Cache Crafts New Menu Mixes Local Produce with Downtown Fine Dining

I consider myself a proud Rock City native, so I rather abashedly admit that I have never once made my way to Cache Restaurant and Lounge – smack dab in the middle of the River Market – until this past week. Walking in, I am immediately taken aback by the wide, open-concept architecture of the space which is a modernized breath of fresh air in terms of design. The unique floating shelves paired with the ceiling-high wine rack filled to the brim are aesthetically exciting and draw you in instantly.
The overall environment is engaging and stimulating, much like the new additions to Cache’s menu for this fall.
I had the immense pleasure of sitting down with Payne Harding, Co-Owner of Cache since its inception in 2014 and Executive Chef for the last year, in order to pick his brain and gain some insight about a couple of his favorite new dishes.
The first of three dishes he prepares is the Seared Ahi Tuna with Fried Wontons, which seems to me like an eclectic and flavorful blend of sushi and nachos: “The base is guacamole and it is prepared with lemon, shallot, cilantro, jalapeno, … it gets a fried wonton on top, [and] then you have the tuna which comes from Hawaii. It’s the most beautiful sushi grade ahi tuna [which] is dredged in the togarashi seasoning.” The taste profile is salty, spicy, and sweet, and ultimately – delicious.

The second dish Harding prepares is a light and exquisite take on an Italian classic, the Ricotta Tortellini. “That one is a dish I kind of put together from the beginning, and it gets ricotta cheese mixed in with mascarpone cheese,” he explains. Think a nice lemon ricotta flavor in fresh egg tortellini with beurre blanc. The overall taste profile is rich, yet light, as Harding says, “It’s lemony, salty, and buttery.”
This savory preview comes to a close with the most elaborate of the three plates, the Dijon and Panko Crusted Rack of Lamb with Port Reduction. “Lamb chop is gamey to begin with, but it’s from New Zealand, [so] it’s less gamey, and more savory,” says Harding, “The tanginess of the Dijon with the lamb is super complimentary.” You’ll get a fruity, gamey, tangy, herb-flavor when biting into the dish. Think autumn, as Harding adds, “The cauliflower purée and butternut squash are both pretty similar in flavor, it’s kinda earthy, so you are kinda getting into the fall flavors [too].”
Partnering with Lee Richardson, former Head Chef at The Capital Hotel, on several other dishes on the menu, Harding has successfully crafted an intriguing, creative, and flavorsome menu perfect for those of you interested in incredible local dishes. With a kitchen stocked full of vegetables grown at his family’s farm in West Little Rock and a cuisine described as French New American, Cache is making a name for itself in the world of fresh fine dining.
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Author: mauren

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