High South on a Roll at Crystal Bridges
The tastes of the Ozarks are served in the midst of the Chihuly Exhibition
Since opening on November 11, 2011, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has taken Northwest Arkansas by storm with the incredible exhibits, spectacular architecture and interactive activities for all visitors to enjoy. It has quickly lived up to all expectations and become a world-renowned art museum. Located at 600 Museum Way in Bentonville, the 120-acre park has been visited by hundreds of thousands each year, from Arkansas natives to cultural tourists from around across the globe.
Many who have toured the museum have likely tasted the delicious food served at the restaurant Eleven, located near the main entrance of the museum. Many are not aware of the recent addition to the culinary experience at Crystal Bridges. “The food truck itself has become quite popular, it is brand new through a partnership with Coca-Cola, we designed and built this food truck, ‘High South on a Roll’ to accommodate the kickoff of ‘Chihuly’. This was our first big outdoor exhibit,” Case Dighero, Crystal Bridges’ Culinary Director, said.
The Chihuly exhibition features work from artist Dale Chihuly that can be seen in the museum’s special exhibition galleries and on the North Forest Trail that leads visitors through the woods passing gorgeous sculptures. The trail almost makes a ‘figure-eight’ with a stopping point in the middle. That point features an incredible food truck surrounded by many tables and sculptures. Chef Melody “Mel” Lane, was the inventor of ‘High South on a Roll’, which features ‘High South’ sandwiches. The term ‘High South’ may not be a term people are familiar with, but they are familiar with the taste.
“High South came about when we opened the museum, we wanted a way to describe the cuisine that we served. We wanted to be true to the style of food from the Ozarks, this part of the country. So, here at the food truck, we wanted something of High South. What we decided to do was create these hot, buttered rolls, then stuff them with a number of different things,” Dighero said.
The pot roast sandwich that reminds customers of their grandmother’s pot roast, which has a garlic aioli on top, or turkey that has a Dijon cranberry sauce, a barbecue pulled-pork sandwich, a sandwich for non-meat eaters has heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese from the local farmer’s market, or a shrimp remoulade with green. Delicious sandwiches that all have the same base around them, a buttered roll, but yet all are so different in taste and bring back different memories. There may be only five sandwiches, but there is truly one for everyone.
This food truck is different from other food trucks around the Northwest Arkansas area. To experience this delicious cuisine in the forest, customers must purchase a ticket to tour the museum. Experience the fabulous art and taste incredible food, a win-win.
The other culinary difference in High South is the side dish. Most customers would expect a side dish for a food truck such as High South on a Roll to be like watermelon, chips or potato salad; which are all available as well. But, the secret side that accompanies each sandwich is a fresh carrot and radish.
“Every basket that comes out has a carrot and a radish. That is simply because what is more High South than a radish or a carrot that comes from your families garden or the
local farmer’s market. It’s really funny, but it is actually the first thing people eat. It has been cleaned, but we haven’t taken the skin off, and it is the first thing that people eat. It is really interesting to see that because we didn’t know how it would go,” Dighero said.
Another item on the menu that has a local tie are the ‘Pedal Pops’. Which are all natural frozen fruit pops that are, as their motto says, “Simple Ingredients are Simply Delicious”. They come in many different flavors including an alcoholic pop. “We serve Pedal Pops, created by Mike Thompson, a local vendor, who makes his own really delicious popsicles,” Dighero said. To go with the Pedal Pops, High South on a Roll also serves local beer and wine at all times as well as Coca-Cola products in a can and bottles of Dasani water.
The addition of High South on a Roll, and the outdoor exhibitions have added a new aspect of Crystal Bridges for all to enjoy.
“It’s because there is nature, there is art, it is community, there is food, it has all of those things and we are in a space where we can accommodate over a thousand people if we need to,” Dighero said. “I was here from the beginning, I have been a part of all the events that go on at Crystal Bridges, Chihuly Saturday Night is the best event that we do.” Each Saturday in the Ozark Woods, just past all of the incredible sculptures created by Dale Chihuly and the High South on a Roll food truck, is a large space where the staff sets up a stage and turns the exhibit into a magical woodland amphitheater.
“We just program this space in a way that is unlike any in Northwest Arkansas,” Dighero said. “There is an open space where we put a stage, and have had duets, Pink Floyd cover bands, we have had funk, and we have had jazz, just all kinds of stuff.” To adapt to the large number of people that come each Saturday night, High South on a Roll changes their set-up to help reduce the lines.
“We set up a large bar to the left of the food truck, so we will have three or four lines there selling beer and wine, then food truck itself selling food,” Dighero said. To go along with the separate bar, Mike Thompson of Pedal Pops, also comes out with his own tent to sell his popsicles.
Dighero has been blown away with all of the great feedback from the High South on a Roll customers. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, Dighero said. “From the moment that we opened, people have embraced the whole idea.” Both the daily visitors to the exhibit and the Saturday night live music on the trail have been wonderfully popular.
For more information on High South on a Roll, the Chihuly Exhibition or who is performing at Chihuly Saturday Night, visit crystalbridges.com.
High South on a Roll is open Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. They are closed on Tuesdays.
The High South on a Roll food truck is located in the midst of the Chihuly Exhibition at Crystal Bridges with fantastic sandwiches
Delicious Pedal Pops can be found at High South on a Roll. They are locally made fruit popsicles that come in many different flavors