Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas
"Back in your old neighborhood, the cigarettes taste so good. But you're so misunderstood, so misunderstood." Every time we go back to our hometown of Texarkana, this Wilco lyric finds its way into our heads. There's a sense of nostalgia conveyed in those lines that acknowledges the bittersweet sense of familiarity that comes with being home but also the sadness, an understanding that while it may be nice to visit every now and again, your hometown at best never really had a place for you and at worst pushed you away.
The Texarkana food scene hasn't always been welcoming to the new and unique, the interesting, different, or anything that could otherwise be considered city-slickin'. The town has a history of dynamite mom-and-pop places that struggle to stay open while hungry hordes wait in line for an hour to slug down taquitos at On The Border. And so, with all this in mind, we were beside ourselves to happen across Pecan Point Brewing Co. on our last trip home.
The restaurant is housed in a historic building in downtown Texarkana (technically in Texas, a block away from the state line) right next door to the Perot Theatre. From the outside, it looks clean and rustic, which is about what you get inside. The beer hall side of the restaurant is bordered with exposed brick, painted white. Industrial light fixtures hang from the high, tiled ceiling and comfortable bar stools beckon. It's everything you'd expect from a "new-Southern" restaurant: clean and inviting decor, a not-too expansive and well-executed menu and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Walking in the door, we had to remind ourselves we weren't in Little Rock, Memphis or Nashville.
Pecan Point bills itself as Texarkana's only gastropub and microbrewery, so we had to try its namesake beer, the Pecan Pointe Ale ($6). It's a great stab at a pecan ale, similar to a Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan, just not quite as dark. It was tasty, and became even more so with repeated orders. We thought it paired well with the Butcher Board ($15), a must for any table of four or more. The board came stacked with hearty chunks of Brie, Gouda and goat cheese. The feta came topped with olive tapenade. A smattering of extras, including dried cherries, candied pecans and slices of duck breast, made this a favorite and one we'd shell out for again.
The Pub 'Shrooms ($9) hardly qualify as "pub grub." Meaty mushroom caps are stuffed with generous portions of crab and covered with a sage beurre blanc sauce. They were rich (but not overpoweringly so), satisfying, and reminiscent of a dish found on menus in more upscale restaurants.
We love French onion soup and order it whenever the opportunity arises, which is disappointingly rare. So we couldn't pass up the Three Onion Soup ($5). The tasty mixture of red and yellow onions, shallots, thyme and bay leaf in a hearty broth came with a couple too many croutons inside, but the topping of Muenster cheese was bubbly and browned to perfection.
For the main course, we ordered a plate of Fish and Chips ($15). Pecan Point definitely doesn't skimp on portions, and that's not a complaint. The cod had a crispy, golden-brown batter that wasn't greasy. The hand-cut fries were crispy and well seasoned. The dish was served with a house remoulade and homemade ketchup, which was exceptional. It had a smokiness and depth that pleased even our ketchup-hating spouse. The side of red bean and cabbage slaw, tossed in a vinegar-based dressing, was nice and light. Wanting something a bit lighter to go along with all this fried fare, we also ordered a Pecan Point House Salad ($7): mixed greens, fresh mango, strawberries, candied pecans and goat cheese, all tossed in a vanilla vinaigrette. The dressing was a tad too sweet for our taste, but, overall, it was a great summer salad, light and crisp.
We're a sucker for duck, and getting it right, we've found, isn't always easy. Pecan Point's Duck and Grits ($18) is sliced duck breast prepared sous-vide and topped with a sage butter sauce. It was served with greens and grits. The greens were cooked with the aid of a pork product and went down easily. The grits were slightly cheesy and came topped with a blueberry compote that was on the sweet side, but paired well with everything else. The duck was tender, juicy and wonderful. A light dusting of ancho chili powder helped cut the richness. It's a great dish and would be hard to pass up again.
Pecan Point proved to be quite the crowd-pleaser. Ours was the kind of meal where everyone around the table ordered something different and everyone thought they picked the best dish. It's good. It's different. It stands out from the crowd in a city that doesn't often appreciate that. Here's hoping it sticks around.
213 Main St.
The Hand-Cut Ribeye and the Boomer Chicken Sandwich were other standouts on this visit. The ribeye was huge, well-seasoned and came with a topping of mushrooms and chipotle butter. It was nothing short of sublime. The chicken sandwich boasts a pecan-crusted chicken breast coated in habanero Buffalo sauce.
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Full bar, credit cards accepted.
Wow...just wow... For literally years I've held my tongue about the quality of the of…