Putting the fun back into food

Homestyle Hawaiian hits big, Warhol's art inspires menu, Blind dining in Bentonville.

Posted: February 23, 2014 at 6 a.m.


Hawaiian Brian's

opens second location in Springdale

The niche Hawaiian Brian's has filled with bringing Hawaiian-style comfort food to Fayetteville gained immediate attention from the people of Northwest Arkansas. Michael Holmbeck is a native of Oahu, and he and his wife Shanea saved up for years before opening a food truck.

The popularity of the food encouraged the Holmbecks to open a restaurant at the southeast corner of Evelyn Hills Shopping Center in Fayetteville, next to Arkadia Retrocade. Customers were enthusiastic about the food, and recently a second permanent location for Hawaiian Brian's opened in Springdale.

The menu offers casual Hawaiian fare, such as Shoyu chicken, chicken Katsu, Kalua pig and saimin. Island-style breakfast is served all day and includes Spam-N-Eggs, Kings Hawaiian French Toast and the Loco Moco.

The Springdale location is at 701 N. Thompson Street, in the shopping plaza across from Walnut Avenue. The owners post regular updates on Hawaiian Brian's Facebook page. More information is also available online at hawaiianbrianshappiness.com or by phone at the Fayetteville store at (479) 799-7979 or the Springdale store at (479) 419-4929.

Coca-Cola infused menu

served at Eleven restaurant

The influence of art is evident at Crystal Bridges, even at the dining tables of the on-site restaurant Eleven. The food is presentable, but not in an over-the-top, inaccessible manner. It is carefully plated and assembled as if it is food art, but it is done in a way that is to be experienced and eaten.

All of the menu is inspired by the natural Ozark setting, but the tasting menu served at dinner is directly inspired by a specific piece of art. Through March, the menu reflects executive chef Bill Lyle's interpretation of Andy Warhol's Coca-Cola [3].

This three-course meal presents hearty chicken wings glazed with an Asian-Coca-Cola marinade, seared pork tenderloin encrusted with the spices and flavors of the Coca-Cola recipe and a Ghirardelli chocolate Coca-Cola cake topped with black-cherry bourbon gelato. The menu is priced at $35 per guest, or $50 per guest with wine pairing.

The tasting menu is served during dinner, which is limited to 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. Lunch at Eleven is served 11 a.m.-2-30 p.m. Wednesday-Monday, when the museum is open. More information is available online at crystalbridges.org.

Blindfolded dining event returns

to River Grille Steakhouse

Blindfolded dining or, 'Dining in the Dark,' is a dining trend that emerged in Germany and Switzerland in the late 1990s. Guests are blindfolded and led into a darkened dining room in anticipation of a meal. This concept has been a buzz in notable cities, and it seems reasonable that River Grille Steakhouse is in line with that trend, since Bentonville is increasing its claim on such notoriety.

The objective of serving sight-capable guests in this way helps to raise awareness about people with visual impairments. As a bonus, the diners have a unique experience.

Blindfolding helps enhance the sense of taste and also encourages guests to be more experience the food and guests more openly. It also creates a setting that people can try foods they may not have otherwise ordered, said executive chef Justus Moll.

River Grille will be hosting their 7th annual Dining in the Dark event at 6 p.m. March 8. A four-course meal will be served for $49 per person, with an option to add wine pairing with each course for $13 per person. River Grille Steakhouse is located at 1003 McClain Road in Bentonville, just off exit 88 on Interstate 540. Reservations are limited and can be made by calling (479) 271-4141.

NAN Dining Guide Spotlight on 02/23/2014

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