Grotto Wood Fired Grill is a very unique restaurant in the heart of downtown Eureka Springs. You’ll enjoy delicious food and wine in a warm atmosphere.
The best intangible perk of my job is building relationships with our donors. When I moved to Oklahoma in 2007, I knew exactly one family. That has completely changed over 9 years, and I have made so many wonderful friends. Vance and Lori are club seat holders, and I met them a couple of years ago when Vance sent the funniest post-game survey responses. I look forward to his survey every game, especially when I’ve had a rough game and get complaints. Some of his comments make me absolutely bust out laughing in the office. We have become friends, and they have included me in several events in the Tulsa area.
Two weeks ago I finally took Vance up on his offer to spend a weekend at their place in Eureka Springs, AR. I had never been to Eureka Springs before, and it’s only about 3 1/2 hours from Stillwater. I stopped in Bentonville on the way, and had a great lunch at Eleven at Crystal Bridges Museum.
Eureka Springs is a tiny resort-style town in the Ozark mountains. The drive in is beautiful, though the roads are very winding and a few have sharp turns. There’s no chance I make that drive in the rain or snow. Vance’s cottage is a short walk to the heart of downtown; this was perfect, because public parking quickly fills up with tourists.
My first stop was The Stone House, a wine bar that also serves meat & cheese trays. I considered eating there, but the plates that jumped out at me were a little pricey, so I walked to Grotto Wood Fired Grill & Wine Cave, just one of Vance’s recommendations. Grotto is in the center of downtown, and has entrances on 2 different streets. I entered through the “back” entrance, and walked down a flight of stairs into the restaurant.
The dictionary definition of a grotto is a natural or artificial cave, and Grotto captures that with the unique architecture of the space. Most of the shops and restaurants in Eureka Springs are small; Grotto is no exception, seating about 50. The lighting is very dim, again keeping with a grotto theme.
I couldn’t well go to a wine bar and not get wine, so I started with a glass of the house pinot noir. At $4, it was just the right price. The wine was good, but very sweet.
The Grotto menu is relatively small, which works well for me. The menu features small plates, large plates, and sides, and the large plates come with your choice of one side. I wasn’t starving, so I focused on the small plates. The bartender gave me suggestions, and I started with an order of the naked wings. You can choose 3 or 6 wings, and I did 3
The wings are fabulous. I’ve never seen full wings on a menu before, and I really like the unique twist. Each wing is a very generous size as well. The spice blend has a definite kick, but is not overwhelming. I followed the bartender’s recommendation to get the sauces on the side. I really prefer that, because it allows the spice on the chicken to shine through. The chicken is cooked in a vacmaster, which seals the spices into the wings. The sauce on the right has serious power, and the sauce on the left tastes like a balsamic sauce. I mixed the sauces together, and it created a wonderful combination. The wings are freshly fried, and I had to wait a couple of minutes to handle the scorching hot wings.
The bartender then recommended the quail poppers. He hadn’t steered me wrong with the wings, and the couple next to me said they were really good.
I don’t think I’ve ever had quail before, and after one bite I realized I’ve been missing out. The quail is so tender and flavorful, and bacon makes everything better. The glaze is a little sweeter than I was expecting, but is still good.
The 2 appetizers was just enough to satisfy me, so when I briefly thought about ordering more wings, I ignored the idea.
I considered going back to Grotto the next night, because there are several other items on the menu that looked delicious. Besides, Vance is good friends with the owner, and wanted me to meet her. However, she was out of town that weekend, and going back would go against the spirit of the blog, especially on such a short trip. However, I’ll definitely return on my next visit to town.