LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Little Rock is often referred to as a top "foodie city" in the U.S., but what does that really mean and what are we doing so different?
In partnership with the food experts of Arkansas' top food blog, Rock City Eats, We got insider details on the exciting food culture happening here. That includes talking with some local restaurants that are adding unique, innovative things on their menu and re-designing what a dining space should look like.
One place taking a new design concept to the test, is Agasi 7 Rooftop + Kitchen. It’s a new rooftop restaurant and bar that will soon be on the 7th floor of Hilton Garden Inn. When it comes to creativity in Little Rock food culture, the sky is the limit for Agasi 7. Who wouldn't love eating delicious food while gazing at the downtown Little Rock skyline?
Greg Henderson with Rock City Eats said the concept is completely unique and unlike anything else in town. He said the city hasn't approved any rooftop bars before this one. Michael Skeen, Director of Food and Beverage for Hilton Garden Inn, said he thinks the concept will go over well when it opens in (potentially) November.
“You can see a gorgeous view and the service is going to be phenomenal,” said Skeen. “We will be as unique as we can with the food and drink menu.”
They are also hoping to add projectors and televisions outside so that people can catch the latest game. They also hope to have live entertainment.
“There will be misters and canopies during the summer and outdoor fire pits in the winter so this place will be open for all seasons,” said Henderson.
While Agasi 7 chose to get creative with their eating space, other places in town are focusing on food innovation. The Southern Gourmasian is a place creating dishes that combine southern style food with an Asian flair.
“They are taking traditional Asian dishes and merging them into classic southern dishes like chicken and dumplings,” said Henderson.
Owner and Chef, Justin Patterson, said their chicken and dumplings is what made the company a hit when they started as a food truck. They took the southern classic and totally reworked it into a dish with delicious Asian spices and flavors. Patterson said the Southern Gourmasian doesn’t fit into a particular mold; they are totally original.
“We don't fit in a little box and this isn't some nice, neat little package where everything has predefined parameters,” said Patterson. “That’s the good thing about what we do.”
Patterson said they initially faced criticism from people who told them their food didn’t taste like authentic Chinese food.
“We told them ‘thank you’ because it’s not supposed to be like that,” said Patterson. “That’s not what we’re going for.”
Other places in town are getting creative when it comes to creating new and unique drinks. One place likes being a bit rebellious and going against the grain. That’s part of why the company is aptly named Rebel Kettle Brewing Co.
“Rebel Kettle is able to brew smaller batches and be a little bit more experimental with what they do,” said Henderson. “They have rotated through over 150 different brews in the short time they've been open.”
Rebel Kettle Co-Owner, John Lee, said they are constantly pushing the envelope and always trying new things.
“We are on such a small system that were able to turn over beers pretty quickly,” said Lee. “We release a new beer at least once a week.”
They are even trying new fusions that few people have thought of doing.
“Recently, we barrel aged coffee instead of beer in collaboration with a coffee roaster in Cabot called Brew YaYa,” said Lee. “It’s kind of a technique that most people aren't doing.”
One thing is for sure, all of these companies are innovative, unique, refreshing and totally original. They are part of what gives Little Rock its own special flavor.