Around the Rock: Patio Lunch at Maddie’s Place

 

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My recent views on food…

Honestly, I’ve overlooked Maddie’s Place for far too long. Not anymore … and especially not for lunch, where they offer up very reasonable $10 combos. I went with the grilled catfish po-boy with a side bowl of red beans and rice. The meal, which also includes a soft drink for that price, was delivered to our table in a timely fashion by a super friendly waitress. While we were in no rush, I still appreciated the expedient lunchtime service that many Little Rock restaurants tend to forget. As for the food, my grilled catfish was seasoned well and cooked just right, as was my traditional bowl of red beans and rice. But it was our split appetizer of meat pies which really impressed our table, and might I add, was recommended by the waitress. These fried, doughy pockets filled with tender beef are rich in taste and certainly best eaten by a group.

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While Tex-Mex mega-chain Chuy’s is typically nothing to get overly excited about, I can tell you there’s at least one menu item to fawn over: the pork burrito. It’s got an official name, but I’m not sure what it is. Just ask for the pork burrito, but make note, it’s only offered on Saturday and Sunday. Trust me on this one. The tender shreds of flavorful pork and buttery avocado will have you thanking me.

About once a year, the Whole Hog Café temptation hits me like a ton of bricks. “Hey, this place is wildly popular with the masses, it must be good.” And I always forget how bad it is. There’s really no other way to say it, this is below average barbeque. My pulled pork was moist, but bland. The pulled chicken was an over-seasoned atrocity. The cole slaw was pedestrian at best and the potato salad proved to be a heavy, mayo-laced side dish. And save the speech, I know Whole Hog (W. Markham) makes great sauce, and it’s about utilizing it to elevate the pork. My #1 was a vision. But sauce isn’t for everyone, and good barbecue should be able to stand alone, without the need for condiments. If Whole Hog is going to maintain the title of Little Rock’s signature barbecue shop, it’s time for them to improve things.

Shocker, South on Main’s new-ish lunchtime Spring menu is a hit. My hot chicken sandwich, which included a perfectly fried boneless piece of thigh meat, was extra crispy and had a nice, moderate level of heat. You’ll be tempted to dip portions of the sandwich into the side of soupy cole slaw. And you should. My tablemate also spoke highly of the potato soup, as well as his farmers salad with fried green tomato, crab salad, and celery and tomato jam.

And the news…

Did you know that Stone’s Throw Brewing and The Southern Gourmasian team up for monthly dinners? They do … and the next one is on May 21 at 6:30 p.m.

The Little Rock Greek Food Festival begins on Friday, May 16 from 11:00am to 9:00pm, continues on Saturday, May 17 from 11:00am to 9:00pm and wraps up on Sunday, May 18 from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Admission, parking and trolley service to the festival are free.

On May 2, Wildwood Park for the Arts is hosting its 16th annual Wine and Food Festival. Click here for more info.

The following day (May 3), the Little Rock Zoo hosts Wild Wines of the World, a food and wine extravaganza set for 7 p.m. Along with the wine, patrons can expect eats from 40 of Central Arkansas’s top restaurants.

Finally, please don’t forget about the Arkansas Blogger Bake Sale on May 3rd. All proceeds go to the No Kid Hungry program of Share Our Strength.

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Around the Rock: Patio Lunch at Maddie’s Place