Brave New Retains Status As a Treasured Restaurant

Brave New Restaurant
2300 Cottondale Lane
Little Rock
(501) 663-2677

Cuisine: New American
Dress Code: None
Noise Level: Moderately low
Price Range: $4-$12.50
Credit Cards: All major
Reservations: Same day
Receipts: $1.35M for '08, $236,824 for Jan.-Mar. '09

We hadn't reviewed Brave New Restaurant in a while, so we decided to check back in on one of Little Rock's hidden treasures. And it remains just that, a restaurant that serves exceptional food at a reasonable cost in a place that's hard to find.

Nothing on the lunch menu exceeds $12.50, and many of the dishes cost about $9. And we were more than happy to fork over nine bucks for a heaping pork tenderloin sandwich accompanied by a pile of dill havarti and cheddar cheeses and fruit that tasted truly fresh. The pork tenderloin sandwich - a combination of dry-rubbed roasted pork tenderloin, caramelized onions and tomatoes slathered with spicy mayonnaise on an Italian roll - came highly recommended by our server, and for a good reason.
We all enjoyed the assortment of grapes, strawberries and slices of pears, apples, kiwis and oranges that accompanied the sandwiches. The sandwich-fruit duet filled us up without weighing down our stomachs like French fries or potato chips often do.

We're going to say this as plainly as possible. The Nontraditional Grilled Cheese ($8.50) sandwich is the single greatest interpretation of a grilled cheese that we've ever tasted. The sandwich is composed of slices of Fontina and baby Swiss cheeses with shrimp, tomatoes and bacon between grilled whole-grain bread.

The diner who ordered the smoked turkey sandwich ($8.50) relished every bite. The sandwich, which held a generous amount of turkey topped with tomato medallions, lettuce and herb mayonnaise, came on a butter croissant.

The grilled chicken calvados - chicken breasts grilled and topped with a Calvados brandy sauce and fresh julienned apples, all served on a bed of orzo pasta - delighted the diner who ordered it.

The Brie soup ordered by one diner was smooth yet delicately zesty (a neat trick) and would go well with almost any salad.  

The chocolate crème brûlée is one of the best in the city. The rich, velvety goodness hidden beneath a properly caramelized crust is downright delicious, and quite good with some of the leftover fruit from one of the sandwich platters.

The homemade ice cream was tasty, but no match for the crème brûlée.

The service was cordial and prompt, and we could have dined in under an hour had we not lounged a bit. (Don't tell our editor.) Brave New would serve as a good site for a business lunch, but get there early because it fills up quickly.

We don't usually give four stars because we're grouchy, sleep-deprived business journalists who are not easily pleased. But what are you going to do? Brave New is a great restaurant. And we'll be back soon for that grilled cheese.