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A for B-Side

Lilly's spin-off gets breakfast right.

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B-Side is "b-side" Lilly's Dim Sum Then Some, occupying the Asian stand-by's former party room for a little more than two years now. You have to enter Lilly's to get to B-side, which, as the name also connotes, is the culinary "flip side" to Lilly's. And the two share ownership and a commitment to fresh, creative, painstakingly prepared, tasty food.

B-Side is also a force to be reckoned with, particularly on weekends, proof there's a booming market for a breakfast place that focuses on quality and serves up great plates at a reasonable price. Unless you just get lucky, expect to wait on Saturdays and Sundays.

Beignets are a perfect way to start every meal at B-Side. They are light, roundish, not overly greasy fried hunks of dough, set off perfectly with the light dusting of powdered sugar and the dipping sauces. We always ask for blueberry and lemon, the former thinner and naturally less tart. A half order is four, and that's plenty for a pair who wants just a few bites before the main course arrives.

Mimosas and Bloody Marys are standard brunch cocktails, but B-Side's versions aren't standard at all because the orange juice is fresh-squeezed and the Bloody Mary mix is homemade. What a marked difference that makes. The Mary mix is spicy but not overwhelmingly so, with a generous dose of pepper.

Huevos rancheros can be a rather mundane dish, but not at B-Side. It came recommended by the owner — depending on how large the crowd is, you might find yourself talking with or listening to a chatty Nancy Tesmer — and we're glad we took her suggestion. Again, this is a lighter dish than the norm, with perfectly fried eggs, a nice complement of cheese and perfectly prepared black beans setting the tone.

The classic Eggs Benedict is about as good as you can get — B-Side does eggs really, really well — also owing to the high-quality ingredients, in this case Canadian bacon, an English muffin and some amazing potatoes. You wouldn't expect large cubed potatoes to be so creamy inside, but our waiter said the trick is that they are parboiled and then flash-fried in a skillet.

A short stack of two is plenty if you're getting the blueberry pancakes, which are dense but not too heavy and teeming with blueberries — the perfect sponge for real maple syrup and butter. A side of crispy bacon supplies that magical sweet/salty contrast.

There are a couple of tasty egg melange options — the farmer's hash with sunny-side-up fried eggs atop a blend of peppers, onion and sausage and the El Amigos, which features black beans, cheese, scrambled eggs and tortilla strips. Both are flavor-packed.

The most discussed and beloved dish at B-Side has got to be "biscuit mountain," which actually is a pair of rolling biscuit-based hills — sausage patties, those great potatoes and gravy stacked on two biscuits with a pair of those signature sunny-side-ups topping the pile. And then there's the famed Gouda grits, as rich and creamy as any you've had, the smoked gouda making them more distinctive than your usual cheddar-based variety.

Other must-haves are the French toast sticks encased in a spiral of bacon, the frittata of the day — also light but extremely flavorful — and the chicken and waffles, which feature crispy, boneless thighs and very substantial (but again, not overly heavy) waffles.

For breakfast, B-Side's got it going on, as the creativity, taste and crowds will attest.

B-Side

11121 Rodney Parham Road

Little Rock, AR

Northwest Little Rock

501-716-2700

Quick bite

It is easy to forget what a profound difference fresh-squeezed orange juice makes in terms of taste. At B-Side you can get it straight up or laced with either bubbly or vodka – double-yum. The fun breakfast joint also makes its own Bloody Mary mix, and it's superb: peppery with just the right amount of zing.

Hours

8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Other information

Full bar, CC

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