Posts Tagged steak
Monthly Feature, By Becca Bona and Kevin Shalin
Becca and Kevin will check out a local restaurant, each at different times, and then write separate reviews. This month, it’s Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill.
I can’t exactly pinpoint the boom in our food scene, but I’ve been excited to see different influences and styles surface – like Lulu’s.
Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie opened in 2015, and almost immediately found a niche. Think Bolivian and Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, empanadas, plantains, and more. Surprisingly, this is my first trek to Lulu’s – probably because it’s west of Mississippi. I went on a sleepy Friday for lunch with a friend, prepped and ready to see what they had to offer.
The space is nice enough, with a no-frills atmosphere, and comfortably decorated with Latin American-inspired art and music to match. The menu isn’t complicated, offering various sizes of Pollo A La Brasa (South American Rotisserie Style Chicken) with sides and apps dotting the front page as well as various platters and sandwiches represented on the back.
We started with an order of four empanadas – Beef, Chicken, Spinach, and Cheese. I was probably most excited by the crust. Our friendly waitress informed us that they prepare them by hand and make them fresh-to-order, which you can tell from that first, hot and flaky bite. The beef filling was by far my favorite – I literally could have eaten four of those as my entire meal. We tried all of the sauces –Aji Amarillo, Chimichurri, and Lulu’s Green Sauce – and while they were good, I ended up eating the Beef Empanada without much addition.
We then ordered a half Rotisserie Chicken – which comes with dark and white meat. Now, as a foodie who is not the biggest fan of chicken, I enjoyed my meal, as the bird was juicy as all get out. I am usually a fan of dark meat but the white meat shined here. I could see myself ordering a whole Rotisserie Chicken (white meat) and taking it home with me to meal prep for the week. Our chicken came with two sides – we chose the beans and rice and decided to sub in plantains. The beans and rice weren’t out of this world, but the plantains were delicious – in fact, we argued over the last one.
Finally, we checked out the dessert empanadas – which came with powdered sugar on top and a fruit filling. While the crust was amazing (like our appetizers) the filling – apple and caramel – didn’t do it for me.
When it comes down to it, I’m glad Lulu’s calls Little Rock home. This is the type of place I’d take a friend to if we wanted to catch up over a decent meal while hanging out in West Little Rock.
While I typically go to Lulu’s for dinner, I decided this time around to meet a friend for lunch. This was my buddy’s first visit to the restaurant and I was excited for him to try the food. My last experience a few months back was an absolute hit and I was hoping this meal would be the same.
Unfortunately, it was not.
Let’s start out with the good … my daughter’s bowl of black beans and rice and our table’s shared fried yucca appetizers were both spot-on. I love the tender and flavorful beans and rice combo, and at $6 for a large bowl, it’s really a filling dish at a great price. The yucca is always fried just right and a perfect way to start any meal at Lulu’s.
The rest of the meal was a mixed bag. I’m not quite sure why my friend opted for the Grilled Chicken Platter, which comes with two well-seasoned, fairly tasty, boneless chicken breasts, over Lulu’s signature rotisserie chicken. He’s young and foolish at times. Folks, I can’t stress this enough … pass on this dish in favor of the rotisserie chicken. You can make chicken breast like this at home on a Tuesday night. Again, was it bad? No, but it was boring and certainly didn’t stand out in an overly positive way. He was complimentary of the side salad and I’ve already mentioned the rice and beans which also came with his platter.
My Grilled Steak Sandwich was the low point of the meal. A thinly cut piece of fatty beef resided on the bun with some accompanying grilled mushrooms, onions, Provolone cheese, and mayo. I enjoyed the other elements of the sandwich, but the chewiness of the beef was just too unappealing to make me want to eat more than half of it. The meat was a true disappointment because Lulu’s knows it’s way around steak. Keep in mind, I love Lulu’s Parillada for 2, which comes with medium rare strip steak that’s as beautiful as it is delicious.
Our service was fast, attentive, and quite friendly, but here’s my main issue with Lulu’s … consistency in food. I’ve had both average and stellar meals at this restaurant. Heck, I could say that about almost every restaurant in Little Rock, but there’s so much potential here with Lulu’s, that I really want every meal to be great and for them to build a following as that top-notch neighborhood hole-in-the-wall. The talent and creativity is definitely there to do it.
I’ll come back soon to Lulu’s, probably for dinner and definitely for the Parillada and a cocktail.
Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill
315 N Bowman Rd #2
Wednesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Closed Monday & Tuesday
Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill has been open for a few months now, and truth be told, I drive past the WLR restaurant no less than four times a day. That stretch of Bowman is on my way to just about everything important in life. But here’s the deal … fair or not, with previous occupants like Bill’s Country Kitchen and Anatolia, I’ve been quite hesitant to dine in the space.
I know, it’s a shitty rationale.
But over the past several weeks, I’ve kept my eye on social media and heard good reports from friends about WLR’s newest restaurant, and as my family debated on where to eat last Friday night, Lulu’s popped into the ol’ noggin.
The first thing that surprised me upon entry was the number of people inside the restaurant … the place was practically full. Granted, Friday nights are busy for restaurants, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Lulu’s already being embraced by the community.
It’s easy to see why.
Although the cozy interior and festive Latin music playing softly in the background makes you want to be in the space, the real draw is the food.
We started off with an order of chicken empanadas (3, $6). Perfectly fried, buttery and flaky, these empanadas are a perfect way to begin a meal at Lulu’s, due in large part to the insanely addictive accompanying Aji amarillo and Lulu’s green sauce.
For entrees, our table of four split a half chicken with two sides ($11.50) and the grilled steak platter ($15.95). I rarely order steak at restaurants, and, in fact, had planned to go all-in with the chicken, but the table next to us got the steak. One look at their platter made me re-think things. I’m glad I did. The flat-iron cut was cooked to a perfect, and I mean perfect, medium rare and drizzled with a fresh, vibrant chimichurri sauce. It came with a nice side salad and some pedestrian fries, but my goodness, that steak! Like everything else on the table, you end up dipping it in all of the sauces.
And guess what? The flavorful and tender rotisserie chicken was just as good, as were the sides, highlighted by a delicious rice and beans combo. Our other side of fried yucca, with just a hint of natural sweetness, was also a hit, and again, spot-on when dipped in the Aji amarillo sauce.
Here’s another added bonus about Lulu’s … the place serves cocktails. Judging by the Caipirinha my wife and I split, the folks at Lulu’s have a good handle on alcoholic beverages. Fear not, you can even get a pisco sour, although I can’t vouch for that one … yet.
In the end, my family of four got out of Lulu’s for $36 (+ tip), which I considered an excellent value for the amount and quality of food. It’s only been one visit, but I’m a huge fan of this restaurant, and only hope the rest of Little Rock continues to embrace it.
Did You Know?
Lulu’s now offers a Sunday brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Here’s the menu … regular menu options are also available.
Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill
315 N. Bowman Road, Suite 2
Hours of operation: Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Thursday, Friday, Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (lunch and dinner); closed Monday
Take-out available; family pack rotisserie chicken meals available
BUZZ WORD is back! Each month, a word is posted over on The Mighty Rib Facebook page, followed with a request for reader suggestions centered-around the term. One of the suggestions is randomly picked, dish is eaten, and a review is written.
This month’s BUZZ WORD was “steak.”
As expected, many folks weighed-in on this one. Some suggestions would have downright bankrupted me…see Arthur’s.
Thankfully, Doe’s won out.
You know Doe’s, the Little Rock landmark/institution that’s still just as famous as any restaurant in town. But guess what? I’ve only eaten there once, and only ordered the fried shrimp and tamales. Yes, don’t laugh, this was my first time to eat steak at Doe’s. For the past year or so, a buddy of mine has been pestering me to order the steak. “Shalin, just go to Doe’s, order the 3-lb Porterhouse and get it medium rare. Just do it.”
And that’s exactly what I did.
A Porterhouse is a thick-cut, monster-sized piece of meat comprised of a t-shaped bone that separates two sections of the meat—the larger short loin and the smaller tenderloin.
So we ordered the 3-lb. Porterhouse ($19.95 per pound), which came with fries, buttered toast and soaked salad. The steak was served family-style, and, along with the accompanying side dishes, comfortably fed our lunchtime table of four. What stood out was the no-frills simplicity of this steak. It’s as primal of a meat-eating experience as you’re going to get in a restaurant. The slab of meat is broiled and then brought to the table soaking in its own deliciously fatty juices.
One bite and it’s obvious why this steak is so damn popular. That combination of the crispy charred crust and tender, medium-rare meat is what separates this steak-eating experience from so many others. There was just the right amount of fat laced throughout the meat, providing for a rich buttery flavor, and a soft texture throughout.
Truthfully, I’m not a lover of steak. The biggest compliment I can give Doe’s is that I not only loved my Porterhouse, but I honestly can’t wait to go back and do it again.
This Little Rock landmark lived up to the hype.
A new restaurant takes over a familiar spot!
I joined Daniel Walker of Eat Arkansas for a menu tasting at the new Table 28. Just like its previous occupants (the restaurant is located where Vesuvio’s used to be), this restaurant serves up fantastic food in a smart, sophisticated, and cozy atmosphere… but that’s where the similarities between the two restaurants begin and end.
Table 28’s executive chef Scott Rains has put together an expansive menu with a Southern flair, touching on the classics, while embracing what seems to be a nice balance of surf and turf options.
Under the Small Bites section of the menu, I was particularly fond of two dishes: the quail bird lollipops with Tabasco butter and gorgonzola fondue, as well as the crispy squid filet. The lollipops were deep-fried ground quail, shaped into balls and served with a deliciously creamy dipping sauce. And as much as I enjoyed them, the quail played second fiddle to that amazing squid. Believe me, this isn’t your everyday calamari. Tender, meaty strips of squid filet are beer-battered, fried, and then served with cocktail sauce.
The Caesar kale salad with Parmesan, Boulevard Bread croutons, and sliced anchovies was also a winner. I’ve enjoyed seeing kale pop up on menus around town, and you certainly won’t be disappointed with Table 28’s preparation of this greenery.
The real show-stopper of the tasting was the monster, aged rib-eye “tomahawk” steak attached to a 12-inch bone. We were both caught off-guard by the sheer enormity of the meat. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the steak proved to be just as tasty as it was jaw-dropping. And at $59, 2-3 people could easily share it, order a few sides, split a dessert, and call it a meal. I’d venture to guess a steak of that size and quality would run you between $75-100 at most restaurants.
If you find yourself at Table 28 with a bit of a sweet tooth, definitely opt for the sticky toffee pudding. Our version was served with some beautiful fresh blackberries and hazelnuts, and as you might imagine, was sweet, sticky, gooey, and delightful. This is the type of dessert that’s best served with four spoons.
Other various menu items include: beef carpaccio, chicken and waffles, crawfish cakes, diver caught scallops, hanger steak, and rabbit…just to name a few.
Table 28 is open Monday-Thursday (5-9 p.m.) and Friday-Saturday (5-10 p.m.). A full bar (with several cocktail options) is also available.
Note: Meal was complimentary…opinions were my own.