Thursday, December 13, 2012

Milford Track is worth tracking down

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 10:09 AM

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If you are serious about eating good food you must oftentimes hunt it down in unlikely locations. And sometimes, these places do require a bit of searching simply to even locate the restaurant. Little Rock diners who've enjoyed the offerings of Brave New are not unfamiliar with this process, and I’ve enjoyed some of the best meals of my life in strip malls and gas stations. I usually find that discovering these unexpected and often hidden treasures can pay off in dividends if you keep your ear to the ground, and really pay attention to where one might find these culinary adventures. Recently, I was tipped off to a small cafe in west Little Rock located in the basement of a rather inconspicuous, large corporate office complex. A place with no signage, no advertising, virtually impossible to find without being previously told where to look. But for over 25 years, this humble restaurant known as "Milford Track" has survived, indeed it's prospered, by word of mouth alone...folks who know, go, and they are spreading their secret for good reason—Milford Track is dishing up some extraordinary, scratch-made food. Once you eat there, it's difficult to keep your mouth shut about it.

Milford Track is deceptive. To the naked eye, it appears to be a small, commonplace sandwich and lunch counter, designed to provide second-rate food to the busy corporate types confined by the executive building which houses this small café. You’d expect Milford Track to serve pre-packaged, shrink-wrapped food, with a handful of mediocre snacks, the kind of place that could easily operate with a microwave and a toaster and still draw in numerous hurried businesspeople on their short lunch break. But in this case, nothing could be further from the truth. Milford Track is making a large percentage of their menu from scratch and cooking meals to-order, all within the tiny confines of their basement café. Milford Track is no run-of-the-mill operation.

They’ve got a list of sandwich standards: chicken avocado club, turkey croissant, blackened chicken, roast beef, or a classic BLT. When possible (and quite often) these are served on house-baked breads, with local, fresh ingredients when in season. Hefty burgers with bacon come with the disclaimer “not for the faint of appetite.” These things should are not to be overlooked, but what you must come to Milford Track for, the section of the menu that perhaps shines brightest, is their fresh pastas. These are not to be missed.

Milford’s pastas are made from scratch daily. They are straightforward, rustic, and incredibly flavorful. Each day, the simple mixture of unbleached flour, eggs, and salt are hand-mixed until the perfect consistency. The pasta dough is then blended with one of six freshly-prepared ingredient blends to add flavor: black olive, chili, cilantro, lemon-pepper, rosemary-basil, or spinach. Once run through a pasta maker, the pasta is cut into spaghetti-like ribbons and given a quick bath in boiling water until al dente, each plate is cooked to order. Diners then choose from a variety of light sauces such as black bean chili, cilantro pesto, alfredo, or pepper-garlic. These sauces are designed to merely complement the inherent flavors of the pasta, not overwhelm and mask the beautifully prepared centerpiece of the dish.

Did I mention the view from the patio?
  • Did I mention the view from the patio?
You may opt for the addition of grilled chicken breast or salmon, but you should not miss out on the grilled vegetables. A medley of squash, string beans, bell peppers, broccoli, and onions are seasoned with a sweet, peppery, slightly acidic house vinaigrette and then tossed on the grill until tender and caramelized. Easily one of the greatest vegetable preparations I’ve ever tasted. When paired with the pasta, it makes for a hearty meal that leaves you feeling satisfied and comforted for the remainder of the day. Take my word on this one: pasta + veggies = happy tummy. It’s just that simple.

This is one hidden treasure worth searching for. Once found and tasted, you will be hard-pressed to stay away. Milford Track has been one of the greatest surprise success stories in my central Arkansas search for fabulous food; it will definitely be worth your time.

(So, how to find Milford Track: Opposite the Arkansas Heart Hospital runs Executive Center Drive. Along this road you’ll find a half dozen, large corporate office buildings. If you are driving west down Executive Center Dr., away from the hospital, you’ll see a small lake on your left and the “Searcy Bldg” at its edge. Park, walk around to the back of the Searcy Bldg (facing the lake) and you’ll find a patio with tables and chairs. Enter, you’ve found Milford Track. Enjoy)

Address is 10809 Executive Center Dr., Searcy Bldg, Plaza 2, Little Rock. 501-223-2257. milford-track.com

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