Credit The Pantry for having a truly remarkable understanding of its customers. Both the west and Hillcrest locations make fantastic food, yes, but perhaps more important is how accessible these dishes are. This is classic European comfort food done very well. Both restaurants are fun and comfortable, making you feel at home right away. Of course, owner Tomas Bohm is one of the most instantly likeable, friendly gentlemen in the business. And then there’s the price point, which has stayed affordable since day one. All that combines to create a dinner experience that is both excellent and familiar, something that’s not easy to pull off.
The nature of The Pantry means there won’t be as many menu changes when compared with some other restaurants, and that is perfectly ok. There’s something to be said for finding a favorite dish that you know is always on the menu. However, lest you think The Pantry is in danger of going stale, Bohm and his team have created a few dishes just for the spring months. These are plates that take full advantage of Arkansas produce, and they hit the menu at both locations starting today.
The first new plate is an appetizer, and is my favorite seasonal addition to the menu. It features The Pantry’s classic brown bread, this time with homemade butter. If you’ve never had fresh butter before, you’re in for a treat, and the accompanying mound of sea salt will only make the sweet butter even better. But the absolute rock star of this app is the serving of roasted radishes. Cut into bite-sized pieces and flash roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper, these Arkansas radishes are buttery and light, almost melting in your mouth when you eat them. Tomas says this dish harkens back to his childhood in then Czechoslovakia, and that connection comes through. This will be a must-order at The Pantry as long as it’s on the menu.
While you’re browsing the appetizers, don’t pass up on the new house-made ricotta cheese. Tomas is taking a lot of pride in providing the freshest dairy products and produce possible. This ricotta is mild, creamy and slightly tangy, and the fresh tomatoes, chive oil and basil come together for a unique take on a caprese salad. It’s wonderful spread on bread or just eaten alone.
Of course, this is the time of year to enjoy as many fresh vegetables as possible, and the new Pantry seasonal salad takes that mission to heart. The salad’s foundation is Belgian endive, a sharp, crunchy leaf that gives a solid backbone to the dish. Arugula, cucumber ribbons and a white balsamic vinaigrette make this salad a fulfilling meal. Oh, and those same roasted radishes from before are also in this dish. That alone makes it worth checking out in my book.
The final new plate replaces the roasted chicken on the menu, though the two are very much alike. This dish features chicken thighs that are rendered before getting roasted on a bed of carrots, onions, potatoes, fennel and other root vegetables. The thighs get finished on the grill so the skin gets extra crispy, then served with the vegetables and some of the jus from the roasting pan. Like all great dishes at The Pantry, this plate isn’t out to wow you. It’s just there to make you feel happy. This is a perfect translation of a home-cooked meal that is going to make a lot of people very happy.
Tomas also tells me he is planning on creating at least one dessert from Arkansas strawberries, which he was excited about. Of course, most of your favorites at The Pantry are still on the menu, including the lasagna, the wiener schnitzel, the fish and frites, and the incomparable Pantry board. It’s always hard to get away from your favorite dish, but these new items are still worth your attention. These new items hit the menu tonight. Go check them out and let us know what you think.