The Around Town Round-Up

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Little Rock’s food scene is at an all-time high. With it, comes an increase in writing on blogs, publications and social media. This is a good thing. These insights and opinions get people talking, helping lead to a stronger food community. The Around Town Round-Up grabs links from a variety of sources throughout the city, putting them all in one post for your reading pleasure. So, let’s get to it.

Joel DiPippa seems to be cocktail blogging more often. In a town largely devoid of such coverage, this is a good thing.

Daniel Walker’s Cheers and Jeers article has become one of the more popular food features in Little Rock.

Tie Dye Travels pays a visit to Bentonville.

I love me some Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Fried Sage. Here’s a recipe from Delicious Life.

Speaking of recipes, Michael Roberts is making some gratin de pommes de terre et saucisson.

Lovers of brunch, rejoice! One Eleven now has you covered.

Emily Van Zandt gets you caught up on what’s going down over at the Heritage Grille.

Here’s some Bonta Toscana Lasagna from Little Rock Foodcast.

I paid a lunchtime visit to a Little Rock institution … The Faded Rose in the Riverdale area. Read about how the meal went.

How did things turn out for this year’s AHA Culinary Classic? Check in with Fancy Pants Foodie for a complete listing of the winners.

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The Dish: Crawfish Étouffée at The Faded Rose

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The crawfish étouffée at The Faded Rose is fantastic! Figured I’d get that out of the way.

A hearty portion of mildly spicy, slightly thickened, blond roux with a plentiful supply of small crawfish tails was topped with a pile of rice and tender celery.

The dish of étouffée ran about $9, which was a great value when you factor in that a basket of Leidenheimer bread and a side soaked salad were included in that price. The Faded Rose’s soaked salad, even with its inclusion of those dreaded green olives, was a perfect balance of oil and vinegar. I gobbled up the entire plate, olives be damned, before the étouffée made its appearance. Truth be told, the Diet Pepsi, salad and half a loaf of bread felt like a satisfying lunch. But when someone puts a plate of crawfish étouffée in front of you, temptation always wins out.

My lunch (with a soda and tax, but excluding tip) cost $12.99. And I was full … as in, I-didn’t-want-to-eat-for-the-rest-of-the-day full. You’ll find that most dishes at The Faded Rose fall under the “stick to your ribs” category, and judging by the steady business, that suits most customers just fine.

Finally, it should be noted that we received wonderful service from our friendly waitress, Beth. Even though the restaurant was practically full, our food arrived at the table within minutes, and the drinks were refilled in routine fashion. Given the bustling setting, it would have been easy for Beth to make us feel rushed with our lunch. Yet she didn’t … another mark of a great server.

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10 Dishes You Need to Know in Little Rock

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For reasons unbeknownst to me, certain dishes seem to fall under the radar. Every few months I’ll highlight some of these dishes, tell you what makes them so good, and hopefully inspire you to check them out for yourself, if you haven’t done so already. In no particular order, here are the 10 Dishes You Need to Know.

Bibimbap at Hanaroo
Bibim…what? Bibimbap is a very traditional hot pot Korean dish filled with rice and vegetables and topped with a soft-boiled egg. While most folks order Hanaroo’s sushi, the often overlooked bibimbap is where it’s at. This is Korean comfort food at its best, and if you’re willing to branch out just a bit, Hanaroo’s bibimbap is a great option.

Greek Salad at Little Greek Restaurant
Yes, save the speech … I know Little Greek is a chain, but it’s a really good chain. Is it better than Layla’s? No. But their Greek salad, loaded with onions, beets, fresh greens and potato salad, is dynamite.

Meat Pies at Maddie’s Place
Heck, pass on the shrimp and grits and fried catfish for once and order the meat pies as an entrée. They’ll be sure to please. Rich cuts of beef inside a flaky, buttery empanada-like crust doesn’t sound like a bad lunch to me.

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Cheesecake at The Pantry
Cool name aside, forgo The Pantry’s chocolate salami in favor of their cheesecake. This is coming from someone who isn’t a huge fan of cheesecake. It’s the best I’ve come across in Little Rock, due in large part to that insanely awesome brûléed top. The thing is a work of art.

Chicken Sandwich at David’s Burgers
Why on earth would you walk into David’s and order a chicken sandwich (instead of a typical beef burger) every now and then? Two reasons. One, your fat ass might be interested in living past 45, and two, it’s pretty tasty. David’s does things differently by putting a slight grind to the chicken. This yields a thin patty that stays juicy throughout the grilling process.

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Chicken Tostada at Taqueria Karina
This beauty is comprised of a crispy fried tostada lined with a thin layer of refried beans, then topped with marinated chicken, diced tomatoes, lettuce, grilled onions, cheese and sour cream. Resist the temptation to smash the entire concoction into your pie hole, as most of it will end up on your khakis (speaking from experience).

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Cheeseburger at Terry’s Finer Foods
Yes, I’m a hypocrite, but sometimes a good cheeseburger can cure all that ails you. We love our burgers here in Little Rock, but I’m not sure many people know about the one at Terry’s. It’s a thicker patty covered in cheese (of your choice) and served on a soft bun with all the usual fixings. It’s classic and simple and oh so good.

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Sauteed Mushroom in Oyster Sauce at Fantastic China
I adore this dish’s simplicity. All you’re talking about is some chopped mushrooms and green onions in a delicate, sweet and savory oyster sauce, but it really hits the spot. This light dish makes for a perfect during-the-week lunch.

Rabbit Fettuccine at Natchez
Granted, you might walk into Natchez and the rabbit fettuccine isn’t even on the menu that day. But switching things up has always been a trademark of the menu, and the rabbit fettuccine’s inclusion on this list is really just a general endorsement of Natchez’s fantastic handmade pasta.

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Cherry Shaved Ice at Le Pops
Everyone goes into Le Pops with one thing on the mind … popsicles! But have you tried one of Laurie’s hand-shaved ices? Get the cherry (real cherry syrup) and watch how fast you gobble up the powdery snow.

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The Around Town Round-Up

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Little Rock’s food scene is at an all-time high. With it, comes an increase in writing on blogs, publications and social media. This is a good thing. These insights and opinions get people talking, helping lead to a stronger food community. The Around Town Round-Up grabs links from a variety of sources throughout the city, putting them all in one post for your reading pleasure. So, let’s get to it.

I was watching television the other morning and saw Julianne Bitely talking food. This is her “Holistic Health and Nutrition” blog. Check it out.

Are you up for some of the biggest food challenges in Central Arkansas? If so, go to Sync Weekly for a full rundown of what’s out there (I’ll even be witnessing one of these this weekend).

Restaurant reviewer connoisseur Emily Van Zandt takes on One Eleven.

Steve Shuler has the first look at Good Food by Ferneau and Butcher & Public.

You know who’s back? Daniel Walker, that’s who. Here’s a look at his latest installment of Cheers and Jeers. He’s doing more cheering than jeering this time around.

Looking for ways to use apples in your baking? Lee Hogan has you covered.

Joel DiPippa gives you his views (including Best Bar, Best Bartender, and Best Happy Hour) in this in-depth “Toast of the Town” post. What’s your favorite bar in town?

This one is a few months old…but what a great read on Rex Nelson’s Southern Fried.

Chef Matt McClure is very good at his job. Don’t believe me? Check out this post from Kat Robinson.

In my latest installment of Around the Rock, I take a look at Baja Grill, Mylo Coffee, Co., South on Main and Little Greek.

Down in Hot Springs, Louis Williams (Next Level) gives you the skinny on Pupuseria Mi Chalateca.

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