Cornucopia (noun): an abundant supply of good things of a specified kind.
Each month, I will be writing about a cornucopia of food topics, which include a recap of my eating adventures, food and drink news, my general thoughts on the Central Arkansas culinary scene, and a quick Top 10 list. So, with that in mind, let’s get to it.
Truth Sauce Wings at Certified Pies
Certified Pies’ brick-and-mortar opened last month. Shocker, it took me about five minutes to stop in for some wings. As I’ve stated numerous times in the past, these are my favorite fried wings in town, and it makes me especially happy to report that they’re as good as ever. Battered, fried right, and tossed in that signature sweet heat Truth Sauce, these bad boys should be on any wing connoisseur’s list of must-tries. My advice? Split an order of 10 with a friend and save a little room for pizza.
Scallops at Brave New Restaurant
Can we just all agree that Brave New Restaurant serves the best scallops in Little Rock? Heck, anywhere, for that matter. I’ve heard owner Peter Brave has the mollusks flown in from Massachusetts on a charter plane twice a week. Each one is blessed by a local nun upon landing, then they hit the plate within an hour. My only knock? The sear job is always lacking, but the unbelievable freshness and sweetness is not. Granted, they’re expensive, but greatness often comes at a high price. However, if you don’t want to commit to the $45 price tag of an entire entrée, add a scallop (or two) to another plate.
Smoked Honey Biscuits at DONS Southern Social
Dining at DONS Southern Social, the speakeasy restaurant located in the heart of downtown Hot Springs, is more fun than should be allowed on a Saturday night. And while I won’t tell you exactly what to order, it would be a huge mistake not starting the meal with the house-made, honey-glazed biscuits and caramel butter candle. Yes, I said, “caramel butter candle.” I’d probably burn my house down trying to replicate such a creation, so I’m happy to leave this one to the kitchen experts at DONS. As you’d imagine, the lit candle slowly softens the butter, allowing for an easy smear with the savory biscuit sticks. Simply put, it’s a fun, tasty, must-order.
Patty Melt at Marty’s Place
The patty melt at Marty’s Place needs to be on your radar. Kudos to the restaurant’s creativity, switching things up with a version that includes two, 1/4-pound smash patties. Color me impressed. The patties are so thin and crispy and pair well with the marble rye. Sauteed onions, Swiss, and a Southwest sauce join the beef, rounding out a collection of ingredients that make for an unforgettable sandwich or burger or burger sandwich. Whatever you want to call it is fine by me.
Warr Shui Guy at Chinese Kitchen
Folks in the area were losing their damn minds this summer when Chinese Kitchen, the four-decades-old takeout hot spot, was closed for several months. Most, like me, feared the worst: permanent closure. However, all is good. After attending to some personal issues, the Little Rock mainstay is back to cranking out delicious food at an affordable cost. The Warr Shui Guy, a heavily battered fried chicken dish with thin brown gravy, is the restaurant’s signature offering, so that was my first order after the hiatus. Per usual, it did not disappoint.
Lemon Herb Potatoes at BCW
Early reviews on SoMa’s new BCW (Bread Cheese Wine) have been overwhelmingly positive. Well, after two visits, you can include me under that umbrella of optimism. There’s a ton to love about the hip, hybrid wine bar/restaurant concept. Not the least of which is the food. As a self-proclaimed starch fanatic, I did want to focus my initial thoughts on BCW’s lemon herb potatoes. I’d opt for the smaller side item portion over the shareable option, but either way, expect well-fried little hunks of potatoes hit with pepper and sea salt. They’re addictive. The accompanying tzatziki ranch will be a hit, so much so, that you’ll probably end up requesting another side of it.
Tidbits, openings, and closings
Blue House Bakery and Café is moving from its Highway 5 location in Bryant to 305 Progress Dr. No word yet on the opening date of the new spot, but we’ll keep you updated.
The Arkansas Cornbread Festival is set for Saturday, November 4th from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on South Main Street between 14th and 16th Street. The event includes live music, 50-plus vendors, food trucks, and, of course, plenty of cornbread. Tickets to sample cornbread from the 14 participants can be bought here, but if you’re not in the mood to eat, the event is free to the general public.
By now you’ve probably heard that North Bar at 3812 JFK Blvd suffered a fire and is currently closed. Fortunately, there is a plan to rebuild, but no update on when that might be.
Brandon and Michele Brewer are the new owners of Legacy Wine and Spirits, although I doubt you’ll notice much of a change. Here’s hoping not. Legacy is and has been one of the top liquor stores in Central Arkansas.
Asian Super Market (4601 S. University Ave.) opened in mid-October, was bombarded with customers, closed for a week to restock, and is now open again. I popped in and was blown away by the market’s size and selection. In particular, the seafood and meat counters are definitely worth checking out.
Hallelujah! After a longtime closure due to a fire, Riviera Maya’s 801 Fair Park Blvd location is back.
Bleu Monkey Grill is taking over the former Gusano’s location.
Paper Hearts Bookstore is teaming up with Sterling Market for their next cookbook club on Tuesday, November 7th at 6:30 p.m. Owner Beth Quarles will guide you through the evening, one that features recipes The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen cookbook cooked by chefs Paige Russell-Burt and John Burt. Tickets are $15 ($45 with the book).
Cypress Social is having its Castle & Key Spirits Dinner on Thursday, November 9th at 6:15 p.m.
And Finally … My Top 20 Soups in the Little Rock Area
- Chicken & Hearts of Palm at Café Bossa Nova
- Rare Beef Pho (P2) at Mike’s Cafe
- Smoked Chicken Tortilla Soup at Baja Grill (Little Rock & Benton)
- Wonton Soup at Fantastic China
- Roasted Duck Ramen at Gold Bowl
- Green Chile Stew at Local Lime
- Manchow Soup at Curry House
- Pork Dumpling Soup at Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co.
- Posole (seasonal) at Trio’s
- Mexican Ramen at Camp Taco
- Chicken Noodle Soup (Monday lunch special) at The Faded Rose
- Pork Ramen at Mt. Fuji
- Five Onion Soup at Brave New Restaurant
- Cheese Broccoli (Tuesday & Friday) at Jimmy’s Serious Sandwiches
- Chicken Soup at El Porton
- Tortilla Soup at Taqueria El Palenque
- Tomato Basil Soup at Raduno
- Ramen at Goku Ramen Bar
- Cheese Soup at Scallions
- Sopa de Camarones at Rosalinda’s
That’s it from me. See you in November!