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story.lead_photo.caption The Burger at Arkansas Fresh Cafe in Bryant is topped with cheese, greens and garlic mayonnaise, and it’s served on a fluffy brioche bun. - Photo by Rosemary Boggs

I am partial to restaurants with a comfortable, intimate atmosphere. That's the reason why I am now enamored of Arkansas Fresh Cafe on Reynolds Road in Bryant.

Photo by Rosemary Boggs
The Smoked Turkey Salad sandwich at Arkansas Fresh Cafe in Bryant comes on cranberry pecan bread with mixed greens.

It's small, unpretentious and charming, with two dining areas.

Arkansas

Fresh Cafe

Address: 304 N. Reynolds Road, Suite 5, Bryant

Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday

Cuisine: Sandwiches, salads, baked goods

Credit cards: V, MC, AE, D

Alcoholic beverages: No

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Carryout: Yes

(501) 213-0084

ArkansasFresh.com

I researched the menu online but found -- to my disappointment -- that several things I wanted to try were no longer offered. (The website needs updating.)

The menu consists of sandwiches ($7.50-$10) like the BLT, Cuban, Tuna Melt and Pesto Chicken. There's also a selection of salads ($7-$9), as well as soup, salad and sandwich combinations.

My mother and I decided to share two sandwiches, served with chips or fruit, and a pickle. Diners can upgrade to soup as a side for $1.75. We split a bowl of the lentil soup.

The Burger ($10) sounded promising. Made with house-ground beef and topped with cheddar cheese, garlic mayonnaise, mixed greens and bread-and-butter pickles, it is served on a toasted brioche bun.

We were intrigued by the idea of the Smoked Turkey Salad Sandwich ($8.50), served on homemade cranberry pecan bread and topped with mixed greens, and ordered that too.

Although it was flavorful, I didn't taste much of a "smoke" flavor, but the meat was tender and the salad had a creamy texture. It went amazingly well with the cranberry pecan bread, which is sliced thin and has a liberal amount of sweet-tart cranberries and pecan pieces mixed in.

I was pleasantly surprised by the lentil soup; a broth of tender lentils with carrot, tomato and bacon mixed in. I am now a lentil convert.

The Burger was a bit harder to share. Between the thick beef patty and the fluffy brioche bun, it was a real mouthful. I ate the pickles separately. They were a very mild bread-and-butter version. The mild mayonnaise was not overly seasoned with garlic and went quite well with The Burger.

Arkansas Fresh Bakery is the parent of this restaurant, hence the delicious home-baked bread. Customers can call ahead and place an order for a loaf to pick up the next day.

We took home a couple of homemade baked goods. Even though they were not "freshly" baked by the time we shared them, they heated up well and were delicious.

The chocolate cherry muffin ($2.50) was loaded with chocolate chips and had a slight cherry flavor. The apple scone ($3) had apple pieces mixed in. It had a pleasant dense texture that wasn't heavy or dry.

Arkansas Fresh Cafe also sells cupcakes, cakes and cookies. Also sold in-house are chocolates from Cocoa Rouge, a company that specializes in Belgian-style chocolates. I got a box of 12 ($20), and while that is expensive, the chocolates are handmade and contain no preservatives. Exotic flavors included Pistachio, Green Tea, Orange Peel Marzipan, Extra Dark Passion Fruit Coconut and Brandied Cherry.

Weekend on 03/24/2016

Print Headline: Diners get Fresh at cozy bistro

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