- MICHAEL ROBERTS
- El Amigo
I’ve got a lot of respect for my Eat Arkansas co-conspirator Dan Walker, but sometimes we just don’t agree about food. Things like maple-bacon doughnuts or pizza joints can cause any number of good-natured food-related arguments between us, so when Dan doesn’t like a place, I usually wind up trying it myself to see if maybe he’s gone off the deep end again.
Back last summer, Dan wrote up his experience at B-Side, the breakfast joint attached to Lily’s Dim Sum on Rodney Parham Road. While the general opinion of B-Side in Little Rock is positive (including more than a few Readers’ Choice awards from various publications), Dan’s opinion was that the whole thing was a much-ado about relatively nothing. Not wanting one our local favorites to go down without a fight, I decided to go try the place for myself, an experience that leaves me with only one conclusion: Dan was completely right.
Wanting to try something I hadn’t seen written up before, I went for the El Amigo brunch platter, a large plate of black beans, chorizo, scrambled eggs, tortilla strips, and pico de gallo. The large portion was a complete waste, though, as the entire thing lacked much flavor at all and came out almost completely cold. I inquired about the lack of spice in the dish — after all, it’s advertised as a Mexican-inspired breakfast — and got the answer that spice just doesn’t sell in the Little Rock market, an assertion I find to be completely ridiculous. From Chinese to Cajun to Mexican to the spicy chicken at Popeye’s — there are tons of dishes in this town with an ample amount of spice and flavor that sell just fine. As for the lack of temperature heat in the dish, my server just said “duly noted” and went about her way. Lack of spice may be a personal preference (although I’ve gotten better chorizo from gas stations), but cold eggs and tough beans are unacceptable.
Our table tried a couple of other brunch dishes, including the Mad Scramble, a glorified potato omelet with only the slightest scattering of the bacon advertised on the menu. Temperature again was a problem, as if the dishes had spent some time hanging out at the serving window before getting picked up and brought the the table. The entire experience was so mediocre to not even rate being called “bad,” rather it was simply one of the more forgettable meals I’ve ever had. It’s impossible for me to believe that this plate of bland, lukewarm food is the best breakfast that Little Rock has to offer — especially since even a dive like Waffle House can at least get food served at temperature. All-in-all, I know B-Side has its defenders, and trust me: I wanted to be one of you. Unfortunately, I’m afraid Dan had it right all along: there’s just not enough substance at B-Side to make it worth the hype.