Thursday, November 1, 2012

Begin with breakfast at Dogtown Coffee and Cookery

Posted By on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Dogtowns Dirty South Biscuit
  • Dogtown's "Dirty South Biscuit"

Nothing embodies the Southern breakfast experience more than biscuits and gravy. They are, in my opinion, one of the greatest breakfast combinations of all time. However, you’ll find such variety in their preparation throughout the southern states that it’s no surprise that many diners tend to gravitate towards and frequent a particular restaurant based on their ability to produce a respectable rendition of this classic dish. I’ve enjoyed biscuits and gravy from a good number of restaurants in central Arkansas and there is no doubt that we can absolutely hold our own when compared to other states in the biscuit belt. After hearing they make a respectable plate of biscuits and gravy, for the past few weekends I’ve been trekking out to North Little Rock to work my way through the enticing breakfast menu at Dogtown Coffee and Cookery, a small, cozy joint just off JFK Blvd. Many a biscuit, bacon slice, and baked good later, here is my report…

Dogtowns True Southerner
  • Dogtown's "True Southerner"
I first sampled Dogtown’s “True Southerner” breakfast, which is simply a clever way of saying biscuits and gravy, nothing more. The biscuits here are quite an achievement in the field of flour and water, and finer I have not had in central Arkansas. All the necessary elements are here: a golden brown exterior, tender, flaky inside with an obviously healthy helping of butter as the interior was rich, dense and delectable. These biscuits would have made a wonderful companion to any number of condiments or other addition, whether sweet or savory. But I could not pass up the offer of a few ladlefuls of creamy, white sausage gravy. In regards to biscuits and gravy, I generally find the most fault with the gravy. In my mind, the perfect gravy must be thick, peppery, rich, and generously endowed with crumbled country sausage. Too often, I’ve been let down. Dogtown’s sausage gravy could afford a bit more sausage and a pinch more pepper. More sausage, broken down into smaller bits, would likely provide a little more richness to an otherwise exceptional dish, but as it was, the white gravy leaned a little on the bland side. Overall, it was a respectable start, but not something I’ll be heading back for.

Luckily, another round of breakfast brought better fortune. The “Dirty South Biscuit” again utilizes Dogtown’s delectable biscuits, but this time, tops them with crispy fried chicken strips, cheddar cheese, dill pickle slices, and a coarse-ground honey mustard dressing. This is one beautiful biscuit dish. The handful of golden chicken strips, with crunchy exterior and juicy interior, played extremely well with the briny dill and sharp zest of mustard seed. A touch of honey added a much-appreciated sweet note to the mix as it tickles the tongue gently amidst the onslaught of cheese, butter, and spice. I’m not certain if Dogtown expected this large pile of chicken and biscuit to be eaten with fork and knife or as a sandwich with the above-mentioned ingredients pressed between the two halves of the split biscuit. Regardless, this dish sat so high off the plate, chicken all a-kilter, shredded cheese touching nearly every inch, I was not about to attempt redirecting these ingredients to a more manageable sandwich form…fork and knife worked just fine. This dish left such a favorable impression on me, after returning home and raving about it to my significant other (and subsequently receiving a gentle scolding for not bringing home a to-go order for her), we vowed to return the next weekend for brunch…and return we did, enjoying it just as much during round two as I did the first go-round.

The Waffle Melt Sandwich
  • The Waffle Melt Sandwich
While a number of items on Dogtown’s breakfast menu taunted me as we were deciding what else to order, one item could not be forsaken: the “Waffle Melt” sandwich. Dogtown’s decision to replace ordinary bread with two crispy waffles is not only brilliant, it makes me wonder what else I should be attempting to stuff between two waffles…meatballs, peanut butter and jelly, corned beef? Questions yet to be answered. In this case, Dogtown’s waffle sandwich takes two bright, golden waffles and stuffs them with smoked turkey slices, thick-cut bacon, and cheddar cheese, then throws the entire thing on a buttered griddle as you might treat a traditional grilled cheese. The waffles come out with a crunchy crust, buttery and greasy, the cheese is perfectly melted. A nicely done thick-cut bacon such as this is a beautiful thing, offering a bit more chew than its thinner, often overdone counterparts. The sandwich gets a light dusting of powdered sugar and is paired with a cup of thick maple syrup for dipping. The end product is a sandwich in which each bite hits the tongue with elements of sweet and sugary, salty and rich, crispy and soft. The maple syrup, particularly, is a nice touch…enough to remind me I was eating a breakfast food, but without overwhelming the beautifully done elements within the sandwich.

I’m anxious to return to Dogtown Coffee and Cookery to further explore their menu. Items such as chicken and waffles or the Creole omelette with andouille sausage, eggs, fried potatoes, and Dogtown’s beloved cheese dip will ensure that this happens sooner rather than later. But I know it will be difficult to ever sit down at their tables again without one of their wonderful biscuits within my grasp.

Dogtown Coffee and Cookery
6725 JFK Blvd
North Little Rock
Breakfast and Lunch: 6AM-3PM daily

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