I think we all know by now how much I love going to Hot Springs. No matter how many times I pop down there for a weekend, I always find something new to absolutely blow me away. The food spots in Hot Springs are always out of this world with special twists that tie into the mysterious town. If you haven’t tried to dive into the history of Hot Springs, the legends and stories that are nestled into every brick and street are neverending. I admire the businesses and locals of Hot Springs that meld the past with the present through the repurposing of old buildings and artifacts.
My latest trip through time took place at The Vault, and exactly as the name says, this restaurant is located in the vault of the original Bank Building. This bank was built in 1909 in the Historic Downtown Hot Springs. The vault located inside the bank has been transformed into a breathtaking dining area for private parties and special occasions. I knew as soon as we sat down that this experience was going to be unforgettable. The service was immaculate, the setting was gorgeous and when the food started rolling in I nearly fell out of my chair.
We started with the tuna belly appetizer. The flavors were so savory, and if there hadn’t been another person with me I might have eaten the entire serving. However, my heart will always lie with the heavenly concoction that is pimento cheese. Anywhere I go, I will absolutely without doubt order the menu item that includes pimento cheese. I have been to countless restaurants that have used pimento cheese in some unique way that leaves me speechless, and The Vault’s take is no different. I had the absolute pleasure of experiencing pimento cheese as a salad dressing, and I’m going to need the folks at The Vault to bottle that stuff up and ship it to my house every month. The dressing was used over grilled cabbage with bacon and chives. The pimento dressing smothered the braised cabbage and at the same time smothered my soul in flavor. This salad was stunning, fantastic and all the other praising words in the dictionary.
Now when we get down to the proteins, that dictionary doesn’t have enough words for me to use. I had the New Bedford Scallops served with risotto, bell pepper, tomato, bacon and tomato Beurre Blanc. Seafood will always be one of my favorite options on a menu, and these scallops did not disappoint. The fresh flavors of the vegetables and rich risotto with the scallops left me wanting to scrape the plate clean, but I had to hold back because there was more to come.
I have tried almost every steak under the sun, but I keep finding more variations that are absolutely incredible. The Vault serves the Japanese A5 Waygu steak, and you can tell that that cow was pampered because the flavor was like a bite of heaven. Tender, perfectly cooked and seasoned to enhance the natural flavor of the meat, this cut of meat is in my top five. The steak is served with local vegetables, the restaurant’s specialty plethora fungi mushrooms and a microgreen salad. If you can’t tell by now, each dish is loaded up with enough food to fill you up and then some.
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind drink experience, go no further. Talk about social media content for days, specialty drinks at The Vault are served in smoking boxes that create a magical appearance around the already gorgeously colored beverages. The Old Fashioned, served smoking, of course, was mixed perfectly and the right balance of flavors, and the vibrant pink served in the martini glass deserves its own framed photo.
Dessert, the finale of the night and what everyone looks forward to was the perfect ending note. After a trip through flavors from all over the world, the classic taste of cheesecake was the cherry on top and something familiar for the full stomach. Since I knew no other dishes were to follow this one, I did scrape this plate clean.
This restaurant is a true gem of Hot Springs. From the historical setting to the ambiance to the insanely delicious food, this restaurant is unlike any other. Visit The Vault’s website and Facebook page to book your reservation because this is an experience you cannot go another day without.
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