I’ve had my eye on Hillcrest’s La Terraza Rum & Lounge for quite some time now. If I hadn’t noticed the “Grand Opening” sign adorned to the patio, I might have let it slip by me entirely.
Don’t let it slip you by. The restaurant has been open to the public since Oct. 17, serving both lunch and dinner. On my recent trip in, I was excited to check out the renovations, as well as nosh on a few dishes.
The patio is as beautiful as ever, the new owners have purchased all-new patio furniture, equipped with blankets and pillows. After all, even in the name La Terraza, “The Terrace,” is about having the perfect patio spot.
Co-owner Armando Bolaños says this is to mimic Europe, “I want people to be able to enjoy the patio, even when it’s cold, which is why we have the blankets.”
We made our way inside, however, to get the full feel of the restaurant. The interior has a new coat of paint and feels immediately very inviting. There is an extensive bar, and although you feel as if you are in an elegant eatery, the surroundings are not intimidating. Bolaños says, “We wanted to be able to catch a wide audience, and we didn’t want people to feel that they had to get too dressed up.”
The dinner menu has a little bit of everything from Venezuelan inspired appetizers, soups and mains, as well as a smattering of pastas and specialty dishes.
At the suggestion of our server, we ordered the Spanish Cold Cuts and Cheese tray for an appetizer. The board was both beautiful and delicious, equipped with aged Spanish Serrano Ham, Genoa Salami, Chorizo, Manchego Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Goat Cheese, grilled in-house Tomatoes, and Mixed Olives. The chorizo was some of the best I’ve had, spicy and thin, while my dinner mate and I fought over the Manchego Cheese.
Next up, we tried the Sopa De Mariscos, a tomato cream based concoction with calamari, clams, mussels, scallops, and shrimp – again at the suggestion of our server. The soup was ultimately a delectable mix of seafood, slightly spicy yet still tangy due to the tomato base. Needless to say, it didn’t last long.
We also gave the Pollo Al Champinon a try, a more traditional Venezuelan chicken dish marinated in a mushroom cream sauce, served with French style potatoes. This dish was so moist and creamy, not a bit dry, plus the potatoes were a treat.
We finished dinner with a bit of Quesillo, a Venezuelan style custard. Somewhere between custard and cheesecake, this little beauty was rich and delectable, with a taste of caramel throughout.
And if you’re wondering about the drinks …
The establishment isn’t joking around about the “Rum and Lounge” bit in its name. It’s about time Little Rock had a great option for mojitos. And believe me, the offerings at La Terazza are the real deal.
We ordered a regular Mojito and a spicy Mojito. Both were excellent – but the spicy Mojito stole the show. Think Cayenne Pepper and Spiced Rum. The lovely individuals at the bar, whether it’s Bolaños himself or another capable bartender, will come out and adjust the spice level to your personal taste. I had to have mine amped up a few times, but I’m certainly glad I did. I know I’ll be back to take full advantage of the patio, spicy Mojito in hand.
We were excited to discover that Bolaños wants to have food service later than the norm. Their kitchen will aim to close around 10:30 p.m. on most nights, much later than the usual 8 or 9 p.m., so note this establishment as one of your late-night weekday dining options.
Plus, don’t forget to try lunch. During the day the goal is to get customers in and out a little faster for their workday. The menu boasts of Salads, Arepas, and Sandwiches served with fried Plantains. If you haven’t, get out to La Terraza Rum & Lounge and check it out. You will not be disappointed.
The eatery is open for lunch Tuesdays – Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., with food service available until about 10:30 p.m. Sundays range from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.