Archive for category Around Town
Thoughts on my recent eating experiences around Little Rock…
I’ve never been to Star of India for dinner, which, after last Friday night, I’m realizing was a big mistake. Everything we ordered (no buffet at night) was pretty much fantastic, including vegetable samosas, saag paneer, chicken tikka masala, chicken tikka, and lamb with garlic. Specifically, the chicken tikka with its tender, flavorful chicken and grilled onions and peppers was the hit of the table. I’m a mixer and there’s not a better cuisine to mix than Indian food. The flavors and textures all meld together, making for a wonderful, spice-filled plate of food. Service was excellent, which came as no surprise, as Mr. Sami has one of the best reputations for hospitality in our local food industry. I’ve always associated Star of India with being a popular buffet lunch spot, but after seeing a full restaurant on a Friday night, it’s evident the dinner service also does quite well.
It’s way early to truly form an opinion of the restaurant, but my Friday afternoon lunch at Mr. Hui’s in the Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center (near Belk) didn’t exactly inspire me to come racing back. Servers didn’t seem very knowledgeable of the menu, which, to their defense, was quite expansive. I decided to be a little adventurous and order the Frog Hot Pot, which did include a ton of tasty frog, but it was oddly served on a cast iron fajita-type skillet. Granted, it came out sizzling and piping hot but it was a weird presentation, and overall, the food was too salty and saucy. The frog was definitely the best part. Thumbs up on the the steamed dumplings appetizer as well as my buddy’s entree of squid with pork, but my other friend’s seafood clay pot didn’t agree with me at all. It tasted and smelled like the sea … and not in a good way. Take my opinion with a grain of salt , as my three other tablemates enjoyed the soup. In the end, Mr. Hui’s strikes me as a restaurant where you need to find 3-4 dishes you really like and just stick with them. This isn’t a bad thing, but it may take you a few visits to figure it out.
Going 2+ months without kBird isn’t a good thing, so I was happy to get back to one of my favorite lunch spots in town last week. I kept my lunch light and simple, ordering my standard green papaya salad. By now you’re sick of me saying it’s on of the best dishes in town, so I’ll just mention that it was as good as usual. Fresh, spicy, sour, and slight sweet … the trademark characteristics were all there.
We checked out another great concert at South on Main on Saturday night, and, of course, also ate a bunch of food. We started out with the addictive fried cauliflower popcorn, along with the skillet bread of the evening, a pickled carrots and beet concoction with goat cheese. Big thumbs up on the cauliflower. I also enjoyed the toppings on the skillet bread, but thought the bread itself was small and dense. In the past, the bread has been bigger and lighter, making it not only more visually appealing but tastier. The four entrees that hit the table were all hits. I can only speak for the Snapper with Zucchini Latkes and Tomato Jam, but I also heard good reports on the Stuffed Pepper with Cous Cous, the Rabbit Leg with Country Ham, and the Grilled Ribeye. I washed everything down with an Old Fashioned, a Hemmingway Daiquiri, and a cup of coffee to end the evening,which were all excellent. The snapper has quickly become one of my favorite dishes at South on Main. I love how crispy they get the fish skin and the tomato jam adds a delicious sweet and smokiness to the dish. The plate is light and fresh, making for a perfect late night dinner. Well, it was late for me. I’m old.
Thoughts on my recent eating experiences around Little Rock…
Kudos to Arkansas Heart Hospital on the delicious $5.55 bowl of ramen it cranks out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sorry if that sounds like a promotion on my part, but people get pissed at me when they go on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon, only to find out the ramen isn’t available those days. Chef Smith does a nice job of rotating the protein included with each bowl, so whether it’s seared scallops, pork belly, or a slab of beef, I really think you’ll be satisfied with any version. My latest bowl, which included a pile of veggies, along with a sous vide egg and beef short ribs, was fantastic.
I sampled some V-Day cookies a few weeks back from Kelso’s Cakes and was not only impressed by their look but also the taste. I don’t know a lot about Kelso’s, but it’s definitely a baker you should follow on Facebook and consider ordering from in the future.
It sounds crazy, but the marinated tofu sliders at Flyway Brewing really are legit. Yes, I not-so-secretly love tofu, and what the folks at Flyway are doing with it is fun, and, above all, delicious. Those little pickled, spicy carrots served alongside the slider don’t hurt matters either. Damn, those things are absolutely addicting. Anyways, wash it all down with a nice brown ale and call it a day. Even though it’s tofu, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Speaking of beer, I did something very fun a few weekends ago … partook in a sour beer tasting at Flying Saucer in downtown. Kudos to my friends Wes and Leighanne for setting it up and selecting the beers. My knowledge of sour beers is quite limited, but I did enjoy the taste of the ones I’ve tried in the past. My favorite this time around was the New Belgium 2016 La Folie Sour Brown Ale, but honestly, I enjoyed them all. Props to Flying Saucer for carrying such a nice selection.
Shocker alert!!! El Palenque is kinda good. Don’t roll your eyes … you know I heart the place. Suggestion: order the huevos rancheros. It’s a small plate of over-easy eggs topped with rancheros sauce, along with rice, beans, and tortillas.
David’s Burgers is still one of the better options in town, but damn, ease off the salt shaker. Salt lick aside, the service is still some of the best in town. Having a guy ready at all times to dump a pile of steaming fries on your table is a wise move on the restaurant’s part.
HB’s Bar B.Q. is the best restaurant barbeque I’ve had in Little Rock. It’s that simple. The sliced brisket is nothing to write home about, but the pulled pork sandwich certainly is, as are the sides of potato salad and beans. And I love the casual, down-home atmosphere of the place. The only disappointment is that it took almost five years for my dumb ass to finally check out HB’s. Good things happen when I actually listen to folks.
Go check out Table 28’s Happy Hour. It’s Monday-Friday from 4-6:30 p.m. and features an assortment of reasonably-priced small plates like quail lollipops ($6), fried Brussels ($3), and pork belly sliders ($8). Domestics are $2, drafts $5, house wine$5, and well drinks $5. After the redesign, the place has such a nice vibe, making it a perfect spot to anchor down on an late Friday afternoon. It doesn’t get much better than a nice beer and some quail lollipops.
I’m sorry, I just can’t get on board with King Cake. Granted, most of what I’ve tried in the past is the grocery store variety, but I wasn’t even all that impressed with the one from Boulevard Bread Co. It was much better than what you’d find at Kroger, but, tradition aside, it’s just not a dessert I’ll ever crave.
And finally, something I WILL crave in the future … the chicken biscuit from Delta Biscuit Co. The owner, Hayne Begley, did a pop-up event last week at Honey Pies, and I got to try out his much anticipated food. Color me impressed. The biscuit itself is solid, but combine it with a piping hot, perfectly fried (and enormous) chicken breast and sweet honey, and you have a damn near perfect sandwich. It’s early and I still have no idea what to expect from Delta Biscuit Co., but the food is definitely worth getting excited about.
The latest stop in my affordable lunch series brought me to Terri-Lynn’s BBQ & Deli, a spot that’s been around for 51+ years. I find myself at Terri-Lynn’s every few months, primarily because it’s about a mile from where I work, the food comes out fast, and it’s tasty and affordable.
All and all, TL’s is a perfect place to feature in this new series.
For my most recent lunch, I ordered one of the signature sandwiches, a smoked roast beef and cheddar concoction called Fat Boy. With a name like that, I was expecting more of a mountainous sandwich, but unfortunately, Fat Boy is best suited for a normal-sized appetite. At first glance, it looks like a thin-patty hamburger, but upon close inspection, you’ll realize it’s, in fact, a tender, tightly-packed and shredded roast beef sandwich. The beef is just a tad smokey, not enough to overpower the sandwich’s other ingredients, but just enough to let you know it’s there. Also, the soft, yellow-tinted bun provides the perfect vehicle to get the beef into your mouth. The shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and a thin layer of house-made ranch dressing round out the sandwich.
In the end, this is a very respectable sandwich, one that won’t blow you away but is also sure to satisfy. Given it’s size, I wouldn’t say the $7.76 (includes tax) price tag is a great deal, but it is appropriately priced. And … if you are looking for a very quick lunch, TL’s is your place. The entire dining process took me about 15 minutes, tops.
If you’ve never stopped at Terri-Lynn’s, go check them out. Along with an assortment of sandwiches, they also offer bbq, nachos, tamales, salads, and hot dogs. Judging by the steady stream of customers whenever I’m there, I’d say the place has a solid group of loyal followers.
10102 N Rodney Parham Rd # 2
Hours: Tues-Fri 10:30-3:30; Sat 10:30-5; Closed Sunday and Monday
While the loss of Hillcrest Artisan Meats, Little Rock’s most beloved butcher/sandwich shop, was painful for our town’s culinary scene, it was comforting to hear that veteran restauranteur Tomas Bohm would be taking over the space. Bohm, who also owns The Pantry and The Pantry Crest, is about as well-respected as anyone in the industry, primarily for his consistently quality food and a genuine, service-oriented mentality that permeates throughout his restaurants.
His latest venture will be called District Fare, a deli concept specializing in house-cured meats/provisions and sandwiches, along with offerings of local and international products, grab-and-go dinners, and much more.
For Bohm, the decision to increase his footprint in the popular Hillcrest neighborbood wasn’t an easy one. “I always loved H.A.M., and I thought long and hard about it, but Hillcrest accepted our place on Palm Street and I want to continue to represent this amazing neighborhood and our city.”
Moving forward, Bohm’s biggest challenge will be splitting up his time between the three places. “I will spend a lot of time at District Fare at first, but fortunately, we have a great team of very dedicated people that help me make this possible. One hundred hours a week … here we go!”
District Fare has an estimated opening date of sometime in March or April. Operating hours will be Mon-Sat 11-7, Sun 12-5.