At the prompting of Husband, I’m starting a new blog series for the new year.
Since my Discover Arkansas series was such a success, I’ve decided to narrow the focus a little bit and do Discover Northwest Arkansas/NWA. I’ve lived in this wonderful area of the state almost my entire life and want to share all of my favorite places with you.
I plan to do restaurant reviews, share itinerary ideas for out of town guests, explore events in the area and at some point make another Arkansas bucket list. If there’s something you’d like to hear about, let me know!
For my inaugural post, I want to share my review of a new restaurant in downtown Bentonville – MOD, Modern Ozark Dining.
Via their website – “MOD treats guests to a modern interpretation of the quality and simplicity of Ozark’s seasonal pantry. We enhance nature’s local bounty with our progressive approach to global foods and preparation techniques.”
Here’s the deal – it’s a prix fixe menu with fresh ingredients in a modern space. I’ve been dying to check it out ever since it opened. Lucky for me, I actually won a dinner for 2 (and Razorback basketball tickets, woohoo!) on Facebook so no harm, no fowl. We had heard it was “an experience”, but we weren’t sure if it would be pretentious, not enough food, etc.
Here’s my review via photos –
(Spoiler: we loved it!!)
F I R S T C O U R S E
3 appetizers to share
Hot Coal Roasted Onion Ravioli – I can’t entirely remember what this is except that it had cheese in the middle and toasted breadcrumb like things on top. I do remember the waiter said it’s not actually pasta, but the flavors and the different textures were perfect together.
Corn Hushpuppies – I loooove me some hushpuppies, and to be honest, you can get better ones next door at Pressroom, but these were still pretty tasty albeit a little fancy for a hushpuppy.
Brandade – Again, not entirely sure what this is, but this was the best appetizer of the three. First of all, the sourdough bread from Little Bread Co. in Fayetteville was a DREAM. Seriously, I’ve been thinking about it all week. I could eat just the bread, but husband loved the sauce you dipped it in as well – it was cheesy/potatoey/oily and delicious.
S E C O N D C O U R S E
I’m not sure how this happened, but this was our favorite course of the night and I didn’t get any pictures! Shame on me. But it was just that.stinking.good. This course was a departure from the prix fixe. In addition to the set menu, you can add on additional sides. We added two things –
Breadbasket – Two types of bread from Little Bread Co. that were simply divine, and a housemade spiced butter that melted in our mouths.
King Crab Wontons – This. This is what we will remember from MOD. These wontons were simply incredible. They had a housemade sweet and sour sauce drizzled on top that enhanced all the flavors and had you licking the bowl for more. If you go, and these are on the menu, pay the extra money and add them!
T H I R D C O U R S E
Dry Aged Sirloin – We both chose the sirloin for our entree (because when are you ever going to turn down free steak?!) However, there were 3 options to choose from: 1 meat, 1 seafood and 1 vegetarian. I’d say we chose wisely. The steak was cooked perfectly and the surrounding veggies (celeriac, truffled potato pave and grilled romaine) were delicious, even down to the dried cherries on top. If we had only had this to eat, we still would have been extremely happy.
F O U R T H C O U R S E
The dessert was probably my least favorite of it all, but it was honestly exactly what I needed. I didn’t need anything heavy and this little bite of lemon sorbet on a gingersnap cookie (or so I think it was) was so refreshing.
Overall, we decided together this was the best meal we’ve had in Bentonville hands down. The service was impeccable. The atmosphere was clean and modern. And most importantly, we loved every single thing we ate.
I honestly can’t wait to go back and try a new menu. They switch it out about 4 times a quarter, with the 4th being the “best of” the previous 3 menus.
Of course, as long as they don’t get rid of the King Crab Wontons, we will be back.
As a New Year’s resolution for my blog, I’ve decided to start doing northwest Arkansas reviews. I pride myself in being that person anyone can come to and ask about the newest restaurant in town, or where to purchase _____. So, to kick off the new year reviews: Petit Bistro. As you might remember, husband and I decided to have a quiet NYE (New Year’s Eve: The Most Overrated Night of the Year) and started it with a four-course meal at said restaurant.
Left to right: Lentil & Black-eyed Pea Soup; Warm Wilted Spinach Salad w/Bacon, Cranberries, Molasses Vinaigrette; Ribeye w/Shitake Compound Butter Served with Garlic/Buttermilk Whipped Potatoes and Zucchini & Squash Julienne; Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon
Not pictured: Chocolate Lava Souffle w/Vanilla Ice Cream and Macerated Berries
The meal was divine and the atmosphere was exactly what we were looking for – romantic and quiet, with character. Instead of re-writing all my thoughts on Petit Bistro, below is the article I wrote for AY Magazine. Enjoy.
There’s a secret in northwest Arkansas. It’s hidden behind a rustic, stone building in Bentonville and hosts business executives, wine connoisseurs and date-night couples who casually enjoy a relaxed, elegant atmosphere.
Nearly hidden among the trees on eight acres of land, Petit Bistro sits just off North Walton Boulevard, just before the street crosses into Bella Vista. Walking past the picturesque setting outdoors with twinkle lights scattered in the trees, it’s like stepping into another world outside of the Ozarks.
The warm brown and gold pantones invite customers into the hidden gem. Petit beige curtains line the windows, and unique oval-shaped lights provide a magical feel as they shimmer onto the ceiling and walls, revealing antique décor that feels rustic, yet upscale.
To add to the cultural ambiance, there’s the unmistakable accent coming from owner Dario Amini. Usually found behind the bar chatting with customers, Amini’s accent is difficult to place. Not French or Italian, but German, with influences from his Iranian father and Italian mother.
Amini was born in Germany, lived in Iran and Italy, but most recently spent 20 years in Los Angeles. He started four gourmet quick-serve restaurants in L.A. An alternative to the food court, these upscale cafes opened near high-end stores and served home-baked pastries, international cuisine and a full-service espresso bar.
Moving to northwest Arkansas because of friends and family, he expected to open a larger restaurant, but when he saw the population and culture of the town, he decided on something a little more quaint.
“With all the changes in northwest Arkansas culturally, with Crystal Bridges and the Walton Arts Center, you’ve seen a shift for better-quality restaurants and retail shops,” Amini said. “It’s slowly starting to manifest itself that way. We timed it correctly, by chance, and people are enjoying us as part of the community.”
Open since April 2010, Petit Bistro offers something for every palate. A “fusion of different cultures” Amini mixes Italian, Spanish, French, Lebanese and Moroccan into the menu. With no boundaries for the types of food he can create, Amini simply gets inspiration from his mother’s cooking, all the places he’s lived and visited and great restaurants from Aspen, Colo., to New York City.
“I have these ideas in my head, so whenever a dish comes to my mind, I try to get as close to it as possible, re-creating it in the kitchen,” he said.
Unafraid to try out new dishes, Petit Bistro is famous for their unusual specials, including Swordfish and Shrimp Vera Cruz Pasta; Lamb Lollipops over Mason Salad and Fingerling Potatoes; and Crab Cake Burgers with cheese, avocado and chipotle.
A staple on the menu, and just about everyone’s favorite, is the Cheesecake Du Jour, which has included a variety of flavors, everything from limoncello, rum raisin, avocado vanilla bean (the most incredible cheesecake I’ve ever eaten) to chocolate chip peanut butter. It could be a hit or miss, but it’s hard to mess up cheesecake, Amini insisted.
To pair with the cheesecake and the variable menu, Petit Bistro boasts an extensive wine list featuring domestic and international wines from $19 to $883 a bottle.
For dinner the menu is separated into Petit Plates, Salades, Pizza Rustique, Grand Petit Plates and Desserts. Though we recommend checking out the cheesecake of the day, you can’t go wrong with the Bread Pudding Au Chocolate, which has more of a brownie consistency, or the Bistro Crème Brulee, the best in northwest Arkansas.
The Petit Plates include burgers, smoked salmon, grilled brie and the beautifully-plated Pan Seared Tuna Tower ($15). Placed between crispy wontons, the tuna is encrusted with sesame seeds giving it a unique Asian flavor and includes wasabi aioli, pickled ginger and soy on the side.
For the Grand Petit Plates, the Braised Pork Osso Bucco ($36) is a must-see and a must-eat. Osso bucco — Italian for bone with a hole — is typically a veal dish. The braised pork is so tender it falls off the bone into the surrounding, rich sauce enhanced by porcini mushrooms and fresh grilled vegetables. The Lebanese Lamb Chops ($32) is another unique item on the menu, mostly due to the Israeli cous cous. Larger than typical cous cous, the vegetable is similar to rice with a dense consistency and pairs well with the lamb chops.
Whether for an evening of drinks and dessert, a quiet dinner inside or a get-together on the patio with live music, Petit Bistro is a delicacy of northwest Arkansas.