Thursday, September 9, 2010

Meat and more meat

Posted By on Thu, Sep 9, 2010 at 10:26 AM

MEAT & MORE MEAT:  Steak and burger lunch at Good Times Grill
  • Kat Robinson
  • MEAT & MORE MEAT: Steak and burger lunch at Good Times Grill
I like a good place to stop in wherever I go. I think everyone does. And a good place that serves a nice variety of food — that’a a bonus.

So finding the Good Times Grill in El Dorado was a treat. It was a treat that almost didn’t happen. Grav and I were looking for Spudnuts and had just discovered that there are no Spudnuts served on Sunday. We were hungry, and we were nigh on breakfasted out. It was about 10am and we didn’t want a chain experience.

We saw a few cars outside the place on North West Avenue just outside of the downtown district and decided what the heck. Pulled up and were met at the door by a couple of black shirted wait staff. “Y’all ain’t from around here, are you?” one of the guys asked.

Grav at that point still had out of state plates. He started explaining where he’d been (Chicago) and that he’s here now and I just let him ramble. Thinking we were from somewhere else kept the questions down, in my honest opinion.

Inside there was a rather large waiting area, and a counter, and no tables to sit at. It looked a little odd. But a waiter took us through to one of what turned out to be a series of dining rooms and gave us a booth on the side.

The menu took a while to get through; I think Grav was relieved we wouldn’t be having breakfast again (we’d had breakfast the night before at Johnny B’s, all in the name of research) and I already had a pretty good idea what would be a good antidote to all the pastries and eggs I’d been consuming would be. But the menu just didn’t help. It went on for pages with Mexican dishes, pasta, salads, steaks, burgers… we both giggled at the appetizers and the listing for fried clam strips — I doubted either of us wanted to repeat our clam-strips-in-Crossett experience — but left them alone.

  • Kat Robinson

What did sound good, though, were the Fried Mushrooms ($4.95 for half a pound, $7.95 for a full pound)… they sounded plentiful and I just like the idea of a good fried mushroom, so we ordered a basket while trying to decide what we were going to get.

I really, as I mentioned, knew what I wanted, and though the pasta dishes tempted me I went ahead and ordered a simple steak. Grav got a burger, and we started going over our notes on South Arkansas. We had stories to turn around.

Here come these mushrooms, and the rather courteous gentleman who was waiting on us brought this somewhat overloaded basket to our table and gave us a couple of plates and a couple of containers of Ranch dressing. And these mushrooms were huge — big button mushrooms breaded with a blend of flour and cornmeal and nicely deep fried. They were absolutely wonderful and bigger than I’m used to getting at a restaurant. Far more plentiful, too.

  • Kat Robinson
We shared our thoughts with each other about whether the place could be making any decent money serving anything like this when our entrees arrived.

Grav had gone for the Bacon Time Burger ($7.25). Now, all the burgers are a half pound of lean hamburger meat (except the Jack of Diamonds burger) and they all come with a nice helping of French fries. Grav’s burger came with mustard, lettuce, both grilled and regular onions, pickles, tomatoes, Swiss cheese and a hefty dose of bacon. He says it was rather tasty and substantial, and I’ll have to take his word on it. It was indeed a very rich, wet looking sort of burger.

  • Kat Robinson

I had a pretty typical though tomato-heavy salad (I like tomatoes, so this is a good thing) and was explaining the significance of club crackers and butter and old men in Arkansas to Grav (this is a topic for another entry one of these days when things are light) when we’d received our entrees, and I looked up to see this massive sweet potato. It must have weighed a pound. It was packed full of brown sugar and cinnamon and butter and it lorded over everything else on the plate. It was huge. Colossal. And because it was so big, it’s hard to determine the real size of the steak. I got the smallest steak on the menu, a six ounce ribeye, but it was large enough and it looked tasty. The meal came with a couple of triangles of Texas toast.

MEDIUM RARE:  Should look like this
  • Kat Robinson
  • MEDIUM RARE: Should look like this
Now, another gripe of mine is that in our state, the rules about cooking a steak don’t always apply. Usually when I go somewhere I order my meat medium rare, knowing full well it’s going to come out medium and not very rare. Not at the Good Times Grill. I got the warm red center I was looking for. Better yet, the steak had been nicely seasoned on both sides, which meant I didn’t have to reach for the steak sauce. It was quite delicious. And the dinner was just $11.95.

One of the other waiters dropped by our table and asked Grav about Chicago. The two sunk into this conversation about all these places both had lived (it was strange, they seemed to have settled in a lot of the same towns) and I got into my meal. The waiter got called away by a group of wait people heading for the back of the restaurant. He apologized and said it was time to sing a birthday song. Grav looked at me, I looked at him and he grabbed his camera and took off. I swear, he looked like a kid in a candy store.

  • Grav Weldon
See, Grav’s not a journalist. He’s an artist, and he looks for great things to shoot. Which is how we managed to be able to share this photo of this little girl’s second birthday meal with the singing wait staff at the Good Times Grill. I think that’s just neat.

After he came back, one of the waitresses stopped by and talked with us. I found out that the restaurant had been damaged in a storm a while back at its past location, which is how it came to be where it is now, in a former lazer tag place that used to be called the Jack of Diamonds (hence the Jack of Diamonds Burger). Interesting to note.

We checked out and headed on, still with assignment stuff to cover before heading back (we were about 50 hours into our 60 hour research trip across South Arkansas at that point). Several members of the wait staff shared salutations as we headed for the door. Nice, friendly folks.

You can find the Good Times Grill on North West Avenue in El Dorado. I don’t believe they have a website, but you can always call (870) 862-6922.

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