by Kat Robinson
Took a perfect drive up to northwest Arkansas earlier this week, that culminated in a visit to War Eagle Mill. It’s an interesting operation with roots all the way back to 1832. This one’s not the original; in fact, four mills have stood where this one is today. But the water break has been here that long. The current building has been there since 1973.
Grist mills used to be the big way to grind your grain… of course, today we have all sorts of mechanical this-and-thats to take care of such things. Won’t find many grist mills operating today.
If you think about it, this is about as close as you can get to a product that makes everyone in the new food movements happy. Think about it -- the grain all comes from local farmers, which makes it pretty much a local food. The mill is powered by a water wheel -- a “green” energy. And there are no chemicals added, at the field or at the mill -- which makes it organic. Can’t get much better than that.
Oh, did I mention they had a restaurant? Bean Palace, on the jump.
Up on the third floor of War Eagle Mill, there’s a humble restaurant. It’s only open for breakfast and lunch. I’ve never made it for breakfast; with perfect traffic conditions it still takes three and a half hours to make it up there from Little Rock. But I’ve been the benefactor of good cooks and tasty grain products there.
I’ve had the sandwiches on their light wheat bread, and on previous visits my mom had the beans and cornbread -- which she thought were pretty fine. This time around, my traveling companion went for the Chef’s Salad, which was built on baby greens with hunks of tomato and cucumbers and topped with locally smoked turkey and ham and a little cheese. It was a well built salad, and it was nice to see a departure from iceberg.
I chose the Cornbread Sandwich, and rather took to the not-sweet cornbread (though if I were being a purist to my roots I coulda griped about the yellow meal being used instead of what seems to be the Arkansas typical white). The problem with most cornbread sandwiches, including this one, is their viability as a hand-held option to greet the mouth. Got about halfway done with my turkey-and-veggies-and-house-dressing sandwich before the crumbling began. That’s the point where you just set it down and eat the darn thing with a fork.
Iced tea is plentiful, and if you skip dessert it’s your own darn fault. Yarnell’s Ice Cream is available in several flavors, and there are always cobblers. Mmmm… cobbler.
Anyway, lots of stuff coming up at War Eagle this fall, including the annual War Eagle Craft Fair, which is insanely huge. You can read all about that on the website. Got more questions, you can call them at (866) 4-WAR EAGLE (I know that’s too many numbers, but it’s what’s there). Bean Palace is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. And don’t forget to stock up on flour and cornmeal while you’re there.