Posts Tagged Star of India
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.
To no surprise, a recent poll conducted on The Mighty Rib Facebook page showed the service at The Pantry is tops in Little Rock. Here was the question I posed to the audience:
“What are 1-2 LR-area restaurants that come to mind when we’re talking about consistent and quality service?”
In all, there were 113 total mentions, of which, The Pantry received 18% or 20 mentions. That’s a very impressive number when you take into account the hundreds of restaurants to choose from in the Little Rock area.
The Faded Rose came in second with 12 mentions, with South on Main, Maddie’s Place, and Star of India rounding out the Top 5. Those five restaurants accounted for 47% of the total mentions, which again, is a very nice showing when you take into account the number of restaurants in the Little Rock area.
Does this necessarily mean these five restaurants have the best service in town? Maybe. Maybe not. A larger, more thorough poll would have been truly indicative of what’s going on around town, but I thought this would be a quick, non-exhaustive method to recognize some of the good things going on at local establishments. Besides great service, the other characteristic each of these places have in common is consistent, quality food. Let’s face it, top-notch service can only go so far if you’re serving up subpar items.
Personally speaking, I couldn’t agree more with The Pantry as the top choice. I’ve dined at both locations many times and have never experienced anything but excellent service. As many of you know, this attention to detail starts at the top with owner Tomas Bohm, he who often makes it a point to visit each table towards the end of a meal. It makes a difference. Kudos!
What other restaurants were mentioned? Glad you asked … 44 total restaurants, including (in no particular order):
Dizzy’s, Brave New, Baja Grill, Zaffino’s, El Porton, Capeo, Ciao, Franke’s, Table 28, Cheers in the Heights, Bruno’s, Arthur’s, One Eleven, YaYa’s, Bonefish Grill, Copper Grill, Kemuri, Terry’s, Sonny William’s, The Terrace, Bossa Nova, Big Orange, Trio’s, Local Lime ,Three Fold, ZAZA, Delicious Temptations, La Hacienda, Capers, Feastro’s, Mugs Café, Lindsey’s Hospitality, The Fold, Ciao Baci, Layla’s, H.A.M., Ira’s Park Hill Grill, Loca Luna, and B-Side.