Sunday, August 31, 2014

20 Little Rock restaurants I'll miss (In no particular order) Part One

How will I say farewell to Little Rock when I head to the Portland, Oregon area? It may be a little bittersweet. 

Ferneau/Good Food By Ferneau

Ferneau was one of my favorite restaurants of all time in Little Rock.  I enjoyed many great dishes there with great friends over the years before it became Rocket 21 and eventually closed.  Now Kemuri (Japanese for Smoke) has the location, and I hope my friends there do well with their new concept.
I heard from my friend Donnie that Good Food by Ferneau will open before I head up to the Pacific Northwest.  I'm hoping so, because his Gluten Free, Sugar Free dishes with lean proteins are the way that I like to eat.  

The big space in the old Argenta Market has been redesigned beautifully.  I can't wait to get in there, sit around the big beautiful bar, and enjoy some fall weather on the back patio.  There's a big smoker back there putting off my favorite smell of smoke!
Chef Donnie Ferneau (on the right, with our friend Lee Edwards, Beverage Director of Yellow Rocket Concepts) at the 2014 Arkansas Governor's Culinary Challenge

Chef Ferneau and I hosted a series of cooking classes together for a period of time where I assisted alongside as he cooked three course meals for crowds of about 14 - 20 people.  Those were great learning times and all around fun dinners.  He plans to host cooking classes at his new location, so get in there when you can.  The classes are interactive, so you can sit, watch, and ask questions.  You'll see just how heartfelt this talented top chef is about making really good food for you.  I believe he's one of the best chefs in Little Rock.
I love this review of Donnie's Good Food By Ferneau on their Facebook page: "May be the best chef in Arkansas.  Can't go wrong with any of his dishes.  If it's coming from Donnie, I'll put it in my mouth."

The Southern Gourmasian

I was so fortunate to host cooking classes with another one of Little Rock's best chefs.  Anybody who has eaten his food has to agree he's one of the best.  I was always busy with people calling, emailing, and inquiring about when his next class would be held.  We had many great classes together and a dream kitchen to work in at The Ridge at Chenal Valley.
Chef Justin Patterson constantly comes up with original, creative dishes with robust flavors that will keep you wanting more food from him.  You can find the Southern Gourmasian food truck all over town, so find them on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with them.  When I last spoke with Justin about the progress of his new brick and mortar location coning soon downtown, I was disappointed to learn that I probably won't be here when it's projected to open.  It will probably be the first place I dine at when I return to visit Little Rock!
Above you see a crab cake from one of our classes.  Justin also makes gnocchi look so easy to make:  Check out his gnocchi demonstration class.

One Eleven at The Capital

If you follow Red Kitchen Recipes on Twitter or Facebook, you'll see many pictures of beautifully presented and tasty dishes from One Eleven.  It just reopened after a remodel, and I've been eating there regularly.  Chef Joel Antunes, a Michelin star, James Beard award winner is super nice and extremely hospitable.  I was super excited when they had a handful of us food writers out to sample their menu items before and after the remodel.  Here you see Chef describing the food that he served us before the closing of Ashley's.
My favorite so far from the lunch menu is the Colorado Lamb with Penne, Zucchini, and Parmesan.
Yesterday I enjoyed the warm leek salad from the 3 Cocottes option.
The Halibut and Gazpacho served with the salad were equally amazing.
One Eleven at The Capital Hotel is a perfect place for lunch or dinner, whether it's for business or pleasure.  The valet service is one of my favorite things about it too!

Table 28

The tongue and cheek dish was the first entree I ever tried at Table 28 on their VIP Night prior to their official opening.  I loved it so much, I would have ordered it every time I visited.  But the rest of the menu was just as intriguing, and everything I tried during subsequent visits satisfied my palate just as well.
The Quail Bird Lollipops with Tabasco Butter and Gorgonzola Fondue are one of the Small Bites that best exemplify Chef Scott Rains' approach of serving an expansive menu full of unprecedented items.  My husband even loved these.  He couldn't believe how good they were, so he devoured about 10 of these off of some appetizer trays at the recent unveiling of the new Burgundy Hotel where Table 28 resides.
Executive Chef Scott Rains should be gaining national attention and awards!  We've been there from the beginning, listening to plans, discussing menu items, and developing marketing strategies.  We've hung out in the kitchen talking about the local farms and produce that Table 28 utilizes in the area, tasting samples of small bites from the menu, taking pictures of the beautiful artistic food.  I've never eaten anything average or common there.   
Last year, I spent my birthday at Table 28 with some of my closest friends.  This year, and this month, Table 28 celebrates their one year anniversary!  Check out their menu here on their Facebook page.  The Sea Bass is sensational!!  So is the Hanger Steak.  And the Beef Carpaccio.....

Local Lime/Big Orange/Zaza

Local Lime was one of the first restaurants I ever wrote about on my blog.  You can check it out here:  Local Lime Post.  Because these three restaurants are pretty much owned by the same group of people, I have them all lumped in as one.
The Yellow Rocket Concepts group have all the same things going on at their different restaurants:  beautiful signage, catchy menu names, awesome social media interaction, fantastic food and beverage photography, fun, well decorated atmospheres, and great people.  You need to friend part owner of Local Lime Ben Brainard on Facebook just to see his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!  SO hilarious!
The Velvet Orange drink at Big Orange is my favorite drink in town.  Someone once said to me:  Drink three of these, and..................well, you feel pretty good.  I think two actually does it for me!
(Picture from the Big Orange Facebook page)

Big Orange occasionally features The Vietnamese Burger.  I don't eat burgers often, but I've had this one and it is absolutely amazing!  Also, there used to be a lobster burger on the menu.  Oh how I loved it!!

Now salads I do love to eat often!  I love ZAZA because you can make just about any kind of salad you'd like. 

I don't think I'll be around for the opening of Yellow Rocket Concepts' next two ventures, Heights Taco & Tamale and The Lost Forty.  I'm a little sad about that.  I'm sure the new places will be as successful as all the others developed since Boulevard Bread Company.  Who knows, maybe YRC will continue to expand around the state and beyond with other new concepts.  I know I'll definitely keep up with my friends there on social media.      

Check back here for Part 2 of the restaurants I'll miss the most in Little Rock!  I mean, if you're interested.....

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