EATS & DRINKS
By Case Dighero | Photos by Meredith Mashburn
The Blackberry Brasserie
3300 S. Pinnacle Hills Parkway, Rogers | (479) 367-2994 | www.blackberrynwa.com
Champagne and Caviar
The three of us slide into a large, dark booth — friends catching up after a brief hiatus, happy to be in one another’s company but famished and ready for a drink. I love having dinner with friends I haven’t seen in a while. There is so much to catch up on: harrowing stories, family drama and all the gossip that can only be shared with a very special group of people.
We settle into our dinner at The Blackberry Brasserie in Rogers and order a round of initial cocktails. The sexy Smoked Blackberry Old Fashioned ($13) arrives in a rocks glass with a single cube and a sidecar of blown glass swirling with mesquite smoke, eventually yielding the components of an old-fashioned unfurrowing over a swathe of orange rind and fresh blackberries. It’s both impressive and delicious. Next, we’re presented with the Theodora cocktail ($14), a gentle stir of an intensely evergreen gin with pear, lime and a whisper of Yuzu sparkling water, a portable heater sip on a chilly autumn evening — utterly divine.
A gorgeous platter of Caviar ($55, or $60+ with house-paired champagne) nestles in between the three of us, set forth beneath accompaniments of paper-thin fried potatoes, diced boiled egg, woody herbs, minced shallots and a heavy dollop of crème fraiche. Stratifying all the ingredients, we maneuver utensils around one another, inadvertently bumping metal as we nibble, top, dab and spread our way through conversation and gossip.
We roll on, splitting myriad appetizers, which include a deep bowl of crunchy Fried Okra ($9) arranged against a haystack of vinegary Salvadoran slaw, pickled red onions and white barbecue sauce; pillowy Crawfish Hushpuppies ($12), brilliantly fried like a savory beignet, chock-full of spicy crawfish tails and served with Mississippi’s own iconic “comeback” sauce; and finally, a sculpture of oversized blocks of Cast Iron Corn Bread ($9), one of my favorites of the evening, served stacked and warm like a blanket at a campfire — the three of us laughing as we indiscriminately pull large hunks from the cornbread, smearing each with salt, tallow and swathes of delicious butter.
Chef Bernie Martinez swings by the table to say hello, a gracious young man who seems far beyond his years. The paradigm of “brasserie” comes from the French, meaning a gathering place for good drink and hearty food, and chef Martinez has captured the essence while making it completely his own, steeped in his obvious affinity for Southern fare with swagger and attitude.
Another component of the classic European brasserie is that the menu and service are continuous, sans a break between lunch and dinner. Martinez and crew have echoed the tradition to make a single, all-day menu that I appreciate depending on my level of hunger and the time of day. My favorite lunch-esque offerings include the Garden Gnocchi ($12), a bowl of homemade potato dumplings mingled with roasted corn and peppers, zucchini, squash, romesco alfredo and shaved parmesan; and the Southern Collard Green Melt ($14), a gorgeous sandwich with collards stratified with manzano curdito, Chihuahua cheese and Duke’s Mayo on seven grain bread, a wonderfully delicious experience on those days when I’m feeling especially vegetarian.
Garden Gnocchi, Striped Bass Filet and Theodora Cocktail
Southern Collard Green Melt and Crawfish Hushpuppies
Banana Split Pudding Pops
We order a bottle of Little Sheep Rosé, delicious with delicate fruit and a whisper of soft herbs. Our server does a wonderful job despite the bottle arriving with a screw top — a conversation ensues, with some of us bemoaning the loss of the drama that comes with bottle service. Regardless, the wine is good, so we gladly sip onward.
The main event arrives, and we’re presented with rustic, delicious plates that include Country Fried Tofu ($24) prepared like Southern deep-fried chicken alongside apple garden slaw, walnut romesco and wonderfully charred shishito peppers — a dish that more than satisfies vegetarians and omnivores alike. Next, we tumble headfirst into the Striped Bass Filet ($34), fried delicate and crispy atop Ralston Family Farm rice, red bean cassoulet, sweet corn cream and fried carrots. Then, finally, we dive into the Ozark Bone-In Pork Chop ($32), Bansley Farms pork stacked against braised shallots, tomato jam, brown butter gnocchi and vermouth jus. The three of us use our fingers to inappropriately nibble and tear the last morsels of tender white meat from the bone.
Satisfied and happy, we conclude our gossip-fraught dinner with black coffee and Banana Split Pudding Pops ($9), homemade vanilla pudding popsicles dipped carefully in chocolate, crème Chantilly and maraschino cherries. As we slide out of our booth together, we all three agree that The Blackberry Brasserie is one of the best new restaurants in Rogers, and we can’t wait to return soon to devour cornbread, sip screwcap wine and spill all the tea.