Review by: Michael Stern

A first pass by the Grapevine did not set my Roadfood radar beeping. The brick building does not exude charm; and the grapevine motif on its sign hinted that oenophilia was more important than vittles. The radar obviously needed recalibration, for the Grapevine turned out to be a treasure in an area where good restaurant food is scarce. The menu is suspiciously eclectic, ranging from catfish to coconut shrimp, veggie plates to surf ‘n’ turf, sweet tea to chocolate milk to wines from France and Arkansas. Usually, so broad a reach signals a kitchen that does a lot of things half-assedly but nothing really well. Not so here. Although the few meals I had during a stay at nearby Mount Magazine Lodge were only a sample, everything I had was well above par.

Bread, for example. Molasses-colored, crisp-crusted loaves are baked each morning, served at breakfast, lunch, and dinner with ramekins of honey-sweetened butter. Wonderful! Hamburgers are 1/3 pound beauties; the salad selection includes Greek, Cobb, and a “Santa Fe” concoction of olives, greens, corn kernels, and tortilla strips topped with unbelievably tender grilled chicken and served with creamy avocado dressing. Full dinners, including barbecued beef, chicken-fried steak and house-smoked brisket, come with such sides as fried okra and four-star mac ‘n’ cheese.

Midway through the meal, our waitress asked, “Are you’all planning on having bread pudding for dessert?” We hadn’t yet thought about it, but who can say no to such a question? One serving, more than adequate for two, is an immense block of that good dark bread that has become dense custard, served floating in a pool of sweet praline sauce.

Mention must be made of the service. Although everything at the Grapevine is folksy and downhome — seat yourself, come-as-you-are — the staff really knows the menu. We were walked through it by the guy who sat us (then kindly re-sat us when it turned out our table was too near the air-conditioning vent); he advised us of all of his personal favorites. Then we were re-educated by our waitress, who would not let us order the day’s special — a fine sirloin steak — without also getting macaroni and cheese.

What To Eat

Bread & Honey Butter

Santa Fe Salad

Macaroni & Cheese

Bread Pudding


Grapevine Recipes


What do you think of Grapevine?

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