There are two ways to make a buttermilk pie — make it fluffy or make it creamy. I’ve found a few examples of both here and there — but the creamiest version of the buttermilk I’ve found anywhere in Arkansas can be found at O’Henry’s
, just south of Conway.
O’Henry’s doesn’t look like a whole lot from the outside. It appears to be a converted gas station. Inside, though, it’s lush and comfortable with a really decent menu. It’s also a great place to get a steak.
I stopped in with my dining companions a short while back for an early dinner. We had beat the dinner crowd by a bit and had most of the place to ourselves. We started off with the Wasabi Shrimp ($6.95), a nice little fusion dish that consisted of medium shrimp wrapped in phyllo dough with a touch of wasabi paste, deep fried and served up with a creamy Thai dipping sauce. The creamy, slightly spicy sweet sauce paired well with the shrimp. I liked the phyllo dough instead of breading on the shrimp. Seemed less oily than what I would have tasted with a traditional breading.
My dining companion chose the Mediterranean Chicken ($14.95), a chicken breast simmered quite a long time with artichoke hearts, black olives, red bell pepper and onions in a tomato-based sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese. It was served up with a side of steamed and buttered zucchini and broccoli, along with a nice puffy, crusty roll. The flavors had well melded with the chicken, giving it a very nice Italian ragu sort of flavor. A winner.
I chose the New York Strip Steak ($16.95), a 12 ounce steak listed as being served up in a blueberry sauce. That sounded strange and delightful, so I gave it a shot. My medium rare steak came out perfect, expertly char-grilled and still a deep warm pink in the center. It was peppery and spiced but with a little sweetness, like what you’d get with grilled onions. I didn’t taste anything particularly blueberry-ish about it, but that didn’t matter. It was tasty. The home-mashed potatoes were buttery, perhaps from Yukon golds, and the gravy was a nice brown mushroom variety.
And then there were the desserts. My dining companion chose the Bread Pudding ($3.99), a homemade pudding that had a texture that told me it was likely made from the same sort of rolls we had with our dinner. It was delightfully cinnamon-infused with plenty of raisins, a thick flavor of a rum-based butter drench and a secondary sugary icing. It was served up hot and still had variances in the texture, which told me it was very recently baked. It was lovely.
And then there was that Buttermilk Pie ($3.99). It was extraordinarily light. It was also extraordinarily tart, with a definite flavor of lemon and buttermilk throughout. There was a nice buttery flavor to it as well, a touch of caramelization and that impossibly well-fluffed pie. Very nice. I should have had coffee with it, but I was fine without it. It was just…
Well, I will say this. It was very strongly flavored. I’m not used to that in a buttermilk pie. I’m used to the nice toasty flavor of the crust and the creamy bits inside. This one? Just one layer after another of tart. Heavenly tart, at that. Yes, I’ll order it again next time.
There are other pies on the menu as well — pecan, chocolate cream, coconut cream and apple — as well as cheesecake and ice cream. Might be worth checking the rest out too.
You’ll find O’Henry’s on Highway 365 parallel to I-40. To get there, take the Mayflower exit, go a block west and turn right… it’ll be on the right. Or take Harkrider from Dave Ward in Conway, it’s a couple of miles south on the left. (501) 470-9045 or check out the Facebook page.