I’ll just level with you here. Until this year, I was never just a huge fan of The Fold in the Riverdale neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong, I’d had a few good dishes, and when the weather is nice, it’s just about as good as a restaurant can be. Still, I wasn’t truly excited to go to dinner at The Fold.
That changed this year. On two different occasions I’ve had outstanding food, drink and service, to the point where I’m really excited to recommend it to my friends and family. The Fold just nails the quirky casual vibe that stays friendly and enjoyable, making it a great spot for diners of all ages and backgrounds. So when newly minted director of operations Abbey Rolfe let me know that The Fold was updating its menu, I knew I had to swing by for a sneak preview.
And I’m happy to report that the new dishes on the spring menu are just as vibrant and focused as everything else I’ve tasted this year. Of course, spring is all about bright, fresh flavors, and you’re not going to get much brighter than then new Jicama con Chile y Lime. This little snack features slices of cucumber, jicama and watermelon marinated in lime juice and dusted with a slightly spicy seasoned salt. This one is going to be an excellent starter or an accompaniment to one of The Fold’s new cocktails (more on that in a second). Also bringing freshness in bunches is the new Fold Seasonal Salad, loaded with baby arugula, radishes, jicama, avocado and a refreshing chipotle chimichurri dressing. You can order it with protein, but honestly, it’s really delightful on its own.
By the way, The Fold is making sure vegetarians don’t feel left out. Both dishes above are vegan, as is the new Hearts of Palm Taco. The marinated hearts of palm almost resemble artichokes in taste, but are more meaty and work nicely with the avocado and pico de gallo. This is the taco I’ll be coming back and ordering soon. Also delicious is the new Chorizo & Potato Taco, which brings plenty of heat in the form of fresh jalapenos and the spicy sausage itself.
If I could pinpoint a dish that used to upset me at The Fold, it was the torta, which was doused in sauce and difficult to eat. That is no longer the case; indeed, I think the new Fried Avocado Torta might be the best thing I tasted during this sampling. Chef and partner Alex Smith is showing off some great skill here, with massive chunks of avocado just gently fried and adorned with a chipotle crema and pico. This is an impressive sandwich from its arrival at the table to the final bite, one that I believe is worth a trip to The Fold on its own. By the way, if you get there between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., make sure to check out the Happy Hour Pork Flautas. They are extremely simple, but the pork is nicely cooked, and the portions make a great app to share or a small meal for one.
Now, to those cocktails I talked about earlier. The Fold has brought in George Thompson, formerly of Big Orange and The Pantry, to run its beverage program, and you will notice the improvements from the first sip. I have to mention the margaritas before I delve into the spring menu. This year, The Fold’s margaritas have leaped in quality, to the point I think they are as good as just about any in town. I don’t blame you at all for skipping the new cocktail menu and just enjoying a perfectly balanced tequila-and-lime tipple instead.
Not that the new cocktails are worth sneering at. In particular, the Lusty Wrench is going to drop some jaws, especially when the bartender lights it on fire. Lunazul reposado tequila, Pimms elderflower blackberry, lime and ginger beer form the foundation, and the fire hitting the Bacardi 151-soaked croutons on top is a fun touch. Also, don’t skip out on the My Tie, which features light and dark rums by El Dorado, a housemade triple sec and orgeat, and a lime-juice finish. It’s a fantastic homage to the season. Or you can try the Curl Up and Dye, which brings together reposado tequila with a mango-habanero shrub (a drinkable vinegar) and finishes with a salt-and-pepper rim. These cocktails are well thought-out and fit wonderfully with the laid-back atmosphere.
Also new to The Fold is a dedicated kids menu, which is going to make parents very happy. This menu will run at least through the spring, though Rolfe hinted that some items might stay on depending on guest feedback. Here’s my feedback: The Fold is absolutely killing it right now, and you need to check it out. This is food and drink that Little Rock can be proud of.