Archive for category Unique Randomness

Boulevard Bistro, Rodney’s, and El Palenque All Shine on Recent Visits

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Baked Pimento at Boulevard Bistro

 

Random thoughts and ramblings on local food and drink…

I went to my first “biker bar” last week, that being Rodney’s Handlebar & Grill on the side of I-30, and I gotta tell you … it was nothing like I expected. But in a good way. Well, honestly, I was not sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised with the clean, comfortable, and inviting setting. The menu was simple, but well-executed, due in large part to the skills of Matt Clark (formerly of Waffle Wagon fame). My chicken BLT with onion rings was spot-on, as was my buddy’s fried bologna sandwich. Go check the place out … I feel quite confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Plus, you can tell people that you ate at a biker bar, which is good for street cred.

I took my in-laws to South on Main for the first time. Stellar service and excellent food and drinks seem to have kept me in good standing, for the time being. My Old-Fashioned still rates as the best version in town, and the same can be said for the restaurant’s double patty cheeseburger with bacon jam, which came with a side of fries and soaked salad. We love our burgers in Little Rock–as evident by the almost-rioting that breaks out when I bring it up on the blog–and South on Main’s version has quickly become a personal favorite. The melted pimento cheese and crusty exterior of the patties are what put it over the top. I rarely order a cheeseburger for dinner in such upscale settings, but this one is the exception.

It looks like Honey Pies is beginning to crank up its coffee service, which is good news because the pies and ice cream are on point. I ordered the fudge brownie and apple pies for a party and both were well received. Honey Pies is now offering $5 mini pies, which is a nice alternative, especially if you want to try out a pie without making a major commitment.

Maybe giving food tours in Little Rock is my new thing…because I really enjoy it. I was honored to give a tour to a wonderful group of folks who were the high bidders for the “Saturday Night in the Heights” silent auction item at this year’s Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance fundraiser. We visited three popular restaurants—Boulevard Bistro, ZAZA, and Heights Taco & Tamale Co.—all on foot, and had a fun time tasting some of Little Rock’s most popular dishes. The frites and baked pimento cheese at Boulevard made the cut, as did the Forager pizza at ZAZA, and the frozen mojitos and chocolate cake at HTT, just to name a few. Special thanks to all of the restaurants for donating to such a wonderful cause and to Brad and Tammy for their winning bid. Here’s to next year!

I can’t get over the amazing veggies coming out of my Fall Farmshare Basket from Rattle’s Garden. The zucchini, purple-hull peas, green beans, and peppers are all wonderful. If you are interested in participating if future programs with RG, please contact their Facebook page. I can’t recommend Tara and her produce highly enough.

Another shout out goes to Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, a meat share program I’ve been participating in for the past year. I tag the company a lot on my FB posts, so many of you know how much I cook with their meats on a weekly basis. Go check out their website, as they’ve really streamlined the ordering process, while offering good deals on top-notch meat.

It’s easy to forget about the unassuming El Palenque tucked back off Rodney Parham, but that would be a mistake. I love the simple shrimp burrito, even for take-out, which is what we did on Sunday. A side of refried beans with the burrito is also a pro move.

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Unique Randomness: BBQ News, Buffets Galore, & Table 28 Shines at Italian

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Random thoughts and ramblings on local food and drink…

Chef Scott Rains at Table 28 hosted our latest TMR dinner and proved once again why he can hold his own with any chef in this region. Every dish from the 6-course Italian dinner delighted, with highlights including the Warm Tripe Alla Parmigiana, the Grilled Octopus with Spicy Limoncello Vinaigrette, and the crowd favorite Fennel Dusted Sweetbreads, Sweet & Sour Onions, Duck Bacon, Brussels, & Vinaigrette. Kudos to Rains and the entire staff for a delightful evening.

Is it just me or is that area off Rodney Parham (near Franke’s) experiencing somewhat of a resurgence? With Al Seraj, Flavor of India, Taj Mahal, and what looks to be an almost open Asia Buffet … it’s time to dub that area Buffet Row. And I mean that in a good way.

What will happen to the old Savoy space? Do you think another high-end restaurant will go in there? Would it succeed? It’s a little bit of a funky location, but not any crazier than Table 28, which is just down the block.

We did a poll over on Facebook this week about the best French fries in Little Rock. A quick scan of responses had Big Orange as the favorite with Maddie’s Place a close second. Hard to argue with that.

As previously stated on Twitter, what is up with so many places dumping mac & cheese on a perfectly good hamburger? Doesn’t this seem ridiculous or am I being overly critical? Probably the latter.

I stumbled upon another fantastic local baker, this time at Sunday’s Bernice Garden Farmers Market. Twiggy’s Treatery, based out of Sherwood, does all sorts of sweet treats, like strawberry tarts, oatmeal cream pies, banana bread, and chocolate chunk cookies (with Izard Chocolate). It was my first time trying them out, so I can only vouch for the oatmeal cream pie, but it was fantastic and definitely will inspire future purchases from Twiggy’s.

My buddy Rob over at WaterVeg has ramped up production of his aquaponic lettuce. For $12 a basket, you get four plants of living produce, one each of red and green Romaine, and red and green Bibb. I just received my first basket the other day and couldn’t be more pleased with the quality and taste. You can order the basket on a weekly, biweekly, and monthly basis, and each one is delivered right to your front door.

Lost Forty is set to up its bbq game with the addition of some monster smokers. This is potentially great news for a city lacking in top-notch bbq. I think the main question now becomes who will run and oversee these bad boys?

Doesn’t that former FRESH Eatery space near the Capitol seem like a wonderful opportunity for someone? While it may not be the ideal dinner destination, it strikes me as a perfect spot for lunch.

Finally, Sharon Woodson over at Honey Pies recently announced that she’ll be going brick and mortar with a WLR location. Sharon is so passionate about what she does, works her tail off, and is determined to make the very best pies around. All the best to her!

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Unique Randomness: Waffle House, Packet House, and a To-Do List for Shackleford

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Random thoughts and ramblings on local food and drink…

Apparently, Little Rock now has a new food truck court … or something of that nature … in downtown at 8th/Chester. According to the website, “The Food Truck Stop is the place to get all of the tasty Food Truck Food you crave everyday! It comes equipped with “Inside Seating to relax as you eat!” and “Multiple Food Trucks Daily offering a variety of menus you won’t find anywhere else!” There’s even, “On-site Parking, a large indoor open seating area, clean restrooms, free Wi-Fi and flat screen televisions make this a great place to take a food break everyday!–Oh and yes -we have an on-site bakery with the best sweets in town! –Brown Sugar Bakeshop-Express.” Personally, I’m not going to pass judgment on the place until I go check it out. Here’s hoping this is a quality spot, run right, that can provide an accessible place for our local food trucks. Looks like things get going on January 19.

By now, we’ve all heard the news on the latest development for Packet House. Coincidentally, this news broke hours after I brought up the damn topic. My insanely awesome plan of a rising chef taking over the spot and making it a culinary destination went straight to the shit can. Instead, it will be an exclusive club for politicians who fancy nice cigars. Oh well. In the end, I guess this is better than the place just sitting there vacant for years.

Rock Town Distillery is holding a special barrel tasting event on Friday, January 29th at 5:30. Looks like there’s only 10 spots available, so if you’re interested, better jump on it.

Igibon in WLR closed a couple weeks back.

Anyone else going through kBird withdrawal? I really need my fix. Soon.

I really think that stretch of Shackleford between Markham and Rodney Parham is prime for a Renaissance. Here’s my 5-step plan to make it happen: 1. Tell K-Mart to get a facelift or get the hell out. That store looks like a dump. 2. Make the old Ponchito’s spot into a world-class barbeque joint (ahem…Yellow Rocket). 3. Turn that old Famous Dave’s spot into a Melting Pot. (I know, I know…but you need a decent, well-known chain to help bring the folks out). 4. Make Pho Thanh My re-do its parking lot … for no other reason than I think it sucks. 5. Make the old Kroger across the street into a Trader Joe’s. Boom!

ICYMI, I really liked Lulu’s.

I mentioned Roxy’s Twisted Sandwiches last week … looks like Little Rock’s newest food truck will be having a soft opening in front of Flyway Brewing next month.

I’ve been plugging the Vive La Vie show a lot on my social media. It’s a great show–highlighting personalities in the food and drink world–run by one of my favorite people, Alexia Elichiry of De Nux Distributors. Check it out on KABF 88.3 FM on Friday mornings from 9:30-10. You can even listen through the Listen Live link on the website.

“Was dipping my hair in this pot a bad thing? Because if I had known that was a bad thing, then I wouldn’t have done it.”

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Unique Randomness: Stop Your Whining, NLR

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Random thoughts and ramblings on local food and drink…

One complaint I often hear from many NLR readers is how there are no good restaurants in the area. That’s bullshit. Make no mistake, the NLR-area is chalk full of chains, but if you look a little deeper, you’ll find some of the better restaurants in Central Arkansas are right there in Dogtown. Mugs Café, Good Food by Ferneau, and Capeo in the Argenta District are all good. You’ve got Flyway Brewing and Diamond Bear right down the street. Head north and you’ll find Mr. Chengs, Chang Thai, Zaffino’s, and Rosalinda’s. I’ve heard really good things about Scoop Dog, Ira’s Park Hill Grill, and Guadalajara. And these are just a few…there are many more. Hell, you have one of the best donut shops in the country in Mark’s. Could things be better? Yes. Could they be a hell of a lot worse? Absolutely.

Anyone else get a little depressed when you drive by the old Packet House? What a structure…what a location…what potential. I don’t know the logistics on why it just sits there, but I really wish someone would buy the property, lure an awesome chef from a place like Austin, and make it into an elite dining destination.

Eggshells has some really good cooking classes coming up in the very near future, with names like Capi Peck, Scott Rains, and Sarah DeClerk ready to expound on some food knowledge.

You really should be following local pie-maker Honey Pies when you get a free sec. I tried out one of Sharon’s pies at a holiday party and was blown away by her Gingerbread Apple. And this is coming from someone who tends to frown upon eating apple pies. I know…that’s a topic for another day. Anyways, go follow Honey Pies and please consider ordering a pie from Sharon.

Looks like we have ourselves a new food truck. Thanks to Little Rock Soiree for breaking the story on Roxy’s Twisted Sandwiches. Frankly, I know absolutely nothing about this food truck, but I give mad props to the folks for creating something that looks quite unique. Here’s hoping it tastes great as well.

A reader wanted to know if any place(s) in town serve chicken spaghetti. All I could find from my research was that Diane’s Gourmet sells it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any actual restaurants. If you have some suggestions, we’re all ears.

I often wonder how some restaurants stay open in this town. I won’t name names, but I drive by several places all of the time and often see 1-2 cars in front of them, yet the restaurant stays open…for months, hell, years. How is this possible?

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