Friday, April 4, 2014

The Hive at 21c Bentonville, AR

The Hive is the best restaurant in Arkansas.  So I was told by my friend David who happens to be an Associate Editor of the Arkansas Times, where I work.  David wrote all about The Hive in one of our biggest issues of the year, known around the office and by our publisher as the annual restaurant issue, where we release the results of our Readers Choice of the best in food in our distribution area as well as Around the State.  So, The Hive garnered 12 awards Around the State - more than any other single restaurant in Arkansas.  I was intrigued.

I also had read an article about The Hive on Bourbon & Boots written by Kevin Shalin of The Mighty Rib who you can always follow on Facebook & Twitter for great food news & fun if you enjoy participating in guessing games and laughing in general.  His opinion in food is highly respectable.

Then I saw a beautiful Berkshire Pork Chop on the cover of Arkansas Life.  I made my way back up to the Northwest Arkansas area after a 6 year hiatus.  I'd frequented the area regularly as a pharmaceutical sales rep on an every other week rotation.  But I had not traveled there for business in quite some time.  Because we had a new statewide publication to tell everyone about, I had the pleasure of eating around the area while I spent time with business owners as I discussed local food and farming. 

It was just last Tuesday night when I made it into The Hive.  I was exhausted after a long day of work, and I really wanted to go back to my hotel room and unwind after my 4:30 appointment at Tusk & Trotter with owner and chef Rob Nelson.  But Chef Rob told me I needed to check out The Hive.

I was delighted with the outcome:  every person I encountered made me happy to be there.  There was a hostess at the door to greet me with a smile.  She showed me to the bar where I was instantly acknowledged by the bartender.  He was busy, but he immediately made his way over when he could.  

When dinner service began, I was shown to a table.  My server was impeccably sweet and attentive.  I even received a table greet from the Executive Chef Matthew McClure, and I was able to congratulate him on making it to the semifinals of the James Beard Foundation for Best Chef in the South.  What an incredible accomplishment!  I also had a manager stop by my table at the beginning of my meal as well as the end of my meal to make sure everything was going well & I was happy.  
I really enjoyed the asparagus salad with quark, fennel, and country ham.  I had never had quark before, and it was really good.  It was a soft, delicate cheese that I wanted more of.  I love getting introduced to new things that taste so good.  The salad was perfectly dressed, a perfect representation of spring on a plate. 
Next, housemade ricotta cavatelli arrived to my table.  It had been a long day of eating, tasting, and drinking my way from Fayetteville back to Bentonville.  But this was by far better than anything else I'd had all day.  
Then I had the Gulf shrimp with rice grits, pureed collards, fennel, andouille, and red cabbage.  First of all, it was a work of art.  It perfectly complemented the surroundings of its host the 21c Museum Hotel which is full of works of art.  The entree was delicious and it was all I had room left for - no surprise if you know me....I'm not a big dessert person.

Something about all these great people in this restaurant, the charming atmosphere, and this astonishing food really wooed me.  It was as if someone told everyone to be really nice to everyone who enters The Hive, keep the place looking great always, and keep food standards high.  I think more eateries in Arkansas could do the same.      

My last thought as I left The Hive.....  

I agree.  

It is the best restaurant in Arkansas.  

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