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In Conversation With South On Main’s Chef Matthew Bell, Arkansas

In Conversation With South On Main’s Chef Matthew Bell, Arkansas

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Updated: 29 November 2016
With a menu rooted in tradition yet eager to innovate, a calendar full of cultural events and a loyal following across Little Rock, South on Main is one of the most happening venues in town. After featuring South on Main in our Little Rock dining top 10, we speak to the man behind the concept –Chef Matthew Bell – and explore the restaurant, as well as its gourmet hometown.
matthew bell
Chef Matthew Bell and Amy Bell | © Arshia Khan and South on Main.

 

Why did you pick Little Rock as the location for South on Main?

I fell in love with the most wonderful Southern girl, who happened to be from North Little Rock. We came here after moving from Montana to Texas.

 

spring onion tart
Spring Onion Tart | © Arshia Khan and South on Main

 

What dish did you create that you were most proud of?

The dish that makes me most proud is the pork trotters dish. I love to take bits that most people don’t think they like, and change their viewpoints entirely. In this case the pork feet have been one of our most popular dishes.

 

What can we expect from South on Main in the near future?

As South on Main grows we hope to offer more of our chefs series events. This is where a chef or food professional comes in to meet our guests, and does a short Q&A while we serve food inspired by that person.

 

south on main little rock
South on Main | © Arshia Khan and South on Main

 

What’s one of the most memorable dishes you’ve ever had, and where did you have it?

One of my most memorial bites was at an event in Nashville, Tennessee. It was prepared by the chefs from the Catbird Seat: a thyme crème brûlée with pine needle and bacon. It has stood out for many years as a transcendent bite. So much harmony in such a simple and clean bite.

 

When you have time to eat out, where is your favourite place to dine in Little Rock?

I really like eating ethnic food on my days off. One of my favourites is Rosa Linda. This amazing Honduran spot is always right on the money with their flavours. I also really enjoy The Pantry and Ciao Baci.

 

south on main bar
The Bar | © Arshia Khan and South on Main

 

For the best drinks in Little Rock, head to…

This question is tough because I am very partial to my barman’s creations. Dave Burnette in my opinion is maybe the best beverage person in the state. If I am not drinking at my own place, I seek out a Lee Edwards-run bar. He is beverage director for several concepts and they are all high-level cocktail programs. Big Orange Midtown would be one of my favourites.

hummingbird cocktail
Hummingbird Cocktail | © Amy Bell and South on Main

 

What’s your go-to place for local cuisine, and what would you order?

For local flavor I really like to go to K Hall and Sons. This counter-service place rocks my world with pork chops sandwiches and burgers that are super comforting.

south on main little rock
Chicken Liver Mousse | © Amy Bell and South on Main

 

An exciting new arrival to the local food scene?

I am so excited for my good friend and former co-worker Travis McConnell who just opened Butcher & Public. It doesn’t hurt that it is right next to my house.

In Little Rock, culture lovers need to…

Culture lovers who come to Little Rock cannot miss the Esse Purse Museum. It is a truly unique gem for Little Rock and a must-see when in Soma.