Thanks for helping me choose the site logo and typography

Three days ago, I asked for help in deciding the logo and typography for my site, giving you three choices that I narrowed down from the original six.  The winning design was choice #2, though many people also liked choice #1.

Now, it’s up to me to learn more about WordPress and get this site looking more professional.  I hope to have much of the design work completed in the next month, and also to have some new reviews on the way as well.

Winning Design:

Choice 2 - Plate

Choice 2 – Plate

Which Logo and Typography do you prefer?

Update:  The poll is now closed.  Thank you for voting, if you got a chance to do so!

Please help me decide which of the following logos and typefaces you like, by answering the poll below.

Since the images in the poll itself are tiny, here are the choices as they will be presented:

Steaming Platter

Choice 1 – Steaming Platter

Choice 2 - Plate

Choice 2 – Plate

Choice 3 - Utensils

Choice 3 – Utensils

Thank you for helping me decide the design of my blog!

Tavola Trattoria

Tavola Trattoria is the restaurant that people go to when they want elegant Italian food in Bentonville.  Certainly there are many other choices for Italian dining in the area, both independent and chain restaurants.  However, when people go to Tavola, they are looking for that special experience.  That includes the funky glasses that come in all sorts of odd shapes and convince you that you are tipsy even before the wine is poured.  The unique spongy bread is so delicious and so far from the stale crusty so-called bread that was served by Italian restaurants of yesteryear. Those things are nice, but people keep coming back to try the many unique recipes at Tavola, which one could term nouvelle Italian cuisine, except it’s not the least bit snotty!

I have had the pleasure to dine with others on several occasions, and my recent visit was no exception.  I ordered the Mirabella’s Special Pasta, a four cheese ravioli served in a bolognese sauce, with melted bualo mozzarella and parmesan cream sauce.  It was luscious.  I often have the Ravioli Tavola, which is described as “pasta pillows with blue crab meat”.  Though it’s not a ravioli, the Crab Macaroni & Cheese is also amazing.

My dining companions had the Chicken Marsala and the Spaghetti Carbonara, and were very pleased.  I probed for details, and the only detail I could get was that the Carbonara was a little under salted.  I think that’s a criticism I could live with, whereas the typical situation of over salting cannot be undone.

What makes Tavola fun is the way wines are served.  Though there is a high-end wine list that is served only by the bottle, there is an extensive list of wines that are served by the the glass ($10), mini-carafe ($15), and bottle ($40).  We shared a mini-carafe of Prosecco from that list three ways as a starter, and then ordered a bottle of a California Pinot Gris from Breggo Cellars to accompany the main course.

We were all too full to consider ordering dessert, though I remember they are delicious if you can save some room.  They do serve espresso and French press coffee, if you want to linger a few more moments before heading out.

I would strongly recommend reservations for peak dining, though you can get luck if you arrive early like we did.  Though we had no issues on this particular evening, we did encounter quite a bit of “out of stocks” on a previous visit.  After our server made several round-trips to the kitchen, each time asking for us to choose again, we were presented with a list of bottles actually available after a quick “shelf check” was made.  That same night, some of the specials were also in short supply; my colleague who ordered sea bass but settled for red snapper said in his dry way, “I’d call it the out-house if the food wasn’t so good.”

Rating 4.5/5.0 – Really liked it

Tavola Trattoria
www.tavolatrattoria.com
108 SE A St
Bentonville, AR 72712

Tavola Trattoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dink’s Barbecue

Dink’s has long been one of my favorite barbecue (BBQ) spots in NW Arkansas.  I often will stop here for lunch, just after landing at the local airport, after returning from another part of the country.  Not only is it on my direct route, it also reorients me in a visceral way to being back home.  Barbecue is serious business here, to the point I’d say you might want to avoid it as you would religion and politics in casual conversation.

On my most recent visit, I had the “American Dip” special, which is a beef brisket on a sandwich with fried onion crisps and cheese, served with a side of au jus for dipping.  Though the sandwich was delicious, I could really taste the salt in an unpleasant way.  It’s probably more a fault of the individual ingredients, which when combined, combine for a salt assault, than anything to be blamed on the kitchen. For my one side, I chose the delicious and well-seasoned shoestring potatoes, which on their own were not overly salty.

Dinks BBQ 2015-10-14

Barbecue joints are notoriously for being sloppy for eating; there is a reason you get a roll of paper towels at your table and not paper napkins.  However, I’ve become accustomed to Dink’s getting behind in cleaning their tables, both during their peak lunch period, and even in mid-afternoon, when they have ample opportunity to catch up.

As a final note:  Dink’s also serves delicious pulled pork and baked beans.  I’ll make sure to update this review when I go back for that meal.

Rating 3.5/5.0 – Liked it

Dink’s Barbecue
www.dinksbbq.com
3404 SE Macy Rd #18
Bentonville, AR 72712

Dink's Pit BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

El Pueblito

Though chain restaurants, both fast food and fast casual, have a certain stranglehold in this area, you can get lucky if you’re outside their zone of domination. El Pueblito certainly would fit that description, tucked away four miles off of Route 71 in the Highlands neighborhood of Bella Vista. It’s become the place that people in Bella Vista recommend when it comes to Mexican food. To be fair, there is just one other Mexican restaurant to be found in the city.

When I arrived on a Sunday afternoon, I asked if I could order from the lunch menu, though it was pretty clearly marked that it was a Monday through Friday only opportunity. Fortunately, I was allowed, and what a bargain it was! For $6.25, you can have your choice of two from a long list including taco, enchilada, and burrito, as well as refried beans and rice, all served on a large plate. I chose a cheese enchilada and chicken taco, which was served in a hard shell.

It was a perfect lunch portion, and looked very beautiful on the plate. The enchilada was good, as was its accompanying sauce. The taco was stuffed full of lettuce, which made me happy since it’s sometimes tough to get enough vegetables when eating at a Mexican restaurant. The refried beans were delicious and not greasy, and the rice was fluffy and nicely seasoned. I would have enjoyed a Jarritos soda, but stayed with water since unfortunately no Mexican sodas are served here.

Since I made a good attempt at dabbling instead of indulging into the decent chips and accompanying salsa, I decided to end my meal with a plate of two sopapillas, lightly seasoned with honey. It was a good choice! After being to New Orleans for the first time, where I had my first beignet, it was interesting to compare the sopapilla to it. One could say they are siblings, whereas the American doughnut is a cousin to both.

I’d very much recommend a stop at El Pueblito, especially if it happens to be mealtime and you’re enroute to/from Missouri, where the choices along the highway are few and far between. I think you will be glad you did.

Update:  I revisited El Pueblito with a friend, and was very impressed with how quickly the restaurant got us seated, despite being very full with the Sunday church crowd.  What I ordered was very similar to before, and was just as good.  My friend had the taco salad, and was impressed that the chicken has just the right amount of kick.

Rating 4.5/5.0 – Really liked it

El Pueblito
No Web Site
1705 Forest Hills Boulevard
Bella Vista, AR 72715

El Pueblito Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Onyx Coffee Lab – Fayetteville

I’ve been a fan of Onyx ever since I discovered them several years ago.  They specialize in what is sometimes termed “third-wave” coffee.  The waves are pretty simple:  The first wave would be diner coffee, or the robusta beans that would come in the old metal coffee cans sold under various brand names.  Second wave is Starbucks, which shunned robusta for quality arabica beans, as did other establishments that began their life in Seattle and elsewhere, and one by one have either failed or been bought by, you got it, Starbucks.

Third wave is kind of the “anti Starbucks”.  It seeks to bring the coffee experience back to its neighborhood employing techniques such as pour-over coffee, which is brewed precisely over a period of 3 minutes, using scales, timers, and water at a precise temperature.  It’s a difference in taste that’s marked.  The beans are more expensive since they are sourced from a region and even sometimes a particular hill, much as is wine.  The espressos are individually drawn using technique, not from an automatic machine such as Starbucks now uses.  The foam at the top of a latte is poured in a pattern to show that your drink has been carefully prepared.  For the coffee lover, it’s quite an experience.

Onyx Coffee Lab has been the embodiment of third-wave coffee in NW Arkansas, from the moment they broke away from Arsaga’s in 2012.  To be fair, Arsaga’s was the first third-wave coffee player in the market, and offers a full-featured restaurant menu at their flagship location at The Depot.

I learned and grown in my appreciation for fine pour-over coffee, including the many ways to prepare it, which extend beyond the plunge pot to include the Kalita dripper, the Clever immersion dripper, and the hi-tech siphon dripper at the Springdale location.  The baristas, cuppers, and head roaster are not only great at customer service but are a wealth of knowledge.

That said, I’m tiring of paying what seem to be higher and higher prices that rival the most expensive third-wave stores in the biggest cities.  The cheapest pour-over during my last visit was $4.50, and a similar sized Grasshopper, a peppermint latte, was $5.25.  Prices do include sales tax.  The prices for beans and mugs also either match or surpass comparisons to Blue Bottle, Stumptown, and Intelligentsia.  I’m fairly certain that rents and employee costs in their Onyx’s strip-mall location don’t rival those of Blue Bottle, for instance, which has locations in the basement of NYC Rockefeller Center and San Francisco Ferry Building.

I might have to be content with just buying their beans, and preparing them myself at home.

Rating 4.0/5.0 – Really liked it

Onyx Coffee Lab
www.onyxcoffeelab.com
2418 N Gregg Ave
Fayetteville, AR 72703

ONYX Coffee Lab Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tacos4Life Grill – Fayetteville

I’m partial to good Mexican food, though I must say I’m more partial to those that are more American than authentic.  We are blessed with a number of pretty authentic single unit Mexican restaurants in the area, and there were a number within a very short drive of where I used to work on the east side of Springdale.  These are the types of restaurants where gringos like myself are uncommon, where you have to find the English speaking server, and you’re going to get asked “so is it your first time here?”, as if you’re entering uncharted territory.

Although I appreciate the chance to sample more authentic cuisine, it’s  a little hard on my digestive system to sample dishes that are a more greasy (lots of lard), more spicy, and being heavy on fatty meats and light on the vegetables.  For that reason, I seem to go to Chipotle, or places like it, that aim to combine healthy ingredients, freshly made, in a nutritious and reliable way.  Therefore, I’m excited to try Tacos4Life, which seems to aim to be that type of a restaurant.  And they are largely successful.

Tacos4Life-Fayetteville-Décor

They offer a very broad menu, given that you can choose a protein (chicken, beef, pork, seafood), have it on one of four style of taco or wrapped in lettuce, and have a choice of sides that is beyond beans and rice.  I was a in a chicken mood, so I wanted to try just the basic grilled chicken on a flour taco and the southwest grilled chicken on a puffy tortilla shell.  My cashier helped put that together, and suggested I substitute Mexican cream-style corn for rice, at a supplement of 75 cents.  It was a great recommendation, since it was the most enjoyable of all that I tasted.

Tacos4Life-Fayetteville-MainDish

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the plain taco much more than the puffy one.   The flavors of the plain taco were well mixed with the chicken, and were overstuffed to the point of seepage on the metal tray you are provided.  It’s how a taco should be, but don’t try to eat one while driving.  Rest easy, I was at one of the long community-style tables.  The other taco was not as pleasing, since the southwest dressing and other ingredients really covered the taste of the chicken, to the point that I wasn’t sure if I was eating chicken or beef.  The puffy tortilla was not the culprit, and was worth the extra fat and calories for variety’s sake.  I was pleased to be able to add a Mexican soda, Jarritos-brand Tamarind, which are typically only found in single unit Mexican restaurants.

Though the food was really good, the service was a bit spotty.  I introduced myself as a “first time” customer, which should have led me to be introduced to the frequent customer program by the cashier, but wasn’t.  I asked one of the bus staff if there was such a program, and she eagerly guided me through the program, conveniently offered at an automated kiosk, much like when you go to Walgreens.  I received both of my tacos in puffy shells, which wasn’t a big deal, though I kindly asked to have the order redone so I could try it as the cashier and I so carefully planned it.  Having so many choices can be detrimental to efficiency:  Chipotle purposely steers you into a simple burrito assembled with all of the ingredients in front of you for a reason.

The prices at Taco4Life are definitely at a premium, but so is the quality of the food.  There is also a declared social mission, where your purchase of a taco or similar item drives a 22-cent donation towards a meal served through a charity in Honduras.  It’s described in a full-color brochure that accompanies a separate menu leaflet.

Rating 3.5/5.0 – Liked it

Tacos4Life Grill
tacos4life.com
1572 N. College Ave
Fayetteville, AR 72703

Tacos 4 Life Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato