Thoughts from my recent food adventures around Little Rock…

The Southern Gourmasian’s Ramen
With fall finally arriving, it’s now the beginning of soup season. The Southern Gourmasian’s ramen bowl with pork shoulder, poached egg, noodles, and scallions joins other options, like the pho at Mike’s Café and Pho Thanh and the torn wonton soup at Chi’s, as some of my absolute favorite soups in town. The rich broth and tender shreds of pork are what separate this bowl of ramen from others out there. And by “out there,” I mean in other cities across the country, as there are only a handful of Little Rock ramen options.

Eggplant Casserole Done Right at South on Main
Chef Matt Bell loves him some eggplant casserole, and his latest version, which is included on the dinnertime roasted chicken breast plate, is a winner. Chunks of soft eggplant and buttery cornbread croutons make this irresistible side dish a perfect complement to the chicken and rice. As an added bonus, the plate includes a fried chicken leg topped with South on Main’s signature pepper jelly. Both preparations were spot-on. Portions are big and at $18, the dish is an excellent value.

Solid Sushi at Sushi Café West
Sometimes I just need my sushi fix and a recent lunch pop-in to Sushi Café West hit the spot. Nothing overwhelmed, nor disappointed. As a side note, I always love to eat sushi at lunch because most places, like Sushi Café West, put one or two specials on the menu. My two rolls cost $15, which isn’t a bad deal for sushi.

Table 28 Releases Fall Menu
I was fortunate enough to sample some of the new Fall Menu items over at Table 28 with my buddy Daniel Walker. Dishes that really stood out were the pumpkin soup, kale salad, fried shrimp po’boy, and an insanely delicious pumpkin toffee sticky pudding. Dan allowed yours truly to have a bite of the dessert before he devoured the rest like a rabid dog. All kidding aside, these dishes, along with my dinner from a month ago, only help solidify the fact that Chef Scott Rains is one of the very best chefs in Little Rock. His attention to detail, creativity, and overall consistent execution of dishes, are what separates him from much of the competition.

I Heart kBird
Getting tired of me fawning over kBird? Tough shit, the admiration ain’t stopping anytime soon. This Hillcrest restaurant serves as a beacon of hope for a market that generally lacks dynamic ethnic eating options. I’ll get off that soapbox and focus back on kBird–my recent bowls of shrimp green curry and green papaya salad vaulted the restaurant to my top lunchtime spot.

Trio’s Hosts Tercos Winery
Trio’s, in coordination with De Nux Distributors, hosted a meet-and-greet with Patricio Santos from Tercos Winery. Delicious appetizers–like the curry shrimp along with the fried wontons topped with raw tuna, avocado, and tahini–paired well with the delightful Malbec and Torrontes wines from the Argentine winery. Props to Chef Capi Peck and her crew for a nice evening of food and wine.

Just a Po’Boy at The Faded Rose
A quick lunch at The Faded Rose saw me order a fried oyster po’boy with French fries and a side soaked salad. We all know The Rose is a mark of consistency, and this lunch was no different. The oysters were fried to perfection, as were the fries, and my soaked salad hit the spot (and yes, even the green olives). Food came out fast, service was friendly, and once again, The Faded Rose delivered a good meal.

Raduno Brick Oven & Barroom
This is now the second time I’ve had an excellent salad at Raduno, the first being the Caesar and now the Farmer, a beautiful bowl of mixed greens, pancetta, poached farm egg, pecorino, and red wine vinaigrette. Props to the restaurant for not scrimping on the pancetta. I washed it all down with a glass of Kona Brewing Company’s Big Wave, a light beer which paired wonderfully with the salad. Big thumbs up to Raduno … the beautiful bar, impressive draft beer selection, and excellent food and service, made for a great dinner.

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