Our latest “Feed Back” expedition takes us to a Little Rock classic, a restaurant with a loyal following as strong as any other in this city, The Faded Rose. But here’s my confession…prior to this visit, I’d never eaten at The Faded Rose. And it wasn’t for a lack of recommendations from my peers…just one of those restaurants I’d never gotten around to. So when my turn rolled around to grab some recommendations from Rock City Eats readers…I knew it was time I rectified this wrong.
Per usual, we solicited our RCE Facebook fans for their top dish at Faded Rose…and not unexpectedly, the recommendations started rolling in. The most difficult part of my job was narrowing my meal down to one or two items…there was no shortage of great options to choose from.
So last week, I joined a small group at The Rose for dinner. I returned to those Facebook recommendations and made my selections…my first Faded Rose experience had begun.
By far, the most recommended item on The Rose’s menu was their shrimp and grits…and I do love me some shrimp and grits, so this was not a difficult decision. This sizable plate of food featured three or four creamy grit cakes, sliced and thrown briefly on a flat top for a bit of a crisp on the outside. I enjoyed this somewhat non-traditional (for Little Rock at least) approach to the grits…as I’ve typically only had them spooned into a bowl, a pool of yellow-white that keeps the rest of the ingredients in place. On top of the grits came around ten or so plump, flavorful shrimp. Finally a thick, creamy sauce of peppers, onions, andouille sausage, and scallions was layered over the top. This rich sauce was the glue that held everything together…making this an overall excellent selection. I might have enjoyed the dish slightly more if there was a touch less sauce to allow the shrimp and grit cakes to play a more prominent role overall.
Of course, numerous reader emphasized the need to sample Faded Rose’s soaked salad…and I gladly took this advice. This salad of iceberg, tomato, onions, and chopped green olives was the perfect accompaniment to the heavier shrimp and grits. Compared to other similar salads I’ve eaten in the past, I found The Rose’s version had just the right amount of “soak” …none of the ingredients were served soggy, but everything was adequately covered with a nice garlic vinaigrette. The briny green olives were a perfect addition, too…making this my favorite version of soaked salad I’ve eaten thus far.
Lastly, I’ve been chastised enough for not trying having sampled their famous potato wedges before now. And when I recently published my picks for the best fries in town, Faded Rose fans were quick to point out their exclusion from the list. Well…I have righted that wrong, and the potato wedges have been consumed. And I’d agree they deserve a spot on any best fries list. I do think they benefited from a little table salt, but I could certainly see myself ordering these spuds again.
On our visit, I was struck by how jam-packed the place was. Every table was taken, both indoors and out. I expect this Little Rock staple will live on for years and will continue to hold an important place in the heart of our growing food scene.