Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Hive in 21C–Bentonville, AR

The Hive on Urbanspoon

We’ve been watching the construction of the 21C Museum Hotel in Bentonville since it began months ago and eagerly awaiting its opening.  We were fortunate to secure reservations in its restaurant, The Hive, during the opening week.  The hotel is not due to open until mid-February.

As with the opening days of most new restaurants, there are some kinks to work out, but there were no big problems either with the service or the food.  Our waitress worked so hard to make our dining experience a pleasant one even though she still has some details to learn about the menu selections.


Matthew McClure, an Arkansas native, is the Executive Chef chosen to head up this latest 21C venture.  Even at the young age of 31 he looks to become a shining star in the culinary world.  He promises an ever-changing menu based upon local ingredient availability and resources.  All ingredients are fresh, never frozen which is definitely appreciated.

Our dinner began with a shared  appetizer of house- made pimento cheese with tomato bacon jam and toasted white bread which we both really enjoyed.  The serving is meant to be shared.


We both agreed that we would try the Arkansas trail mix – a mixture of sliced walnuts, cheese straws, rice and fried black-eyed peas on our next visit.


I chose the mixed greens salad with spiced pecan and sorghum vinaigrette for my “beginnings” course while Hubby chose the cauliflower soup which was garnished with toasted brioche and raisin butter.  My salad was fresh and flavorful without a strong sorghum taste.  Hubby’s soup was a nice presentation, but he probably would not order it again.  Unfortunately, I was too busy eating to take pictures.

One of The Hive’s signature dishes, the rabbit and dumplings (gnocchi) with roasted mushrooms, almonds and lemon,  was my entrée choice. 


The potato dumplings were light and fluffy and the rabbit intensely flavorful.  In fact, it was very rich.  I could not finish my serving.

Hubby debated between seared scallops persillade with shell beans, braised greens and fried ham and the roasted local chicken with farro,  grilled cabbage and citrus puree.  He chose the chicken which was excellent.

hive chicken 3

The couple next to us were kind enough to take pictures of their entrees: the scallops and the ham-brined pork chop both of which they proclaimed as delicious.  Both are definitely in my consideration for future visits.



Three sides are available: Local War Eagle Organic Grits with mascarpone cheese and braised g, an assortment of collard greens, mustard greens, turnips, and kale braised with onion, bacon, brown sugar, and cider vinegar.

We bypassed the sides in order to save room for the pecan pie which was not like any pecan pie I’ve ever had before.  It was more like a thick pecan pie cookie.  Can you say, “absolute yum?”  We were certainly tempted to give the chocolate custard with caramelized bananas a try as well.  Maybe next time.


The bar area was full and lively on the night we were there.  According to our waitress, the  bar menu with dishes such as Salt and Pepper Ox Ribs and The Hive Burger, a house-ground brisket burger with pickles, pimento cheese, and house-made French fries will soon be offered.

The Hive is open nightly for dinner. Hours Sunday through Thursday are 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Breakfast, lunch and brunch will be available at some point soon.

While there, be sure to check out the free galleries located throughout the hotel.  I’ll be sharing a few of those pictures at

Some minor criticism:  While The Hive is a somewhat casual restaurant, it is much more than a diner (and I have nothing against diners).  That being said, I would like to see the wait staff dress less casually than I observed.  Sorry.  Sagging just bothers me, especially while I am eating.

Secondly, they need high chairs.  I am assuming that those have just not arrived.  I observed one family trying to eat while corralling a toddler who could not be seated.
The Hive
200 NE A Street
Bentonville, Arkansas 72712

Phone (479) 286-6575

Food: 4.5 spoons (out of 5)
Service: 4.5 spoon
Price: 3 spoons
Atmosphere: Casual and friendly
Going back: Yes, absolutelyOutside seating: No
Alcohol: Yes

To be linked to Urbanspoon

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sweet Tea Café-Bryant, Arkansas

sweet tea cafe banner framed



Sweet Tea Cafe on Urbanspoon 





Hubby and I had been trying to get to Sweet Tea Café for some time but the occasion to do so did not present itself until last week.  I’m so glad it did.

Sweet Tea Café is located just off Highway 5 in The Bryant Commons Shopping Center in Bryant, Arkansas.  It’s easy to miss so you will need to keep your eyes open for the location.  The dining room is somewhat small, but rumor has it that they are looking to expand.

That’s a good thing.

Billy and Cindy Outlaw, the owners, were not present on the day we were there but service was excellent anyway.  According to one of the wait staff, the Outlaws were in the process of moving to a residence closer to the restaurant.  If the lunch crowd on the day we visited is any indication of the typical attendance, the Outlaws are going to need all the time they can devote to serving and expanding their business.

sweet tea cafe tea framed

In the South, one of the standards we use to judge the quality of a restaurant, especially one that purports to be “home cooking,” is its sweet tea.  Sweet Tea Café does not disappoint in that regard.  While I am one of those rare people who takes her tea unsweetened (heretical, I know), I do look for the true iced tea spoon.  Check that one off with a smile.  The tea was served in Mason jars and was very fresh and just the right strength to  withstand the ice and heat of the day.

sweet tea cafe door framed

Sweet Tea Café is open for lunch each day Sunday through Friday with dinner served on Friday.  It is closed on Saturday.  In addition to the regular menu items, there are specials offered each day.

  • Sunday and Monday: fried chicken, fried chicken livers and gravy, pork roast, chicken fried steak, and meatloaf
  • Tuesday and Friday:  fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried chicken tenders, seafood gumbo and red beans and rice
  • Wednesday: fried chicken, baked chicken and rice, pork chops, fried chicken livers
  • Thursday: fried chicken, fried chicken livers, chicken-fried steak, meatloaf

  • Other specials show up on occasion as well.  Check the menu chalkboards as you enter.

    sweet tea cafe board frames
    Hubby opted for the fish and shrimp combo basket special of the day while I chose the three vegetable option with a side salad.  Our choices arrived in a timely fashion even though there was a packed house.  The portions were more than enough for us to share with some leftovers to take home had we been going home.  Since we weren’t going home and not ones to waste food, we promptly stuffed ourselves.  Needless to say, our lunch became our lupper since we were still full at supper time.

    sweet tea cafe shrimp and catfish framed

    The U.S. farm-raised catfish filets were thicker than those typical found.  They were coated with STC’s spicy cornmeal seasoning and were really delicious.  The shrimp were fresh and tasty as well although the breading did not work as well for me on them.  The basket came with cole slaw, fries and hushpuppies as well.  Neither Hubby nor I did more than taste the cole slaw as it contained more mayonnaise than we care for.


    sweet tea cafe salad framed

    My side salad was a pleasant surprise.  I expected something from a bag, but what I got was a freshly-made chopped salad of romaine, cucumber, black olives, cherry tomatoes, shredded Cheddar and homemade croutons.  Again, the portion was generous enough for us to share.

    sweet tea cafe veggies framed

    Since Hubby opted for all things fried, I went the healthier (ahem) route and chose the purple hull peas, turnip greens and macaroni and cheese. Being another standard by which Southern cooking is judged, you know I just had to have those greens.  They were full of smoky flavor which,  I loved, but there was a tad more salt than I prefer.  Hubby, on the other hand, who salts his salt, said they were perfect.  The peas were fresh and the macaroni was cheesy.  What more needs to be said?

    sweet tea cafe coconut pie framed

    I am VERY partial to my friend Pauline’s coconut pie and don’t think you can find one better, but that one has to be homemade  - preferably by Pauline – so the competition is stiff when it comes to this particular pie.  Sweet Tea’s coconut pie was tasty – we ate every bit – but it was a tad too thick and sweet for us to give it an A+.

    Sweet Tea Café is a welcome addition to the Saline County food scene by offering above average home cooked fare.  The portions are hearty and fresh (Hubby said our meal cost approximately $22, but he lost the ticket before I could write this.). The service was friendly and prompt and the atmosphere very true to all things Southern hospitality.  I suggest that you give it a try.  I know that I will be going back soon to check out their highly touted fried chicken.

    Oh, and that sweet tea?  It comes free with your meal.
    I am VERY partial to my friend Pauline’s coconut pie and don’t think you can find one better, but that one has to be homemade  - preferably by Pauline – so the competition is stiff when it comes to this particular pie.  Sweet Tea’s coconut pie was tasty – we ate every bit – but it was a tad too thick and sweet for us to give it an A+.

    Even though we were full to the brim, we opted to give another standard a try - the coconut pie.  SWC offers a variety of homemade pies and desserts to tempt your sweet tooth.  A couple next to us highly recommended the blackberry cobbler and the peanut butter pie.

    Sweet Tea Café is a welcome addition to the Saline County food scene boy offering above average home cooked fare.  The portions are hearty and fresh (Hubby said our meal cost approximately $22, but he lost the ticket before I could write this.). The service was friendly and prompt and the atmosphere very true to all things Southern hospitality.  I suggest that you give it a try.  I know that I will be going back soon to check out their highly touted fried chicken.
    Oh, and that sweet tea?  It comes free with your meal.Refills are free as well.Sweet Tea Cafe
    (501) 213-026812 Office Park Dr Ste 3
    Bryant, AR 82022

    WebFood: 3.5 spoons (out of 5)
    Service: 4.5 spoon
    Price: 2 spoons
    Atmosphere: Casual and friendly
    Going back: Yes, absolutelyOutside seating: No
    Alcohol: No

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Baja Grill–Benton, Arkansas

    baja grillBaja Grill on Urbanspoon

    Benton has gotten on board the Food Truck rage.  Well, sort of.  At last count there were three; we lost one when Eat My Catfish entered the seated restaurant venue.   Taking over EMC’s food truck location with a new, swanky looking truck is Baja Grill, a real gem.  Get yourself to here as fast as you can!

    The menu is somewhat limited.  It is a food truck after all.  However, what they do offer is prepared on site with really fresh ingredients.Their online menu is available here.  Craig and Melissa Roe, the owners, are two of the friendliest people you could meet and are committed to offering the best Mexi-Cali (their term) cuisine around. 

    Between the two of us, Hubby and I have tried almost everything on the menu.  That’s what happens when you are a weekly visitor.  Yep.  It’s just that good.

    photo (2)-001


    For starters, try the guacamole and chips. This has to be the best guacamole this side of the border (and I’ve eaten my share in search of the best); it is fresh, chunky and with just the right amount of kick.  The chips and queso blanco are fairly mild, but an occasional bit of jalapeno surfaces which adds a bite. 

     photo (3)Recently, Hubby and I split a chicken burrito which is basically a chicken taco with black beans and rice added.  It is then wrapped in a flour tortilla, grilled and covered with the queso blanco.  Splitting one was a good idea for us as it would have been too much for either one of us to eat by ourselves.  Any of their taco offerings can be prepared as a burrito.  If I order this again, I will probably  leave off the rice and ask for extra lettuce, tomato, and onion since I’m not a big carb on carb eater.  Trust me, though, there wasn’t anything left on my plate – not even a grain of rice.
    The quesadilla can be prepared with any choice of meat except the seafood.  It is a large portion which makes sharing a nice option.  I opted for the chicken quesadilla a week or so ago and shared with Hubby who also had ordered a taco.  Remember,  we are always sharing a large guacamole as well.

    shrimp tacosBetween us, we have ordered all of the taco variations.  The blackened mahi-mahi and the blackened shrimp tacos are served with dry slaw, tequila lime aioli, queso fresco, and fresh mango salsa.(yum) are probably our overall favorites.  The Baja beef taco  contains shredded, slow-smoked beef rather than ground beef, a terrific A+ move in my opinion. The smoky flavor adds a real depth of flavor without being overpowering.  I like the addition of tangy salsa verde to the pork variation which also comes with onions, cilantro and queso fresco.  Hubby has had both The Cuban (Cuban pork served with a sour orange, red cabbage and jicama slaw, avocado, chipotle aioli and queso fresco)  and The Pig Sooie  which comes with pickled red onions, southern slaw and barbeque sauce.  While he was high on the unique flavors of The Cuban, he did not care so much for the latter.  (Photo courtesy of Baja Grill.)

    What else needs to be said?  It’s fresh.  It’s flavorful.  It’s owner-operated.  It’s inexpensive.  You’re sure to see us there.

    Baja Grill(501) 722-8920
    1130 Military Rd

    Food: 4.5 spoons (out of 5)
    Service: 4.5 spoon
    Price: 1 spoon
    Atmosphere: Casual and friendly
    Going back: Yes, absolutely
    Outside seating: limited

    Alcohol: No

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    The Pressroom - Bentonville

    Pressroom on Urbanspoon

    The historic Massey Hotel just off the square in downtown Bentonville, AR houses a gem of a restaurant, Pressroom.  Even after our initial visit, Hubby and I knew we would be back often.  It's just that good.

    The decor is eclectic with some "pressroom" typewriters thrown in for atmosphere.  Original artwork is featured on one wall and is available for sale.

    On our recent lunchtime visit (Lunch is served from 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.), the place was packed.  However, we were fortunate to be seated immediately and our service remarkable for such a large crowd. (The two or three servers did a terrific taking care of the  big group.)  Hubby ordered the roast turkey on ciabatta roll (Boars Head turkey, avocado, bacon, and balsamic onion marmalade) pressed with a side of the soup for the day, beef lentil. 

    I had the steak and cheese (grilled flank steak, pickled red onions, arugula and goat cheese) on a pressed baguette with the pasta salad as a side.  They were just out of his chosen draft, so he just opted for water while I had the peach iced tea.
    My sandwich was good even though the steak was a little chewy, but Hubby's roasted turkey was exceptionally tasty.  He shared his beef and lentil soup --- oh my, we came close to licking the bowl!

    A couple seated next to us had the blt (bacon, romaine, tomato and mayo) on toasted Stone Mill Bread's sourdough and the green salad.  The couple attested to the deliciousness of both.  The ladies next to us both had the soup and the roasted beet and arugula salad (arugula, roasted beets, goat cheese, spiced walnuts with walnut vinaigrette) which also looked delicious and is high on my list to eat next.   (Sorry, no pictures of those...)

    The Pressroom has an extensive, seasonal wine list.  It is especially nice that most are available by the glass. The unique draft beer choices include Sierra Nevada pale ale and Boulevard wheat.  The draft choices are also rotated seasonally.  For those preferring martinis or drinks on the rocks, Pressroom won't disappoint.  If a mimosa or summer shandy (Boulevard wheat with lemonade) suits your fancy, those are available as well.

    Pressroom is open for breakfast until 11 a.m. and offers a wide range of specialty hot or iced espressos, coffees,  teas, frozen drinks, and hot chocolate.  Menu items include: homemade granola, prosciutto on a French baguette, a breakfast sandwich of avocado, fried egg, cheddar and mayo, steel cut oats, and breakfast tacos (scrambled eggs, chorizo, avocado and salsa).

    From 5:30 - 9 p.m., Pressroom offers small plates, sandwiches, salads, cheeses and charcuterie.  The cheeses and charcuterie are changed seasonally and are available individually or in a combination of three choices.  These are served with bread, olive oil, Turkish apricots and cashews.

    Pressroom utilizes local chefs, including Paulette of Crepes Paulette,  and resources such as the local Farmer's Market to supplement their kitchen.  I really like the idea that they are working to bring the freshest and tastiest menu items to the table.

    Trust me.  This place needs to be on your "go to" list if you've not already been.  If you've tried it, you already know just how good it is.

    It's a great addition to the Bentonville town square...well, to all of NWA actually.

    (479) 657-2905
    121 West Central BentonvilleAR 72712

    Food: 4.5 spoons (out of 5)
    Service: 4 spoons
    Atmosphere: Casual and friendly
    Price: 2 
    Going back: Yes, absolutely
    Outside seating: limited

    Alcohol: Yes

    Thursday, May 31, 2012

    JJ's Grill at the Lake - Rogers, Arkansas

    JJ's Grill at the Lake on Urbanspoon

    This is Cecil (AKA Orangey according to the Grands).  He/She lives in the waters of Beaver Lake at Prairie Creek Marina on Beaver Lake.  His/Her main job is to greet the visitors to JJ's Grill on the Lake and to eat ANYTHING that falls in the water.  That might be fish food, or it might be french fries.  Who knows?  The truth is, who really cares.  It's entertainment. BTW, Cecil has a Facebook page.  Be his/her friend.
    We love JJ's on the Lake.  Since it is one of only two available eating establishments on Beaver Lake, it gets lots of business.  But the food is good even if the menu is limited. And according to the male friends who regularly dine there, the scenery is attractive as well...if you know what I mean. And if you are male.  Seriously, the wait staff is always friendly and courteous.

    My personal favorite for lunch or dinner is the fish tacos...minus the pickle relish.  What goes there?  I also substitute the grilled veggies for the rice and beans.  Hubby usually orders the Chips n All from the appetizer menu (guacamole, cheese dip, salsa).   The cheese dip is typical as is the salsa.  The guacamole is really tasty...chunky with just the right amount of spices.  I'd pass on the wings and cheese fries if I was you.  The chicken strips are quite good...real chicken and all.  Those are served with ranch dressing.  I'd select those for the kiddos rather than the preformed, processed chicken nuggets if I was doing the ordering.

    All of the wraps (I especially like the grilled chicken chipotle wrap) and salads that I have tried have been fresh and filling.  One thing about JJ's is that the servings are quite large.

    That's why I have trouble with the breakfast menu.  The portions are HUGE!  I just can't go there, but that's not to say that the options are not good.  Apparently they are judging from the number of orders that I see being served.  I'm a biscuits and gravy kind of girl so I order those as a Choose Two option with either sausage or bacon.  I'd love to see them offer an omelet station...or an eggs benedict option (I know...just dreaming).

    The marina just underwent a major overhaul so it is fairly easy now to find a slip where you can park your boat.  The restaurant was able to add additional outside seating but very little was done to renovate the interior.  I don't think we have EVER eaten inside.  Why would you want to?

    They were granted a liquor permit this year.  Beer is limited to bottled beer, however.  There's usually live music to liven up the evening if you are so inclined.  

    We only wish they were open year-round.

    And keep in mind that the staff at the marina is super.  They'll be happy to see you even if you come by foot or by auto rather than by boat.

    JJ's Grill at the Lake

    (479) 925-7280

    1 Prairie Creek Marina Dr Map.396a6e9
    RogersAR 72756

    Food: 3 spoons (out of 5)
    Service: 4 spoons
    Atmosphere: Casual and friendly
    Price:  2
    Going back: Yes
    Outside seating: nice

    Alcohol: Yes

    Wednesday, May 30, 2012

    Redbud Cafe - Bentonville, Arkansas

    Redbud Cafe on Urbanspoon

    So I've been wanting to try the Redbud Cafe in Bentonville for quite some time, but their hours of operation (breakfast and lunch M-F) just never coincided with my times in the area.  However, today Hubby and I were able to venture over to 8th Street just across the street from the Wal Mart Home Office to check out the lunch offerings.

    The menu is posted on a large blackboard, so it's pretty easy to see all that is available.  The salad bar appeared to have lots of variety, and there were some salad bar/soup/sandwich options.  I probably should have gone that route.

    Instead, I ordered the chipotle chicken panini with clam chowder as my side; Hubby ordered the daily wrap special which was a pizza wrap.  He got chips on the side.

    We were able to sit outside on the patio which is pretty nondescript...but, hey, anytime we can be outside, we will be.  Service was quick and pleasant.

    The food was just so-so.  My panini came on a very thick bun...more bread than I like.  The chicken appeared to be preprocessed Tyson-style frozen chicken strips (Tyson is a BIG chicken processor in Arkansas.), the chipotle sauce okay but just that.  The clam chowder which I chose in place of the tomato soup, was thin and probably canned.  It really didn't have much flavor...or clams for that matter.  Hubby's pizza wrap resembled a pizza Hot Pocket...lots of pizza saycem pepperoni and gooey cheese.  it really was like a Hot Pocket and was probably not the best choice for a warm summery day.

    Oh well.  We might give it another go for breakfast, but we probably won't go back for lunch.  There are just too many other options that offer really tasty meals.  We really did want to like it because we like local, but it just did not happen this time.

    Redbud Cafe
    609 SW 8th St 
    Bentonville Plaza
    Suite 135
    Bentonville, AR 72712
    (479) 876-8670

    Food: 2 spoons (out of 5)
    Service: 3 spoons
    Atmosphere: Casual and friendly
    Price: 2
    Going back: Probably not
    Outside seating: yes

    Alcohol: no

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Tusk & Trotter- Bentonville, Arkansas

    Tusk & Trotter is located just a block off of the Bentonville town square which makes it a wonderful location for those visiting the Wal Mart Museum, Compton Gardens and the soon-to-be opened Crystal Bridges Museum.  The square itself is well worth a visit, especially during the farmers’ market season.
    Tusk & Trotter opened this past June, and we were lunch visitors soon after the opening.  We’ve been back several times, but our most recent visit was this past weekend.  Thanks to NWAfoodie and NWArestaurants, we were the recipients of a gift certificate to T & T.  Thanks!

    It’s officially known as Tusk & Trotter American Brasserie which adds an air of “mystique” to an area otherwise known for its barbeque and burger joints.  We have not been disappointed in any of our visits, but I will say that our visit this past weekend was not up to par with prior ones.

    They are always busy,  Make reservations.  Trust me on this. 

    While our service was decent this weekend, the wait staff seemed somewhat harried.  That’s not a good “vibe” to pass on to your guests.  This was not our typical experience, however.  Usually, the service is absolutely top-notch helpful and friendly.  While we were not slighted or misled, the service was just “off.” The are those nights.  It certainly will not stop us from going back.


    Hubby and I shared the risotto balls which I highly recommend.  Make sure that you eat the fresh arugula along with the risotto balls.  It’s not just garnish.  It really adds a depth of spiciness to the dish.  Evan though I have had these before, I just couldn’t say no.  Yep, that good.

    photo-1Hubby’s grilled Caesar salad was equally pleasing even if on the smallish side.  Perhaps because he was so kind as to share it with me, it seemed even more so.  Not spectacular, but tasty.
    For our entrees, Hubby insisted (well, encouraged)  that I order something other than what I have ordered before. Once I find something that I really like, I tend to stick with it.  It was a coolish night perfect for an autumnal dish.  I chose the marinated pork chop with sautéed arugula and root vegetable mash.  The pork chop was topped with a mixed fruit mostarda.  My chop was really big, much more than I could eat.  It was good but more done than I prefer.  I’m one of those people who really prefers my pork, especially loins, on the pink side.  It was my fault for not letting our server know that. 


    I just about licked the plate when it came to the root vegetable mash.  Loved it!  I would order a plate of this by itself…and combine it with the sautéed arugula…heaven!

    Hubby had the blackened redfish with sautéed arugula and roasted potatoes.  While he gave it a big thumbs up, it exceeded my salt likeability.  Saltiness was an issue for me when I ordered the seafood risotto on an earlier visit.  Overall the taste was good, but since I have virtually eliminated extra-added salt from my diet, I suppose I am overly sensitive to it.  Hubby, on the other hand, salts his salt.  Know what I mean?


    We passed on dessert this time but our favorites have to be the lemon tart and the crème brulee.  Excellent choices.

    I’m anxious to get there for brunch.  The menu sounds terrific.  I mean what’s not to love about lemon soufflé pancakes or carrot cake waffles?

    We will certainly return.  We love the atmosphere that is a mixture of all things brasserie.   I  especially like that they choose to use locally sourced vendors for many of their offerings.  I’ll definitely support any  restaurant choosing to do that over one that does not.

     Dinner Menu
    Lunch Menu

    Brunch Menu

    Dessert Menu

    Tusk and Trotter
    110 SE A Street
    Bentonville, Arkansas 72712

    Food: 3 spoons (out of 5)
    Service: 3 spoons
    Atmosphere: Casual and friendly
    Price: 4
    Going back: Yes
    Outside seating: not really

    Alcohol: Yes

    Tusk & Trotter American Brasserie on Urbanspoon