James at the Mill

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 80 views 

3906 Greathouse Springs Rd.

Johnson

three stars

Drive time: About 20 minutes from downtown Fayetteville and downtown Springdale

Turnaround time: 20 minutes for appetizers

ttt30 minutes for entrees

Although it’s heralded by many as the best restaurant in Northwest Arkansas, we found James at the Mill to be an impractical place to have a business lunch.

Besides being located in Johnson, equidistance from downtown Fayetteville and Springdale, the day we ate at James at the Mill, the service was slow even though most of the seats in the building were empty. So if you’re heading to the restaurant from one of the major cities in the area, make sure you have time to take a two-hour lunch.

Also, take lots of cash or at least a credit card that’s not maxed out. Although entrees were listed on the menu as ranging from $7 to $10, by the time we had an appetizer, dessert and drink (and figured in the tip), the tab was about $30 per person. That’s about the most expensive lunch you can find in Northwest Arkansas, and we didn’t even have a glass of wine from the extensive wine list.

Besides the service, the restaurant was cold on the day we ate there, forcing diners to keep their coats on to ward off the shivers.

The food, on the other hand, was good, but didn’t live up the raves the restaurant has received. Perhaps we were too far from the ocean. We had a “Gulf shrimp salad with roasted red pepper aioli and radicchio” ($7) for an appetizer. The dish, however, wasn’t very appetizing.

For an entree, we had “seared snapper with mussels, clams, andouille sausage, shrimp and saffron rice” ($10). The seafood was fairly tasty, but the rice wasn”t. Not much harmony between the two, but it sure was pretty.

Dessert was the highlight for our entourage. We had “warm chocolate cake with caramel ice cream and a chocolate spiral,” and Bourbon pecan pie with chocolate ice cream. Both were delicious. All desserts at the restaurant are $6.

James at the Mill also offers a wide variety of dessert wines and other after-dinner drinks.

Chef Miles James’ “Ozark Plateau Cuisine” has received some wonderful reviews and notice in national publications. Many of his dishes have an Ozarks twist. (Note the “B.L.T. risotto with Della Arkansas arborio, Petit Jean peppered bacon, dried tomato and chard” – just like Mom used to make.)

If you’re looking to impress a client with atmosphere, high prices and an attractive plate of food, James at the Mill is a good choice. The building, designed by Fayetteville architect James Lambeth, is impressive and spacious. The food is elaborate in its presentation, bringing with it much fanfare and the blaring of trumpets. But the cacophony seems to be an attempt to befuddle the taste buds. Sometimes, there is beauty in simplicity.