Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Morning Wake-Up: Begin at B-Side, Little Rock.

It’s hard to believe that B-Side is only about two years old. That’s right — the little breakfast enterprise built next door to Lilly’s DimSum only opened in early 2010, but it’s already carved its own niche. On the weekends, it’s standing room only. Every single table in the place is packed from the 8 a.m. opening to the 2 p.m. close.

On the weekdays, though — you hit it right and it’s a special quiet place, a place of breakfast-time contemplation, a place to dine on fine breakfast foods amidst art and soft music, a place to escape.

I can talk about so many of the items on the menu, and I have. My favorite: Chicken and Waffles ($11), a couple of boneless chicken thighs fried and served up with golden waffles. The waffles on their own are so good, even, golden and crispy and substantial. You can get just the waffles for $5.75.

I always tend to show up with someone who wants Biscuit Mountain ($11.50), that big stack of egg, gravy, bird’s nest potatoes and sausage patties on top of soft pliant biscuits. I must have photographed the dish half a dozen times.

The orange juice is always good, too — though from time to time I get a seed. That’s all right — yes, I’ll gladly pay $3.50 for some fresh squeezed orange juice that really tastes fresh squeezed. B-Side is the one place I’ve gone where the juice itself is so good it makes the mimosa application superfluous — though if you want a mimosa, it’s $4 and effervescent.

The menu has been updated with new items and changes to a few old items. For instance you can now order a half-order of beignets for $4, get a Crabcake Benedict ($14) with home fries and something called the Mad Scramble ($10) — described as roasted potatoes, onions, bacon pieces, Cheddar cheese, and scrambled eggs folded together. If it didn’t have sausage in it I’d totally do the Shrimp and Grits ($12) — smoked Gouda grits smothered in sausage, red pepper, chorizo, gravy and onions with five large shrimp. It all sounds good.

But what do I keep coming back to? The dang Frittata of the Day ($9.75), a big pie slice of almost custardy frittata that comes in a different variety every day. My favorite of all of these has been the Mushroom and Onion Frittata — though the Spinach, Tomato and Mushroom variety I had on my latest visit was pretty darn good. It’s served up with a buttered and toasted English muffin, jelly, fresh fruit and a delectable spicy mayo somewhat reminiscent of the Japanese spicy mayo you get with sushi. The whole platter will stick to your ribs.

No matter what I get, I always have to order the Gouda Grits ($3). Every time. Every single time. I have actually gone in and ordered this little dish with nothing but water when my belly was sore. Almost as restorative as a good curry. They’re soft, creamy grits with an overabundance of smoked Gouda, and oh so good. When people ask me about B-Side, it’s the one dish I mention first every time.

I think it’s safe to say that B-Side has made it through the pass/fail test of the restaurant market around here. The weekend crowds show there was a significant need for a non-chain medium-range breakfast place in Central Arkansas. I suppose I’ll see you there sometimes?

B-Side is open Wednesday through Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Check out the Facebook page or call (501) 716-2700.

B-Side Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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