24 September 2008
[caption id="attachment_1614" align="alignright" width="255" caption="This probably helped our feelings about Fayetteville"]
We followed the Tide to Northwest Arkansas last week, and were pleasantly surprised by what we found. The Fayetteville/Springdale/Bentonville metro area is lovely. I mean it. We'll almost certainly be making our return trip in 2010.
We landed at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (by way of Delta through Atlanta) around 3ish Friday afternoon, picked up our rental car and headed for our hotel. We were in Springdale, just around the corner from the Holiday Inn that was the road home for the team.
From there, we made our way down to Herman's
. It was by all accounts the
place to dine in Fayetteville. It was a veritable who's who of Tide celebrity - Eli Gold and the gang (including Tyler Watts, Tom Roberts, Chris Stewart and Dave Hart
) were in attendance, as well as Gentry Estes
from the Mobile Press Register.
Despite the fact we were waiting for a table for two, we waited in excess of two hours. At least there was cold beer readily available in the tented area outside. While we waited, we were treated to a couple of older gentlemen playing covers (Jimmy Buffett, Willie Nelson, etc.) on guitars. It was loud enough to create atmosphere, and not overwhelming. I'll go with pleasant.
After sitting and looking at the menu, I'd imagine this place would be the sick, twisted son of a marriage between Dreamland and Nick's in the Sticks (if you don't know what that is, I feel genuinely sorry for you. I could tell you where it is in Tuscaloosa, but I'd have to kill you).
When we were seated, we started with a half rack of the ribs as an appetizer. I should have made it my meal. The ribs were dry rubbed (with sauce on the side) and great. They're in the top five on my list of all-time ribs - although that list is a whole other post. If you like dry rub, they were among the best I've had in that category for sure.
Then came disappointment. The steaks were expensive (a $33 small filet), so I was expecting something special. Not so much. It wasn't bad - to the contrary, it was tasty. It just wasn't "special". If I went back, I'd stick with the ribs.
We closed the evening relatively early due to our 11:30 kickoff the next morning.
The game was a bit better than alright. You hardly ever score 49 points and don't enjoy it.
Reynolds Razorback Stadium features a huge scoreboard in one end zone and the Ozarks out the other. A really nice place to see a game. The "Calling the Hogs" was neat to see the first time, then increasingly embarrassing as it continued.
Also neat the first time and wearing thin in a hurry was the crowd participation public address. Every time the Hogs would achieve a first down (and for the handful of points they scored, they sure did get a lot of first downs), the announcer would say "That's good for another Razorback"... and the crowd would rabidly shout "First Down!" In a game that finished 49-14, it became quickly absurd.
We cut out of the game a few minutes early, hoping to catch a competitive Florida-Tennessee game. Our disappointment was outpaced by that of Tennessee fans.
We made our way down to Brewski's
- which was a great recommendation. As advertised, they had a ton of beer on tap - and even more in the bottle. The service was snappy and friendly. We asked for a TV to be changed on our end of the bar, and, presto! A big screen (non-HD, sadly) was made available for a Volunteer whoopin'.
When we asked the waitress if they served food (we woke up with some Waffle House, but were hungry again now). She said they didn't, but we were welcome to bring in food. She recommended the pizza place next door.
So, we hit D's Pizza
for a light afternoon snack. Cheese Bread and a Veggie Dip hit the spot. The Veggie Dip was a layer of cream cheese in a foil pan topped by pizza sauce, pizza veggies and mozzerella cheese (we passed on the similar "Pizza Dip" because they were out of pepperoni). It was excellent. The sauce for that and the cheese bread was a good, hearty sauce that proved to be just what we needed as we readied ourselves for an afternoon of football.
Sadly (seriously, I wept), the Great Pumpkin could not motivate his Volunteers to present us with a decent ballgame. So, we headed up Dickson Street to scout a place for dinner. We found Doe's Eat Place
, and headed back to the hotel for a shower.
We arrived at Doe's for our second night of Bama Beat Writer Bingo - this time spying Ray Mellick and Ian Rappaport
. Doe's was a great choice for all of us. The back dining room featured televisions with the LSU-Auburn game on, so we opted to hang at the bar until a table opened in the back.
The bar staff was exceptionally friendly and served us well. They did all they could to make sure our wait was pleasant. They were anxious to talk football (although not necessarily Razorback football) and make recommendations for post-dinner cocktails.
Doe's is a high-end steakhouse, but with an exceptionally relaxed atmosphere. It was originally founded as a tamale shack in Greenville, Mississippi. Now, it's a boisterous southern chain with more than a dozen locations.
To honor their start, we began with the tamales. Good choice again. They were topped with a fantastic fresh chili. The busboy told us that it was made with the "bad meat". This resulted in a moment of awkward silence as he stammered to explain he meant the trimmings from the steaks. Either way, it was fantastic.
The bone-in ribeye was priced north of $40, but in stark contrast to just 24 hours before, well worth the price. The steak is aged on site, and it was VERY thick and VERY juicy. It was also about the size of a small house. It wasn't over-marinated (which should be a federal crime) and it was cooked to perfection. It was served with hand cut fries that were amazing.
At this point, we had wrapped up dinner, and were looking for a place to enjoy the final minutes of the Auburn game. Right around the corner was Theo's
. Anyplace that has a "Philosophy of the Drink" is OK with us (check the Cocktails and Spirits page for details).
It was a bit pretentious, but the game was on and there was a crowd watching. So, we enjoyed a couple of bourbons (a Basil Hayden for me), as the Bengal Tigers polished off Auburn. We decided to call it a weekend. It didn't seem like it could be improved.
All in all, a great weekend in Arkansas. A couple of notes for future visitors:
- Cabs were plentiful, but not particularly cheap. With tip, a cab from Springdale to Dickson Street was $30. Still far cheaper than bail money.
- While we didn't bring anything in to the game (in the way of liquor), it wouldn't have been difficult - there was a bag search, but nothing for the fellows.
- The campus is exceptionally hilly. I cannot emphasize this enough. It was a climb to get from the stadium to Dickson Street. A steep one.
- Cell phone service at the stadium was even worse than usual for gameday.
Thanks again to our Hawg Hosts - they were most gracious.