The Little Rock Food Blogger 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.

Georgeanne over at Eggshells Kitchen Co. is kicking ass and taking names over at the company’s blog. Here are her 5 Little Rock Fall Foods You’ve Got to Try.

Wait … she has more … Georgeanne is talking chili and I’m listening. Even made some this week.

Here’s a Coq Au Vin recipe from Delicious Life.

There are a ton of restaurant openings in the very near future. Emily Van Zandt gives you this ETA of each place and a brief description of what to expect food wise.

More lobster in Arkansas? Who knew? Emily VZ did. Personally, I find this to be exciting information.

Man, I wish Rex Nelson wrote more about food. This one’s a few months old, but check out his take on Blytheville bbq.

Get your sugar fix with Daniel Walker’s Rock City Sweets article. In his latest installment, he takes a look at Trio’s, Sweet Love, Mylo Coffee Co. and Shakes.

LR Foodcast checks out the Stone’s Throw Brewing/Southern Gourmasian beer dinner.

I’m talking Dessert Queens in the latest Provisions piece in Little Rock Soiree. We have some amazing talented female chefs/dessert makers in this town.

Arkansas Foodies show you how to elevate that store-bought stock.

And Kat Robinson gives you her 2014 Arkansas State Fair Food Preview.

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Saturday Night’s Dinner at Local Lime a Mixed Bag

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The Yellow Rocket Concepts group does social media better than just about anybody in the Little Rock food industry. So, when it posted a beautiful picture of a fried pork chop with red mole, a current menu special at Local Lime, I knew a visit to the WLR restaurant was imminent.

Sure enough, I was digging into the latest masterpiece 24 hours later, and it was just as deliciously brilliant as the picture lead me to believe. Thick, rich mole with hints of cinnamon covered a perfectly fried, bone-in pork chop, and was accompanied by grilled cebollitas, a small bowl of mango salsa and two sides. Per usual, I opted for the drunken beans and rice. A heavy hand of pumpkin seeds didn’t detract from my overall satisfaction with the dish, but did prove to be one of a few missteps throughout the evening.

When asked how she liked her zucchini tacos, my wife gave me a “ho hum” look. She wasn’t pleased with the change in the composition of these tacos, as corn kernels have replaced the chunky potatoes that gave the dish its substance.

As for me, my frozen margarita arrived at the table only half frozen, which, upon request, our server promptly replaced with one I still consider to be the best version in Little Rock. In regards to food, the drunken beans were soupier than usual, and far less seasoned than I’ve grown accustomed to from Local Lime. Finally, and this is something that has happened on at least four separate occasions at Local Lime and Big Orange (combined) … our server didn’t inform us about the daily special(s).

The creativity and execution of these specials play a huge role in separating the Yellow Rocket restaurants from its competition, and sadly (at least in my experience), many customers aren’t even made aware of their existence. I had to ask about the special, and far too often I receive that “what secret club are you part of” look.

To me, these issues speak to a potentially larger problem.

There’s no denying the greatness of Yellow Rocket. This group owns ZAZA’s, Big Orange, Local Lime, and the soon-to-be-opening Lost Forty Brewing and Heights Taco & Tamale Company. Its stronghold as the most dominant local force in a burgeoning Little Rock restaurant scene is something to be admired. From cool, modern settings, to seamless openings, to the aforementioned strong social media presence, to unpretentious, yet innovative menus, the group has without question created a recipe for success.

BUT …

Lately, at least for me, issues have been creeping up at these restaurants. I just fear that with each new restaurant opening, it is becoming more and more of a challenge to maintain consistency across the board. Going forward, I see this as being the group’s biggest challenge.

Here’s hoping for improvement.

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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.

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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