In our new blog series, Lunching in Little Rock, Michael Kirkpatrick will explore and review the city’s best restaurants – all in time to get back to the office. This week, Michael and his family ate at Samantha’s Tap Room & Wood Grill, an upscale restaurant downtown.

My wife and I try to have lunch at least once a week. It’s a good chance to spend some time together, since we don’t often get date nights. We planned on having a grown-up lunch at one of our favorites, Samantha’s on Main Street. Our romantic plans were dashed when our 1-year-old daughter’s daycare had to unexpectedly close for the day. As a result, my date lunch turned into a ladies lunch with my two girls.

I was worried about how Samantha’s would accommodate a rambunctious toddler during the business lunch rush, but the staff performed beautifully. They greeted us with a table for 2 1/2,  as well as some special off-menu items for little Margot. I was also worried about other guests being annoyed by her screams of excitement or food-throwing, but many passers-by wanted to talk to Margot. It seemed that a sweet smile from a toddler provided a small escape from their work worries.

My lovely wife Leigh, who has impeccable taste in all things, ordered a Surf & Turf Queso Blanco appetizer for the table. It was something I would have never considered, but, as always, her choice was fabulous. The white cheese dip with grilled steak and shrimp was served alongside a large bowl of homemade salty chips. (You may have gathered this already, but we’re huge health nuts.)

The Chopped Salmon Salad from Samantha’s Tap Room & Wood Grill.

Leigh ordered the Chopped Salmon Salad and it was delicious, beautifully presented and quite large. Couscous, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, feta cheese, dried corn and pesto buttermilk dressing lay atop a bed of arugula.

Margot had an off-menu grilled cheese with Texas toast and three types of cheese.

I ordered the Wood Grilled Tacos with grouper and the waitress made a great recommendation of pairing them with the Creamy Asiago Cheese Grits. Again, something I would have never considered, but they complemented each other well. The slaw, pickled onion and sauce that topped the tacos were so good I could have eaten a meal of them alone, but the fish was a little dry. I have never had a bad dish at Samantha’s before, so I am considering this a one-off mistake due to a busy lunch crowd and speedy delivery.

Separate from the food, but still relevant: my wife missed the great complimentary valet service offered there at night. She works just outside of downtown and drove to lunch. The evening valet service opens your car door, whisks your vehicle away and welcomes you into the restaurant. Parking wasn’t difficult to find, but who doesn’t love the luxury of valet?

Samantha’s had a great energetic but comfortable feel at lunch. The service is attentive, the food is impressive without being overpriced, and everything came out very quickly.  Samantha’s Tap Room & Wood Grill is a great place for a business lunch or a weekday romantic rendezvous. They even cater to wild and adorable toddlers.


Photography by Jamison Mosley