Take a moment and imagine up the perfect Valentine’s date. You fly into a beautiful country, settle into one of the top restaurants in the area, surround yourself with amazing authentic food full of flavor, all while being served by your private server. If it sounds like your style, La Terraza in Hillcrest can make most of it come true.
La Terraza settled into the Little Rock food scene a little over a year ago after operating a successful restaurant in Caracas Venezuela. They were careful to stay authentic to Venezuelan cuisine and offer the full experience locally.
If you have not been, what you will quickly find is most of the restaurant staff are family members from Venezuela, the artwork on the walls and the tables are from the owner’s Venezuelan uncle who is a renown artist. The atmosphere has a way of transporting you to the place of origin in ways that few restaurants can.
With their Valentine’s menu they decided to break the normal prix fixe option that most restaurants offer up on the popular date night. Instead they have pulled together 12 unique menu options that do not exists on the standard La Terraza menu to give regular diners something different, and introduce others to food they personally would use to celebrate the occasion with in Venezuela.
“We wanted to keep St. Valentine’s Day special for our guests,” owner Armando Bolaños tells us. “Instead of having a fixed menu we want to allow people to pick and choose from very special items that we have been working on for a long time. Plus it allows people to take someone special to a nice place and still dine within their budget.”
Making Valentine’s at La Terraza approachable to everyone was very important to Bolaños. Combining a four or five course set from the menu is roughly the same price as some of the competing prix fixe items, but it also allows for someone on a tight budget to still have a very good meal for a reasonable costs.
There is also something for those on the other side of the equation to make the dinner very special and memorable. They are offering reservations in their small private dining room, complete with fine china and a personal server. The room is secluded from the main dining room and only seats up to 4 (you are free to reserve it for just a single couple however).
Food wise, La Terraza frequently ranks in our mind as one of the top spaces in Little Rock, the Valentine’s menu is no exception.
The menu provides a solid mix of items that can work together to create a strong multi course menu. You can start with their always excellent soup or a salad, then throw in a few sharable options like mussels (which are gluten free for those who need that).
Main course options range from very moderately priced items to special occasion dishes like the surf and turf style option we tried that featured clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari on top of a strip steak with a side of roasted potatoes. Regardless of the option, all of their dishes are rich with authentic Venezuela flavors for a dish that is both colorful and aromatic, with multiple layers of flavor and a very light spice at the end.
Then then is dessert.
“Dessert for us is not the heavy, large, over the top sugary dishes traditional to American cuisine,” Bolaños explains. “We want something with nutritional value at the end of the meal, but still sweet and tasty. Also, in Venezuela dessert portions are smaller. It is meant to be your own personal dessert, not shared. It makes it great because you can both pick something you love.”
Bolaños did say that he plans to add some of the items from the special menu later on to the spring menu, so if you have something you love be sure to let them know, you may see it again.
The best part of La Terraza however is always the drinks. As always they will have their spiced mojitos, which are worth going for any time. They have also recently added a house caramel infused rum martini that is perfect for Valentine’s Day. They are also adding a strong mix of champagne and sparkling wine to the bar menu for the occasion.
Like most places on Valentine’s, they do strongly encourage reservations. The private dining option will be extremely limited, so reserve that quick if it is interesting to you. You can call (501) 251-8261 for reservations. They are running the special menu for Valentine’s day only, but they did not rule out the possibility of doing a second run closer to the weekend if people are interested.