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story.lead_photo.caption Crispy Ribs, one of three Live Life Chill’s “Food on Bones” items, come with an apricot-red pepper glaze on the ribs and on the side. - Photo by Eric E. Harrison

We're not so sure on how it does when it comes to living or life, but it's a nice place to chill.

Live Life Chill, which took over the former Rumba space on the eastern edge of Little Rock's River Market District, offers a casual atmosphere with a whimsical touch, and an upscale bar-food menu with some unique elements that make it worth stopping in even if you're not into bars.

Live Life Chill

Address: 300 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock

Hours: New fall hours, 3-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday

Cuisine: Upscale bar food

Credit cards: V, MC, D, AE

Alcoholic beverages: Full bar

Wheelchair access: Yes

(501) 615-8399

For example, once inside the front door, past the counter where you can, if so inclined, buy T-shirts and other paraphernalia, you might notice the stylized Razorback (it took closer inspection for us to tell if it was a pig or a cow) hanging from the ceiling, along with decorations that might or might not be pinatas. Then there is the school of steel catfish "swimming" above your head. A chalkboard on a door at the front, alongside the video games and digital jukebox, explains that the "soup of the day" is "Whiskey with H2O croutons."

That's in the main dining room, with seating at a row of booths along the south wall, at lower butcher-block tables with heavy wooden chairs, at higher bar-type tables with aluminum backed bar stools, or in the same high stools at the two-sided bar. The other side of the bar reaches out into the enclosed patio, separated by garage doors from the open patio. Since the doors are generally open, you can get an indoor and outdoor feel, although it does allow some of the area's winged denizens to occasionally patronize the establishment.

And there's the matter of their hours, which has been very confusing. The establishment, which held a grand opening Sept. 27 after several soft-opening weeks where it served lunch and dinner, just this past weekend cut back to "fall" hours without notice, now not opening until 3 p.m. and not opening at all on Sundays (ending a very brief, three-week fling) with Sunday brunch -- or Mondays. (Discovering that the front doors, which usually stand open when the place is open, were not only closed but locked this past Sunday and Monday led us to wonder if the name might have changed to Die Dead Frozen.)

Gallery: Live Life Chill

The menu, too, appears to be in transition; some of the fresh seafood items, including the three preparations of oysters and a mahi mahi ceviche appetizer are now out. And with the quick disappearance of the Sunday brunch, the brunch menu, including the Pig & Pancakes -- two large maple-syruped pancakes sandwiching a large portion of pulled pork -- has apparently disappeared as well.

Seat yourself when you enter and a friendly server -- and all of the Live Life servers we encountered were very friendly -- will handle your beverage needs. In addition to soft drinks and the full bar, there's a lineup of local craft beers on tap and the impressive bunch of craft cocktails we were expecting when we learned that veteran bartender Dillon Garcia, late of The Pizzeria, was running the bar program in addition to being a partner in the restaurant. (But not coffee. The restaurant has a coffeemaker but, we're told, it hasn't ever worked properly. And cutting Sunday brunch reduces the pressure to get it back into operation.)

We ought to have been better prepared for the high level of the cuisine -- odd to say that about bar food, really -- when we learned that the executive chef is Stephen Burrow (late of Forty Two and Conway's defunct Daly's).

We were intrigued from the get-go that a prominent portion of the menu involved "Food on Sticks," 10 varieties, many of them exotic, of skewered meat, each served, as we learned, in a paper boat on a bed of skin-on fries.

“Food on Sticks” — including Sesame Crusted Pork (left) and Thai Chicken Satay — Live Life Chill rises above ordinary bar food and toward uniqueness.
“Food on Sticks” — including Sesame Crusted Pork (left) and Thai Chicken Satay — Live Life Chill rises above ordinary bar food and toward uniqueness.

We reveled, and will likely revel again, over the Sesame Crusted Pork ($3.50), a long piece of pork loin with a firm, crisp exterior crust, topped by a wiggly strip of what the menu calls a "drunken pineapple aioli." We didn't taste much in the way of pineapple or much of anything else, and indeed, we would have enjoyed it just as well without.

And we liked even better the Thai Chicken Satay ($3), a strip of chicken still moist after being grilled on the skewer, slathered in enough tangy, spicy peanut sauce that the drippings also enhanced the fries underneath. The two taken together made a filling, thrilling and inexpensive meal, sufficiently filling, in fact, that we had to leave some of the second bed of fries behind.

If you're a burger fan, don't skip the SAM Burger ($9), a huge ground-steak patty topped with bacon, cheese and "garden" on a big brioche bun. It's hefty, juicy and flavorful, even without the "garden," which is how we ordered it, and comes with a big pile of house potato chips that they have to have popped into the fryer when we ordered the burger, because they came on on the plate piping hot, crispy and delicious.

The SAM Burger at Live Life Chill is hefty, juicy and flavorful. And it comes with chips that are made when you order the sandwich.
The SAM Burger at Live Life Chill is hefty, juicy and flavorful. And it comes with chips that are made when you order the sandwich.

Speaking of crispy, we can also recommend the Crispy Ribs ($9), one of three items on Live Life Chill's "Food on Bones" list, five separated bones, each impressively meaty, coated and crisp-fried with an apricot-red pepper glaze on top and in cup on the side that complemented the ribs without in any way overwhelming them.

Weekend on 10/11/2018

Print Headline: New Live Life Chill will fill the bill


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