I don’t think there’s anything I don’t love about Hillcrest Artisan Meats — a.k.a. H.A.M. I love the selection of cured meats, from imported mortadella that fries up to a crisp, delicious brown to a house-made pork-lung pastrami that I tried just to be brave and wound up buying half a pound. And if you’re in the mood for a quick, satisfying lunch, there aren’t many places in Hillcrest (or in Little Rock at all, for that matter) where you can get the sort of quality, service, and taste present at H.A.M. — served up with a little bit of attitude and a healthy dose of cheesy rock music on the radio. We’ve eaten a few sandwiches there lately, and I think that they’re among the best sandwiches around.
The first sandwich I ever tried at H.A.M. was a tasty concoction of seared foie gras, raspberry preserves, and arugula on a crunchy baguette. I found out later that it was H.A.M.’s Brandon Brown who had been responsible for the tasty foie dish we ate last year at Boulevard Bread Company, and I knew that this guy was on to something good. As good as the foie was, the current love of my life at H.A.M. is the country pate sandwich seen to the right: a coarse-ground, succulent pressed loaf of pork, lightly seasoned and perfectly complemented by a couple of slices of tomatoes, some cornichons, and a healthy dose of spicy mustard. Regular readers of the blog will know that I’m a fiend for pate, and this is one of the best versions I’ve eaten. If you’ve ever wanted to give the stuff a shot, this is where you should go.
For folks with a heartier appetite, you can’t go wrong with H.A.M.’s eponymous sandwich, a monster piled high with cold cut salame rosa, Fudge Family Farm ham, capicola, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, aioli, and Maille Dijon. A sandwich made with any of those meats would be incredible; a sandwich made with all of them is an almost overwhelming experience. It’s the sort of sandwich that might give Dagwood Bumstead a moment of pause before tucking into. It’s also one of the most delicious things we’ve ever had the pleasure to eat.
Of course, Hillcrest Artisan Meats is a lot more than just a sandwich shop. As I said at the top, I’m a rather huge fan of their imported mortadella, but they also have a wide selection of sausages, steaks, pork, chicken, and a small (but respectable) selection of cheeses — including cheese from Arkansas’ own Kent Walker. The best part of the H.A.M. experience is that the guys behind the counter are proud of what they do, they know that some of the things they have are unfamiliar to the general public, and they aren’t hesitant to answer questions and hand out samples in order to sell you on their quality products. They’ve also got one of the finest selection of foodie magazines to peruse and purchase, including Meat Paper and Lucky Peach.
Hillcrest Artisan Meats is located at 2807 Kavanaugh Boulevard, Suite B in Hillcrest, and they’re open from 10-6 daily. Do yourself a favor and get yourself some meat.