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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 Associate Editor Lauren James here.
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Taste of Tuesday: Five Ways to Use Blackberries


With a few weeks left of blackberry season in Arkansas, we thought we'd share a few tasty ways you can incorporate the delectable berry into some dishes around the house while they last. 

There are plenty of options but these are some of our favorites.



With just about any berry it seems the cobbler is the staple. The blackberry is no different. Most recipes have the essentials — blackberries, sugar, flour and whipped cream. Here's one from Williams-Sonoma.



If the cobbler is the staple, jam is the glue. The South is known for both, and the blackberry plays a vital role in each. Here's a homemade jam recipe from



The smoothie is an option that has come on strong as of late. The smoothie serves quite a few purposes. It's tasty, can be healthy if you don't go crazy with the ingredients and you won't have the guilt that is associated with scarfing down an entire blackberry cobbler by yourself. This one from Yummly adds in a banana.



The tart is another great option for using your fresh blackberries. It gives you the the sweet dessert you're craving, but once again, it's not a whole cobbler. This recipe comes from the Food Network.



If you're looking for a good weekend breakfast option, look no further than blackberry pancakes. It's sweet and fruity, all in one dish. This particular recipe comes from Betty Crocker.

Go-and-Do: Second Annual Iron Sommelier at YaYa's Euro Bistro

Ya Ya's Euro Bistro in west Little Rock's Chenal Valley offers outdoor dining in a relaxed atmosphere.

The Iron Sommelier at YaYa's Euro Bistro is back and the restaurant wants you to be a judge in the contest this Wednesday night.

For $125, you can enjoy 10 incredible courses, paired with 16 delicious wines, and help pick Arkansas' Top Sommelier. The competing sommeliers are Christopher Ortiz, the defending champion Jeff Yant, Keegan Sparks and Amanda Bragg.

Seating is limited. To reserve your spot, call 821-1144. The contest is set for 6-10 p.m. Wednesday.

Ya Ya's is located at 17711 Chenal Parkway at The Promenade in Little Rock. For more information, check out the Facebook page.

Kemuri to Open in Hillcrest Next Week

Image by Kemuri/Facebook

The newest sushi spot in town is opening Aug. 21.

Kemuri, the latest and greatest from Jerry Barakat, will offer seafood, sushi and smoked meats. The restaurant will be located at 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd, the former home of Rocket 21 and Ferneau. 

According to the restaurant's Facebook page, the spot will open Aug. 21 and will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30-9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Barakat, who also owns Ocean's, told Soirée in July the restaurant's theme and offerings had been a dream of his for more than 20 years. He promises nothing but the freshest foods at his newest venture.

"i don't care about the cost, as long as it is fresh and quality food," he said.

The restaurant will be about 4,800-SF with room for 150 inside and 30 outside, and will serve alcohol. 

Capital Hotel Restaurant Reveal Tonight

Image by Capital Hotel

The Capital Hotel in Little Rock, located at 111 W. Markham St., was recently added to the Southern Living Hotel Collection, a list of independent four- and five-star hotels, resorts and inns across the South.

The wait is almost over. The Capital Hotel's restaurant, formerly known as Ashley's, is nearing a reopen date. 

Ashley's closed in May for renovations that included hardwood floors in place of carpet, artwork in place of mirrors, and natural light permeating through open windows in place of drapes. Hotel management hopes the revamped restaurant can become a more welcoming restaurant and a place people in the capital city frequent, instead of coming only for special occasions.

The Capital Hotel has invited the media to view the changes at the restaurant — which is more than likely going to include the reveal of the restaurant's new name and a reopen date — tonight (Thursday).

Be sure and follow us to keep up with what you can expect when the restaurant reopens!

The Pantry Crest to Open in September

Image by Steve Shuler

Good news for Hillcrest foodies!

The Pantry Crest, located at 722 N. Palm St., is expected to open in September, according to a report from Arkansas Business.

Tomas Bohm has been involved in the renovation of the two-story house, which has previously housed restaurants like The House and Sufficient Grounds.

Bohm is also the owner of the Pantry, located at 11401 Rodney Parham Road, and told Arkansas Business he's thinking of having a soft opening at the Hillcrest location before it officially opens. For the full report, check out the story at our sister publication.

Taste of Tuesday: Roasted Sweet Potato and Feta Salad from P. Allen Smith

Image by

We've got a salad we think could be a hit at your next summer party.

This one, Roasted Sweet Potato and Feta Salad, comes to us from P. Allen Smith and is a perfect option for your next gathering. It includes a dressing that has dijon mustard and honey, a topping of sweet potatoes and red onion. 

This particular recipe takes an hour and 10 minutes to prepare and served eight people. For more recipes from P. Allen Smith, in addition to gardening and lifestyle news, click here.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Feta Salad

The Ingredients:


•1/4 cup red wine vinegar

•2 tablespoons dijon mustard

•2 teaspoons honey

•3/4 cup olive oil

•1 teaspoon kosher salt


•4 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled, diced

•2 red onion, cut to wedges

•2 teaspoons kosher salt

•1/2 teaspoon black pepper, cracked

•1/4 cup olive oil


•1 lb. baby spinach, rinsed

•6 oz. Feta cheese, diced

•black pepper, ground

The Process:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the sweet potatoes, red onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and drizzle with the 1/4 cup olive oil; toss to coat well. Spread the mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn the vegetables, and continue roasting for another 30 minutes. The onions should be well cooked and caramelized and the sweet potatoes brown around the edges.

While the vegetables are cooking, combine all the dressing ingredients (1/4 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons honey, 3/4 cup, olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, cracked) in a blender or food processor and process until combined.

Arrange the spinach in a shallow bowl or on a platter, and scatter the warm onions and sweet potatoes over it (If the spinach wilts a bit, all the better). Drizzle with the dressing. Scatter the feta over the top. Grind some pepper over the salad, and serve immediately.

Celebrate Stone's Throw Brewing Birthday This Weekend

Stone's Throw Brewing is throwing quite the party to celebrate its first year in business.

The Block on Rock Birthday Bash is set for 4-9 p.m. Aug. 2 in the 800 block of Rock Street. The block in the MacArthur Park Historic District will be closed to traffic.

Included in the birthday bash is live music, food trucks, local vendors and, of course, craft beer! Stone's Throw says it will have 12 beers on tap at the block party. Admission is $3. The event will benefit the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas.

"We had originally wanted to hold a block party for our grand opening last August, but decided we had our hands full just getting the brewery started," Theron Cash, co-owner, said in a news release. "Now that Stone's Throw beers have hit their stride, we can spend a little more time celebrating."

Flight Machine of Fayetteville and The Cane Hill Engagement of Little Rock will provide live music with showtimes at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. There will also be a vendor area for local merchants.

The Southern Gourmasian, Luncheria Mexican Alicia, The Waffle Wagon, Black Hound Bar-B-Q, Hot Rod Wieners, The Pie Hole and Loblolly Creamery have all committed to setting up for the birthday bash.

"This will kind of be a combined mini-version of the food truck fest and Rocktoberfest," Shawn Tobin, co-owner, said in the release. "It's the best of both worlds."

The birthday bash will cap off a month-long celebration. Stone's Throw marked a year of brewing July 4 with the release of its Anniversary Stout. On July 18, the brewing company released, in collaboration with other Little Rock brewers, the Ales for ALS Hoppy Wheat as a fundraiser for Lou Gehrig's disease. A beer dinner July 30 will benefit the Quapaw Quarter Association as part of their Summer Supper series.

Stone's Throw was founded by Theron Cash, Brad McLaurin, Shawn Tobin and Ian Beard. The four men began brewing operations July 4, 2013, and opened a tap room Aug. 1, 2013. The brewing company specializes in small-batch, artisanal beers.

Samantha's Tap Room and Wood Grill Coming to Mann on Main

The Mann on Main project includes a mix of office, retail and residential developments.

There's more food coming to downtown Little Rock.

Chris and Samantha Tanner, owners at Cheers in the Heights, are opening up another restaurant in the Mann on Main Building at the corner of Fourth and Main. The restaurant, Samantha's Tap Room and Wood Grill, will have a clear mission with its food: Fresh and simple.

Chris Tanner says the menu will be a la carte style with hip appetizers and great sides like fresh grilled corn topped with cilantro, grilled asparagus and mustard turnip green mix. Patrons can also expect a few salad options and a couple of desserts, but like the rest of the menu, expect fresh and simple.

The main courses will be mostly comprised of Tanner's best-sellers from his catering business.

The restaurant will have a bar area that overlooks Fourth Street with 32 types of beer and 20 different wines, all on tap. Tanner says there will be some higher-end wines available by the bottle, but otherwise, the drinks will come from a tap or keg.

Samantha's will also feature about six or seven different bourbons, rums, tequilas and vodkas, and there will be house-made margaritas on the rocks.

The 4,600-SF restaurant will feature wood grills, 20-foot ceilings and seating for about 100 in the main dining area, in addition to 32 more at the bar and about 26 patrons outside. Tanner says guests can expect a farm house-style table with rustic plates and simple glassware.

Tanner said the restaurant is still in its early stages and would not speculate on a possible open date, although it could be next year before Samantha's is open to the masses.

Until then, we'll have to sit and dream of what will be.

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About The Author
What’s new in shopping, the arts, music, travel, fun parties and delicious food in Arkansas? Let Lauren James of 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 your go-to spot every day to learn the latest in entertainment, dining, attractions, activities and more.
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