Gio Bruno gave us an update today on when Bruno's Little Italy should open in the Mann Lofts building at 310 Main St. He'd hoped he'd be open by late August, but ...
Construction should be finished this week, Bruno said, and once the new stove arrives, a plumbing inspection can be conducted and once the plumbing inspection is conducted then the liquor license can be obtained and once the liquor license is in hand, he can get a biz license and then it's time to hire and train. So the week of Sept. 23 is the new target date, which means if all goes as planned, the first dinner could be served Sept. 24. (Dinner will be served 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.) There will be a number of soft openings, for loft developers Moses Tucker and the Downtown Partnership and builders and finally, the public will be able to check out the cooking of head chef Dominic Bruno (Gio's son) and sous chef Josh Kerns (who Dominic is bringing to Arkansas from Colorado). Vince Bruno, Gio's brother, is executive chef and co-owner.
Two weeks after the restaurant opens and kinks are worked out, lunch will be served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
We had a conversation last week with Chris Stroup, the executive chef at Pancetta, the restaurant in the newly-rebranded Marriott Hotel on Markham, which used to be the Peabody.
Stroup spent the past 12 years in the kitchens at the Renaissance Hotel in St. Louis, working his way up to executive chef, a position he held for seven years before moving to Little Rock at the request of the new general manager of the new Marriott, after the hotel was sold by the Peabody Hotel Group in June.
Stroup is currently in the process of creating an entirely new menu for Pancetta, focusing on simple, local and fresh. He said he's making every effort to avoid "hotel food" on the new menu. "The hotel here previously had chicken parmigiana on the menu," he said. "You can find that anywhere. We want to do something really different."
Stroup had a "soft-open" over the weekend, and plans to roll out the full dinner and lunch menu soon. "It's [food that is] not trying to be something that it's not," Stroup said. "My food is simple. It speaks for itself, and it's about what it is. Less is more, as far as the ingredients. I don't try to fluff it... I don't want to say 'farm to table,' because that's so clichéd these days, but I want to do the local thing as much as possible." Stroup said he is sourcing as many of his ingredients as he can from small suppliers within the state, including Little Rock Urban Farming, Falling Sky Farms and others.
Asked what diners can expect, Stroup said some of the recipes that will probably wind up on the menu include a porchetta sandwich with an in-house giardiniera and provolone on local ciabatta bread; a scratch-made stromboli with Petit Jean ham and salami; braised pork belly glazed with a reduction of Diamond Beer root beer, with homemade spoonbread, pickled radish and watercress, and a perfect-for-summer appetizer of heirloom tomatoes (full disclosure: raised on the Cabot farm of Arkansas Times gardener-in-chief Alan Leveritt) with homemade ricotta cheese and a basil sorbet.
Truly memorable meals, Stroup said, are all about those kind of surprises. "It's something different that you don't expect from that restaurant," he said. "We're not a hotel restaurant. That's the thing. With a braised pork belly and a local root beer glaze and house made spoon bread, you know that we're taking a little bit of a local feel, and a little bit of the South, and a little bit of what's new and kind of combining them all."
Chef Scott Rains’ idea of modern American cuisine is this: A quail lollipop served with Tobasco butter and gorgonzola fondue. Smoked octopus with fava beans and kalamata olives. A spinach and sweetbread salad. A tomahawk ribeye, 26 ounces of aged steak. That’s all coming Aug. 20 to Table 28, the restaurant taking the place of Vesuvio in the Best Western Premiere Governors Suites hotel.
About the name: There will be 27 regular tables in the restaurant, which will serve dinner Monday through Saturday, and a 28th special table, where you can reserve a fixed-course meal created by Rains and served with selected wines. The table is a partnership with Arkansas Children’s Hospital; 65 percent of the tab will go to Children’s. There will also be a full bar serving signature martinis and everything else.
An update on the revival of Bruno’s Little Italy in the Mann Lofts at 310 Main St.: Owner Gio Bruno, son of founder Jimmy Bruno, said he hopes to open the restaurant “before the end of August,” and not before “everything is right.”
Construction is running behind thanks in part to the building contractor’s decision to place a support pole where Bruno had planned to put his pizza oven. The sidewalk for the outside dining area has been poured, however. The patio will seat 24 and the restaurant will have 68 seats at tables and seven in the bar.
The new Bruno’s will be open for dinner only initially to work out any kinks and then will open for lunch. Lunch will be Monday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Coming back to the menu: Spaghetti Caruso, spaghetti topped with fried chicken livers in a marinara sauce, a favorite dish of Hillary Clinton’s brother, Hugh Rodham. Bruno has also asked Paula Dempsey of Dempsey Bakery to provide a gluten-free French bread to substitute for pizza dough for gluten-averse diners.
Perks include "tanning and fitness packages."
DALLAS (June 21, 2013) — Twin Peaks, the mountain-lodge themed sports restaurant, is busting out its first Arkansas location next month in West Little Rock at 10 Shackelford Dr.
To outfit the new location, the concept is holding auditions for more than 125 outgoing ladies to join the team as Twin Peaks Girls.
Becoming a West Little Rock Twin Peaks Girl comes with perks such as flexible scheduling for school, tanning and fitness packages, a fun work environment with great tips and contests to win shopping sprees and vacations. Twin Peaks Girls also wear the pro-cheerleader-inspired “Lumber-Jill” costumes and have the chance to star in national modeling opportunities.
“Twin Peaks is thrilled to be opening our first Arkansas location in Little Rock,” said Kristen Colby, Twin Peaks’ Senior Director of Marketing. “We have a huge fan base across the country and West Little Rock is going to be the perfect place to introduce new guests from around the area to our home-made comfort food and 29-degree draft beer, all served by our signature assets — the Twin Peaks Girls.”
At more than 8,500+ square feet, Twin Peaks West Little Rock will feature 40 HD flat screens and an oversized patio and fire pit. The made-from-scratch menu features hearty American favorites and includes 16 draft beers served at a freezing 29-degrees from a full-service bar.
“The Twin Peaks Girls are what set us apart from other sports restaurants,” added Colby. “We’re growing so fast and it’s important that we’ve got the absolute best talent representing our concept, especially in new markets. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Twin Peaks roster and we can’t wait to get started with auditions and welcome new Girls to the team!”
The Little Greek Restaurant franchise, which says it offers Greek food with an American touch, is coming to Little Rock, taking over the site that housed Cheeburger Cheeburger in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center.
The Little Rock website for the franchise has links to menus in Florida, where the franchise started, and Texas. You got your lamb skewers, mousaka (as LGR spells it), gyros, hummus, etc. The Little Rock phone number hasn't been activated yet; we've left a call with the chain owner Nick Vojnovic to find out when the restaurant will open and who owns the franchise here. [See update below.]
The restaurant's Facebook page offered up the above photograph of spanakopita and Greek salad, which looks pretty good. Looks like a nice beet slice atop the salad.
UPDATE: That is indeed a beet on the top of the Greek salad, a salad that also includes two lettuces, pepperoncini, onions, bell pepper, olives, feta and a potato salad mixture with homemade dressing, company president Vojnovic says. The recipe comes from Greek cooking in Tarpon Springs, Fla., which has the largest Greek population of any American town, thanks to its 19th century sponge diving business.
Franchise holders are Thad and Michelle Waugh. They are hiring between 20 and 30 people for the new restaurant.
The restaurant owners hope to open in early July, Vojnovic said. He said the menu hasn't been formalized to add local tastes (like the Texas one, which includes a filet mignon skewer). The Little Rock restaurant will be the 14th in the chain.
Beer and cheese... Is there a combination more pleasing to the palate, more ambrosial than a fine craft beer and a piece of, say, aged gouda or maybe manchego? How about if you added a delicious slice of sausage to the mix? Now we're talking.
Three of mankind's greatest culinary achievements will be combined in just such a manner at A Pint, A Wedge, which takes place from 1-3 p.m., May 18 at Bernice Garden. The event is part of Craft Beer Week, and features beer from Arkansas Craft Distributors, cheese from Boulevard Bread Co. and sausage from Hillcrest Artisan Meats.
There will be live music from Judson and Josh Spillyards, Norman Williamson and Ryan Hitt. Tickets are $25 and you can purchase them at Boulevard's Heights location.
A peek at the company's website finds they have shish-kebabs (the SKK in the company name apparently stands for ShocKKabab), wraps, wings, gyros, pizzas, soft yogurt and sandwiches. Here's their full menu,. According to the website, the chain launched in 2011 and currently has 40 outlets. Looks like SKK Italy's primo U.S. location will be at 331 Weir Road in Russellville. No information yet on when they'll open.
The food looks surprisingly good in the video and photos on their website, especially the traditional Italian pizzas. Can't say much, though, for their corporate promotional video, which appears to be narrated by a Terminator which has almost mastered human speech.
SAMPLE: "Everything revolves around the green and orange! The machines are of the highest quality, and technologically advanced! Just look at kebab machines equipped with a system of protective glass, and fume hood!"
Hot Dog Mike — AKA Michael Juiliano — has started a fundraising campaign online to help pay for a new downtown storefront where he'll sell favorites from his mobile hot dog cart plus "featured specials that are hard to do on the cart." He also plans to offer delivery in a limited area. The familiar Hot Dog Mike carts will still be available for special events and catering gigs.
In a press release available at his website, Juiliano said the new Hot Dog Mike storefront will be "designed around the idea of bringing the cart indoors" while "keeping it simple, fun and face to face." Plans call for an open workspace area where diners can watch their dogs being made. He said he hopes moving indoors will help him get past some of the challenges of selling street food, including weather, parking, traffic, zoning restrictions, workspace and safety.
Juiliano is trying to raise $10,000 over the next 30 days to make his storefront a reality. The release says donations will be used to fund deposits, licensing, equipment, signage, supplies, and other hurdles that must be cleared before the first dog is sold. Created on April 29, Hot Dog Mike's gofundme.com site has raised $310 as of this writing.
Bart Barlogie (son of the famous oncologist of the same name) and business partner Wilson Brandt are aiming for May to open their new upscale Mexican restaurant in Riverdale. The restaurant is called The Folde — like a taco folds, like bringing your friends into the fold; Fold without the "e" seemed "harsh," Barlogie said — and it's located in a space that once housed an Alltel fleet service station at 3501 Old Cantrell Road. Barlogie and Brandt purchased the lot in 2010; Barlogie said resolving city code issues held up progress.
Botanas — small plates, or "snacks" — are the focus of the menu, designed by Sonya Cote, chef of Austin's Hillside Farmacy, which Brandt co-owns. Cote will serve as a consulting chef; she'll visit quarterly or so to update the menu, Barlogie said. Joshua Fulton, sous chef, will run the kitchen on a day to day basis. Both Cote and Fulton are big believers in local produce and protein, Barlogie said. Mezcal will be the focus of the bar. All juice used for mixers will be handsqueezed.
The main dining area, which will seat around 75, will be in the former garage bays. The garage doors will be up in nice weather. A patio out front will seat around 15.
Alan Garcia Gonzalez, owner of another trendy Austin restaurant, Papi Tino's, is serving as a consultant.
The Folde will partner with Eatiply, a social good start-up that donates a meal to someone in need every time a patron purchases a meal from an Eatiply-supported restaurant. Barlogie said Eatiply would donate meals through a hunger-relief organization designated by the The Folde. Restaurant management hasn't picked that group yet.
When the Cozymel's at 10 Shackleford Drive closed, rumors surfaced that the space had been purchased by Dallas-area chain Twin Peaks. A recent twitter exchange between Meggie Miller of the Twin Peaks training staff and Eat Arkansas confirms this rumor, although no official word was forthcoming other than a June opening and a promise of more information in April. The Twin Peaks website already has a page up for the West Little Rock store, however, with an address of...10 Shackleford Drive, which means that all the bros and lonely middle-aged men in town will no longer have to drive all the way to North Little Rock to gawk at the girls at Hooter's.
I admit, I was ignorant of this "Twin Peaks" place prior to the Twitter exchange — to me, "Twin Peaks" was an early 90s David Lynch show that briefly made Kyle MacLachlan famous and put the phrase "who killed Laura Palmer" into our national lexicon. Turns out that these days, the name is just another cutesy euphemism for the female anatomy, employing young women dressed up in skimpy tops and short shorts. This sort of thing is apparently rather popular down in Dallas, where Twin Peaks originates, earning it and other places like it the sobriquet "breastaurants," which really goes a long way in cementing my hereditary distrust of Texas. The irritating jackassery continues with the restaurant's motto: "Eats. Drinks. Scenic views." Oh, my sides.
But why get upset about it? Little Rock is no stranger to such things, from our seedy strip clubs to the school-girl themed outfits worn by the "Beer Goddesses" at the Flying Saucer. After all, nobody's forcing these women to work there, and if men are stupid enough to part with their hard-earned cash for a brief look at some skin while they stuff their faces with burgers and beer, so be it. At the same time, it's a bit disappointing that in my efforts to bring all of you news about what's new in Little Rock food, all I have to offer you today is a bit about a T and A theme park masquerading as a restaurant. But if "clever" T-shirts emblazoned with double-entendres is your thing (example: a deer head with the caption "Twin Peaks Rack Addict"), then I'm sure you're as happy as can be with this news.
And for those of you who just want to cut directly to the chase, I think the Paper Moon down on Mablevale Pike offers a daily buffet.
Driving by the old Backyard Burgers restaurant across from UAMS today, we noticed that the sign out front says it will be the location of Little Rock's first Slim Chickens, the tenders, wings and fries joint that was started in by three friends in Fayetteville in 2003. There are currently five Slim Chickens outlets in Arkansas, and another three in Oklahoma. Another store is in the works for Texarkana.
Gus's has been an
east west Tennessee staple for more than 50 years, long a destination sought out by foodies in Mason, Tenn., and more recently at outlets in Memphis. Last year, a Gus's franchise opened in Nashville.
Malloy said the food would be "exactly the same" as other outlets, that he expected to be open daily and he's hoping the restaurant will serve beer, but that a full bar is unlikely. Asked about a timeframe for opening, Malloy would only say "sooner rather than later."
Malloy was cagey about the make-up of the franchise ownership group, but as we reported earlier in the month, filings with the secretary of state show a Gus's Fried Chicken of Little Rock, later changed to City Fried, LLC. Officers include DGLR, an LLC that lists Daniel Bryant, who holds the lease to the building that will house Gus's and is a partner in a number of local restaurants and bars, as its only officer, and M&S Holdings of Arkansas, an LLC that includes Malloy and his wife Jennifer Malloy.
Malloy said this was his first restaurant to invest in, but within the partnership, "there's a wealth of experience in restaurants and restaurant analysis."
Malloy said he ate at the Memphis location for the first time two years ago, realized it was the best fried chicken he'd ever had and decided to work on bringing it to Arkansas.
I never know how I'm going to come across something delicious — that's part of the joys of this food writing gig. In my non-foodie life, I work for a local window and glass manufacturer, and it just so happened that a man by the name of Lynn A. Fowlkes stopped into our shop the other day looking for a serving window for a food truck he's building. My ears naturally perked up at the words "food truck," and I struck up a conversation with Fowlkes about what culinary delights he might be bringing to the Natural State from his former home base of Michigan.
It turns out that Fowlkes is a barbecue man, and since 2007 he's been developing his own line of gourmet sauces dubbed "My Uncle's Sauce" by his test-subject nieces. His base recipe is a concoction passed down through generations of his family, with tweaks made by Fowlkes along the way. The sauce comes in two varieties, Original and Hot, and being the spice fan that I am, I sampled a bottle of the hot variety. The verdict? It's really good sauce, mild and sweet on the tongue at first with a noticeable habanero kick on the back end that makes for a well-balanced flavor profile. Fowlkes is currently having his sauce bottled in Benton and hopes to be selling it retail within a few weeks.
Talking to the chef about his sauce, I was a bit skeptical when he said that he's had people tell him that they use it on everything from scrambled eggs to catfish, but after cooking up a meal that utilized the sauce in a pot of beans, some barbecue chicken, and even a dash in a batch of cole slaw, I have to say that I'm now a believer. Fowlkes hasn't decided if he wants to open up his food truck in Little Rock or in the Hot Springs area — and if his meat is as good as his sauce, I'm hoping he picks Little Rock. He's a friendly, passionate guy who is adamant about creating a great product, so I hope we see his sauce on shelves soon.
It's always exciting to see new handmade products hit the area, especially ones of such superior quality. Arkansans, like people in most barbecue loving states, are particular about their favorites, and I have a feeling that once Mr. Fowlkes gets established here, his sauce will be a welcome addition to the debate.
Goof - send me your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel - better than Cordell's? If so I'd love the recipe.
Fat Bottom Cup Cakes, here is your Joseph Holland from Dallas, seems he is an…
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