Jan 25, 2011

The Root Cafe

One of my husband’s, chief complaints about me is that I’m impossible to take out for dinner. It’s a legitimate complaint. I’m just flat picky. I find myself sitting in front of my food wondering how far it traveled and what kind of atrocities it went through to get to my plate. Then I start thinking “I could make this so much better myself. I bet with a little broth, some real vegetables, real cheese, butter, etc. I could make it actually taste good.”

When my family recently ate at a restaurant in Branson, I asked the waiter where the beef came from. We had passed a lot of cattle grazing in the fields on the way to Branson, so I was naively waiting to hear that it was grass-fed beef from down the road. No, this beef was corn-fed in Nebraska, of course. My husband instructed me to “behave” before I was able to ask additional questions about the food. I guess sometimes it can be embarrassing to be married to an activist.

But like every other homemaker, I do occasionally walk into the kitchen and want to say, “I’m just too tired to make dinner tonight; let’s go out.” But the trouble is deciding where I want to go. When I get to pick, I try to find a place that serves some fresh local food, like Za Za’s, but the choices (especially ones that fit our budget) are limited. So I usually just choose to throw something together. Some “clean-out-the-refrigerator” soup or grass-fed beef tacos are quick standbys when I haven’t planned ahead.

Because of my “food issues,” you might imagine my joy when I heard about Jack Sundell’s and Corri Bristow-Sundell’s plans for a truly local food restaurant, the Root Café. While Jack and Corrie have been working through the restaurant planning phase, they have hosted numerous workshops and special events – giving us a preview of the kind of tasty local food we can expect from them. You have to admire people who take time to plan well. I’ve been watching the Root Café’s careful progress with anticipation and am very excited to report some major steps that have been taken forward this winter.

The Root Café is now offering a beautiful breakfast of fresh baked goods and coffee at Arkansas Sustainability Network's Food Club on Saturday mornings, complete with Café tables so you can stop and visit with friends (or make some new ones). They have also obtained a building downtown on the corner of Main and 15th which will hopefully be ready to open for business in the spring, and they have “gone live” with their website.

I encourage you to check out the Root Café’ website and learn more. It will help you catch the vision of a truly local restaurant. You won’t find any GMO corn-fed beef from Nebraska in this establishment. Read the list of Arkansas farmers who are supplying the ingredients. I’m sure you’ll recognize many of them. Here’s the Root Café mission statement:

Simply put, our mission is to build community through local food. We seek to foster a sense of connectedness among the individuals, families, organizations, and businesses of central Arkansas by offering a focal point for sustainable activities in the area. We have delicious sandwiches, soups, salads, burgers, and homemade pies that feature fresh seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers, as well as locally roasted coffees and the best of Arkansas beer and wine. We also host a range of activities from workshops, classes, and speakers, to music events and art openings. Through food, education, and community, the Root is striving to make Little Rock a better place to live by creating a just, sustainable and delicious food system for central Arkansas.
We’ll let you know when the doors open!

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  1. I will definitely be checking this out! I just discovered Zaza's and have already eaten there twice! It's nice to go to a restaurant and know you're eating food made with quality ingredients, and to know you won't get a big fat stomachache afterwards.

  2. The best local option is Castleberry's at White Water Tavern. Nick Castleberry doesn't use ANYTHING off a Sysco truck. His menu changes weekly, if not daily, depending on what he pick's up at the farmer's market. He's lived on a farm co-op and knows how to use what's seasonal and on hand. Call for hours. It's not a family restaurant. More like a bar that sometimes serves delicious, nutritious, local food.



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