You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has a bad word to say about The Pantry, which is no small feat in the restaurant business. The restaurant and its sister, The Pantry Crest, are beloved, mainly for their consistent, quality food, friendly service, and inviting atmosphere. Over the past 5+ years, I’ve eaten at The Pantry numerous times, which is why it’s one of the few restaurants I even feel comfortable enough to form a Top 10 Dishes list on.
Enough of the chit chat. Let’s get to it…
10. Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Crazy enough, I’m not the biggest fan of the Bacon-Wrapped Dates. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them … but guess who REALLY loves them? My wife. She orders this appetizer all of the time, and not including the dates on this post is just bad for marriage stability.
I don’t eat it often but this is a damn good (and very underrated) burger. A brat patty is topped with sauerkraut and bacon and finished off with some whole grain mustard. It rich, decadent, and just a nice alternative to the classic beef burger most of us order 99% of the time.
8. Red Cabbage
I know what you’re thinking, “WTF?!?!? Shalin?” It’s just red cabbage. Yes, it’s just a small pile of lowly red cabbage. But it’s perfect and goes with just about anything on the menu. Heck, I’ve ordered a side of cabbage and just eaten it with a beer. I’m a huge fan of restaurants that nail the small stuff, and The Pantry does just that with the red cabbage.
7. House Made Ricotta
Yes, another appetizer makes the list. Truth be told, I could do a “Top 10 Appetizers at The Pantry” post and I think most folks would be cool with that. Speaking of cool … the creamy ricotta with a pool of olive oil is such a nice way to start any meal at The Pantry.
6. Truffled Deviled Eggs
They’re just so darn cute and tasty. No meal is complete without an order of these things, unless of course, you hate deviled eggs, in which case, you’re a horrible person.
5. Grilled Romaine Hearts
Aren’t you proud of me for working a salad into the mix? Other than the charred lettuce, there’s really nothing healthy about this salad, probably because it’s covered in dressing and shaved Parm. Top it with shrimp or salmon and you’ve got yourself a full meal. Just save room for dessert.
This is the best lasagna in town, and that’s saying something because I really enjoy Capeo’s lasagna. The hearty Bolognase is outstanding, but the bechamel is what puts it over the top. I almost never order this dish, but my kids do, and I usually sneak in a few bites … which is all I need.
No way in hell I’m putting a dessert #1, but The Pantry’s cheesecake is good enough to make my Top 3. And it’s definitely in the discussion for best restaurant dessert in Little Rock, mainly because of that thick graham crack crust and bruleed top.
2. Jäger Schnitzel
This is comfort food at its finest …. the pork loin (always get it fried) with thick, mushroom brown gravy over a serving of spaetzle is like a big food hug.
1. The Pantry’s Board
At $21.95, The Pantry’s Board is not only an excellent value, but it’s just plain awesome. Filled with house made meats like smoked turkey, Hungarian sausage, bratwurst, pecan-smoked pork belly, country terrine, and liver pâté, along with an assortment of breads, cheeses, and pickled vegetables, The Pantry’s Board is a must-order.