Guest Post by Jim Rassinier
To preface this, I wrote an article a couple years ago about discontinued fast food items that I thought should be brought back. I felt all were good options, but never did I think that I would actually see one make a comeback. (C’mon cheesarito!)
For those unaware, Burger King created the Yumbo in 1968, and, sadly, only stayed on their menu until 1974. (I was only 2 at the time…) It was a great idea; simply put: a hot ham and cheese sandwich. Well, 40 years later, they decided to put it back on the menu, albeit slightly altered by placing it in their chicken sandwich bun and serving it with authentic black forest ham for those who might think BK is cutting corners. I’m personally not a fan of these being served on this particular sandwich bread. (Does Burger King still let you have it “your way?” I may have to go back and see. I think this would go so much better on a burger bun.)
Regardless, in honor of this resurrection, I chose to try Burger King once again and purchase an almighty Yumbo, along with their Big Fish sandwich on the “2 for $5 menu.”
First off, this is a damn good sandwich for the normal price of $3.69, much less $2.50. It’s always great to be able to go into a drive through and get something actually different than the typical burger or chicken sandwich.
My biggest issue was the bread: It wasn’t awful, but I’ve never been a fan of the bread. I went twice with two other folks and we all agreed it was a tad “bready.” Otherwise, spot on. I’m thinking I’ll have to do an update to see if they’ll switch the bread out, and if there will be an extra cost.
As for the Big Fish? Pretty good and better than Wendy’s current iteration. I’m still a huge fan of Chick-fil-a’s, if you’re curious about which drive-thru to go to during Lent. But all that said, you’re not going to get a better fish sandwich for $2.50, period. I’m a fan of this current strategy, especially since Subway ended their $5 foot long campaign. I’m also really impressed with their new “10 nuggets for $1.50.” Not sure where you’re getting your meat, BK, but it’s working for ya.
Overall though, I’d say that the new Yumbo is a must try these days for folks that are tired of the same old, same old. It’s new, it’s refreshing, and it’s actually pretty damn good!
Now we just need to get other fast food franchises to follow suit.
And fun fact: Burger King franchised off to Australia in the 80′s. Only one problem: there was already a “Burger King” there. (small mom & pop store.) So Burger King had to come up with a different name over there. They Let their Aussie partners choose amongst a litany of their “franchise names.” Their choice? Hungry Jack … yes … the biscuit company.
I recently received samples of The Jelly Queen’s jams and jellies and will be incorporating them into some recipes over the course of the next few weeks.
Whether successful or not, I’m constantly looking to cut calories from my daily diet. Some days are obviously better than others, but when I stumbled upon this Herbed Egg White Omelet with Tomatoes recipe, I knew it would provide a delicious, quick, low-cal breakfast dish. From start to finish, you’re looking at about 10 minutes in the kitchen, so this is certainly a breakfast you can prepare during the week when time is sometimes limited.
I ended up using three egg whites (instead of the suggested five) and found this made a sizable omelet, perfect for one person. Follow the directions precisely, paying close attention to your oven rack. It really does need to be on the closest level to the broiler. This will enable the eggs to fully cook in about 30 seconds, while yielding a perfecting fluffy omelet filled with earthy, flat-leaf parsley and tangy grape tomatoes.
Right at the end, top the omelet with a hearty spoonful of the tomato/olive oil/red wine vinegar mixture along with The Jelly Queen’s Six Pepper Jelly. It adds beautiful color to the presentation, while also providing a wonderful balance of sweet, spicy, and acidic flavors.
By all accounts, 2014 was a damn good year for Little Rock’s food scene. We added some excellent new establishments like The Pizzeria at Terry’s Finer Foods, Good Food by Ferneau, Butcher & Public and Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co. We even saw seasoned restaurantuers like Scott McGehee, Tomas Bohm and Jerry Barakat expand their footprints with the already successful ventures of Lost Forty Brewing, The Pantry Crest and Kemuri, respectively.
I was cautiously optimistic this time last year on what the future would hold for Little Rock’s food scene. Good things were happening, but not enough to cause genuine excitement. With 2015 quickly approaching, it’s obvious that things have improved tremendously over this past year. Will we ever be a New Orleans, Dallas or even Memphis? No … but Little Rock is slowly making strides to becoming a true dining destination.
I say “slowly” because it really does take time.
So, what needs to take place for the culinary scene to continue to move forward? In my humble opinion … it would be great to see these things happen:
We need places like Natchez, South on Main, One Eleven and Capital Bar and Grill to keep churning out great food and to step outside the box every now and then. These restaurants are so important, as they not only house some of our top chefs, but also are quite popular with tourists/out-of-towners.
The Southern Gourmasian must transition from being Little Rock’s best food truck to an elite brick-and-mortar. Chef Justin Patterson is truly one of our best chef’s in town and I’m guessing his passion and creativity will only expand with a permanent home.
Whether it’s for the development of a limited edition product, the coordination of a charity function or just a couple of talented folks sharing ideas, we need the collaborative efforts between chefs, bakers, ice cream makers and brewers to continue.
We need a chef/restauranteur to take a chance on Park Hill. The neighborhood is charming, beautiful, historic … and, most importantly, is close to the epicenter of Little Rock. For all those reasons, it has the potential to be the next “big thing.”
Most (not all) local restaurants must step it up on social media. Even something like a simple webpage and a decent presence on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook go a long way in connecting with an audience and potentially improving sales. The excuses of not having the time and/or money to do these things are tired and weak.
Food writing, in all honesty, must continually strive for improvement. Those of us writing- myself included- should challenge ourselves to cover all places–new, old, popular, and hidden gems–and not only praise but provide constructive criticism when warranted.
In general, Little Rock diners need to not only be willing to support local restaurants, but also do so by getting out of their comfortable neighborhoods every so often, driving an extra 10-15 minutes, and “spreading the wealth,” so to speak. Does this sound familiar?
“I live in Midtown. When are we getting a Local Lime, because I hate driving all the way out to West Little Rock.”
“North Little Rock? I’m not driving all the way up there for dinner.”
“You drove out to Benton?”
The fact of the matter is that almost no place is too far, especially when you take into account that Little Rock has minimal traffic most of the time. If we want to see these restaurants thrive, it’s going to take a conscious effort on diners to, at times, literally go the extra mile.
Finally, adding more and more ethnic cuisine restaurants will only help improve the diverse offerings in Little Rock. Just in the past few months, we’ve added two new Thai restaurants (Oishi and kBird), and it would be wonderful to see more of this in 2015.
Did I miss something or am off base with any or all of my opinions? Please let me know in the comment box below.
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.
Skillet Bread at South on Main
This is a rotating menu item, so you’re best option is to ask for it and see if the restaurant has all of the ingredients to whip some up. Think of this as a doughier naan covered in shredded brisket, cheese, and whatever else chef Bell wants to put on top. Next time you’re at SoM, cozy up to the bar and polish off this skillet bread with an Old Fashioned.
Fried Quail at Natchez
Certain restaurants are just good at frying things. Natchez is one of those places … and nothing tops their fried quail–a small, delicate bird which holds up well to the deep frying and is typically paired with a faro and diced root vegetables at the downtown Little Rock restaurant.
Pork Tamales at La Regional
I am constantly on the prowl for good, traditional, non-Delta tamales. La Regional’s pork variety are the absolute best I’ve come across in the area—better than Izzy’s and better than the Jalisco food truck in front of Colonial on Markham (which are both excellent). The pork-to-masa ratio is damn near 1-to-1, the meat is super tender and each tamale is about $1. This is the time of year to really enjoy tamales, so bring it on down to La Regional in SWLR.
Mama Chi’s Spicy Fish at Chi’s on Markham
I’m guessing this dish is often overlooked by the general public, but the delicate pieces of white fish resting in a thick and spicy sauce, makes it a must-order each time I’m at this Chi’s location. It’s certainly not a stand-alone dish, but rather, it’s best paired with other dishes like beef chow fun and moo goo gai pan.
Egg White Omelet at Mugs Café
Sometimes you just want a good ol’ omelet for breakfast and it’s nice to know you can get one that won’t clog your arteries at Mugs Café. Frying an egg to perfection should never be taken for granted and Mugs knows does it better than just about anyone in the area. Remove the egg yolks, add some roasted veggies, and you’ve got yourself a fine breakfast.
Mixed Grill at Desi Den
Never heard of Desi Den? This Indian restaurant located near I-30 in Bryant is a hidden gem! If you’re unfamiliar with the cuisine, opt for the mixed grill, which is a sizzling skillet full of chicken vindaloo, shrimp, broccoli, asparagus and other assorted items.
The Works at Trio’s
Technically, this sandwich probably shouldn’t be on a list like this. I’m guessing most Little Rockers know The Works, but hey, maybe you need a reminder of the sandwich’s excellence. How does grilled pimiento cheese on sourdough bread with poblano peppers, thin, fried green tomatoes and bacon, sound? Creamy, crunchy, tart and a little spicy—it’s all there!
Broiled Atlantic Salmon at Ciao Baci
This dish has my name written all over it. I love both salmon and grilled Romaine, and the chef Owen gets all crazy and adds fried onion rings and beet hash to the mix. I’m in. It’s also doesn’t hurt that Ciao Baci isn’t stingy with its fish portions.
Black Cod Samfaina at The Terrace
Speaking of fish, my goodness, have you tried the black cod samfaina at The Terrace? Also, why has it taken me damn near three years to eat at this restaurant? Shame on me! This beautiful piece of pan-seared cod is accompanied by a deliciously salty ragu of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and onions.
Calzone at The Pizzeria at Terry’s
Do you love a classic, Neo-style pizza? Well then, The Pizzeria at Terry’s is the place for you. And if you enjoy said pizza but instead like it folded in half and stuffed with various ingredients and topped with Bonta Toscana Garlic Sauce, then order the calzone. It’s both chewy and crispy, with just enough char on the edges to impart that wonderful smoky flavor.