Welcome to “Around the Rock,” a weekly peek into my culinary adventures and a means to keep you in the loop with all the happenings in our Little Rock food scene.
Hey, make no mistake, when I’m wrong about a place, I’m not afraid to admit it. I may have been wrong about The Fold. My first experience shortly after the restaurant opened left me unimpressed— due to high prices, small portions, and clunky service. Fast forward to last week, when Rock City Times Founder Greg Henderson and I hit the place up for lunch. My Mango Carrot Slaw proved to be a wonderfully fresh appetizer and the Loco taco plate–a vegetarian option comprised of grilled mushrooms, poblano peppers, and onions, topped with chunks of avocado–was a hit.
My lunch with Daniel Walker proved to be just, well … a lunch. I enjoyed the open air seating at the newly named Café 5501 (formerly RJ Tao) but my Warm Cremini Mushroom Salad left me wondering if Café 5501 has the creativity and overall food execution to stick around. Chunks of sautéed mushrooms and bits of bacon rested on a bed of boring spinach leaves. Some balsamic vinaigrette was scattered about, but not enough to properly dress the salad. I certainly won’t base my entire opinion of a place on one salad, but this wasn’t a good start for Café 5501.
Café Prego’s kitchen may have been slow as molasses, but damn if they didn’t churn out a delicious Chicken Pesto Sandwich the other day. The thin, yet moist chicken breast was topped with pesto, melted cheese, and roasted red peppers and rested on a slightly toasted soft baguette. Perfection.
Next time you’re at the Hillcrest Farmers Market, please go check out the Rattle’s Garden table. Tara is an absolute delight and their vegetables are truly some of my favorite around. I just purchased a basket of beautiful green/yellow squash.
Chang Thai is worth the drive up to Sherwood. If you love Thai food and have lived in the area for any length of time, this bit of news comes as no surprise. We have a severe shortage of quality Thai spots around town, so while driving 30 minutes each way is a bit much, I’m still thankful for the option. Get the Pad Thai with Tofu and thank me later.
Congrats to Chef Matt Bell of South on Main and Chef Alexis Jones of Natchez on being selected to participate in Outstanding in the Field next Thursday, October 10 at Delta Sol Farm in Proctor, Arkansas with Chef Kelly English from Restaurant Iris, Chef Andrew Ticer & Chef Michael Hudman from Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, and Chef Jonathan Magallanes from Tortas Las Tortugas. It’s a huge honor for two of Little Rock’s top chefs. Eating all of these great chefs’ creations in a field sounds like a pretty awesome event.
The 6th annual B Street Rib Off will take place on Saturday, October 19 at MacArthur Park in Little Rock. The BBQ cooking competition includes ribs, chicken and side dishes. All proceeds from the B Street Rib Off will benefit the Arkansas chapter of the American Cancer Society. The early registration deadline is October 9 and includes two event shirts for $75. Also, the public is invited to judge the side dish competition for a $5 donation.
Finally, head north next Thursday, October 10 from 5-7 p.m. for the Taste of Conway event—it features 30+ vendors and will be held at the Conway Expo Center and Fairgrounds. Tickets are $15.