Around the Rock: Breaking News-The Pantry and South on Main Are Good

My weekly views…
The Pantry was humming along quite nicely last Friday night–par for the course for this cozy West Little Rock restaurant which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. What continues to make The Pantry better than 95% of the restaurants in our town? Consistency and quality. It’s really that simple. Throw in fantastic service, warm atmosphere and very reasonable prices, and it’s easy to see why they’re getting ready to open a second location (in Hillcrest) in the coming months. Our dinner started, as it typically does, with a few “nibbles.” This included the bacon-wrapped dates, chips & blue, and the grilled romaine hearts. Truth be told, I didn’t get one date, as my tablemates scarfed them down, but no worries, I focused my attention on the grilled Romaine (topped with Caesar dressing, shaved Parmesan cheese and bits of anchovies). Several bites of the chips & blue, a pile of house made chips doused in truffled béchamel and blue cheese, proved to be just as satisfying. Afterwards, I took down the stock pot–a large bowl filled with tomato stock, perfectly cooked shrimp and tender chunks of flaky cod. Two rounds of the wonderfully executed ’14 Addition Untapped (whiskey, agave syrup, lemon, Anaheim peppers, orange bitters, and Franziskaner), along with a brûlée topped slice of cheesecake, capped off the fantastic evening.
If you haven’t experienced a concert at South on Main, please put it on your to-do list. This past Tuesday, I enjoyed talented Ester Rada and her crew, while knocking back a Whiskey Rebellion and Marigold. Both were excellent drinks, but the real highlight, besides those insanely addictive fried duck wings, was this new dish: charred Romaine with Israeli couscous, shiitake mushrooms and grilled onions. It felt like Christmas in June when I knifed the lettuce and out came a pile of buttery couscous. Toss in meaty shiitakes and caramelized onions, and you’ve got a dish sure to impress even the most steadfast carnivore.
Call it my “Pimp NYPD Pizza Week,” but damn if I’m not trying my best to help spread the word on this gem of a pizzeria out in far West Little Rock. Specifically, the Queens Deluxe, piled with pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms and green peppers on thin, slightly doughy curst, is easily now in my top 5 pizzas.
Has Hillcrest Artisan Meats ever served a subpar sandwich? Seriously, my grilled ham and Swiss, with tomato and Dijon mustard on multi-gran bread, kept the streak alive for fantastic lunches.
The Root is Little Rock. They serve the best breakfast in our town, and I always feel great just sitting there while soaking up the eclectic atmosphere. I kept things simple and ordered an omelet filled with peppers, onions and shiitakes. It did not disappoint.
And the news…
This Friday at Eggshells Kitchen Co. (5:30-7:30 p.m.), come meet author of Scoop Adventures, Lindsay Clendaniel, and celebrate the inclusion of Little Rock’s own Loblolly Creamery in her new book!
Plenty going on over at South on Main … on Saturday, June 7, they’re hosting Queer Prom. This fundraiser benefits different non-profits that support the LGBT community. It’s a suggested $10 donation at the door and open to all ages. Live music, cocktails and food, photo booth and drag show. On Tuesday, June 10, South on Main is hosting a free Shakespeare Unplugged concert. The stars of Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona” will perform original musical pieces and witty monologues from the show.
As a reminder, this month’s Westover Food Truck Wednesday will be on June 11 from 5-8 p.m. at the Westover Hills Presbyterian Church parking lot. Per usual, many of Little Rock’s most popular food trucks will be in attendance (Waffle Wagon, The Southern Gourmasian, Southern Salt Food Company and others).

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