Around the Rock: Maddie’s Place Now in Little Rock’s Elite

My weekly views…

Maddie’s is the Place: Back-to-back excellent meals at Maddie’s Place have me singing a different tune about this often overlooked and underrated restaurant in Riverdale. And while I still think some of the prices are a tad high, there’s no denying the high level of execution and technique being exhibited on what appears to be a regular basis. My crispy Mississippi catfish ($19.50) with greens and black-eyed peas was fantastic, as was my tablemate’s shrimp and grits ($21.50-full order). Never before have I eaten catfish with such a wonderfully thick cornmeal crust, which I found paired nicely with the soft peas and tender greens. A few bites of the shrimp and grits has me convinced this was one of the best versions in town. The thick, creamy, stick-to-your-rib grits and plump, perfectly cooked shrimp may have even trumped my catfish.

Ups and Downs: I had some mixed results on my latest visit to Casa Mañana (6820 Cantrell Road). My chicken asado taco plate, comprised of two double corn tortillas piled high with marinated chicken breast, pico de gallo and guacamole, was really one of the best things I’ve eaten at the restaurant. Such was not the case with my wife’s beef fajitas. The beef was tough, bland and just an overall disappointment. Casa Mañana should be knocking this iconic Tex-Mex dish out of the park, and they are not.

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Beloved Salmon: E’s Bistro shines again, this time with their lunch service grilled salmon BLT ($10). The sandwich comes with your choice of bread (I opted for wheatberry), along with a beautifully grilled salmon filet, bacon, lettuce, and tomato with remoulade. Chef Dempsey proved once again why he’s one of the best chefs in town at elevating fish. The salmon’s crispy grilled edges and juicy interior stood out in this simple, yet well-constructed sandwich.

Turkey Salad, Again: The 8-grain bread at Boulevard is awesome, especially toasted and topped with some of Burge’s smoked turkey salad. And yes, that’s two weeks in a row I’ve ordered a small tub of this stuff. Actually, I got the quart this time around … and that ain’t small.

And the news…

This month’s Westover Food Truck Wednesday will be on July 9 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).

Hot Rod Wieners will be at Stone’s Throw Brewing tonight at 5. This new-ish food truck will also be at Pops on the River starting at 11 a.m. They’ll be serving the Dixie Charger, a new concoction comprised of an all-beef hot dog on fresh baked buns, covered in homemade pimento cheese and spicy sweet relish.

On the menu at both Big Orange locations until July 15: Ruby’s Summer Plate … features thickly sliced Arkansas heirloom tomatoes, Arkansas pinto beans, Hardin Farms sauteed corn, fried green beans, pone bread, and house made Arkansas green tomato pickle.

Cool event tonight at South on Main featuring Georgia Pelligrini. Book signing, passed apps and a watermelon keg. People…a watermelon keg! I’ll be moderating the evening’s Q/A portion…should be a ton of fun. Come check it out. Oh yeah, and it’s FREE.

As a reminder, Ciao Baci offers 20% off every Monday to restaurant industry people. Also, the restaurant will be closed this Friday and Saturday for the holiday weekend.

If you’re looking for something to do on the 4th, here’s a cool event: 4th of July Celebration with Tragikly White at the Marriott Little Rock. For more info, click here.

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Around the Rock: Maddie’s Place Now in Little Rock’s Elite