Blackboards Cafe

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 88 views 

12 Cunningham Corner

Bella Vista

4 stars

Drive time: 5 minutes from Bentonville, 25 minutes from Springdale

Turnaround time: 10 minutes for appetizers, 20 minutes for entrees

Blackboards Cafe may just serve the best lunch in Arkansas, as a Fayetteville chef noted for a recent article in the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. But there’s not a lot of wheeling and dealing on the business front in Bella Vista, so, chances are, you’ll have to allow a little drive time to get there.

Chef/owner Randy McGuffin has made a name for himself in this corner of the state, being voted the best chef in Northwest Arkansas by his peer chefs in a poll conducted by the Journal.

McGuffin, 31, who attended the Baltimore Culinary Arts Institute, is best known for his roasted duck burrito ($7.50), which we found delicious. The ground duck meat mingled well with vegetables under red chili sauce, black beans, cheddar cheese and tomatillo salsa.

Other entrees on the menu that caught our attention were: grilled salmon over pasta with Parmesan cream sauce; jumbo shrimp fettucine with tomatoes, grilled vegetables, herbs, wine and garlic; and the New York strip sandwich with green peppercorn mushroom ragout and french fries. Lunch entrees ranged in price from $6 to $10.

For an appetizer, we had grilled chicken egg rolls served with Chinese mustard and sesame dipping sauce ($5), which was also good.

In addition to his usual homemade desserts ? which include creme brulee, bananas Foster, fudge pie, New York cheesecake, and chocolate fondue with angel food cake – McGuffin prepares a special dessert that varies from day to day. The day we were there, it was Jack Daniels bourbon chocolate-chip pecan pie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. We ordered the special and found it to be as good as the waitress had promised.

Although the food is exceptional at Blackboards Cafe, atmosphere and convenience for a business lunch must also be considered in our reviews. In addition to being located in a relatively unscenic Bella Vista strip mall, the restaurant is small (with seats for 42 people), and the atmosphere is minimal. Tables are so close together diners almost bump elbows as they eat.

The service was good the day we were at Blackboards Cafe, but the restaurant wasn’t crowded as we ate a late lunch.

The menus are on blackboards, which is a unique concept. If a dish isn’t selling well, McGuffin just erases it and replaces it with another dish. About half the menu remains constant, while other items are changed periodically.

McGuffin says he concentrates on healthy meals prepared with fresh, local products.

Blackboards Cafe, a private club, is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and for brunch from during the same hours on Sunday.