@therootcafe

“the Root is king of LR”  was the comment left on my instagram.  My wife and I were traveling around LR and trying to decide on where to dine (i have a list of places i have to try) we checked out the online menu and were basically sold on what i had considered a fair price.  One we got there however it took my breath away.  There were so many people there bustling about rolling silverware and prepping stations, all clad in mismatched clothing, sun dresses, and of course beards.  You could just tell right off the bat you were in for a treat of some kind.  We knew going into the meal what we wanted, but after eyeing the menu I noticed a synopsis at the bottom giving a credit to all of their local food sources, incredible i thought.  I ordered a beer and awaited our app, which was a delicious beer and cheese arancini.  The place is beautifully decorated in all kinds of reclaimed fixtures and furniture, reused linen and of course the re-purposed shipping containers that make up their additional dining space, the view was spectacular.

Dinner arrived and to my surprise i was delivered actual carnitas, haha too many times i have ordered carnitas from various restaurants and of course was brought meat wrapped in tortilla (carnitas actually means small shredded meats used for filling).  After some time of savoring every bite we continued to watch table after table enter and be seated, obviously no lack of interest.

My research continued after our visit and was revealed that their story was more impressive than their food.  I encourage each of you to visit their website, check out their menu and read about their story it is truly inspiring, i believe i would like to take a page out of their book some day.

 

SumOH no!

Listen, I really understand the draw for a restaurant that provides entertainment along with cuisine. Now don’t get me wrong we may be back some day, but come on.  My first few steps inside of the Sumo Japanese Hibachi located in Russellville was met with a certain tackiness.  You know, the kind of tackiness where your shoe sticks to the floor with each step.  Why oh why would anyone ever carpet a dining room with the sole purpose to provide folks with seating around hibachi grills?  Those grills will spend most of each evening cooking food with some sort of fat and as awesome as those vent hoods are they cannot catch all of the exhaust, thus begins a build up of grease on the carpet.  Those of you that have worked in the restaurant industry for a long time as I have will empathize with my next point. That point being the intoxicating, all too familiar smell of the bag in the box soda syrup shelf.  I was seated by the kitchen door and every time that thing opened I was greeted by it.  If there are any cooks or servers reading this, you know what I’m talking about.

For my appetizer I ordered calamari and I selected the soup and salad with my entree.  Soon with each of the aforementioned courses, I was met with disappointment. The calamari was an imitation product. The soup was seemingly made with fish base and the salad must have been the chunks of iceberg so closely cut from the stalk side of the head.  I just couldn’t . This was on the heels, by the way of a visit some time ago, when I ordered shrimp tempura and spent $7.49 for 3 pieces of shrimp and 6-8 pieces of vegetable tempura.  I had vowed to never return after the shrimp fiasco, but alas here we are.  My kids love the entertainment on the grill and I’m sure I will see them again, but until then I remain utterly displeased and somewhat still stuck to the floor.

 

Trick Dilly Tacos

IMG_0421.JPGThe story

“We started TrickDilly as a food truck in the summer of 2014. Our goal was to create a unique casual food experience. Our chef, Troy, makes it his mission to start with delicious, fresh, quality ingredients, and build them into tricked-out taco combinations that will delight the most experienced taco fan.

In 2017, we made the transition from four wheels to four walls. With this location, we are excited at the chance to welcome you into our relaxed, family-friendly space. We still offer catering and have multiple drop-off, pick-up or full-service options available, just without the truck. So hit us up Tricked Out Taco fans for your next event!

Our mission is to create your favorite taco you never expected!”

If you have had Tacos4Life, this is not the same, these are gourmet tacos that send your taste buds into a spiraling whirlwind of excitement and delight, add a Ozark beer co. beer to go with.  You just haven’t had a taco like this yet.  Not to mention if you are gluten free or vegan they have created selections just for you, check out www.trickdilly.com   You will have to take yourself to Bentonville if you wish to indulge.  As of right now they are staying steady and honing their menu with no plans to open new locations, which is great news when you think of all the unsuccessful franchising who’s quality will tank when they open new store or franchise.  I look forward to traveling to NWA more and more these days.

 

The Ralston Family Farms

IMG_0376        Friends, I come out of a blogging hibernation to bring you a post that I have been excited to write about for some time.  I was first introduced to this family during a farm to school conference in Conway, AR.  The sisters Jennifer and Ashley were there to represent their family farm and surround themselves with like minded folks looking to bridge the gap from farm to school.  I was made aware that Arkansas ranks in the bottom 5 of the united states that is the least participative in the federal Farm to School initiative.  After spending some wonderful time speaking to them that day I was astounded to learn that they were living and farming in Atkins, AR (my back yard), this was music to my rice loving ears.  I had to know and see so much more.

Several weeks later we ended up being brought together at a roundtable discussion looking to focus on ways to improve our Russellville and surrounding communities with more localized sustainable support.  I left this meeting grinning ear to ear, just to spend that time with these leaders of our community discussing the very bright future for the Russellville School District, The greater Russelllville and surrounding community farmers market as well as our Food 4 Kids efforts, was the best thing to happen this year.  We have spent so much time as a nation traveling down the wrong road as designed by our ever growing food and grocery industry that somehow we have gotten ourselves to a point where farmers allover the country are struggling to support their very own homes and families. The agricultural industry cannot continue this way, we must see that the problem is not passed the point of no return but in fact very reversible.

To see a family who has realized that sustainability looks very different these days than it used to, is such a relief.  They are a family dedicated to serving those around them and sowing the land around them.  You can find this family’s story on their website www.ralstonfamilyfarms.com and view their wonderful rice.  From what I understand they will have a few of their rice varieties in stores very soon and varieties available with your Blue apron orders.  I applaud you (Ralston family) and will continue to support you in every way possible for the sustainable future 🙂  Keep it up!

La Casa Bonita (indeed)

Well, if you would have said that one day we would have a Mexican cuisine restaurant that was going to be different than the many we already have here, I would have called you a liar.  However, occupying the former Oak Tree Bistro grounds, rests the new La Casa Bonita.  I had a chance to dine here last week, breaking one of my own rules about not going to a new restaurant within it’s first couple of months. I left with a big smile and a full belly.  I wasn’t sure what to expect. Before we dined we had researched and found that they were priding themselves on using only the highest of quality ingredients (something that I strongly agree with) and never anything from a can.

We were seated and greeted promptly and began to gaze at the menu. One side was breakfast which was a pleasant surprise and the other their apps and entrees.  Let me tell you that if you are hoping to go and have a 3 page menu with as many Mexican dishes that you can think of and the ability to combo them together then you will not be satisfied. On the other hand though, if you have a desire to try some truly homemade Mexican dishes and be content with about 10 different choices then you will find true enjoyment.  It is noble to see a restaurant whittle their menu down to a few dishes and execute them to the highest of standard and quality, I did have to ask for guacamole and cheese dip as they were not listed on the menu but was no problem for the server to take care of for us.

I really enjoyed the service as well. There was only one server per table. At some other local Mexican restaurants it seems multiple people are responsible for serving the table and at a furiously fast pace might I add.  So I felt as though I could count on that server to take care of me while I dined.  It’s a very nice, friendly, and slower paced scene.  Our cashier happened to be the owner and a true pleasure to speak to. I give La Casa Bonita my big ole stamp of approval. Go try and see for yourself.Photo Jul 06, 12 19 31 PM

Not this man’s Peoples Choice award winner.

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Today my wife suggested that we catch some lunch at Gumbo Zydeco.  I haven’t been to this restaurant since the first time I ever went there and since they won the People’s Choice award at the 2017 Taste of The Valley showcase here in Russellville.  Now to say I was excited about going today was and understatement, however!!  We went inside with all three kiddos and after a moment was told to be seated somewhere more comfortable where we had more room, awesome, good start.  It did however travel somewhat down hill form there.

Our waitress was not the first one to greet us but the other waitress and not the one to get us our drinks either, she finally made it over to the table to get our order seeming that she was in a big hurry the whole time.  We were delivered our appetizer and it seemed to be a different version that the first time I visited, this version of the shrimp and rotel dip was just that, shrimp and a velveeta rotel dip that is a staple in most households here in Russellville.  somewhere in the midst of finishing our app I ran out of my water and from there until the end of our meal did I wait for it to be refilled.  The rest of our order was delivered and I was very pleased with the flavor of my seafood gumbo, but my wife’s red beans and rice had an unpleasant sour taste to it, not what I had the pleasure of experiencing the first time around, disappointed.

Feeling deflated  I asked for some ketchup for my children’s nuggets and finally after several minutes had to ask the other waitress to again fulfill the order for the ketchup.  I trudged through the remaining parts of the meal and we packed our things and fled.  I don’t have a whole lot of patience and empathy for bad or shotty service, there just isn’t many excuses when you work in this type of environment, this industry where your livelihood depends directly on the service you provide.  there is never a guest or large party that deserves more attention or regard as the next.  This trip left me to wonder if the sudden onset of popularity form winning the peoples choice may have rendered them overwhelmed and unprepared, but alas I hope to find them again in the future and to have a wonderful meal as I know they are known for.  Till then

 

 

much anticipated TRIO’S

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Finally, after several weeks of knowing about this place, I finally had the opportunity to dine.  Someone told me about a place where you could find a crab stuffed deep fried avocado. That’s right, I said crab stuffed deep fried avocado..  I knew from that moment I must find this sacred place.  If you are driving down Cantrell rd. in Little Rock and you see the Pavilion in the Park sign, you must stop.  Tucked down the stairs and under Bauman’s clothing store you will find Trio’s.  We walked in around 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday night expecting a wait and a very busy, loud atmosphere. That didn’t happen at all.  The place was definitely full so we asked for a high-top in the bar section, we were seated and greeted within a minute (a big plus for me).  I noticed right off the bat that the staff was wonderfully attentive. A young server saw me looking around at one point, as I was merely taking it all in, she stopped what she was doing just to ask if she could help me find anything, awesome!  That same young lady knew we were ready to leave and noticed our check sitting there-being waited on by the bartender isn’t always the quickest- but when the rest of your staff has the skills and service orientation as this staff  does it just doesn’t matter. This is always how customer service should be. The server happily processed our payment and we left.

Now let’s talk food. My wife and I read the menu online during our commute to LR so we had a good idea of what we wanted. We definitely wanted to splurge and get our most favorite apps, the fried green tomatoes and shrimp a.k.a. Triple G-force. They were drizzled with the newly coveted green goddess.  The green goddess is a dressing that caught my immediate attention as the flavor exploded in my mouth, the sweetness and tangy profile is simply heroic. We also ordered my wife’s all time favorite restaurant app, the spinach and artichoke dip.  For the main course we had the Herb and Lemon roasted chicken with potatoes for my wife and the Tuna Poke (pronounced Poke-ay not poke-oops, my bad!.) Bowl for myself.  I had to ask the server how in the world they prepared the potatoes because they literally seemed to eat like a vegetable truffle of sorts.  I mean the perfectly crispy outside of the potato was seasoned to perfection and then the bite offered a buttery mashed potato texture, just melting away with each bite, probably my favorite part of her dish.  The other week, I saw a TV special about this new culinary treat coming from Hawaii called the Poke (there it is again…poke-ay)  bowl.  As I watched I got very interested in trying to find somewhere to experience this treat and as my wife read off the menu in the car and came to the Ahi Poke bowl, I knew what I was having. As she continued she mentioned watermelon and radish which she separated assuming there should have been a comma between the two words printed on the menu.  When the waiter brought my bowl I asked “what is that pink medallion?” he stated it was a watermelon radish, “oh I see” I said and smiled as my wife was busting out laughing and blushing a bit.  Anyway, this medley of vegetable, fruit, and raw tuna was everything I had hoped and dreamed it would be.

Trio’s, I applaud you for a job well done, your service is impeccable and your food the same, may your cuisine grace more and more novice foodies and may you become a destination eatery for new guests for years to come.  Thank You

 

The new Old Bank

When it come to The Old Bank Sports Bar people tend to be on one side of the fence or the other, which leaves me somewhat troubled.  When you read the reviews and comments they are all over the place, this means “INCONSISTENCY”.  One of the most important aspects of owning and managing a restaurant is to strive for and remain consistent, both with service and food quality.  Both of which are mitigated by great management.  What I have seen since they opened has been frequent change to the menu and a change in management.  New restaurants have many challenges and it can be fun to watch them evolve but those times can be troubling as well.

The OBSBG has found itself a new GM with Eric Markle.  Eric has been a part of several great eateries in Russellville including the Russellville Country Club and Fat Daddy’s BBQ.  I am expecting great things to come and have been very pleased on my most recent visit.  The Super Spuds to start and the pork tenderloin sandwich to finish.  Great service and good food, there’s not much more you must ask for.  thanks Billy, looking forward to the next time. Photo May 23, 2 51 18 PM

Nothing Fancy anymore

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Well friends, today’s blog post saddens me; the demise of the Thien Huynh famous eggroll. These eggrolls were of a whole different caliber eggroll from any other eggroll I had eaten before.  I can remember when I was a kid and didn’t care for oriental food, but that eggroll, oh that eggroll.  I have been to Nothing Fancy on a few occasions since it was sold to Dennis from Opal Mae’s and the restaurant just didn’t feel right anymore.  I’m sure many of you feel the same, but despite that feeling I was oh so hoping it would remain the traditional flare from Thien’s reign.  I wasn’t opposed to Dennis bringing in some of his flare either, as long as her Vietnamese dishes remained the same.  To my dismay, the eggroll-the iconic, nostalgic, magical, make a kid eat oriental- eggroll is gone. No, not physically, but as you can tell the passion and heart is all gone.  This isn’t the same eggroll, therefore isn’t the same Nothing Fancy.  I don’t want to be too harsh here and say I won’t be back, but I’m just not certain what would bring me back in at this point.

Fast Food’n and BBQ’n

Well friends, today was one of those days, one of those days where just about every meal is eaten outside of the house.  I started my dining off at Wendy’s drive thru. I had to try the new mozzarella chicken sandwich after hearing a fellow blogger, The Mighty Rib, rave about. My whole experience here was kind of amusing to watch, I’m sure, especially while trying to communicate with the drive thru speaker person.  The first thing I heard was an automated voice greeting say “Hi welcome to Wendy’s, would you like to try our new mozzarella chicken sammida today?”……uh. what?? As I’m trying to figure out what in the world the speaker box just offered me, I’m also trying to find the chicken sandwich on the menu so I can just skip right through the awkwardness that would follow.  I said to the speaker box “sorry, did you say chicken sandwich?” but then a live person replied “the automated greeting asked about the new mozzarella chicken sammida.”  Umm. Ok. Oh geez, I thought. I decided to not even try again and just order what I came after anyway so I said “Well i’m not quite sure what either of you said but I would like to have the new mozzarella chicken sandwich.”  She concurred and processed my request, I was so relieved to have gotten through this part.

I ate the sandwich while leaving the parking lot and really tried to take it all in. I had high hopes for this sandwich since my fellow foodie, The Mighty Rib (Little Rock) enjoyed it but I wasn’t as impressed as I had hoped although it was overall pretty good.  I could definitely see the potential here, with the marinated tomatoes and the grilled and seasoned chicken breast it most certainly has the potential.  I have been a fan of Wendy’s my whole life, with their signature patty and their delicious frosty.  Lately I have been a fan of their salads only wishing they would do more green leaf or spring mix base.

After my wife got off of work we went to a local BBQ joint, Old Post BBQ. This restaurant is a long time staple for Russellville and it’s always worth the money and time.  I chose the rib dinner with green beans, coleslaw, and of course, a beer.  While I wasn’t very impressed with the coleslaw, the green beans were well prepared and very tasty.  It always blows my mind that more places don’t try harder to make their side dishes tasty, for the most part what you get with green beans is simply out of a can and boiled with some salt and pepper, nothing else, big let down.  I was thrilled with Ricky’s beans and I might add that I was happy to be greeted on a Saturday by the owner Ricky Black himself.  Ricky and I shot the stuff for a few minutes talking about beer and brewery’s here in Arkansas, I really like the guy, you can tell he has a true passion for food.  We enjoyed our lunch thoroughly and only somewhat disappointed in the under done fried pickles, assure you this was a one time thing, we left very full and very happy.

Lastly, I would like to comment on one of my new favorite fast eats from Taco Johns located in 2 places here in Russellville.  They are hailed by critics for their dedication to fresh ingredients and for their classification some really tasty food.  Right now they are running a limited time offer with their quesadilla pork carnitas.  These small bites are perfect for a snack or even a full meal.  They start with doubled 3 inch tortillas centered with melted cheese then folded in half and stuffed with some very tasty and seasoned pulled pork, a sauce of some flavor with a kick, and diced herb tomatoes.  It is not always easy to get my wife to join me at Taco Johns but these days its simple.  I recommend these to everyone.

Thank you Russellville for your food today, keep up the good workPhoto May 22, 12 13 17 PM