The Lower Arkansas Delta, which takes up much of southeast Arkansas, is known for good tamales, burgers and pies. But there are few fine dining establishments to enjoy across its wide expanse.
That’s part of the reason why the mere existence of the 43 Grill & Bar at the Delta Resort & Spa near McGehee is so fantastic. Fortunately, the food is also ridiculously good. Especially this two word wonder–duck nachos.
Grav and I visited the Delta Resort & Spa recently, taking a tour of the facilities and surroundings. The facility’s place, off Arkansas Highway 1 between Rohwer and McGehee, offers privacy and quiet… that is, when sporting clays aren’t being shot at. Even with that, while we were in 43 Grill & Bar, we never heard a shot. The soundproofing is excellent.
The resort boasts two lodges with accommodations, a pro shop, guides for duck hunting and the like, a conference center and acres upon acres of prime Arkansas Delta flatland, complete with a reservoir and stands for several different sorts of sporting clays, which you can read about in the most recent edition of Arkansas Wild magazine as well as over on Tie Dye Travels.
43 Grill & Bar’s bar is well stocked and a great place to kick back and watch sporting clay action outside. Two large banks of windows illuminate its space.
The restaurant’s more formal dining area is sequestered in a cavernous back section under reproduced photographs by the great Billie Seaman, images of McGehee and the surrounding area taken decades back.
As much as I’ve wanted to postpone this, I can no longer do so. I have to show you these duck nachos.
This dish right here is what I will be coming back for time and time again. I know, some of you folks think duck is weird or exotic, but for the Arkansas Delta duck is part of life–from duck hunting to every duck dish that graces the table, and this one’s one of the best I’ve ever had. Crispy bits of fried duck perch atop a pile of every imaginable nacho conveyance and enhancement, from fresh diced local tomatoes, shredded lettuce and succulent and savory black beans to Cheddar cheese and a house cheese sauce that could stand its own amidst Arkansas’s best cheese dips. Dollops of sour cream offer a good balance for the heavier items, which are layered with strips of fried flour tortillas, which match so well with the duck. There’s no gamey bits here, just rich duck flavor atop this pile of magnificence.
Other appetizers available include the aforementioned cheese sauce and chips, quail kebabs, fried green tomatoes and shrimp, spinach and artichoke dip and crab stuffed avocado.
We each dived into a salad before our plates were brought with our dinner – more piles, this time a Moroccan salad resplendent with tart strawberries, goat cheese and grapes atop field greens with red onion, croutons and a berry vinaigrette.
And then, after conversation and a short wait, we were each delivered plates of steak, cooked perfectly. I have a hard time getting a steak in that area between rare and medium rare–I like my steak to be cool at the center but not a murder when I cut into it, and this one was spot on. Peppered and strongly seared, then angled over asparagus and slightly chunky mashed potatoes, this lovely chunk of beef was exactly what I wanted after shooting a gun. Yes, you read that correctly.
There are several other dishes available amidst the entrées–we just put ourselves in the kitchen’s hands as far as our dinners were concerned. Next time I’m getting the Duck Marsala with the hoppin’ John and the hoe cakes. Because, why wouldn’t I?
We both meant to just sample the desserts, but that’s not how it went in the end. I chose the vanilla bean crème Brule, and it was really, really strong on the vanilla, even if the sugar on top wasn’t burnt enough for my tastes (I’m weird like that).
But the real winner, and what got us both in trouble, was this warm brownie a la mode, a fresh-from-the-oven brownie (order when you get your entrée for maximum awesomeness), still crunchy-crusted and molten inside, under a scoop of vanilla ice cream, all covered with caramel sauce and a smattering of pecan pieces. Grav had to stop, and then didn’t, and then did again, but every chance I got I swiped more of his dessert.
I paid for it, too. I hurt when I got up. The conversation had stretched through the evening and I had forgotten what I needed to do, which was walk around and think about my life choices before adding more calories to that mix. But that brownie? Worth every bite.
43 Grill & Bar is open for lunch and dinner throughout the week, and accommodations for special meals can be made by reservation in advance or if you’re staying at the resort. For more information, check out this website or call (877) GO-DELTA.