Saturday, September 6, 2014

Little Rock Restaurants I'll Miss (in no particular order) Part Two

Oceans and Arthur's

Now that I'm not working downtown, I'm spending more time in West Little Rock where I live.  I live minutes away from some of the best restaurants in Little Rock, including Oceans and Arthur's.  I've written about Oceans before here.  
Oceans at Arthur's is known for delicious seafood dishes and phenomenal sushi by Alex.  Alex is so well known and so talented at his art, the owners have chopsticks with his name on them.  
The two restaurants are side by side, so you can order off both menus at any time.  My favorite from Arthur's would have to be the duck breast from the appetizer menu.  The wagyu ribeye is also a favorite of mine there.  The wine lists from both restaurants have a nice range of selections.
The Wagyu Beef Carpaccio is my daughter Gianna's favorite.  My other daughter Sasha loves the mac & cheese and french fries.  Arthur's is Sasha's favorite restaurant in Little Rock, probably because they treat her like a Queen every time we eat there!  But that should say a lot because I can't even explain how picky that girl is.
Thanks to Chef Brian Kearns and his wonderful team for always making every dining occasion exceptional for me, my family, and my friends.

The same owner of Oceans and Arthurs has just recently opened Kemuri, the Japanese restaurant in Hillcrest on Kavanaugh.  Dining there with friends last night brought back so many memories of Ferneau, and I bet the crowd there also felt the same as I did because they looked so much like the same people I used to always see when it was Ferneau.  It's the kind of place where you can move around, mix, and mingle.  We've been missing that.  I also thought the food and atmosphere were extraordinary.  Below were two of my favorite dishes of the evening:

Forty Two

I can eat mussels almost everyday.  They're a lean protein.  So I've had the Mussels and Fritz from Forty Two at the Clinton Presidential Center numerous times.  They're steamed in a rich chardonnay broth and topped with saffron aioli.  The fritz are just the way I like them too, skinny and crispy.
Several of my lunch companions have enjoyed the Arkansas Summer Ratatouille as their entree.  It's composed of locally cultivated shiitake mushrooms, roasted eggplant, local squash, heirloom tomatoes, pearl onions, garlic, smoked hominy, and soybeans tossed in a big-bold cabernet tomato sauce and served on a bed of Arkansas grown Arborio rice.
Here Sasha stands on the patio of Forty Two where the Terrace Gardens yield herbs and vegetables for head Chef Stephen Burrow's seasonal menu planning.  Big open windows let in a lot of natural light in the restaurant, providing a nice view whether eating inside or outside.
You can see Burrow's "contemporary southern-colonial" approach applied in the delicious Cracklin's from the small plates menu.  I could eat these all day long.  Oh how I'll miss these!  

I think Burrow is quite an accomplished chef at such a young age. 
I do wish I could have another one of these smoky shrimp corn dogs.  Our table loved them!
The house made pickles also wooed me.  I want a big jar of these!

Dugan's Pub & Stratton's Market

When I worked downtown, two of the places I frequented the most were also owned by the same owners and resided side by side in the River Market District.  I love eating salads for lunch, and Dugan's has some great ones.  Above you see the Steak Salad which is prepared just the way I like my salad: thinly sliced against the grade and a perfect medium rare.  I'm also a big fan of their House Caesar Salad with chicken.  The portions are huge and the prices are reasonable.
Dugan's Pub is a fantastic place to hang out to watch sporting events and live music.  You'll see the owner Don walking around greeting his friends and regulars.  I like the Happy Hour wine specials too.  

Stratton's Market carries just about everything you need if you live or work downtown.  Even if you're just in the area, check out the ready made breakfast or lunch offerings.  
One night we had a great meal of a rotisserie chicken from there.   Local olive oils, local farm fresh produce, house made mozzarella, and their own pesto made this market a favorite of mine to frequent!
Stratton's is your farm to downtown resource.

Hillcrest Artisan Meats

Friday afternoons and some Saturday mornings were my usual times to drop by Hillcrest Artisan Meats to forage for goodies to make weekend meals.
I tried several cuts of meats, including the teres major which I prepared in a spring roll recipe which was featured on Eat Arkansas.
Prosciutto di Parma or La Quercia Prosciutto were almost always a part of my buy at H.A.M.
Nduja (spicy prosciutto spread) was a surprising discovery I made there which I'd never sampled before.
The brick - pressed prosciutto sandwich with lentils was one of my favorite sandwiches to order whenever I craved a sandwich.  That Arkansas Fresh baguette made it the best ever.  The lentils are amazing.

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