Café 1217 offers an eclectic American menu that appeals to a broad audience, as well as earning many repeat customers. Named for its street address, owner Diana Bratton opened the bistro in 1997. The menus, which change monthly, pay special attention to seasonal herbs. The café still has its base of customer favorites, such as the Southwest Cobb Salad, Shrimp and Crawfish cakes and a wide variety of homey desserts all made from scratch.
What inspired you to become a chef: It was always down in my heart that I wanted to become a chef. I was not inspired studying international business so I took the plunge and went to cooking school my senior year in college. My mom was proud of all my endeavors, but when I broke the news to her that I was ditching college for culinary school she said, “That is wonderful but I want you to finish.” Her words set the gears in motion. I made a complete 180 and became a Sigma Cum Laude graduate and student of the year. Who knew? Lesson learned, always follow your heart. Best thing you’ve ever eaten: Truly, and I’m not saying this because I’m married to him, but my husband Shane made the most amazing pizza on our Green Egg. A light, thin, whole wheat crust with homemade turkey sausage, buffalo mozzarella, feta, spinach and my homemade tomato sauce. It was the bomb. Best cooking advice you’ve ever received: “If you know how to flavor profile and pair foods and can cook down from your heart, people will know it.” That was from my chef/ instructor Chef Jim Goering. Favorite ingredient: Surprise, surprise it’s not butter but fresh herbs. Any and all. Favorite restaurant: The Shell in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Something few people know about you: If I ever won the lottery I would renovate the Garland County Humane Society. I love animals and have a lot of compassion towards them. Favorite thing about Hot Springs: The view of downtown on my way in from work when there is a slight fog and overcast.
Most memorable event you’ve catered: I have been so fortunate to have catered many beautiful weddings, but the most memorable was for a birthday party for four people. The husband put in a call to me about catering his wife’s birthday party one December several years ago. When I got to the home I was greeted by the husband. His wife was in the living room talking to the other two guests. It wasn’t until they sat down to have dinner that I realized that she had Alzheimer’s. He said the most beautiful things about his life with her. I will never forget that dinner and devotion he had to her. What is a dish that is always asked for: 1217 Tomato Soup. Favorite recipe: My mother’s flour tortillas – but that’s a family secret.