I’ve decided to start a new series for you.
Think of it as “dining about town,” part food-crawl and part progressive dinner. This will be a chance for me to highlight all the hidden wonders and gems when it comes to the culinary scene of our backyard: wonderful, bountiful, and beautiful Northwest Arkansas. Now YOU can experience the “best of the best” for yourself.
May I introduce to you, “Taste of Northwest Arkansas” a self-guided food tour?
Today’s food tour takes place on Dickson Street, in the charming Dickson Street district in Fayetteville.
This tour is designed as a romantic dinner or for impressing out-of-town (or in-town) guests, and will appeal to self-proclaimed foodies.
***UPDATE *** BHK HAS MOVED TO A NEW LOCATION, SEVERAL BLOCKS AWAY, ON THE SQUARE.
We start off with pre-dinner appetizers at one of my favorite cozy lifestyle spots, BHK Kafe. BHK stands for Brick House Kitchen, another Fayetteville gem that presents small garden-to-table dinner series throughout the year. BHK stands behind supporting the local-food movement with emphasis on fresh, local, and organic ingredients. Their menu changes seasonally and you won’t find huge portions or standard-size plates here. Nope, BHK Kafe is obessed on quality over quantity. Each bite will invite your taste sensors to explode with marvelous wonder. By starting off the tour with BHK Kafe, your taste buds will be awakened immediately, and it will intrigue you to come back another time and experience the complete menu, I guarantee it.
Housed in the same building as Nightbird Books, parking is free (no metered parking). I asked the staff if I could continue leaving my car parked as I had dinner reservations across the street. There was no hesitation. “Of course,” was their reply.
No reservations are necessary here. Since it is also a bookstore, BHK Kafe is loaded with charming nooks and crannies or you can commune in the main room where tables are stacked close together to get a feel for the vibrant Fayetteville scene. If you are here for romantic intentions, may I suggest calling ahead to see if they will save the table closest to the floor-to-ceiling striking birdcage? It oozes charm. But then again, this entire place does so you can’t go wrong anywhere you sit.
Let’s move to the food, shall we?
Since dinner is planned for thirty-minutes from now, order lightly. We ordered wine with an adjoining cheese board. BHK Kafe takes pride on their cheese offering.
The knowledgeable staff will explain the cheese selection of the day and the flavor experience you will expect with each one. They may ask you what your preference is (soft, stinky, mild) and perhaps even offer you a customized offering from the cheese cooler that isn’t featured that evening. We are talking individualized service here, who doesn’t love that?
The wine and cheese arrives with an added surprise of artisan crackers. At this point, your meal could be determined as complete, yet remember to pace yourself. We ordered a complete cheese board of three cheeses, which in hindsight is a little too much bulk for pre-dinner. One offering is enough for warm-up; two will add to the complete experience. Each cheese is plated beautifully with accompanying currents, walnuts, or brandied apricots.
Side note to all my gluten-free friends, BHK Kafe is completely gluten-free although that is not advertised. For the rest of us, this fact adds to the quality of ingredients and the taste is never compromised. Go ahead eat with joyful abandon.
Bordinos is continually voted “best of the best” by Arkansans, so make dinner reservations for this one. It is located across the street from BHK Kafe.
I use the word “dinner” here loosely. Your dinner is going to consist of small plates. Yes, that means appetizers. Tonight is about the complete foodie experience, not about stuffing yourself to the gills. If stuffing yourself to the gills is important to you, then by all means, go ahead and order that third cheese offering back at BHK Kafe.
As you are seated, start off by telling your server that you will only be dining on appetizers this evening. They will happily accommodate you. In fact, Bordinos is usually so busy they may even welcome the fact that they will be able to seat patrons waiting in their famous martini bar sooner than expected. When I made the reservations, I actually let them know up front that we were planning on appetizers-only for dinner.
“Dinner” will completely satisfy you. The beef tenderloin meatballs with Parmesan crisps are a meal by themselves. Again, quality over quantity, this is a foodie tour focused on taste and experience.
We also ordered soups. Dinner feels like dinner when it comes warm to me, so between the meatballs, soup, bread, and flickering romantic candle lighting, what more do you need? I ordered the Cream of Tomato soup and my husband ordered the Salmon Chowder (seasonal soup of the day). You will want to savor.every.bite.
Side note to all my gluten-free friends, Bordinos has a separate gluten-free menu, lucky you!
Stroll down Dickson Street
May I suggest a lazy stroll down the street at this point?
I recommend the buffer time before your next reservation since it will allow you take advantage of the Dickson Street charm.
Beside the obvious fact that a stroll will aid in digestion before the grand finale of the evening, Dickson Street is oozing with charm and colorful characters. Leaving Bordinos out the front door, we headed West towards the railroad tracks and then headed North at the Bank of Fayetteville’s railroad car building. You have a full fifteen minutes to take your stroll where you want it to go. If it is warm outside and light out, the Rosen Memorial Rose Garden at the Walton Art Center is highly recommended. Gated entrances allow guest direct access from Dickson Street.
Since you are nearing the end of your food tour, I only thought it proper that we make it dark and cozy with a little more privacy. Be sure to tell them that you are making reservations for desert only at Theo’s and that you would like something a little more private. Theo’s will not only accommodate you, they will make you feel like you are a treasured dining guest.
Please excuse my photos for Theo’s. Remember that romantic, dark and cozy interior? I haven’t quite mastered that photography challenge, yet I am including the photos to give you the feeling.
Pick your choice of fabulous desert since you cannot go wrong here. We ordered the Donut Bread Pudding and one was plenty for the two of us.
Finish it off with coffee, either simple or decadent. Me? I ordered a Dry Capp and it was perfect. Take your time with both the dessert and coffee. Savor and enjoy.
Your goal for this entire evening is one of relaxation, experience, and enjoyment. At the end of it, you will find that your pulse has slowed down a little more than usual, your smile never wanes, and your full senses are completely engaged.
Your pocketbook will thank you, too.
Here is a brief rundown of the evening, excluding taxes and tips:
3-cheese board ($12)
Wine ($4-$9 a glass)
Beef tenderloin meatball appetizer ($7.50)
Tomato soup ($5)
Salmon Chowder ($5)
Bread pudding ($7)
Cup of coffee ($2)
I hope you enjoyed your tasting tour today. I would love to hear about your experience with it. Please leave a comment or contact me via nwafoodie (at) gmail (dot) com.
Next tours will be focused on Taste of downtown Bentonville and Taste of downtown Rogers. Also, expect to have MANY variations of Taste of Dickson Street. The possibilities are endless.
Eat well, my friends. Eat well.