The readers of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette vote yearly on their favorite local businesses. Food, lodging, health-care and schools are all voted on. This year, The Empress is proud to be named reader’s choice for “Best Bed and Breakfast”. The Empress has been awarded this honor numerous times in the past and is glad to once again be recognized by Arkansans as their favorite “B and B”.
Archive for the ‘The Empress of Little Rock’ Category
November 7th, 2012 by Lisa
October 26th, 2012 by Lisa
We’ve all driven by that big old house on Cantrell by Dillard’s Corporate Offices and thought, “That house is beautiful…why isn’t anybody doing anything with it?’ Well, after a few years of sitting empty, someone finally IS doing something with it. The McDonald-Wait-Newton House, more commonly known as The Packet House, has recently opened it’s doors to the public as a restaurant.
Wes Ellis, the Owner and Executive Chef, describes the cuisine as modernized Southern Comfort Food and the descriptor seems apt to me. My friend and I dined at The Packet House on a recent Thursday. We were led through the suprisingly (in my opinion) modern interior to a small room tucked into the back of the house that also led out to a deck. The atmosphere would have been great if it weren’t for the other occupants of this room (a group of around 15 young women celebrating a birthday) with white table clothes and sparse modern deco.
My companion ordered the trout and I ordered the duck breast. The menu descriptions didn’t do justice to the perfectly cooked duck sitting in a sweet tomato reduction with good ol’ southern hoppin’ john on the side. Halfway through our meal we decided to switch plates and I was very pleased with this decsion as well. His trout was pan seared with the skin still on, sitting on ratatouille and drizzled with a lemon beurre blanc. We enjoyed a very nice bottle of Reisling with the meal, one of my new favorites that I will be searching out in stores.
Would I recommend this restaurant to guests? I most certainly would, both for the food and for the beautiful house that it is served in! What better place to send guests from one beautiful historic mansion than to another!
October 10th, 2012 by Lisa
The Haunted America division of The History Press has recently released “Haunted Little Rock”, a book by Little Rock’s own Linda L. Howell. The book provides pictures, stories and eyewitness accounts of reported “hauntings” in Little Rock. Included in the book are tales of such landmarks as Mount Holly Cemetery, Robinson Center Music Hall, Reed’s Bridge and of course, The Empress of Little Rock.
Both history and eyewitness “sightings” are detailed in the book to give readers a fun and educational read. Did you know that Curran Hall once had a “guardian” cat named Scout whose supposed job it was to protect the premises? Have you heard the ghost exercising in the employee workout room in Little Rock City Hall? Several employees say that they have. Have you seen the grave of the Indian Woman “Elizabeth” in Mount Holly Cemetery? If so, did you know that her body isn’t really there? The marker was moved there by request of Albert Pike, but her body is still buried somewhere on the North Little Rock side of the river.
These stories and more will entertain and enlighten you as your read more about The Empress of Little Rock and other purportedly haunted spots in Little Rock in Linda’s book, available for purchase in The Empress gift shop. We love the beautiful picture of The Empress on the cover! You can also join Linda for Haunted Tours of Little Rock, every Friday night in October!!! During the tour, Linda takes you to several of the Haunted spots in her book, starting at MacArthur Museum and entering The Empress for a view of our tower card room. It is a frighteningly fun night for all!
September 25th, 2012 by Lisa
According to its website, “It is the objective of Haunted Tours of Little Rock to show you places located in the city’s Historic District, The Quapaw Quarter, where our prominent citizens once lived…….and some still do.” The Empress is proud to be a part of the tour, which takes you into the Hornibrook Mansion and up to the “haunted card room”, where you might be lucky enough to play a hand with Mr. Hornibrook. The tour also takes it’s guests to such spookily familiar places as The Arsenal at MacArthur Park, Curran Hall, The Hanger House and Mt. Holly Cemetery.
September 19th, 2012 by Lisa
Have you seen our Petit Jean room? This beautiful room is decorated in navy blue, gold, white and a nautical theme is present throughout. The room is named after Arkansas’ State Park- Mount Petit Jean, and it’s namesake. Check out the romantic maritime accessories in one of our guests favorite rooms!
Do you know the legend of Petit Jean that inspires this Arkansas/French connection? According to legend, Petit Jean was actually a young 18th century French woman. When she discovered that her fiance had been ordered to Captain one of three ships dispatched to explore the newly acquired French possesion in the new world we now recognize as the Louisiana Territory, she cut her hair, disguised herself, and secured a position as the cabin boy. She survived the voyage. Their two year expedition up the Mississippi and the Arkansas Rivers began their exploration. They reached the lone escarpment jutting out over the Arkansas River just as winter approached. Finding friendly indians who had never seen a white man, they chose to winter there. Near the end of a brutal winter, the young woman fell ill with fever. On her deathbed, she revealed herself to her fiance as his beloved. She is buried on the mountain overlooking the scenic Arkansas River Valley to the East, not under her own name, but under the name she had been known by on the ship, “Petit Jean”– little John. Below is a picture of “Petit Jean’s” grave……a cairn found atop Petit Jean Mountain. In the early evening breeze, some say they can hear “Petit Jean” calling to her lover. It bespeaks the strength and courage required to leave home and family to follow her destiny and garnered her a revered spot in the “legend” of our guestrooms, one of the favorites.
September 5th, 2012 by Lisa
A Gothic Queen Anne Structure with Queen Victoria presiding over the Dining Table seems about as British as they come…but The Empress has a more diverse European flair than you may at first think. Bob Blair and Sharon Welch-Blair, owners of the Empress, are currently touring France; so we thought now would be a perfect time to focus on The French Connection at The Empress of Little Rock!!!
Pictured here is our incredible eight foot, 1870’s sculpture, which came directly from a Paris street where it served Parisians water for many years. Now it servesThe Empress and our guests, not water, but with a beautiful view.
And here is our statue’s present day Parisian counterpart. Sharon snapped a picture of this beauty still in use on the streets of Paris! This one is cast iron and made in 1923. Water was pouring in a steady stream out of the top.
June 17th, 2012 by Lisa
We want to thank all of our guests for making our “2012 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence” award possible! We continually strive for excellence and are so glad that our guests go away saying “we knew it would be good, but it was so much better than we expected”. The Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence awards hospitality excellence. This exclusive accolade is given only to establishments that consistently receive outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Approximately 10% of all accommodations listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.
We hope guests both returning and first-time come to enjoy the amenities that make The Empress deserving of the title “Excellent”.
May 31st, 2012 by Lisa
AY Magazine published their annual “Best of The Best” edition in May. The magazine polls Arkansans, asking for their favorites in areas ranging from medical care to nightlife. Here at The Empress, the category we are most interested in is, of course, best Bed and Breakfast. And the winner of this prestigious award? Once again it is The Empress of Little Rock!!! Other Bed and Breakfasts receiving runner-up rewards this year were The 1890 Williams House Inn and Lookout Pointe Inn, both in Hot Springs.
We would like to congratulate these and other winners in categories such as favorite restaurant, shopping center and bank. And thank you to all of the AY Magazine readers who voted for The Empress as Arkansas’ Best Bed and Breakfast!
See a digital copy of the “Best of the Best” issue at:
March 7th, 2012 by Lisa
Need something to do while staying at the award-winning Empress of Little Rock? If soaking in your jacuzzi tub or sitting in our gardens is too relaxing…the Rep offers ladies some excitement!
On March 29, 2012, from 5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m., enjoy wine, lite bites and shopping in The Rep’s Main Lobby and Foster’s Bar. This is followed by The Wiz on the Rep’s Mainstage at 7:00 p.m.
Arkansas Repertory Theatre hosts Girls Night Out at The Rep featuring chic fashions, shoes and accessories from N’chole Ferorce, Vogue Visage, Princess Breeze Boutique, Scentsy and DSW. Thursday, March 29 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. shop some of the latest spring fashions then at 7:00 p.m. watch see the cast ease on down the road in the musical The Wiz on The Rep’s Mainstage.
Explore two floors of clothing, shoes and accessories at Girls Night Out at The Rep while listening to the soulful jazz melodies of Rodney Block. Enjoy lite bites and delectable desserts from Brown Sugar Bakery. The first 100 ladies at Girls Night Out will receive an exclusive gift bag and receive one voucher for a free drink in The Rep’s new bar, Foster’s.
Call The Rep Box Office for tickets to Girls Night out at (501) 378-0405.
December 19th, 2011 by Lisa
We all enjoyed seeing The Empress’ Sharon Welch-Blair once more appear on Daybreak and demonstrate why she has been nick-named the “Victorian Martha Stewart”. Her Sweet Potato Vichyssoise looked amazing and I want to make those Peanut Noshes tonight!!!
Don’t forget, there is still time to buy tickets to our New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance, where the Vichyssoise and more recipes chosen by and prepared with the personal attention of Sharon will appear! Call 501-374-7966 before December 26th and your ticket is only $200. There are also still a few rooms left that weekend for a Romantic Getaway to start the year off with an amazing bang! CALL TODAY!
Check out the Video of Sharon’s appearance!
And here is the recipe for that amazing Sweet Potato Vichyssoise:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 leeks (white part only) well
rinsed, dried and sliced
6 cups Berta’s chicken stock or
canned chicken broth
1 ½ cups dry white wine
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled
Grated zest and juice of one
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground black
pepper to taste
Peanut noshes or thin lime slices
- Melt the butter in a
large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and sauté until soft
- Add the stock, wine,
and sweet potatoes. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until
the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in the lime
zest and juice, milk and cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Puree the soup in
batches in a blender until very smooth.
- If you are serving
the soup hot, gently heat it and serve it with peanut noshes. If you are
serving the soup cold, refrigerate it for several hours and serve it garnished
with lime slices.
18 slices Pepperidge Farm
sandwich or other firm white bread
1 ½ cups chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
- Preaheat the over to
- Trim the crusts from
12 slices of the bread and cut the trimmed bread into ½-inch squares.
Place the squares flat on a baking sheet and bake just until lightly browned.
- Place the trimmed
crusts and the remaining 6 slices of bread on another baking sheet and bake
until golden. Process in a blender or food processor fitted with a steel
blade to fine crumbs. Remove to a shallow bowl.
- Heat the peanut
butter and oil in a small saucepan until blended and warm. Dip the
toasted bread squares completely into the peanut mixture and then coat with the
bread crumbs. Let the bread dry flat on the baking sheet. Store in
an airtight container.