Since it opened in 2012, I’ve regarded the South Highlands coffee house Rhino Coffee as a genuinely beautiful place to grab a cup of coffee, meet up with friends or catch some live music (their live music programming, by the way, is incredible). But, if I am being honest, I’d never considered Rhino Coffee as one of the city’s best places to eat – until recently. We need to talk about the soups and stews that are coming out of that kitchen. Because they are, sincerely, some of the best in Shreveport-Bossier. Only available 5-9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, the beef stew Marsala and the chicken pot pie are both profoundly good.
General Manager Pat Bolling (who, I should say, is quick to point out that other team members like Whitney Turner create the coffee house’s popular scones and baked goods) is the man behind both of those stews. After eating the beef stew Marsala and the chicken pot pie on back-to-back trips, I asked for an audience with Mr. Bolling. I wanted to tell him that, had my beloved mama been sitting across from me when I first tasted that beef stew, I may have slapped her.
“This is as close to my grandmother’s recipe as I can get it,” Bolling said of the beef stew, a rustic-style stew with large chunks of beef, new potatoes, baby portobello mushrooms, celery, garlic and more. The stew, which has a spicy kick, cooks for 12 hours and is served with a side salad and a slab of outstanding, slightly sweet buttermilk cornbread. I polished off the cornbread and wanted more – why, I wondered, was this cornbread so good?
“Hell, I make the buttermilk that goes in that cornbread,” Bolling said nonchalantly, as if that’s just the way you do that. “They don’t sell real buttermilk at supermarkets anymore. So, I make it. I grabbed one of our baristas the other day and said ‘I’m fixin’ to show you how to make buttermilk!'”
Maybe it was the joyful post-meal haze brought on by that beef stew, but I could have listened to this guy talk about cooking all day long.
A few quick pieces of business: The soups and stews made by Mr. Bolling are not presently listed on the menu. That, to me, is an omission akin to not mentioning the tigers on a map of the zoo, but trust me – they’re there. Served as entrees, they cost about $9 and, while serving size may not be large enough for some of the heartier eaters out there, it’s entirely possible that you’ll gladly order and pay for a second bowl.