Two special dinners are coming up that are well worth your time and money. Regrettably, both the No Kid Hungry dinner and the Blue Plate Special are on the same evening, so you’ll have to choose which one to go to. In the past, we’ve called the No Kid Hungry dinner the most important night of Little Rock’s food scene, and for good reason. Each year, South on Main opens its doors to raise money for No Kid Hungry, which helps fight child hunger. The cause is wonderful, as is the chef line-up for the dinner. This year, joining South on Main’s Matt Bell is another all-star list, including Capi Peck of Trio’s and Kamiya Merrick of At the Corner, as well as out-of-towners Nicole Craig (Co-op Ramen in Bentonville), Rebecca Masson (Fluff Bake Bar in Houston) and Leighann Smith (Piece of Meat in New Orleans). Former Little Rock bartender Lee Edwards will be making drinks for the evening. There are still tickets for tables available, though individual seats are sold out. As for the Blue Plate Special, we previewed the Thea Foundation’s annual fundraiser this week, so be sure to read all about that special dinner.
The business formerly known as Hillcrest Artisan Meats (and still known as HAM) is open once again … and not a lot has changed. Not that that’s a bad thing at all. There is much less seating now, as tables and chairs have given way to shelves that are stocked with higher-end groceries and foodstuffs. The meat counter is still there, as are Brandon Brown’s excellent sausages and cured meats. And you can still get sandwiches(!) though made in advance and with a smaller selection. The grab-and-go sandwich cooler also has the same lentil salad and pimento cheese HAM was known and loved for. Still it’s clear HAM is transitioning more to a market from a restaurant in anticipation of Hill Station’s opening in November. When Hill Station opens, it will assume the restaurant duties in full, allowing HAM to concentrate on meats and market items.
The Arkansas Pie Festival will be returning for a second year. The inaugural festival in Cherokee Village was a rousing success, with hundreds coming to sample pies from all around the state. The next festival will be April 18, 2020, and it will be back in Cherokee Village. This year, Ruthie Pepler’s Buttermilk Chess Pie took top prize; that pie can still be found on occasion at Dogwood Hills Guest Farm in Harriet. The Arkansas Pie Festival is free to attend.
And just another reminder to nominate your favorite restaurant and/or chef for the 2020 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. Nominations are open during the month of October. Every year, the hall of fame inducts three local restaurants that have been continuously open for at least 25 years. After nominations are in, a panel of Arkansas historians and food writers select the finalists. To nominate your favorite restaurant, head to the Department of Arkansas Heritage’s website and fill out the form.
The newest bar to the SoMa neighborhood is already making a big impression, and now Atlas Bar is updating its menu. We stopped in for a preview of both the new bites and the new cocktails.