One doesn't usually think of Bentenville, Arkansas as a cultural hub. Well, in some ways they should. Bentonville has several things to see that make the trip worth while.One is Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. It is a great place. If you can think of an American artist, he or she has work displayed on the walls or in one of the beautiful galleries. I saw paintings by James Henry Beard, Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, Jamie Wyeth, Andy Warhol, Fredrick Remington and Georgia O'Keefe and perhaps another hundred I haven't mentioned.
The grounds are impeccable. Crystal Bridges sits on top of Crystal Springs , thus the beautiful bridges and outdoor areas. It sits on 120 acres with several walking paths, a place for outdoor concerts and public venues.
There is no admission fee. Walmart pays for everyone to see the exhibits. But it is still a money maker. The gift shop is an eclectic collection of hats, shirts, purses, jewelry , books and miscellaneous sundry that will keep you occupied for hours.
There is a restaurant called Eleven. It is in a long corridor with massive windows on each side and a wonderful view of the grounds from almost anywhere. How was the food? There in lies the only problem I see with the entire place. You must stand in line to order and your food is brought to the table. No problem there. My discontent was with the food itself. I most likely would not have fussed about the price had the cuisine been palatable. My friend and I ordered shrimp and grits. I had just seen it made on the food channel and it was gorgeous. Not so with what we were served. They said the grits were from War Eagle Mill. My friends, they were not grits. It was chicken scratch and I know that because I have been throwing it to my chickens for years. It was cracked corn, and it wasn't cooked properly. This gruel was too thin to chew and too thick to swallow. It came with shrimp, four of them, with tails on. Not a problem if the grits are thick enough so the shrimp don't fall into the bowl and make for some pretty sloppy eating.
My other friend (yes, I have more than one) ordered chicken and waffles. Again, it wasn't anything to write home about. It was two small slices of waffle with a small piece of fried chicken between them. One reason she ordered it was because it boasted jalapeno maple syrup. No one could taste the jalapeno and there wasn't enough of it to taste anyway.
Okay, do you feel like you have just watched an episode of Chopped?
Well, I was sorely disappointed by the food.
Would I go back? Absolutely. I would even spend the night somewhere so I could further explore the museum and Bentonville's Town Square and the 21C hotel and art museum.
What I would NOT do is eat at Eleven again.