I haven’t done a restaurant review in a while, but I couldn’t pass up reviewing NWA’s Hail Fellow Well Met in Johnson, AR. Known for its killer brunch, Hail Fellow Well Met (HFWM) is owned by Andrea and Jon Allen of Onyx Coffee Lab fame. Because I don’t go to Johnson too often, I hadn’t had a chance to try out the local food hotspot. But when Ellie came to town for the day (and we all know how much this girl loves ramen), I thought we would make a destination trip for their new dinner service.
Service Sets the Tone
We knew we were in for a great experience as soon as we sat down. Not only was the ambiance a great vibe, but the service staff also set the tone. They ooh’d and ahh’d over baby Avett, and when we told Andrea his name, she secretly went and put the overhead music on Avett Brothers radio. Little touches like that mean a lot in delivering a best-in-class experience. I try to do the same thing as a luxury wedding photographer.
Each staff member we encountered at Hail Fellow Well Met went above and beyond for us. I don’t know if that’s their customary practice (I’d like to think so!), but they were attentive, personal, knowledgeable, and kind. We ordered the caesar salad with black truffle as one of our starters, which Logan served tableside.
Michelin Caliber Chef in NWA
I’m so impressed that Hail Fellow Well Met has a culinary director with an impressive pedigree. The head chef at HFWM has worked at multiple Michelin Starred restaurants, including my two favorite restaurants in the entire world, Alinea in Chicago, and The French Laundry in Napa. I’ve reviewed both of those restaurants on this blog in the past. Working for Grant Achatz (Alinea) would be a dream because of his out-of-the-box techniques and ideas. And working for classically french trained Thomas Keller (The French Laundry) is a great way to perfect the fundamental techniques of fine dining. How did HFWM land such a talent? Chef Tyler is from Arkansas!
We ordered most of the menu, which I like to do when I’m giving a new restaurant a try. My favorites were the jidori chicken and the 48-hour beef cheek. Ellie, of course, devoured the ramen. My favorite starter was the croquette, which looked like a donut. I could have eaten a baker’s dozen. Check out their dinner menu here.
The Wine Club
Our server also recommended wine (and brought us a celebratory glass of champagne), which Tyler loved. I had seen on their website that they do a monthly wine club, so I asked Andrea about it. I was delighted when she sent Josh over to our table. Actually, I know Josh from my Puritan days, and was happy to see Josh in charge of HFWM’s bottle shop. We were well taken care of!
If you live in NWA, Hail Fellow Well Met is a must-try. If you live in Arkansas, it’s worth the drive. And if you live somewhere else in the US, make sure to add this to your NWA itinerary on your next visit. I promise you will be pleased!
Thanks for being here,