by David Koon
Those who jones for breakfast, take note: Early Bird, a new breakfast and brunch spot, is now in a soft-open phase at the corner of University and Kavanaugh. They'll be officially open for business next Tuesday.
Bar manager Paul Hohnbaum said the menu will be "breakfast to light lunch" with an emphasis on fresh, scratch-made offerings including high-quality oatmeal, grits, biscuits and gravy, and special egg dishes, as well as a number of pickled items made in the Blue Bird kitchen. The restaurant will feature a full coffee bar and full bar, including infused vodkas, unique mimosas and Bloody Marys.
Hohnbaum said that while the restaurant will strive to source local ingredients, that's not their focus. "It's something we're going to try to emphasize," he said, "but it's not going to be our political statement."
The restaurant will be open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, though Hohnbaum said that the closing might be extended to 5:30 p.m. if there's the demand. We're waiting for a call back from Blue Bird chef Carson Runnells for more on the menu and what early risers can expect.
UPDATE: Chef Runnells called us back. Hit the "continue reading" for details on menu, hours and drive-through offerings.
A pastry chef who has done pastries for "every high-end place in Arkansas at one point," and who worked for several years as a chef in San Francisco, Runnells said that the menu at Early Bird will emphasize "southern cuisine for the cultured palate," which he described as the kind of food grandma would make if she got on a "green kick."
Among the items Runnells mentioned that will eventually grace the Early Bird menu: several kinds of gourmet pancakes (including sweet potato and carrot pancakes), oatmeal, cream of wheat, bleu cheese and cheddar cheese grits, pickled eggs, beans, cauliflower, cucumbers and other vegetables, flax seed and jalapeno cornbread, hot and iced teas and lemonade; a daily mixed-green offering; house-made turkey breakfast sausage; "Not Mama's" black beans and rice made with Guinness stout, squash casserole with apples and zucchini; pies and cobblers, protein plates for runners, a number of gluten-free and vegetarian offerings (including a vegetarian gravy), and more, all made in house, even down to making their own buttermilk.
As if that wasn't enough, Runnells said that diners will be able to buy Blue Bird gravy by the jar, biscuits by the baker's dozen, and cornbread by the round. They'll also have a full patio and a drive through so diners can call ahead and pick up food on the go.
Runnells said he's trying to put an emphasis on service and a friendly environment. "We're really trying to keep it neighborhood friendly, very child friendly, a very clean environment," Runnells said. "There's no smoking anywhere. I don't even let people smoke out front... I hope to win cleanest kitchen in Little Rock." He said the restaurant will be open from 6 a.m. to around 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. They'll decide later on whether they want to try a dinner menu and longer hours. You can reach Early Bird at (501)227-7222.