Around the Rock: E’s Bistro Shines, Doe’s Does Not

My weekly views…

E’s Bistro in North Little Rock quietly puts together a complete dining experience. Well-executed meals are served in a casually elegant, yet unpretentious environment, all at a very reasonable cost. My recent meal of crab stuffed grouper with roasted vegetables, followed by locally grown strawberry shortcake, proved that chefs Elizabeth McMullen and Ken Dempsey can hold their own with any restaurant kitchen combo in town.

Color me unenthused with the lackadaisical service at Doe’s Eat Place (Markham location) during a recent back room, set-menu dinner attended by 20+ foodies. It was an event I helped organized, and deep down, I really wanted it to be a perfect evening for the guests. It was not. The food was good, but not great—due in large part to the lack of that charred crust associated with a classic Doe’s steak. As always, the soaked salad and thick-sliced toast (best dipped into meat juice) were killer. But the real issue throughout the evening was the uneven service, which I think could be attributed to a short staff; the salads came out at different times, drinks remained unfilled, the fried shrimp were forgotten and we went about thirty minutes with no food at all on the table. All that said, the cozy, intimate setting filled with fellow foodie friends made for a fantastic evening.

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Given the plethora of sumptuous meat choices, I can’t really blame you for passing on Hillcrest Artisan Meats’ Squash Blossom veggie sandwich. Many people make this mistake every afternoon. But just once, forgo the prosciutto and opt for the best veggie sandwich in Little Rock. Multigrain bread is layered with tomato, sliced avocado, Monterrey jack cheese, red onion, aioli and alfalfa sprouts. It’s simple, light and sure to please even the most carnivorous souls.

I polished off an entire mini-tub of Geek Eats’ jalapeno cheese hummus for lunch today. It was spicy, but not too spicy, and the bits of Kent Walker Artisan Cheese scattered throughout the creamy pulverized chickpea spread make for a wonderful snack.

A pastry pop-in at Mylo Coffee Co. on Friday afternoon left me walking out with two croissants, but not before I polished off a bear claw inside the shop. It was light, airy and filled with a delightful quad-berry jam. The pastry, however, was a bit dry, due in large part to a small amount of jam.

Just keep doing what you do, Local Lime. You serve up the best frozen margaritas and chips in salsa combination in Little Rock, and the taco plates, like the potato zucchini and carnitas, are consistently solid. The atmosphere is hip, yet inviting, and the service continues to be well above average on most visits.

And the news…

Eggshells Kitchen Co. is having a bakeware sale all week long—15% off all baking supplies … perfect for a Mother’s Day gift.

Just as a reminder, be sure to check out The Faded Rose for boiled crawfish on Wednesdays (starts at 4 p.m.). Also, May 10 marks the 32nd anniversary of the restaurant … congrats to the Davids and the entire crew over at TFR.

Upcoming Loblolly events include Boozy Milkshakes at White Water Tavern and Zara’s Dessert Counter Takeover.

The Pie Hole, a former Fayetteville food truck, plans to permanently set up shop in Little Rock in late May-early June. This from owner/pie maker Lauren French, “We will start out with around four flavors each day and a rotating menu of gluten free pies, as well as some savory. Some of my most popular items and flavors are coconut cream, lemon icebox, chocolate peanut butter banana, strawberry Nutella pretzel, a variety of fruit pies, possum pie and Cookie Monster. I will sell by the slice out of the truck and take orders for full pies with at least two days notice. I offer catering for large events, as well. Everything is made from scratch and many of the recipes have been passed down to me from my great grandmother.”

The 10th Annunal Buzz B-Q, hosted by KABZ 103.7 and presented by Doublebee’s will be held on Saturday, May 10th, 2014, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the North Little Rock RV Park. Come on out and cheer our friend and local favorite, Kelly Gee, as he and his crew look to take home top honors.

Finally, this month’s Westover Food Truck Wednesday will be held on May 14 from 5-8 p.m. at the Westover Hills Presbyterian Church parking lot. Per usual, many of Little Rock’s most popular food trucks will be in attendance (Waffle Wagon, The Southern Gourmasian, Southern Salt Food Company and others). Also, be on the lookout for Beast Food Truck, which will run in place of Black Hound BarBQ this month!

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Around the Rock: E’s Bistro Shines, Doe’s Does Not