Rumbles: Baja Grill’s Touching Video, Gourmasian’s Spicy Chicken and Dumplings Return

Stop what you’re doing right now if you haven’t checked out the touching video on Baja Grill’s Facebook page that is threatening to go viral. The video’s description only says that the restaurant staff came together to buy a car for their night-shift host. I texted general manager Heather Baber, who filled me in (quote edited for format only): Kelly is our nighttime host. Works super hard. He saved up money for a long time, paid cash for a car (from a private seller, I believe) and the engine blew up on his way home from buying it. He was devastated. This was approximately six months ago. Some of the staff had the idea a few months ago to get him a car, and with his birthday being [Sunday], it timed out perfectly with us being able to get a car from one of our regular customers who owns a car lot. He was crying on and off all night. He said it was the best day of his life. We are all so happy, and our patio stayed packed with customers waiting to watch the surprise. If you weren’t already a fan of Baja Grill, we hope this story converts you. At a time when outrage and anger seem to dominate our personal interactions, it is immensely refreshing to see something as purely good-hearted as this.

If you have been a food lover in Little Rock for more than a couple of years, you’re going to want to be at TAE in downtown this Friday night. Head chef Justin Patterson is bringing back the stupendous Spicy Chicken and Dumplings from his days at The Southern Gourmasian. This is a one-night-only deal; TAE will put the dish on the menu at 5 p.m. Friday, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. For those who never got to try the original, Gourmasian’s Spicy Chicken and Dumplings is one of the dishes that put the original food truck on the map. The extruded rice dumplings are one of a kind, and the heat from the sauce is so expertly tuned that it glows warm on the palate without ever becoming unbearable. TAE is expecting some serious demand for this evening, so the restaurant is recommending that you make reservations.

If you’ve been craving Big Orange lately, this is the best possible week to stop by. That’s because it’s End Hunger Week at all Big Orange locations. Through Friday, Big Orange is donating 50 percent of the sales of three menu items to the Arkansas Foodbank. Purchases of the signature cocktail Velvet Orange, the sweet potato fries and the special Ratatouille Burger all go toward the cause. These are some great dishes that go toward an even greater cause, so make plans to stop in before the weekend. The Arkansas Foodbank is a Little Rock-based nonprofit that works to connect people, resources and food to help those who need it most.

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Not a day goes by where someone doesn’t ask me about vegan options in Little Rock. For the next two weeks, I’m going to be pointing those requests to Table 28, arguably one of the city’s finest restaurants. Sept. 25–27, Table 28 is hosting Vegan Nights, featuring a prix fixe vegan menu that has some tantalizing dishes. Items like White Corn Pancakes, Rutabaga Gnocchi, Ralston Farms Rice with Roasted Fennel and a special version of Table 28’s Toffee Pudding all sound tremendous. Chef Scott Rains is one of the most forward-thinking chefs in all of Central Arkansas, and it will be thrilling to see what he can accomplish in a vegan setting. You can make your reservation today by calling 501-224-2828.

Arkansas’ beer scene keeps growing with the addition of two new breweries in Northwest Arkansas. We have the details of Hawk Moth Brewing’s and Ivory Bill Brewing’s openings in this weeks Growlers section.

And there’s a newcomer to the brunch scene that is already a serious player. We checked out the new Sunday brunch at Sauce(d) and found several dishes that will have us coming back for more.

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Rumbles: Baja Grill’s Touching Video, Gourmasian’s Spicy Chicken and Dumplings Return