Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
We have taken great interest in this Fayetteville operation, now set up next door to where the local farmers market meets. From outside, the building beckons with planters and beds of herbs, vegetables and shrubs — many of which are used in the dishes inside.
Greenhouse Grille has also partnered with dozens of local farmers and meat and dairy producers to create its menu.
We ordered the Sweden Creek Farms Organic Shiitake Mushroom Fries ($9) on both of our recent visits and have come to the conclusion that they are far superior to traditional potato fries. The thick planks of mushroom cap were dipped in a tempura-type batter and were served with a tarragon ranch dip and cumin-flavored "magic catsup." The slices themselves were pliant and tasty. The tarragon dip was all right, but the drizzle of magic catsup on the side was fantastic. We'd purchase a bottle if it were available to take home.
We also tried the filling Parmesan and Herb Risotto Balls ($7). The cheese and rice were creamy smooth and a little salty. The Roasted Garlic Aioli came in a sour cream-textured smear on the plate. The risotto balls would have been excellent on their own, but the aioli made them all that much better.
We also tried two entrees from the autumn menu (the menu changes seasonally). The Tuscan Vegetable Pasta ($16) was a large bowl of bowtie pasta, garbanzo beans, roasted red bell peppers and artichoke hearts topped with some fresh-made ricotta-like goat cheese. We appreciated the attention to detail with the all-vegetarian plate and liked it, though it needed a touch of salt.
We were even more pleased with the Lamb & Herb Meatballs ($20), a trio of two-and-a-half-inch-thick egg-shaped meatballs packed with sundried tomato, green onions and bits of herb and served atop a pile of fresh-made angel hair pasta and under a crown of sundried tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and locally produced feta cheese. The bits of mushroom had the tenderness and flavor of finely cooked veal; the sundried tomatoes added the right amount of spark to brighten up the mild pasta and sauce. The meatballs were succulent but a little under-spiced, but the brightly sharp cheese made up for that in spades.
We also tried a side of the delectable Root Vegetable Fried Wild Rice ($3.50), almost creamy with bits of carrots and onions throughout. Our dining companion claimed he would order this alone in a double order and be happy with dinner.
On our other visit we tried items from the regular menu. We sampled the Greek Quesadilla ($10) with spinach, artichoke hearts, garbanzo beans, mozzarella, feta cheese, cumin cream sauce and roasted bell peppers and found it to be decent, though not extraordinary. We also tried one of the burgers, the Goat Cheese Burger with Spinach and Roasted Garlic Aioli ($10). We found the garlic a little strong, though the oregano-infused tomato tapenade was excellent.
481 South School
With all these tasty offerings, one might decide to skip dessert. We urge you not to — the Chocolate Chunk Bourbon Pecan Pie is one of the absolute best pies we have found in the state. The rich and thick custard is cluttered with chocolate chunks and sits on a cookie crust under candied pecans and a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream. It's served with an ample serving of berries for a very complete and gorgeous finish to a meal.
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
All credit cards accepted. Full bar.