Eureka Springs, Arkansas, July 15, 2009– Regional travel takes one to small towns and small towns mean local food made with what can all be described as an extra dash of ”love.”
It may be that because most of the customers walking through the door are family, friends and neighbors, small town dining becomes not unlike going to a favorite friends home for dinner.
The food just seems to taste better.
Finding a place for breakfast, lunch or dinner is not hard in Eureka Springs. The area draws a very active and interesting arts and music crowd, and with the arts comes chefs and those wholly dedicated to fine foods.
The Mud Street Café is located downtown on, of course, Mud Street – which is so named because when the rains and snows of spring come washing down the mountain, the avenue literally becomes a street of mud.
The Café is located downstairs in “Unique Underground Eureka Springs” creating an immediate funky ambience. First entering the establishment you are greeted by an old-fashioned glass refrigeration case filled with luscious cream pies and cheesecake.
Mud Street Café is known for award winning espresso drinks, desserts and baked goods and some really good, imaginative foods, with many vegetarian or meatless choices.
Mud Street Café owner Bobbie Foster credits Chef Llee Heflin for much of Mud Street Café’s success.
“Llee is the heart and soul of Mud Street and I credit him (Heflin) with our amazing success,” Ms. Foster said. “He shops daily for the freshest of all foods and everything on the menu is made from scratch.”
And it all tastes home-cooked good. I can almost assure you that the Vegetable Hash Brown potatoes, a delightful combination of red boiled, cubed red potatoes skillet fried with onions and butter until crisp, plated and covered with hand chopped steamed cauliflower, red and green bell peppers, onions, yellow and zucchini squash, broccoli tops, topped with cheese, finished under the broiler and garnished with sprouts, black olives and house-made salsa are all Chef Llees.’
The Vegetable Hash Brown potatoes made for a great pass around dish when served as a lunchtime appetizer. However the dish is prepared, it is a concept recipe that is hearty, flavorful and wholly enjoyable
Chef Llee turns the chili over to Jay Herrera who combines canned red and pinto beans (with the juice), cooked ground beef seasoned with chili and garlic powers, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper. Add chunks of fresh tomatoes and the juice from the tomatoes and the beans creates the Chili’s soup.
Which is what we liked about it. It was more of a soup, with warm, flavorful broth, than a thick, stew–like chili.
We tried it at home and it was good. Not as good, but good. Simple. Not too much spice.
Chef Lee combines just the right mix of garbanzo beans, cumin, fresh parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and tahini to create a humus served over a freshly tossed salad to create a crisp, flavorful and obviously freshly prepared dish that is filled with plenty of savory, unami flavors. The salad is garnished with sweet, shredded carrots and tomato wedges, finished with creamy feta cheese and balsamic dressing.
All in all, a lunch experience that was wholly unique, unexpected and extremely memorable.
Taking a bite of Chef Llee’s sumptuous cheesecakes, including a lightly spiced pumpkin with a thick layer of cream frosting, along with a mocha café, again with thick, not too sweet, whipped cream brought a bountiful sigh on a cold, rainy winter day.
For dinner fare, The Local Flavor Café on Main Street has an inviting ambience that encourages guests to linger over a bottle of wine and plentiful plates.
But it takes more than fine foods, of which we had plenty, to make this type of restaurant a fav of locals and travelers alike.
For that to happen it requires a relaxed and comfortable wait staff that is eager to ensure your perfect dining experience.
The restaurants dinner menu includes a wide range of pasta, fish, beef and pork dishes. Salads are large and freshly constructed. Salad dressings seem to be Greek yogurt based and obviously made at the restaurant as they are very, very fresh tasting.