While we at Rock City Eats tend to focus on the food scene here in central Arkansas, we’ve discovered plenty of great eats all around the state, too. Arkansas’ highways, byways, and small towns are ripe with numerous excellent restaurants, dairy bars, drive-ins, and bakeries of all sort. In this regular feature, we explore some of these places and encourage you to pull over and sample some of the greatest food from “Around Arkansas.” Next up, a bakery that is one of the culinary jewels of the Ozarks … Serenity Farm Bread.
You likely won’t miss the yellow cottage on the east side of U.S. 65 that serves as Serenity’s restaurant and pastry shop. But if you really want to see the baking in action, get to downtown Leslie for a look at a truly impressive eight-foot wood-fired brick oven that cranks out hundreds of loaves a day.
In 1992, Dr. Morris Keller created Serenity Farm Bread as part of his philosophy of natural health and healing. Keller’s bread was yeast-free, using a sourdough method to make the bread rise. While people can debate how healthy sourdough bread is elsewhere, there’s no debating the taste. The bread’s flavor caught on, and Serenity has gotten some national attention for its products. Current owner David Lower purchased the bakery from Dr. Keller six years ago.
Bread is the name of the game, and Serenity Farm puts out nearly a dozen varieties. All of them are made with sourdough, including the country French baguettes and round bread loaves, which come in spelt, multi-grain and cranberry-pecan varieties. The French baguette is simple and wonderful, with fresh flavors and a subtle tang from the fermented dough. The baguette is the base of Serenity’s sandwiches and the accompaniment for its soups (the vegetable soup is a very good choice). Serenity Farm also makes focaccia, croissants and biscotti, all from its sourdough base. If you’ve never had a sourdough croissant (and Lower says he has never seen them anywhere else), you’re in for a treat when you stop at Serenity.
Prices for loaves are reasonable, with most between $6 and $8. A few special loaves get as high as $18, but those are the exception. Don’t feel like driving all the way to Leslie? Serenity Farm Bread will ship its breads to your front porch. You can order direct from its website.
This is bread you can’t find anywhere else in Arkansas. The devotion to sourdough is remarkable, and each loaf shows an attention to detail that lets you know these guys take their work seriously. Stop in for a bite at the restaurant, but don’t miss the downtown bakery to get an up-close look at how this memorable bread is made.
805 U.S. 65 South and 423 Main St. in Leslie
Drive: An hour and 40 minutes from Little Rock.
Restaurant hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday; closed Monday and Tuesday
Bakery hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday