Tusk & Trotter: Creative, tasty brunch served at Bentonville brasserie
BY SCOTT CHERRY World Restaurant Critic
Thursday, March 07, 2013
3/07/13 at 4:58 AM
BENTONVILLE, Ark. - After reviewing online visitor sites for Bentonville and picking up some menus around town, I had Tusk & Trotter American Brasserie penciled in for a probable lunch or dinner.
Then I realized we needed a Sunday breakast-brunch spot, and Tusk & Trotter had a Sunday brunch menu. It offered such items as lemon souffle pancakes, carrot cake waffles, duck pastrami Benedict, smoked salmon Benedict and regional specialties such as crispy pig ear salad and Ozark Mountain oysters.
So it was we landed at Tusk & Trotter on a crisp Sunday morning, along with a fair portion of northwest Arkansas. Or so it seemed. Actually, the two of us did not have to wait long for a table, but larger groups faced waits of 30 to 45 minutes.
The restaurant, located in what once was the storefront for Sam Walton's general office and warehouse, has two dining areas. We wound up at a high-top table near the bar, which had a great-looking wood barback and where we also had a view of the street a block off the downtown square.
I couldn't resist the lemon souffle pancakes ($9), served with a choice of two sides, and my wife went for the duck pastrami Benedict ($11), served with one side.
The pancakes were not large around, but they were thick and had a cake-like texture. They had a lemony flavor and came with vanilla butter and maple syrup.
The Benedict tasted nothing like duck nor pastrami. It was a flavor hard to describe and probably would not appeal to everyone. Otherwise, it was a typical Benedict with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce on an English muffin.
Our sides included good roasted potatoes, country sausage that was highly seasoned and spicy hot, and meaty, thick-cut bacon.
Diners received complimentary mini blueberry muffins with butter while they waited on their orders to be served. Ice water came in canning jars. Tusk & Trotter has full bar service, including $4 mimosas on Sundays.
Walls were decorated with eclectic black-and-white photos, paintings of razorbacks and a large line drawing of a razorback showing the different cuts of a hog. Interestingly enough, the menu is etched in glass on an exterior door.
Tusk & Trotter is the kind of place that would fit nicely in an old building in downtown Tulsa.
Tusk & Trotter is owned by chef Rob Nelson, who said he cooked his way through the University of Arkansas at fine-dining restaurants in Fayetteville. After college, he tried politics for a while, then went to work at River Grill in Bentonville.
"I had found what I wanted to do, so my wife and I moved to Boulder (Colo.) where I went to the Culinary School of the Rockies," Nelson said.
He said he worked in Boulder at The Kitchen under James Beard Award-winner Hugo Matheson and later studied in Avignon, France, and Sousse la Rousse, France. While in Avignon, he worked at La Mirande, a Michelin 1-star restaurant.
"My wife had worked in the Wal-Mart corporate office, and when they came calling again, we moved back to Bentonville, and I went back to the River Grill," Nelson said. "Then Daniel Hintz of Downtown Bentonville Inc., a not-for-profit organization, talked me into opening my own place downtown."
Some of Nelson's recipes purportedly are based on those in a 1700s cookbook written by his ancestor Jacques Nelson in Delicia, France. Jacques Nelson reportedly moved to the United States, traveling on a freight ship called the "Tuscan Trodder."
TUSK & TROTTER AMERICAN BRASSERIE
110 SE A St., Bentonville, Ark.
(on a scale of 0 to 4 stars)
11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.
to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday,
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (kitchen
closed 2-2:30 p.m.)
Sunday; accepts all major
Original Print Headline: Creative brunch
Scott Cherry 918-581-8463
The crispy pig ear salad includes fried pig ears, mixed greens, tomatoes, pecans and feta cheese. Courtesy