Posts Tagged Trio’s

El Palenque Take-Out Comes Up Short, Flyway and The Root Shine

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You know I love El Palenque. Heck, I’ve written about my favorite hole-in-the-wall many times over the past few years, and usually, in glowing terms. Unfortunately, Saturday’s take-out came up way short. There are certain dishes I  typically order at El P, like the shrimp burrito or chicken nachos, but this time around I went with an unknown, the Bistek a la Mexicana, which came with a sizeable portion of sliced beef and grilled onions, green peppers, and tomatoes. The beef was bland, tough, and fairly chewy and was only saved by the accompanying, tasty grilled onions. I’m not a huge fan of green bell peppers, especially when they’re cut into huge chunks. Also, serving what was basically fajitas with soft, corn tortillas, instead of flour, was also a mistake. On the positive side, I love the new interior of the restaurant. The décor is a little over-the-top for such a small place, but I like how all of the tables and chairs have individualized art work.

The Root Café continues to impress. In a rare move, I decided to eat dinner at the popular SoMa restaurant, then turn right back around and eat breakfast there the next morning. Both ended up being excellent meals. By now, you’re probably wondering why I give so much damn love to the place. The simple truth is I enjoy the food and the space, and I’m just very comfortable dining at The Root. For dinner, we shared a variety of appetizers, including the “Toast” which came with slathered pimento cheese topped with relish, the bacon deviled eggs, the fried beef empanadas, and the radishes. Everything, and I mean everything, was spot-on. And while I enjoyed my shiitake with quinoa entrée, I’m beginning to think that ordering the “small” plates at The Root is the way to go. This offers you a ton of variety and the price is quite affordable. For breakfast the next day, I kept things simple with my donut muffin, although I did snag a few bites of my tablemates’ pancakes and Root Benny. All were great, proving once again that The Root still serves the absolute best breakfast in town.

Flyway Brewing continues to serve excellent bar food to go along with quality beer. I’ve been tad critical of Flyway about small portion sizes and that issue seems to be a thing of the past. I ordered last weekend’s Special, the catfish po’boy with pickled carrots, okra, and a side of remoulade. The two pieces of catfish were thin, perfectly fried and extended a good inch past both sides of the bun. I washed it all down with a crisp, blonde beer that was light and quite refreshing. As always, service was fast, friendly, and super attentive. Flyway has that wonderful neighborhood vibe to it and I highly recommend checking the place out if you haven’t done so already.

Get the calamari fries appetizer at Trio’s. Strips of calamari “steak” (no tentacles here) are served with a delicious heirloom tomato marinara and fried pepper rings. The appetizer was large, so I also ordered a small side Peck Salad and treated the calamari as my entrée. That was a pro move on my part.

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10 Favorite Places to Sit at the Bar

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Whether it’s by myself or with a friend or two, one of my favorite things to do is sit at one of our local bars, have a drink and/or bite to eat, and just take in the scene. Last week, Mallory’s new feature got me thinking about which places I like to hang. Here are my 10 of favorite bars, almost all located inside traditional restaurants. Are they the best bar areas in town? Maybe, maybe not … it’s very subjective, but for a variety of reasons, they definitely suit me.

Big Orange Midtown
Visually speaking, this, or the bar at One Eleven, are the most appealing. The bar at Big Orange Midtown is absolutely gorgeous and is stocked with some of the best liquors in town. From a diner’s perspective, it’s a wonderful place to have a meal and a nice beer or cocktail. The restaurant is never too loud and during the evening hours has a very nice, mellow vibe around the bar. Service is always attentive and drink specials tend to be quite creative.
What to order: Thai Chop Salad w/ Steak and a Lost Forty Honey Bock

Pantry Crest
It’s not big, and it can get a tad loud, but if you can find a seat, the bar at Pantry Crest is a great spot to watch a game, have an appetizer or two, and down one of the restaurant’s seasonal cocktails or local beers on tap.
What to order: Truffle Deviled Eggs and Stone’s Throw Beer (whatever’s on tap)

Trio’s
Most folks wouldn’t think to hang at Trio’s for its bar, but as you probably know by now, I love the restaurant, and that includes the very underrated bar area. Head Bartender Merrick Fagan is a wizard with his cocktail creations and just an overall good guy to chat with (when he isn’t too busy). The bar is quiet, has a big television to watch a game, and is usually occupied by a few folks, which inevitably leads to fun conversations.
What to order: Shrimp Spring Rolls (or any appetizer special) with a Pineapple Rum Daiquiri

Raduno
I should go to Raduno’s more often, especially because I really do enjoy the bar. It’s long, can accommodate a large amount of people, but never feels uncomfortably hectic. For all you beer lovers, the on-tap selection is one of the best in Little Rock. There’s also a big, beautiful television, perfect for watching a game.
What to order: Caesar’s Salad and a beer flight

South on Main
Probably my favorite bar in Little Rock. It’s just a cool place to hang, and for lack of a better term, it has that Cheer’s vibe to it. With more and more shows going on, it can get loud in the restaurant, but even then, it’s still nice to hang at the bar. Head Bartender David Burnette is the best in the business, and whether you’re in the mood for a sophisticated cocktail or a nice wine pairing, David always has some great recs.
What to order: Fried Oyster Steamed Bun and Old Fashioned

Heights Taco and Tamale Co.
HTT is often very loud, but I do enjoy finding a seat at the bar (btw, the seats are very comfortable) and having a quick cocktail. I say quick because HTT is very popular, and I hate taking up a seat for too long. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and the drinks, whether its a beer on-tap or a cocktail, are usually spot-on.
What to order: Tamales and a Frozen Mojito

Flyway Brewing
Did I say South on Main was my favorite bar? Well, then Flyway is my second favorite. For some reason, I just feel at home there. The bartenders are always super friendly, the beer is outstanding, and the food just keeps getting better and better. The place is never a madhouse, but always seems to have a steady stream of neighborhood friendlies. The massive television right above the bar doesn’t hurt matters.
What to order: Smoked Trout Nachos and a beer flight

Maddie’s Place
This is a bar’s bar. It’s no frills and somewhat dark, but just a perfect place to grab a beer. And Maddie’s seems to always have a nice beer selection. If you’re rolling solo, it’s also a great spot to grab a quick lunch or dinner.
What to order: Grilled Oysters and Bubba’s Brews Arkie Ale

Boulevard on Main Street
Hey, it’s not all about the booze. Boulevard is my favorite coffee bar. I’m there each Friday morning and love spending about 20 minutes on my phone, while enjoying a great cup of coffee. Blvd is another place that has a steady stream of customers, and because this is Little Rock, there’s a good chance you’ll know 1 out of 10 people who walk in.
What to order: Small cup of coffee and a slice of bread-of-the-day

Local Lime
Don’t worry, West Little Rock, I didn’t forget about ya. We all know that Local Lime has the best bar in the area … another Yellow Rock Concepts creation that’s easy on the eye and warm on the soul. Ok, that was a little sappy, but you know what I mean. Local Lime’s bar just feels cool and is a perfect place to hang, especially if you don’t feel like waiting on a table on a busy Friday night.
What to order: Chips and Salsa and a Frozen Margarita

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Quick Hits: Dinner at Lulu’s Latin & The Root, Lunch at Deluca’s & Three Fold

Parillada for Two at Lulu's

Parillada for Two at Lulu’s

 

Another outstanding Friday night dinner at The Root Café a few weeks ago has me eagerly anticipating the restaurant’s upcoming announcement of a full-time dinner service. The 5-course creation from January 20th proved once again the restaurant’s ability to execute simple, local ingredients in a fun and imaginative way. Dishes like pork belly with chilaquiles, cabbage soup with apple slaw, and turnip risotto all hit the spot, while also illustrating the restaurant’s focus on incorporating local ingredients into the menu. I do, however, hope management looks into adding some sound proofing to the new dining area, as it was quite loud during the dinner. That said, once dinner service does get going, it wouldn’t surprise me to see it quickly embraced by the community. Chef John Arrington and Pastry Chef Sara Slimp are both very talented and are primed to help The Root join SoMa’s growing nighttime dining scene.

Mylo Coffee Co.’s new side area addition is complete and it’s not only gorgeous, but quite seamless. Once you walk through the door, turn to the right and take a gander. As for the product, I deviated from my regular pour over coffee in favor of a latte (with almond milk). Excellent.

Speaking of deviating from my norm … I actually went to Three Fold and didn’t get the dumplings. I’m not sure why, but I instead got the noodle bowl with pork and a side of carrot slaw, the latter of which was dumped into the bowl, mixed, and promptly devoured. I’m guessing you know the rest … it was fantastic. An eyeball test tells me business still must be good at this fast-casual downtown dining spot, as the line nearly extended from the counter to the front door.

My latest visit to Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie and Grill was a huge hit. This comes on the heels of two average experiences over the past few months, so I wasn’t exactly clamoring to go back. After last Friday night’s meal, I’m back on the Lulu’s train. Everything was fantastic … the Parillada for two (with medium-rare NY Strip, rotisserie chicken, fries, and a salad) was gobbled up by my family of four, as was a side of black beans and rice, and some insanely addictive fried yuca. Service was attentive and friendly, and the reasonable $50 tab has me wanting to get back to Lulu’s a heck of a lot sooner, rather than later. Hopefully, consistency issues have been hammered out, because this restaurant is a hidden gem, and one I hope more people check out.

I went to Deluca’s yesterday. Update … it’s still the best. Enough said.

Major props to Capi Peck of Trio’s, Chef Ken Dempsey, Sharon Woodson of Honey Pies, and Nathaniel Izard of Izard Chocolate for pulling off an amazing dinner the other night. It was the first TMR Collaborative Dinner, and judging by the diners’ happiness, it may not be our last. The theme was “South by South” and featured courses like Mexican Street Cornbread, Legumbres en Pipian, Fried Green Tomatillos with Smoked Pork, and Churro Profiteroles. A big thank to all those involved and to everyone who attended. Keep an eye out for our next dinner which should be sometime in early March.

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Quick Hits: A Progressive Dinner, Thoughts on Layla’s, Mt. Fuji, and Big Orange Midtown

Fried Shrimp at Doe's

Fried Shrimp at Doe’s

 

I haven’t been to Layla’s in a very long time (maybe over a year), due in large part to it being located in the same parking lot as El Palenque. I tend to lean towards Mexican food when faced with such food dilemmas. Any who, the food has always been outstanding at Layla’s (see: yogurt plate and Yazoo pizza), but Tuesday night’s gyro sandwich was just lacking in taste. The meat was a tad dry and the sandwich needed more than just meat, Tzatziki sauce, and onions. The addition of tomatoes and/or lettuce would do wonders for this sandwich.

Have you ever participated in a progressive dinner? There are many variations, but basically, you have drinks/apps at one restaurant, entrees at another, and desserts at a third spot. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to experience different cuisines, all in one evening. Last Friday night, we started out at La Terraza Rum & Lounge in Hillcrest with some fantastic mojitos, as well as a plate of yuca frita and a meat and cheese board. The mojitos, alone, make La Terraza a place worth checking out, but our food was just as impressive. The raspberry, coconut, and black spiced mojitos are all can’t-miss, and combined with the great food, and personalized service, La Terraza is a place that should be packed on a Friday night. Next, we hit Kemuri for our main course. I choose the Red Dragon Roll and an order of ceviche, the latter of which was a wonderful combination of squid, shrimp, and avocado lightly dressed in a spicy sauce. Service was great and especially impressive, considering Kemuri had a packed house. Kemuri proved yet again why it’s one of our very best restaurants in Little Rock. We finished the night off with desserts and coffee at Trio’s. I had a few bites of a deliciously rich peanut butter and chocolate cake and my tablemates partook in the tres leches. In the end, the night was a total success, with all three restaurants shining with regards to both food and service.

Mt. Fuji gets almost no attention. That’s a shame because it’s really one of our better quick sushi-fix, hole-in-the walls in town. The spicy tuna roll was a hit, as was my pork ramen, and my kid’s chicken teriyaki. The restaurant isn’t fancy, and it won’t be the best sushi you’ve ever eaten, but the food is quality and an excellent value.

Go to Honey Pies for a cup of coffee. I can’t speak to some of their “fancier” java creations, but a regular cup of pour over Leiva’s Coffee is outstanding.

There’s just something so comforting about devouring six fried shrimp, a plate of fries, some toast, and a small bowl of soaked salad at Doe’s. Sure, the steak gets a lot of attention, but I’ve always been a big fan of fried shrimp and Doe’s is my go-to spot for them. And that soaked salad! Did I mention the soaked salad?

It was a mixed bag during yesterday’s lunch at Big Orange Midtown … the sweet potato fries were their usual awesome selves, but our order of truffle-garlic-herb fries were woefully salty, to the point where we just had to stop eating them. My Thai Chop with chicken was outstanding, and while I definitely prefer the steak that accompanies the salad, the chicken was also a nice option.

About twice a year, my daughter and I do the chef’s tasting at South on Main. It’s a truly personalized, 4-6 course dining experience that’s developed and executed by Chef Matt Bell. Give him a week or two of notice, but other than that, I recommend staying out of the way and letting him do his thing, which the other night were dishes like Oysters 3 Ways, Duck Confit with Greens, and refined execution of “Steak and Potatoes.”

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