Brave New Restaurant, an old favorite in Little Rock, has a fresh riverside location that looks back at the downtown skyline. Chef/owner Peter Brave is still at the helm, but sous-chef Janice Washington cooked our dinner the night we dropped in. We started with smoked salmon (done in a smoker right there on their patio) with red onions, lemons, capers, table water crackers, and a peppy sauce of horseradish and whole grain mustard.
Entrées include a nice salad and homemade rolls and butter. I went with an off-the-menu special of perfectly seared scallops on a gentle red currant beurre blanc served with broccoli, new potatoes, and honey-dill carrots. I learned Janice had also made dessert: a white layer cake with white frosting and homemade vanilla bean ice cream, finished with just a swirl of mango sauce as a garnish. Although this restaurant sits in an a remote business district, by 7:30 on a Tuesday evening, plenty of Little Rock had found it. So should you. 2300 Cottondale Lane; (501) 663-2677. Dinner entrées: $12.50-$19.50, including salad.
Boulevard Bread Co.
For those who want to dress casually but have a gourmet lunch, this is the spot. (Plus, it's close to some great shopping.) The two young owners lived about a decade in San Francisco, but they wanted to come back, marry their sweethearts, and raise families in their hometown. So they brought back some food and wine ideas and created this fabulous bakery. They make their own terrines, pâtés, breads, and pastries; they also import several quality cheeses, including Laura Chenel's chèvre (goat cheese) from California. If you drop in at lunch, you'll find hot soup (such as Mulligatawny) and lots of breads, cold meats, and cheeses. If you stop by right after work, you can take home a just-from-the-oven dinner for your family. 1920 North Grant Street; (501) 663-5951. Cheese, bread, fruit, and olive plates, $7.95.
There's a new location of this old favorite downtown, but I loved my drive out of town to the original for a Hubcap Hamburger. You can choose other menu items, such daily specials as fried pork chops, fried chicken, meat loaf, or a veggie plate, but the hamburgers are truly wonderful. And you know how hard it is to find an old-fashioned burger these days. Their patties are huge and moist, slapped on buttered buns, and the onion rings on the side are big, sturdy, and sweet. If you can still budge after all that, they'll serve you a homemade fried pie for dessert--peach, chocolate, blackberry, apricot, apple, or strawberry.
You have to see this place to believe it. It's a shack on a swamp with a small farmyard where a few cows and chickens scratch around. Indoors, it's an old general store, but all the farm and household goods have been shoved up against the walls to make room for dining tables. Dining is, after all, the biggest business in this old store now. Don't miss it. Call for directions. 5301 Highway 161 South, Scott, Arkansas; (501) 961-9284. Hamburgers: $4.69-$7.29; fries, onion rings, and fried green tomatoes extra, on the side.
This article is from the September 2002 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.