Around the Rock: Off Night at Ciao Baci

My views from the week…

Our Friday night dinner at Ciao Baci included more lows than highs, which is a shame, because I’ve had several good experiences at this Hillcrest restaurant over the past few months. One thing is for certain, chef Jeffrey Owens knows how to fry a bird. The thick, crispy crust he manages to pull off represents one of the better versions in the city. The fried chicken thigh dish with sausage and celery risotto was both tasty and well-executed. Unfortunately, my tablemates were less enthused with their entrées—a bland pizza, overcooked lamb, and an “off” soft shell crab left my crew disappointed. On a positive note, my friend’s BLT salad had him proclaim, “This is the best salad I’ve ever eaten.” Also, it should be noted that management was extremely responsive in replacing the soft shell crab dish with an alternative menu item. That said, the bar has been raised for Ciao Baci, and with that, so are expectations.

Fonda Mexican Cuisine and Tequila Bar in WLR is such an underrated restaurant. The chips and salsa are fantastic, as are several other dishes, including: chicken soup, Razorback burrito and the queso fundido. Pass on the tableside guacamole and opt for splitting the aforementioned fundido. It’s a heavy appetizer, and although it’s easy to be “wowed” by the melted cheese, my favorite part is the tomato/onion/mushroom/chorizo topping. Also, did I mention the chicken soup? Next time you get a bad cold, go pick up a vat of it.

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I’ve made four visits to Mylo Coffee Co. and the coffee continues to get better each time. That’s a good thing.

Once again, I stopped by the Hillcrest Farmers Market on Saturday morning … and once again, I crushed another veggie burger from Solfood Catering. I’m officially addicted to this thing. I also picked up some wonderful tat soi from North Pulaski Farms, as well as broccoli from Barnhill Orchards. Remember, current market hours are 8a-noon on Saturday.

Rock N Tacos, one of my favorite lunch spots, finally bit the dust. I knew it was coming, but it still stings.

And the news…

The folks over at Baja Grill, the former Benton food truck resident turned Heights inhabitant, are hard at work at their new location at the former Mamacita’s. The plan is to bring “Fine Mexi-Cali Cuisine” to the neighborhood just as soon as possible. “Hopefully, we will be able to open by the second week of May, if all goes according to plan,” said co-owner Melissa Roe.”

Reminder…Natchez pastry chef Zara Abbasi will host a “Classic Baking” cooking class at Eggshells Kitchen Co. on April 24. Cost is $50 and the class starts promptly at 6 p.m. Also, please go check out the auction to help benefit No Kid Hungry, and bid on one of her private cake decorating sessions!

Eggshells Kitchen Co. is also having a Cutlery Sale all week—15% off all knives, cutting boards, sheers, etc.

Make sure to come out to the Little Rock Racquet Club on April 26 (from 5-7pm) to try four flights of Schlafly Beer paired with four appetizers. Schlafly Beer South will be on hand to discuss all things Schlafly. Cost is $12 for members and $14 for non-members. Event takes place in the Player’s Grill.

Hey, another quick plug for Fonda. They have “all you can eat” tacos Tuesday-Friday (11a-2p) for $7.99.

Fantastic news…Soma Food Truck Thursday is back … held on the fourth Thursday of every month! Go check things out April 24 (from 5-8pm) at The Bernice Garden.

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Around the Rock: Off Night at Ciao Baci