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The Eat Blog

News and notes on food, fine dining, restaurants and eating in Arkansas. A daily digest of favorite flavors leavened with your comments. E-mail tips and feedback to InArkansas.com Associate Editor Lauren James here.
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New Downtown Cocktail Bar to Open Friday Night

Image by Lee Hogan

Come Friday, the Little Rock bar scene will be a bit darker, and a bit more intimate. And we like it.

You might have noticed that Maduro Cigar Bar & Lounge, located at 109 Main St., closed up in early November. In its place will be 109 & Co., a classic, speakeasy bar with New York City influences.

Owner Michael Peace said it's something he's wanted to do for more than a year now. 

The changes will be evident from the moment you walk in the door. There's new furniture, a new, bigger bar and one less wall. Peace says the space, which will feature a classic, black-and-gold wallpaper in place of the red-painted walls of Maduro, will be more open after taking down one of the existing walls.

"It will be like nothing what [people] have seen in Little Rock," Peace said. "In Maduro, it was like walking into a Miami bar. Now, it will be like a New York City speakeasy bar. It will be more dark, more intimate, perfect for dates or if you just want a good cocktail in a dark, sexy environment."

The idea for 109 & Co. was inspired by a few of Peace's favorite New York City bars, including Employees Only and P.D.T. (Please Don't Tell, which you enter through a phone booth in a hot dog shop).

Peace tells Soirée there was a big effort to get rid of all things smoky. If it couldn't be cleaned, it was tossed. 

While the place itself may not smell of smoke, your drink may taste of it, but that's on purpose. Peace has plans for barrel-aged cocktails with a program for customers to start their own concoction in their personal charred oak barrel. When the cocktail is gone, customers will be able to purchase the barrels to take home. (Someone please put that on Instagram.)

Overall, 109 & Co. will carryover about 15 of the cocktails Maduro featured. The bar will also add a few brand new ones from Peace, on top of a few Maduro cocktails that have been reworked to incorporate a more classic taste.

In addition to the signature cocktails with an old-fashioned twist, customers can expect a bit of tasty food. 109 & Co. has reached an agreement with Butcher & Public to supply a few dishes, including a smoked chicken curry salad, and a bratwurst and sauerkraut plate. 

Maduro fans, some good news for you. Peace has plans to reopen the cigar lounge in a different location. There are a few spots downtown he's currently looking at, but nothing is official right now. Be sure to sign up for our daily e-newsletter, "Little Rock Soirée Today" to stay posted on this news. 

109 & Co. will be open 7 p.m. to midnight Sunday and Monday, 5 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, check out the Facebook page.

The bar's grand opening is set for Friday. Cheers! 

Taste of Tuesday: 5 Recipes to Get Rid of Turkey Leftovers

Hopefully the Thanksgiving food coma has relinquished its hold on you. Now, what are you going to do with all that turkey?

It's coming out of your ears, isn't it? You've had so many turkey sandwiches, you're not even sure why you liked turkey in the first place. Well, at least until Christmas rolls around and you do this all over again.

To help relieve your refrigerators, we've got a few leftover turkey recipes for you to try out this week. Just so you know, these aren't exactly the meals that are going to kick start your post-Thanksgiving diet to help you take off those 20 pounds you just added. We can worry about that after the New Year, right?

Turkey Soup

It's starting to get cold again, so a warm, hearty soup could be just what the doctor ordered. This recipe comes from Simply Recipes.

Turkey Pot Pie

You've had the classic chicken pot pie, so why not substitute the chicken for turkey. Especially when the turkey is about to overrun your refrigerator? This recipe is courtesy of Pillsbury.

Cheddar Turkey Casserole

If your Thanksgiving holiday was light on the casseroles, this one might be a good option for you. This recipe comes from Taste of Home.

Grilled Turkey Reuben

We know, we know. This is another turkey sandwich recipe. But come on, you know as well as we do that a reuben — in any form — is more a way of life than a sandwich. This recipe comes from the Food Network.

Turkey and Corn Enchiladas

Here is the wildcard. If you're wanting something completely different from the norm, here you go. This recipe comes from Real Simple.

Taste of Tuesday: Local Chefs Share Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

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We're just days away from Thanksgiving, so if you haven't decided what you're making for the family get-together, it's time to nail something down.

We shared with you in our November issue what some of the popular chefs around town like to make for the holidays, and we thought this might be a good time to refresh your memory of those as you try and make a decision for your Thanksgiving feast.

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Roasted Grape and Rosemary Focaccia

(serves 6-8)

INGREDIENTS:

300 grams bread flour

 

1 tsp. yeast

 

200 milliliters room temperature water

 

10 milliliters extra virgin olive oil

 

10 milliliters milk

 

1 tsp. sea salt

 

250 grams red or black seedless grapes

 

1 sprig of rosemary, chopped

 

1 cup of toasted pecans

 

1 pinch of raw sugar (optional)

Directions:

1. Mix flour and yeast in a large bowl and stir in the water until combined. Set aside for 10 minutes before mixing in the oil, milk and salt. Once the dough has formed, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes, then knead another 10 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with olive oil and cover it with plastic wrap. Set aside to proof for 1.5 hours, knocking it back every 30 minutes or so.

2. Flatten dough with a rolling pin into a 12x6-inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking tray. Leave in a warm place for 20 minutes. When it’s ready, it will look puffed and smooth and will bounce back slowly when pressed.

3. Preheat the oven to 425. Wash the grapes, then cut them lengthwise. Scatter the grapes over the dough, leaving a small margin in case they try to roll off during baking. Sprinkle with rosemary and sugar, reduce oven to 400 and bake for 25 minutes.

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Fennel Encrusted Pork Loin with Apple Pear Conserva and Pumpkin Corn Risotto 

(serves 8-10)

INGREDIENTS FOR APPLE PEAR CONSERVA:

2 peeled apples, diced

 

2 peeled pears, diced

 

1/2 small onion, diced

 

1 garlic clove, minced

 

1 cup white balsamic or sherry vinegar

 

1 1/2 cups sugar

 

1/2 tbsp. finely ground coriander, cumin, fennel and cinnamon (sage optional)

Directions:
1. Sweat onions in a little grape seed oil.

2. Add spices and vinegar.

3. Add other ingredients; reduce over medium low heat until chutney-like consistency.

INGREDIENTS FOR PORK LOIN:

1 quart apple juice

 

1 tsp. whole cloves

 

1 tsp. whole allspice

 

1 cinnamon stick

 

2 smashed garlic cloves

 

1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions:
1. Whisk all ingredients and pour over pork loin. Refrigerate overnight.

2. Remove pork from brine, pat dry, season with salt and pepper and rub with ground fennel.

3. Sear on both sides, then roast in the oven at 350 until pork has an internal temperature of 140. Remove from the oven and let it rest until it reaches an internal temp of 160.

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Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash with a Parsley Pistou

(serves 10)

INGREDIENTS FOR SWEET POTATOES

AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH:

5 sweet potatoes

 

3 butternut squash

 

2 onions

 

2 tbsp. butter

 

kosher salt, to taste

 

1 tbsp. each of paprika, cumin and cinnamon

 

1 cup toasted pecans

INGREDIENTS/DIRECTIONS

FOR PARSLEY PISTOU:

1/2 bunch parsley, picked from stems

 

1/4 bunch mint, picked from stems

 

1 whole preserved lemon

 

3 oz. roasted garlic

 

kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

 

(Mix all ingredients in food processor and serve)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut sweet potatoes and squash into a medium dice, toss in oil, place in separate baking dishes and cover with foil.

3. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until fork tender. Add 2 tbsp. butter and bake, uncovered, for 10-15 more minutes.

4. Slice onions and caramelize in butter. After potatoes and squash are cooked, mix all ingredients together and season with kosher salt.

5. Toast dry pecans under the broiler for a few minutes, until fragrant, toss with a nut oil, along with a tablespoon each of paprika, cumin and cinnamon. Garnish dish with pecans.

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Cornbread Dressing

(serves 6-10)

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup pecans

 

4 oz. unsalted butter

 

4 cups crumbled cornbread, plus 1 cup torn-apart dinner rolls

 

1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped

 

2 ribs celery, diced

 

1-2 carrots, peeled and small diced

 

1/2 cup mushrooms, minced

 

2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced

 

1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

 

1 tsp. salt

 

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 

1/4 cup white wine

 

1/3 cup heavy cream

 

2 cups double-strong (make chicken stock, then reduce by half) homemade chicken stock

 

2 eggs

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 425. Spread pecans on a baking sheet. Toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

2. Melt 2 ounces of butter in a small skillet. Cut cornbread and rolls into 2-inch-thick cubes. Spread on a baking sheet. Drizzle with melted butter evenly. Toast until golden brown, 10 minutes. Set aside.

3. Heat remaining 2 ounces of butter in a medium skillet on medium high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper; cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add white wine. Continue cooking until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add cream. Cook 30 seconds; remove pan from heat.

4. Put cornbread and bread into a large bowl. Add mushroom mixture and toasted pecans; toss. Whisk eggs into cooled double broth. Toss into cornbread mixture. Bake in a buttered 9x13-inch baking dish until stuffing is crusty and golden, about 20-30 minutes.

Oven Roasted Turkey

1. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Put in trash bag and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

2. Place on rack in roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Roast at 450 for one hour.

3. Pour a quart of apple cider and a quart of chicken broth over the turkey. Sprinkle with fresh thyme, sage, cracked pepper and coarse salt, to taste.

4. Turn oven temperature down to 170 (any more and the breast will be dry) and slow roast for 8-12 hours, depending on the size of the turkey.

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Organic Zucchini Casserole with Pork Sausage

(serves 8-10)

INGREDIENTS:

8 organic zucchini

 

1/2 cup butter

 

2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese

 

1 lb. pork sausage

 

1 egg

 

1 cup sour cream

 

1/2 tsp. salt

 

Paprika, to taste

 

1/4 cup chopped chives

 

1 cup breadcrumbs or 1 cup crushed crackers

 

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Wash zucchini; boil whole for 5-10 minutes — no more.

2. Cut off ends and slice in halves lengthwise. Place in single layer in buttered casserole dish.

3. Sear pork sausage with butter until cooked; cool.

4. Melt butter and mix in cheddar cheese, sour cream, salt, paprika, chives and sausage. Pour over zucchini.

5. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs or crackers, then Parmesan cheese.

6. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until bubbly.

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Pumpkin Pie

(Yields one pie)

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

 

1/2 cup brown sugar

 

1 tbsp. flour

 

1/2 tsp. salt

 

1 teaspoon ground ginger

 

4 tsp. ground cinnamon

 

Pinch fine-ground black pepper

 

4 eggs

 

14 oz. canned pumpkin

 

1 cup heavy cream

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix until smooth and homogenous. The pumpkin may be lumpy but the egg and spices should be completely incorporated.

2. I prefer using a graham cracker crust. You can use store-bought or make one by crumbling graham crackers and mixing with enough melted butter to make the crumbs stick to the side of a pie pan when pressed in. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the prepared pie crust.

3. Bake at 325 for 25-35 minutes, just until the custard in the middle of the pie starts to set up.

For more on the chefs and their favorite things about Thanksgiving, click here.

Taste of Tuesday: Scalloped Oysters from Donnie Ferneau

Executive Chef Donnie Ferneau, Rocket 21

Donnie Ferneau of Good Food by Ferneau has been busy with a new business, but he spared enough time to share an oyster recipe with us for this week's Taste of Tuesday feature.

These days, Ferneau is cooking up healthy bites for those on-the-go people that still want to watch what they eat.

"For those with busy lifestyles, after going to the gym or being at work, you don't really want to go out to eat," Ferneau told Soirée in June. "There aren't that many — only a small handful — of healthy food options in Little Rock."

The menu at Good Food by Ferneau changes frequently and includes a few entrees for lunch and dinner, and a few other options, including salads and snacks. Most of the meals are $10-$13, and salads and snacks cost around $5. 

Some previous meals have included chicken thighs, shrimp and cauliflower grits, and fresh strawberry and pineapple fruit salad.

In September, Ferneau opened up a brick-and-mortar shop in the former Argenta Market with Travis McConnell of Butcher & Public. The space is sleek, open and all kinds of modern. It features seating for about 60 people, and of course, a bar.

We won't stall anymore, we'll let Ferneau and his oyster recipe take over from here.

Mom's Scalloped Oysters

The Ingredients

  • 1 pint oysters
  • 2 cups medium coarse cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup light cream
  • 1/4 cup oyster liquid
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

The Process

Drain oysters, reserve 1/4 cup liquid. Combine crumbs and butter, and spread 1/3 of crumbs in greased 8x11-inch round pan. Cover with 1/2 oysters, sprinkle with pepper. Using another 1/3 of crumbs, spread a second layer. Cover with the remaining oysters, sprinkle with pepper. Combine cream, oyster liquid, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Pour over oysters. Top with the last of the crumbs and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Makes four servings.

Damgoode Pies is Coming to the River Market

Image by Damegoode Pies

We've been waiting for final confirmation on this news and we have finally received it. Damgoode Pies is coming to the River Market.  

Damgoode Pies is moving its fourth Little Rock location into the previous space of Boscos, 500 President Clinton Ave., which shut its doors in late September. Other locations include Kavanaugh, Cantrell and Rodney Parham.

Jeff Trine, the founder of the restaurant which also has locations in Fayetteville and Rogers, said in a news release Monday morning the River Market location will feature a slice bar, a private party and meeting room, and a "snazzy bar with taps that come from 9 giant tanks full of cold beer in our awesome new brewery!"

In addition to beer, mixed drinks are also on the list of coming attractions to the downtown location. There's also talks of having retro cabinet video games, but nothing for sure on that yet.

Guests can also expect an opportunity to enjoy a slice of pizza and a cold beer on the patio that overlooks the Arkansas River and the amphitheater. 

The restaurant is set to open by New Years and the brewery will open shortly after. 

Trine said the restaurant hopes to brew a few of its own beers and have local brews on tap. 

If you've got some chops as a brew master, email Damgoode at Beer@Damgoode.com to contribute a recipe or give some input on what you want to see.

Taste of Tuesday: Boo! 5 Homemade Halloween Treat Ideas

Gallery by Shutterstock

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Looking to throw a spooktacular Halloween soirée with spirited treats sure to scare your dentist but satisfy your guests? From poison toffee apples to mummy dogs, we've got you covered this year. Here are five homemade Halloween treat recipes to get you started: 

Candy Corn Pretzel Hugs

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Some of the best treats in the world are the sweet and salty ones. This could be one of those. This recipe, from Sally's Baking Addiction, combines mini pretzels, candy corn and Hershey's Kisses in a great Halloween treat.

Poison Toffee Apples

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Candied apples are usually something reserved for state fairs, but this Poison Toffee Apple recipe, from Simply Delicious, throws in a twist with black food coloring to make the treat fit right in with the Halloween holiday.

Pumpkin Cheese Ball

This is a new one for us, but one that looks great. Ingredients like cream cheese, shredded cheddar and jalapeño combine to make a Pumpkin Cheese Ball, in this recipe from Food Network, that is sure to be a hit.

Mummy Dogs

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Here's another simple one that should be a real hit. All you need is a package of crescent rolls and hot dogs. This recipe comes from Raining Hot Coupons.

Vampire Cocktail

What's any party without a good drink? Staying in line with the Halloween them, we've got the Vampire Cocktail for you from Self Proclaimed Foodie.

Boscos Closes River Market Location

Image by Lee Hogan

Boscos Restaurant & Brewing Co. of Memphis announced Monday the closure of its River Market District location in downtown Little Rock.

Sad news, foodies. Boscos in downtown Little Rock has closed.

Boscos Restaurant & Brewing Co. of Memphis announced the closure in an email Monday morning.

"Dear Loyal Boscos Customer:

Boscos Restaurant & Brewing Co. has closed its location in Little Rock, Arkansas. We appreciate your years of support and invite you to visit us whenever you're in Memphis, TN. If you are a 2014 Mug Club Member, you will be able to pick up your Mug on Monday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. We apologize for the inconvenience and sincerely appreciate your loyalty."

It's definitely not the way we like to start the week, but hopefully we can bring you news of a new restaurant coming soon! 

Taste of Tuesday: Must-Have Soups for Fall

Gallery by Shutterstock

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The weather is cooler, the leaves start to turn, there is pumpkin carving and hay rides, and football is in full swing. Hello, our favorite season. Another stellar part of fall is comfort food. September, October and November is the time for the warm, hearty stuff.

It doesn't get much warmer or much heartier than soup. Here are a few of our go-to soups for you to enjoy.

Homemade Tomato Soup

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Tomato soup has always been a classic, and it's not expected to change anytime soon. There's just something about the simplicity of it all. And nothing ties it together like a good grilled cheese sandwich on the side. Here's a homemade recipe for the timeless class from AllRecipes.com.

Chicken Noodle Soup

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Here's another classic. Whether you're not feeling too hot, or you looking for something to warm you up, chicken noodle soup has always been a go-to. Campbell's has always been associated with chicken noodle soup, so in honor of that, here's a recipe from them.

Chili

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There's just something about a good chill, isn't there? The amount of chili cook-offs every fall in the South goes to show the love affair between the tasty meal in a bowl and those below the Mason-Dixon line. Put it together with a good hot dog or some Fritos and you're really cooking. Here's a recipe for an All-American Chili from MyRecipes.com.

Chicken & Dumplings

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Another staple in the South, and with good reason. I mean, talk about a comfort food. And it never fails, everyone's grandma has the best recipe. Just in case yours doesn't, or you'd just like to try out a new recipe, here's one from Pillsbury.

Beef Stew

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This one is for those that think soup isn't a real meal — which, of course, it is. You've got meat, potatoes and veggies. What else do you need to constitute a meal? This one is from Chow.com.

Potato Soup

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Another great soup in the fall, or anytime of the year, is potato. There's the creaminess, the chunks of potato and the tidbits of bacon, cheese and celery. In a lot of ways, it's a baked potato in a bowl, and it's good. This one is from everyone's favorite Southern cook, the Pioneer Woman.

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

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This is another great, hearty choice. With broccoli, carrots, added in with a creamy, cheesy base, there's not much you can't like about this soup. Here's a recipe from Taste of Home.

Tortilla Soup

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This one has come on strong in recent years. The country's obsession with Mexican-style food has finally made its way in the form of a soup. It's simple and tasty, and also gives you the spicy flair you're looking for while warming yourself up with a nice bowl of soup. This recipe is from Food & Wine.

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What’s new in shopping, the arts, music, travel, fun parties and delicious food in Arkansas? Let Lauren James of InArkansas.com be your guide. An avid shopper, traveler and lover of everything-arts-related, she will show you the best of what Arkansas has to offer. Make InArkansas.com your go-to spot every day to learn the latest in entertainment, dining, attractions, activities and more.
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