I've been gone all week on a mini-get away with my friend Cindy from Rhode Island. She came here to work but one day of her assignment got cancelled so we grabbed the time to head down to one of my favorite Ozarks' towns, Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I've blogged about Eureka Springs before but it's been a couple of years since Gene and I last visited and almost 15 years since we lived there. This is one of my favorite pics from the Balcony Restaurant of the Basin Park Hotel because it's not all glam. It's a simple shot of one of the town's streets right before the sun set, after the shops had closed for the day, and the fog was rolling in off the hills. It's the Eureka in October I remember from living there.
Part of me took Cindy there for the entertainment value. I wanted to see the look on Gene's "favorite Yankee's" face (Rhode Ilsander) when she was plunked down in the middle of Eureka. Not that that's an insult to either one. Anyone who's been to Eureka knows that the very best wonderful thing about the town is that everyone is welcome and everyone (within reason) gets along. The town is famous for being the transplanted home town for artisans of all kinds and there is more talent and more brains in those hills than anywhere else in the world (allow me the hyberbole--I'd move back in a second if we could). When Gene and I lived there we knew a banquet planner from Vegas who got tired of the city lights, several writers of all genres, an electrical engineer who got off the corporate ladder, a nuclear physicist who owns a Bed & Breakfast but travels all over the world for "think tanks" and some of the most artistically gifted people I've ever been in awe of anywhere.
Today I'll talk about the food. Tomorrow and over the weekend, I'll talk about the attractions and the Ghost Tour (awesome!) and how a ghost must have followed us back to our own historic hotel.
When you're making a quick getaway you can only eat so many times and most of that's going to be what's convenient to you in the moment but we did our best to pack the meals in between shopping and hitting attractions. There are so many incredible restaurants in Eureka I wish we could have enjoyed them all but we did thoroughly enjoy the places we did get to visit.
For dinner we savored one of my favorite restaurants from when Gene and I lived there, still owned by the same family, still serving the same delicious home-cooked Czeck-German food: Bavarian Inn.
(To give credit, I lifted the small pic from www.eurekasprings.com, a nicely done web site for those wanting to see more pics or planning to visit Eureka.
Cindy, who admitted she'd never had German food that she knew of but was game, had the aromatic ghoulash and loved it.
I had the Chicken Anna Marie, a fork tender scallopine with a creamy mushroom sauce, served with sweet & sour red cabbage and homemade gnocchi
Okay, I admit my eyebrow raised a bit in that I think of spaetzle when I think German, not gnocchi, but it was so good I'm not complaining. It's potato dumplings. It works.
For an appetizer I couldn't help but try the sauerkraut soup. That's a new one for me so we had to order it. It was wonderfully spicy and served with homemade rye bread. I could have made a meal on just that but what's the fun in ever making a meal on "just that". You all are foodies. I know you know what I mean.
(I have to give a little shout out to our wonderful waiter Mike--Hi Mike!--who served us delightfully, told us funny stories, and even called for our ride when we were finished.)
Of our two lunches in Eureka, I could eat either of them every day for the rest of my life, I think.
One stop was at a little corner eatery there on Spring Street just up from the Basin Park Hotel that I cannot remember the name of. For those of you who are familiar, it's in the little corner by the stairs that go down to Chelsea's (great pizza!!!)
All I need to say is this: Chicken Curry Pasta Salad--you need to go get some! Holy Hell, it was good. Simple and fresh, I practically licked the plate. Yum.
Our other lunch was at Sparky's, a little diner up on Hwy 62. I'll be honest, from the road to the unitiated, I don't think it looks like much, maybe a little burger/fries ho-hum joint but, damn, don't miss it if you go. The menu is very extensive. Yes, they do have burgers and fries but they are the best burgers and fries you'll have. They also have ethnic dishes of all kinds. Almost everything is made from scratch including those fries. They're almost a religious experience. I'm pretty sure Cindy was closer to God in that diner eating those fries than anywhere.
I wasn't far behind her with the quesadilla. Sounds simple, huh? Oh no. All of my favorite things: goat cheese, caramelized onions, fresh tomatoes, chicken, and olive tapenade (I specially requested the last).
Want a closer look?
If that's not the definition of "Good eats", "Delish", "A very good thing", and "Bam!", I don't know what is. It rocked. I'll be hitting that place every time we hit town from now on.
Plus, how can you not frequent a restaurant with a t-shirt this fun?
Definitely, my kind of place.
I wish we'd had time to go to all the lovely restaurants in Eureka. Believe me, for a small town, it doesn't suffer for the lack of cuisine from the down- home to the upscale. Sigh. Next time. There's always time for more food events next trip, right?