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Monday, June 9, 2014

Cheers & Jeers: Banana pudding to Baja Grill

Posted By on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 5:54 AM

click to enlarge Capital Bar and Grills banana pudding
  • Capital Bar and Grills banana pudding


Time for another session of Cheer & Jeers, my periodic round-up of things that are making their way into my mouth…some good, some bad…time to lay it all out there. Fortunately, looking back at my recent life in food, I’ve eaten much more good than bad…either that, or I’ve selectively blocked those bad items from my mind. Regardless, here we go:

click to enlarge Maddie's Place meat pies
  • Maddie's Place meat pies
A big cheers to the Capital Hotel and Capital Bar & Grill  They really seem to have upped their game of late, and after a few less than stellar visits over the last year, I’m happy to report that all my recent ventures there have been first-class. It took way too long for these to enter my life, but I’m now hopelessly addicted to their spiced, candied pecans. They’re delicate, meaty, crunchy, sweet, and just slightly spicy…a better pecan will not likely be found in all of Little Rock. And CBG’s banana pudding is as fantastic as ever, even with the loss of their once celebrated pastry chef, Tandra Watkins.

Another cheers to Maddie’s Place for providing us with one of the most delectable meal starters I’ve eaten in this town…the ribeye and blue cheese meat pies. Sweet baby James…these things are wonderful. Shredded steak, tangy blue cheese, all in a crunchy crust, then dipped into jalapeño ranch and topped with a spicy carrot slaw. Do not, I repeat, do not miss these.

click to enlarge Pie Shop at Terry's oatmeal cream pies - LRFOODCAST
  • LRFoodcast
  • Pie Shop at Terry's oatmeal cream pies
And while we’re in Riverdale, both cheers and jeers to a recent meal at Loca Luna  Actually, this was my first time eating at the long-time Little Rock staple. Our group sampled a large number of items, and honestly, I found the menu a bit stale. Shrimp burrito, quesadillas, filet, and several other appetizers ranked in at “decent but nothing exciting." I was, however, pleased with their signature osso bucco…a mammoth-sized pork shank that’s served up glazed in cranberry and pinot noir, making it exceedingly tender and quite well executed. The other accompaniments on the plate were nothing noteworthy. And I will also admit, I ate a very large number of “Bangkok Bang Bites"  fried crawfish tails and shrimp in a Thai chili sauce.

Cheers to the recently opened Pie Shop at Terry’s. They’ve got me hooked on their perfectly done oatmeal cream whoopie pie. It’s clearly a nod to the classic Little Debbie snack, but it’s executed on a whole other level.

Jeers to Chi’s Chinese on Markham and Shackleford. My recent first visit there did not leave me longing for more. Soggy, greasy and flavorless were the themes of our take-out dinner.

click to enlarge Baja Grill's Cuban Burrito
  • Baja Grill's Cuban Burrito

click to enlarge Baja Grill's Triple Dipper
  • Baja Grill's Triple Dipper
But a big cheers to Baja Grill  the recently opened “Mexi-Cali” restaurant in the Heights. Their “Triple Dipper” appetizer, with cheese dip, salsa, and guacamole, could not possibly be done any better. Thin, crispy chips with wonderful dips…do not miss this dish. And I love their Cuban burrito like my own child. Just go eat it and you’ll understand.

Jeers to Doe’s Eat Place for mutilating our recent meat-fest. In their defense, we were with a large group, but the dinner was planned well in advance and the dining room was private. They should have been able to handle this. Food was painfully slow to come out, some items were forgotten altogether, and the “medium-rare” steaks (and I like my steak fairly rare), were so rare they were inedible. I love you, Doe’s, but this was a big misstep.

Cheers to Mylo Coffee Co , who I’ve written of many times in the past. But a recent visit found me sampling their “Scotch egg” for the first time, and no surprise, it was excellent. Quality sausage wrapped around a perfectly cooked egg. Try one, folks.

And final jeers to some of the worst pizza, if not the worst pizza, I’ve ever eaten. Yes, I’m looking at you, Domino’s. When and why did they decide to start soaking their crust in garlic butter? I mean, it was literally oozing butter. It was so terrible, I couldn’t eat it…and turning down any pizza is an occurrence I’ve rarely run into in my life.

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