In our Lunching in Little Rock blog series, Michael Kirkpatrick will explore and review the best restaurants in Little Rock and its surrounding area – all in time to get back to the office. This week, Michael ate lunch at Buenos Aires Grill and Cafe.
Little Rock has a grand history of food and restaurants. I can remember my grandfather telling stories of the incredible service, attention to detail and amazing dining experiences at real “coat and tie” fine dining establishments. Jeans are acceptable almost anywhere now and those restaurants are gone, but the service, details and experiences are not. I had the pleasure of lunching with Jake and Stephanie Keet at Buenos Aires Grill and Cafe in the River Market. Jake breaks down how dining trends have changed and where they are headed.
Jake and his family are setting those trends as they have introduced Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe and Petit & Keet restaurants to Arkansas. Stephanie’s primary role for the restaurants is marketing and advertising.
Jake’s passion for dining comes from a meal he had while traveling abroad. He wanted to bring that same service and attention to detail back home and share it here. Petit and Keet is the culmination of his father’s career in fine dining and the restaurant has something for everyone. The Keets’ partner is Little Rock restaurateur Louis Petit. Together, they present a culinary-driven polished casual restaurant. The main dining room is formal and the bar area is casual, but with the same delectable food options.
Jake and Stephanie are both good friends with Florencia Bruzatori-Mullins, who has her own family-owned and -operated restaurant, Buenos Aires Grill and Cafe. Direct from Argentina, Flo is sharing her heritage, love for shared meals and handmade food with Little Rock. Flo said they chose the location of the restaurant because the style of the building reminded her of the buildings in Argentina.
We tried a variety of the restaurant’s empanadas, including the legendary spinach. Each little pocket of deliciousness is handmade just for you. For the main course, we all shared the Mixed Grill Buenos Aires, which was a gorgeous table-grilled assortment of flank and skirt steak, Argentinian bratwurst, chicken and shrimp with a house salad and French fries. The freshly chopped and mixed chimichurri is refreshing and you will want to put it on everything. If you are in an adventurous mood there is also the Mixed Grill Argentinian, which comes with all of the above plus sweetbreads and blood sausage. Lastly, since we were sharing, Jake and I stuffed ourselves with the Cuatro Leches Cake (because tres leches wasn’t enough leches.)
Little Rock, steeped in food history, cannot continue to rely on pillars of the past. Thankfully, we have innovators like the Keets and and Florencia willing to share their passions, take risks and inspire us with their food. I was so inspired that I tried and failed to make the chimichurri at home. Please visit Buenos Aires this week to not only show your appreciation, but to be motivated yourself!