- THE 'SMALL' MEAT-AND-CHEESE TRAY: Fashioned from a number of offerings, this tray included mortadella, hot sopressa, speck and three cheeses, an aged French cheese and two by Margie Raimondo, with a jam, nuts, olives and Boulevard baguette slices.
When two devotees of fine food, fine wine and fine art join forces to open a restaurant, good things can happen. In the case of Southern Table, Margie Raimondo and Al Hodge are good examples of that.
Raimondo owns a winery in Mountain Home that uses California grapes to make Italian classics. She also has a line of olive oils, balsamic
At one time, Raimondo planned to open in the 600 block of Main Street — now the home of Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co. But she ended up
Partner Hodge, executive vice president for lending at Arkansas Capital Corp. for more than 20 years, provided some of the wherewithal that got Southern Table up and running. He runs the front of house, greeting and visiting with all, making suggestions on wine and food choices, and just generally being jovial.
Raimondo runs the kitchen — by herself the night we were there — but she also comes out to chat. Their tag-team hospitality approach works. They have refined the larger of the two public spaces in the former brewery/cheese factory into a simple but elegant dining room, with six tables for four and artwork by Arkansans borrowed from Hodge's collection dressing up the walls. There also are two cocktail tables and five stools in the small bar area at the entrance and plenty of outside seating, perfect when the weather is amenable.
Southern Table's website and Facebook page fashion it as a small-plate,
- THE PATIO: Ready for good weather dining.
We started with cheese puffs, not dissimilar to the classic cheese bread at Bossa Nova, the Hillcrest Brazilian restaurant. Seven light but slightly overdone puffs ($7) were accompanied by apple persimmon butter, a Raimondo concoction the consistency of jelly. Next came what was billed as potato cheese soup ($6), which conjures visions of a white, creamy soup flecked with orange. Not at all. The "other vegetables" that are included must all be of the root variety. This was a tasty, complexly
A fabulous Italian beef sandwich was one of the chef's specials. It featured mounds of thin and tender lean beef and giardiniera, the classic Italian vegetable relish. It was as good an Italian beef as we've had, but
The other special was Italian comfort food: a baked ziti ($13), served with a vegetable salad. It was layered like lasagna and filled with ground lamb and beef, tomato and cheese.
The mac-and-cheese ($9) featured penne in a white-cheese-based Mornay sauce with finely diced red bell pepper. The bell pepper dominates, so choose this based on how you feel about red bells.
Almost everything is made in-house at Southern Table, including gelato. We had the chocolate ($7 for two scoops served with two pieces of buttery shortbread) and a rich cranberry ($6), a scoop of which accompanied a piece of moist, dense lemon pound cake.
We chased everything down with Raimondo barbera and a fruit-forward old vine zinfandel, both excellent representations of the Italian classics.
323 S. Cross St.
Hours5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday.
Other infoSouthern Table also serves beer and takes credit cards.