29: Meet David Burnette

If you want to get David Burnette talking, asking him about two things: good food and good whiskey. His face will light up and you’ll be in for a terrific learning experience. Have him pour you up one of his signature cocktails and it could just become downright fascinating.

Photo by Arshia Khan

Photo by Arshia Khan

1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: David Burnette; Bar Manager at South on Main; 6 years in Little Rock; I live in the Western Hills neighborhood off of Colonel Glenn, but spend just as much time at South on Main. I love the Quapaw Quarter and Downtown in general.

2. Tell me about some of your favorite locally made cocktails and beers. Right now I am head over heels for Matt Foster's Flyway Brewery. This new addition to the Little Rock beer scene is making products folks here in town can be proud to call local. I look forward to working with his products for years to come. South on Main currently features his Free Range Brown Ale, a beer we are proud to be the first to carry. I also have to give a tip of the hat to Lee Edwards, the great mind behind the beverage program development for Big Orange and Local Lime. He's been a great help to me in getting my feet firmly planted in this market, and his drinks are fantastic. I must add that Big Orange and Local Lime are both fully staffed with talented bartenders. It's always a pleasure to visit them even if Lee has the night off.

3. Your job allows you to meet all sorts of people. Who is the most interesting person you've had sitting at your bar? I've tended bar for more than a decade now and have encountered many interesting high profile types. However, I really think the people that interest me the most are the genuinely nice regulars who return over and over again. I like the neighborhood types. In my line of work, I have the pleasure of really getting to know some people. I experience a part of their lives through the daily interactions they have with not only me, but with other customers as well. These are the interactions that mean the most. I find these people very interesting, they keep me coming back to work and enable me to love what I do. 

4. What is, hands down, your favorite meal you can only get in Little Rock? If I'm not eating at South on Main (hey, everyone needs a night off every once in a while, right?), I'm probably going to be found sitting at the bar at Natchez. My favorite dining experience is walking into this wonderful restaurant, be greeting by the friendly staff, grab a glass of wine, and ask Alexis Jones to feed me at her whimsy. I never know what she's going to send me--and I've never been disappointed. The only thing more pleasant than her food is the conversation I'll likely have with her over a glass of wine when service is over. I also usually find myself indulging in a fantastic creation by Zara Abbasi Wilkerson, the Natchez pastry chef. Her desserts are divine! I fully encourage anyone who has yet to enjoy this wonderful restaurant to give it a try. 

I also frequently find myself dining at Ciao Baci. Chef Jeffrey Owen never disappoints. Neil Pedrick, the bartender, is never without a joke and he pours a mean glass of whiskey. It's a fantastic place with another fantastic staff. I also love to sneak out the back door and head over to the kBird food truck. His take on Thai food is amazing--I love the green curry.

5. Where do you take visitors when they come to town? I like to take guests by South on Main first...It is my home away from home. After a drink or two and maybe a good show, I like to scoot on down Main Street to the Capital Hotel, which was my first place of employment in Little Rock. It's always so nice to be greeted by familiar smiling faces at such a beautiful, opulent establishment. I love watching out-of-town visitors take in the architecture of the lobby. The bar is has a very cool vibe—it’s like stepping back in time. One never knows who will be lounging in the room. It's nice to grab a table for a quick bite to eat, but I often like to get a good Scotch or a Sazerac and head up to the upstairs balcony that overlooks the bustling street below. On a nice night, there are few places in town as comfortable to have a conversation with an old friend.