An indulgent date night

A thriving restaurant scene has long been part of Eureka Springs’ draw, so it’s no surprise a few pop up here and there in my upcoming book, Welcome to Eureka Springs: The I-Sh*t-You-Not History of America’s Quirkiest Town.

Myrtie Mae Barrett’s fried chicken stand of the 1920s, Cap’n Don’s seafood joint of the ’70s, and the Center Street café of the ’80s will all flavor the chapters they appear in. (See what I did there?)

Some of today’s establishments are tourist destinations in their own right, among them Le Stick Nouveau.

TripAdvisor recently named Le Stick – for the second time – as one of the top date-night restaurants in the nation. The site praised its “meticulously crafted French cuisine” as well as the “immersive atmosphere and beautiful presentation.”

My wife and I have birthdays five days apart, and this year, we splurged on Le Stick for the first time.

I do mean splurge. Some of the 1% get knocked down to the 2% bracket here.

However, Le Stick lacks any pretentiousness. Chef Donna Fontanello and her culinary companions are always smiling and eager to talk about whatever went into the magical bite you are tasting at the moment.

So, with memories of Thanksgiving leftovers still fresh in mind, let me regale you with our night out.

Le Stick typically has a fixed menu that changes each month, with special holiday offerings. Our six-course (!) adventure earlier this month started with an appetizer unexpectedly and adeptly combining crisply fried sweet potato shavings, bacon jam, and Parmesan Reggiano cheese. (I told you this was fancy.)

That novelty was followed by ahi tuna salad graced with a beet-pickled egg, which I never knew was a thing, much less a creamy-delicious thing. Then came a buttery and comforting vegetable Normandy soup.

Of course, a meal this swank comes with a palate cleanser. In this case, it was cranberry cardamom sorbet. Until we can successfully ask AI to “create something that tastes like the essence of autumn,” this will have to do.

We split the entrée choices. Both the king salmon with risotto and the beef bourguignon were as savory as you would expect.

Our splurge ended with butter cake topped with pumpkin ice cream, custom-churned for Le Stick by The Funky Twig, a Missouri creamery whose short-lived Spring Street location is sorely missed.

We got home without turning into pumpkins ourselves, reminded yet again how Eureka Springs attracts artists of all kinds.

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