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Café 1217 ~ A New Look, but the Same Amazing, Gastronomic Experience

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Café 1217 A New Look, but the Same Amazing, Gastronomic Experience. Cafe 1217 Dianna Bratton Gourmet restaurant reviewBy Michelle Switzer Johnson

   Webster’s dictionary defines gastronomy as the art or science of good eating. Café 1217 has been a gastronomic tour de force since it opened in Hot Springs in 1997. 18 years ago, a very talented chef took a leap of faith when she opened Café 1217, an upbeat “gourmet-to-go”, dine-in café, and catering company. Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 2.40.36 PM

   Against the recommendations from a small business start-up help group, Diana Bratton opened the now legendary Café 1217. She took a leap of faith and wagered all she had, hoping that there was indeed a market in Hot Springs for her eclectic approach to preparing delicious cuisine. When she first opened, it seemed like her menu and philosophies were “cutting edge”. However, she has proven that there is nothing trendy about fresh, good quality food.  Since its inception, Café 1217 has won numerous local and statewide awards for its culinary masterpieces, and the crowds continue to line up each day to see what the ever-changing menu has to offer.

   I recently had lunch with Diana and sampled several of the offerings as she told me about her recent remodel. Being a foodie, I was thrilled to listen to her inspiration forCafé 1217 A New Look, but the Same Amazing, Gastronomic Experience. Cafe 1217 Diana Bratton Gourmet restaurant review menu and design of the restaurant.  Diana proudly touts, “I use locally grown produceCafé 1217 A New Look, but the Same Amazing, Gastronomic Experience. Cafe 1217 Diana Bratton Gourmet restaurant review whenever I can because there is no substitute for the quality and freshness.” I enjoyed one of the monthly specials, a salad made from purslane, which Diana procured from local farmers at Arkansas Natural Produce. Purslane is a succulent type of green, and Diana topped it with feta, avocado, leeks, jalapeño, and grape tomatoes with fresh lime juice, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil.  It was literally the freshest, most delectable thing I have had the pleasure to experience in a long time.  Everything on her menu, from the fish taco wrap to the dirty martini salad to the crawfish and crab cakes to the popular 1217 tomato soup is prepared from the freshest, finest ingredients and is made from scratch. Diana’s philosophy behind her food, which is inspired by California cuisine and her Deep South Texas roots, is to let the food’s natural beauty and flavor speak for itself.  The menu changes monthly but keeps some of the favorites year round.  “ This allows for a new experience each month for our customers, allows me to use the best seasonal products, and keeps me challenged,” says Diana.

Cafe 1217 Dianna Bratton Gourmet restaurant review

   Recently, Café 1217 underwent a facelift and added some new options for its patrons.  I asked Diana why she felt like Café 1217 needed a change, as it was already a flourishing business with a quaint and comfortable atmosphere.  Her reply was simple but heartfelt.  “We have spent a lot of effort next door at Taco Mama (Diana’s second restaurant) getting it up and running and I kind have felt like I neglected my first love, Café 1217.  I wanted to give her some much-needed attention and love.”  The new look remains fresh and clean, yet comfortable.  Brand new display cases house her delectable desserts as well as her selection of vegetables and entrées, which are available to purchase by the pound or as a sample plate. In addition to the options in the case, a vast selection of the most scrumptious soups, salads and sandwiches available are still hand-written on the board for customers to choose from.  Dianachose a soothing, yet vibrant blue for the new interior color. Mark Davis, a local artist spent weeks creating the perfect collection of murals to define and accent each space in the café. Diana exclaimed, “Mark is a true artist.  I gave him my ideas that I had collected, and the results exceeded my expectations. “ Diana’s husband, Shane spent countless hours working on the remodel, from painting to hauling to building custom lighting, his touch is witnessed throughout the new design. The new flooring and paint throughout was provided by Peter’s Flooring and Paint, another locally owned business, located in the same shopping strip as the café.

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Café 1217 A New Look, but the Same Amazing, Gastronomic Experience. Cafe 1217 Diana Bratton Gourmet restaurant review

   Though the new décor is fabulous, the most exciting change at Café 1217 is the new dining options.  They are now open for until 8:00 p.m. and they now offer the option to purchase beer and wine with your meal.  This gives patrons a chance to experience the delectable dining that Café 1217 has to offer on into the dinner hours.

   No matter your palette, Café 1217 remains Hot Springs’ premier choice for gourmet dining. Whether you care to dine in or grab it to go, Café 1217 still continues to provide fresh, flavorful and consistently good quality menu selections that are sure to please even the most discerning customers. Thank you, Diana Bratton, for committing your life to providing a gastronomic delight for all of your customers!