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What's cooking/capsule reviews

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What's cooking

Vermillion Water Grille at Third and Commerce streets now offers raw bar service from 4:30 p.m. to closing time Monday through Saturday. Owner Michael Selig converted a portion of one bar into the raw bar.

Selig says the raw bar is designed to serve both dine-in customers and as a seafood outlet for those wanting carry-out/take home. Patrick McNally, who has worked at other fine-dining spots in Little Rock, including Selig’s Vermillion Bistro, is the raw bar chef. The offerings including peel ’em and eat ’em shrimp, oysters and a crab cake mix to take home. The chef will cut portions of fish for take-home. Sashimi, tuna and oyster shooters are also among the items available.

OOPS: Yes, it’s Donnie Ferneau, not Dennis. Last week, we incorrectly reported Donnie Ferneau’s name as the overall winner of the Arkansas Hospitality Association’s recent culinary competition. It was the second annual win for the chef and owner of Ferneau in Hillcrest.

Also, more news of award winners trickles in. We’ve learned that Lilly’s Dim Sum Then Some, owned by Kathy Webb, won an award in each of the four categories it entered: Its Classic Creme Brulee with a splash of coconut won a gold award; the Thai Coconut Soup with grilled shrimp and the Asian crab cakes served on a bed of fresh flash-fried spinach both won silver awards, and Lilly’s also picked up a silver for presentation.

Capsule review

SERENDIPITIES Take your time working through the menu of this unassuming sandwich shop. The sign outside emphasizes the sugar-free sweets, and we’ll get to those in a minute, but don’t take that to mean Serendipities slacks off on what you’ve got to clean your plate of before you deserve dessert: Count on it being healthier than your typical quickie meal. If it’s early enough, try the made-fresh waffles — plain, blueberry, strawberry, banana nut and pecan — or an omelet. We went at lunchtime, and finally decided on the Serendipities Clubber, available as both a regular sandwich and a wrap. It was enormous, and the staff was good-natured about adding the bacon we can’t do without on a club. Other options: chicken salad (both carnivore and vegetarian, made with soy chicken substitute), cordon bleu sandwich, the Apple Valley Turkey wrap (smoked turkey, sliced Granny Smith apples, provolone cheese and a sprinkling of cinnamon) and a trio of salads. There’s also a daily soup offering. Now back to those sugar-free desserts. The roster of cookies, brownies, muffins, cakes, turnovers and cheesecake varies daily. We took away a peach turnover, and it was worth every one of its 193 calories. There are also fruit smoothies and coffee drinks on the menu. 103 E. Seventh St. (Donaghey Building), 372-9911. No alcohol. CC. $. BL. Mon.-Fri.

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