowl with pork and a side of carrot slaw, the latter of which was dumped into the bowl, mixed, and promptly devoured. I’m guessing you know the rest … it was fantastic. An eyeball test tells me business still must be good at this fast-casual downtown dining spot, as the line nearly extended from the counter to the front door.

My latest visit to Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie and Grill was a huge hit. This comes on the heels of two average experiences over the past few months, so I wasn’t exactly clamoring to go back. After last Friday night’s meal, I’m back on the Lulu’s train. Everything was fantastic … the Parillada for two (with medium-rare NY Strip, rotisserie chicken, fries, and a salad) was gobbled up by my family of four, as was a side of black beans and rice, and some insanely addictive fried yuca. Service was attentive and friendly, and the reasonable $50 tab has me wanting to get back to Lulu’s a heck of a lot sooner, rather than later. Hopefully, consistency issues have been hammered out, because this restaurant is a hidden gem, and one I hope more people check out.

I went to Deluca’s yesterday. Update … it’s still the best. Enough said.

Major props to Capi Peck of Trio’s, Chef Ken Dempsey, Sharon Woodson of Honey Pies, and Nathaniel Izard of Izard Chocolate for pulling off an amazing dinner the other night. It was the first TMR Collaborative Dinner, and judging by the diners’ happiness, it may not be our last. The theme was “South by South” and featured courses like Mexican Street Cornbread, Legumbres en Pipian, Fried Green Tomatillos with Smoked Pork, and Churro Profiteroles. A big thank to all those involved and to everyone who attended. Keep an eye out for our next dinner which should be sometime in early March.

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Quick Hits: A Progressive Dinner, Thoughts on Layla’s, Mt. Fuji, and Big Orange Midtown

Fried Shrimp at Doe's

Fried Shrimp at Doe’s

 

I haven’t been to Layla’s in a very long time (maybe over a year), due in large part to it being located in the same parking lot as El Palenque. I tend to lean towards Mexican food when faced with such food dilemmas. Any who, the food has always been outstanding at Layla’s (see: yogurt plate and Yazoo pizza), but Tuesday night’s gyro sandwich was just lacking in taste. The meat was a tad dry and the sandwich needed more than just meat, Tzatziki sauce, and onions. The addition of tomatoes and/or lettuce would do wonders for this sandwich.

Have you ever participated in a progressive dinner? There are many variations, but basically, you have drinks/apps at one restaurant, entrees at another, and desserts at a third spot. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to experience different cuisines, all in one evening. Last Friday night, we started out at La Terraza Rum & Lounge in Hillcrest with some fantastic mojitos, as well as a plate of yuca frita and a meat and cheese board. The mojitos, alone, make La Terraza a place worth checking out, but our food was just as impressive. The raspberry, coconut, and black spiced mojitos are all can’t-miss, and combined with the great food, and personalized service, La Terraza is a place that should be packed on a Friday night. Next, we hit Kemuri for our main course. I choose the Red Dragon Roll and an order of ceviche, the latter of which was a wonderful combination of squid, shrimp, and avocado lightly dressed in a spicy sauce. Service was great and especially impressive, considering Kemuri had a packed house. Kemuri proved yet again why it’s one of our very best restaurants in Little Rock. We finished the night off with desserts and coffee at Trio’s. I had a few bites of a deliciously rich peanut butter and chocolate cake and my tablemates partook in the tres leches. In the end, the night was a total success, with all three restaurants shining with regards to both food and service.

Mt. Fuji gets almost no attention. That’s a shame because it’s really one of our better quick sushi-fix, hole-in-the walls in town. The spicy tuna roll was a hit, as was my pork ramen, and my kid’s chicken teriyaki. The restaurant isn’t fancy, and it won’t be the best sushi you’ve ever eaten, but the food is quality and an excellent value.

Go to Honey Pies for a cup of coffee. I can’t speak to some of their “fancier” java creations, but a regular cup of pour over Leiva’s Coffee is outstanding.

There’s just something so comforting about devouring six fried shrimp, a plate of fries, some toast, and a small bowl of soaked salad at Doe’s. Sure, the steak gets a lot of attention, but I’ve always been a big fan of fried shrimp and Doe’s is my go-to spot for them. And that soaked salad! Did I mention the soaked salad?

It was a mixed bag during yesterday’s lunch at Big Orange Midtown … the sweet potato fries were their usual awesome selves, but our order of truffle-garlic-herb fries were woefully salty, to the point where we just had to stop eating them. My Thai Chop with chicken was outstanding, and while I definitely prefer the steak that accompanies the salad, the chicken was also a nice option.

About twice a year, my daughter and I do the chef’s tasting at South on Main. It’s a truly personalized, 4-6 course dining experience that’s developed and executed by Chef Matt Bell. Give him a week or two of notice, but other than that, I recommend staying out of the way and letting him do his thing, which the other night were dishes like Oysters 3 Ways, Duck Confit with Greens, and refined execution of “Steak and Potatoes.”

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The Kitchen|Fields Table Tour Highlights Importance of Soybean in Arkansas

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I’m not sure how much you know about the world of soybeans, but it’s a big deal, especially in this neck of the woods. Governor Hutchinson recently issued a proclamation declaring this past November as Arkansas Soybean Month, a move that acknowledges our state as one of the premier soybean producers.

Here are some of the numbers to back it up:

  • In the 2015 growing season, Arkansas producers harvested 3.1 million acres of soybeans, valued at more than $1.5 billion.
  • Soybeans are grown in 41 counties of Arkansas and rank as the state’s largest row crop, accounting for more acres than rice, corn, sorghum and wheat combined.
  • Arkansas ranks 2nd in the nation for boiler production and 10th in the nation for soybean production.
  • Poultry consumes about half of all the soybean meal produced because of the high protein content, which in turn provides essential nutrients to the animal and increases their performance.
  • Arkansas ranks 3rd in the nation for turkey production raising 28 million turkeys last year. Turkeys are the 4th largest consumer of soybean meal in the U.S., consuming more than 2 million tons of soybean meal in 2014.
  • Arkansas ranks 4th in the nation for soybean usage. That includes our pork industry, where nearly 2 million swine consume soybean meal every day thanks to its high protein content.
  • Arkansas ranks in the top 12 in the nation for calf production with a cattle inventory totaling 1.6 million head. In 2014, beef cattle consumed about 1.4 million tons of soybean meal in the U.S.

Also in November, the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board’s educational food program, the Kitchen|Fields Table Tour, partnered with restaurants across the state to serve a dish dedicated to Arkansas soybean producers. Some of the participating restaurants included: Trio’s, At the Corner, Kemuri, The Southern Gourmasian, and Taylor’s Steakhouse. The Kitchen|Fields Table Tour encourages people not only to eat more primary soy foods, but also to consume soy-fed protein like pork, beef, turkey and chicken.

Part of this celebration of all things soybean came in the form of a recent three-course dinner at Brave New Restaurant here in Little Rock. I, along with other food writers and soybean farmers, was in attendance for an evening that proved to be every bit educational as it was tasty. Chef Peter Brave put his creative spin on soybean-based dishes throughout the evening, while various speakers gave brief talks about the “miracle bean.” Dishes included a salad with both pickled and fried soybeans, a beef tenderloin with sauteed soybeans, and an insanely delicious soybean honey Frangelico ice cream with soybean brittle for dessert. I may or may not have eaten my wife’s dessert as well.

In January, part two of the Kitchen|Fields Table Tour will launch … when the organization will be pairing up with some of Arkansas’ most well-known chefs to continue teaching Arkansans about the importance of this $2 billion soybean industry.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in more information, you can visit TheMiracleBean.com. It’s a pretty cool website where you can check out items like: soybean recipes, the actual composition of soybeans, and a comprehensive guide to various uses of soybeans (which go far beyond consumption).

*Stats and image via Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board

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