The great American diner. Few establishments have been more influential in the sculpting of the American culinary culture than these humble and beloved restaurants. But today they seem to be a dying breed. What with the uprising of farm-to-table, locavorism, fusion cuisine, and an emphasis on artisanal products, perhaps the lowly diner has become lost in the shuffle. I’m all for those things, truly, but I’m also convinced that sometimes there’s nothing more comforting and satisfying than traditional diner fare. Sitting down at a “greasy spoon,” being served a messy patty melt and fries or big, plate-sized pancakes with slabs of real butter—there’s something emotionally rewarding about such an experience. It’s the definition of comfort food.
Recently we stopped in for breakfast, a meal wherein a great diner separates itself from the rest. When a place offers breakfast 24-hours a day, you know this meal isn’t some meaningless afterthought, some hapless attempt to wrangle in a few extra customers in the morning hours. They’re not reserving the “show-stopping” dishes for dinner. No, breakfast is really the time to shine for any respectable diner. And shining is something that Starlite does exceptionally well.
We started with the “Big Boy” breakfast special. No surprises on this plate; all the expected breakfast staples make their appearance here. But it’s a substantial amount of food, sure to fill that empty space inside of you, that growling hunger aching for relief. Three eggs, three strips of bacon or sausage patties, hash browns, biscuits and gravy or two pancakes.
When the weekend arrives and I’m rolling out of bed on a lazy Saturday morning, before my feet even hit the floor, I’m already thinking about breakfast. I’ve already expressed my devotion to a variety of breakfast pastries and we’ve got some pristine options in the Little Rock area. But a discussion we had recently, as I shared with you all my list of the best donuts around town, brought to mind an underrepresented entity in central Arkansas, the lox and bagel. Fish for breakfast? If you have not sampled this ingenious, glorious creation, you’ve not yet experienced life to its fullest. While I’m not advocating anyone go spreading catfish on their cornflakes anytime soon, the subtle flavors of a good lox and bagel makes for a morning masterpiece. But in this landlocked state, does such an creature exist? Are there any such creations worth sampling? Why yes, my fish loving friends, there are…but not many.
We begin with a bialy. What’s a bialy? It’s a small yeast roll, very similar to a bagel, hailing from the frigid air of Poland. Unlike a bagel, however, which is boiled before baking, the bialy is simply baked. This changes the texture a bit; it’s a bit less chewy compared to its cousin the bagel. They’re also hole-less, instead only given a small impression on top that’s often filled with all sorts of herbs, spices, onions, etc. before it’s baked off. Boulevard Bread, a place which quite possibly has never and will never make a single culinary mistake in its entire existence, has decided to take this slightly unconventional route with its version of the classic lox and bagel. Traditional or not, the results are marvelous. If you haven’t had this fine breakfast sandwich before in your life, you’d be hard pressed to find a better version anywhere in this state. The sandwich starts with a very generous portion of sliced pink salmon, layered between the sliced bread. The salmon is tender, soft, and chewy, and for a city so far from the sea, it’s surprisingly fresh. The magic continues with a sizable spread of pure white cream cheese. I’m happy that Boulevard provides such a hearty layer of cool, creamy spread, for in this instance I don’t feel a miserly, thin spread would suit the sandwich. Instead the eater gets a lovely mouthful of cream cheese with every bite. Capers really make the sandwich sing. Salty, briny, a touch of bitter—capers are one of nature’s little nuggets of joy and almost always play well with salmon. A juicy red tomato, lettuce, and sharp red onion complete this winning formula. All in all, it’s a breakfast sandwich worthy of big props from the Big Apple.
On the other hand, if you find yourself north of the river, you may want to wend your way over to North Little Rock, where Morningside Bagels is offering their rendition of the classic lox and bagel. Here, Morningside excels where it matters most—the bagel. They boil and bake their bagels to the perfect consistency—coming out dense, chewy, but soft. Order the New Yorker way and get the “everything” bagel as the base for your breakfast sandwich. Here, “everything” means toasted garlic, poppy seed, and sesame. The garlic is a particularly wonderful addition and adds an aromatic, salty note to every bite. The remaining players in this sandwich mirror those in the Boulevard version: tomato, cream cheese, capers, onion, and smoked salmon. They could probably be a bit more generous with their smoked salmon, but overall, it’s a solid version of the classic lox and bagel.
Visit either Boulevard or Morningside (or both) for breakfast to see for yourself why salmon makes a suitable morning sandwich. Of course, it need not only be enjoyed in the A.M., but it’s certainly a fine thing to wake up to.
Over the last few months, there’s been occasional discussion (and often lamentation) on this blog over the lack of exceptional biscuits and gravy in central Arkansas. This is an issue I’ve found to be rather problematic as well, and have often been disappointed by a number of respectable, otherwise decent diners. The crux of the problem does not lie with the biscuit—it appears that many restaurants have taken great pride in creating an acceptable scratch-made biscuit. The real problem is the gravy—and this has baffled me for years. Why? Making a decent sausage gravy is actually a relatively simple process. It does not require a long list of costly ingredients or professional-level cooking skills. It does take a little more time, perhaps, and therein we see the root of the problem.
Too many breakfast menus have been plagued by the use of prefabricated, ready-mix gravy for use in their biscuits and gravy. The results of this bland, uninspired mixture are often fairly easy to recognize when eaten; a pale white, gummy gravy with little black flecks of pepper, usually lacking any richness, any depth of flavor. One simply finds a pitiful, flavorless amalgamation—often decent enough to not warrant too many complaints from customers, but never really winning praise from any diners, either. I’m sure you’ve eaten the crud before…it’s practically everywhere. It takes only seconds to mix and heat—just add milk and it’s ready to serve! But we should refuse to settle for such poor gravy, we should be committed to a gravy that’s constructed with care, something that would have made your dear, sweet Southern grandmother proud.
Outside of your home kitchen, this concoction, unfortunately, is not easy to find. But rest assured, gravy lovers. I have found a gravy worth seeking out, a biscuit and gravy dish that, in my humble opinion, has managed to outshine all others I’ve sampled in central Arkansas—and this may be found at The Root.
It’s probably no surprise that The Root is doing this dish properly. They invest the time necessary into all their locally sourced products to ensure that what’s being laid on customers’ tables is always fresh, always flavorsome, and always made with care. The biscuits and gravy, a staple on their breakfast menu, are certainly no exception.
Arising early on a Sunday morning, the wife and I found ourselves in need of some breakfast. There's an IHOP dangerously close to our house, so we shambled ourselves into some vaguely presentable clothes and drove the two blocks down only to discover that everybody else must have had the same idea we did — there was nary a parking space to be found. And when I mean no spaces, this includes the ones that our inventive Little Rock citizens invent for themselves in the nooks and crannies of our parking lots: even those spaces were full. Despite our ever-growing hunger, there's not an IHOP on this planet worth waiting to just park at, so we decided to drive on down the road a ways and take a look at one of Little Rock's local breakfast joints, the Ozark Country Kitchen. What we found was a bustling little cafe just this side of shabby that suited us just fine. The place was crowded, but the promise of the advertised "dinner plate sized" pancakes motivated us to stay.
Now our first order of business was coffee, and while it came quick and hot, it also came pretty weak. Not exactly second-day brewed grounds weak, but certainly not the invigorating draught we had hoped for. Still, half a cup in, we were feeling pretty plucky and the efficient service had food on the table pretty quick. First up was the Ham and Cheese Omelet, served up with country-fried potatoes, a biscuit, and some gravy. The biscuit and gravy were pretty mediocre, and I found the potatoes to be a touch undercooked, but that omelet was perfection. A good omelet should be cooked just until the eggs are set, folded over its filling, then served hot. Too many times omelets arrive at the table browned on the outside, a condition that leads to leathery, flavorless eggs. This omelet was soft and tender, filled with huge chunks of grilled ham and soft, melted cheddar cheese. Fully cooked, but not overcooked — and it's the only omelet like that I've ever been served in the city.
Next up were a pile of those famous pancakes, and the size was not exaggerated. At $5.49 for a stack of three, I felt at first that I wasn't likely to get my money's worth...and wound up leaving half a pancake on the plate. The grits and bacon I ordered on the side were, like the omelet's sides, pretty standard, but those pancakes were fantastic, fluffy and light, cooked through but still moist. There was real, honest-to-god sweet cream butter on the table, and while the syrup was of the anonymous and most likely corn-based variety, I didn't hesitate to drown those buttery flapjacks in an embarrassing amount of the stuff. Even better, the second round of coffee we were served obviously came from a fresh pot, and was much stronger and bold than the first cup.
I've been the victim of many a disappointing breakfast, and while Ozark Country Kitchen didn't win them all, it won were it mattered. The main dishes were well done, and the sides were passable enough that once the coffee situation was made right, we overlooked their small shortcomings. At any rate, we felt a lot better eating somewhere local, and wound up with far better pancakes than that other place.
Ozark Country Kitchen is located on Keightly Street just off Cantrell. They do country cooking later in the day, but I can't speak to how good it is — although I plan to make my way back soon enough. For an omelet and pancake sort of morning, though, I can't recommend the place highly enough.
After my lackluster brunch last week, I made it my mission to find some good Sunday breakfast food in this town. A friend of mine suggested Shorty Small's, a regional chain that I've always associated more with mammoth cheese sticks and cheep beer than eggs and sausage. Having been assured that brunch at Shorty's was worth it (even beyond the $0.99 mimosas), I headed over to Rodney Parham once again with high hopes for brunch.
First things first: Shorty Small's is an excellent place for folks in need of a pick-me-up brunch after a late Saturday night. The interior is easy on the eyes, with low lights and dark wood shielding the sensitive from the harsh light of day. Fans of taking a dose of the hair of the dog that bit them will find some excellent options here, from the aforementioned mimosas to $4.99 bottles of champagne to a selection of respectable Bloody Mary's starting at $2.99 and increasing in price and spice from there. These good deals are available along with the normal selection of beer and mixed drinks and are sure to soothe the raging beast hanging over from the night before.
As for food, my recommendation is to go with one of the Eggs Benedict variations on the menu — in particular the so-called Southern Benedict. This massive plate of food takes a buttermilk biscuit, adds a couple of patties of pork sausage, tops that with two perfectly poached eggs, then covers the lot in white gravy. Rich gravy mixes with the creamy egg yolks, firm whites, spicy sausage and fluffy biscuit to make every bite a piping hot joy to taste. And while the mountainous pile of egg and sausage is the star of the plate, the side dishes are pretty good, too: a fresh fruit salad gives a hint of healthiness to a plate that also includes a cheesy, greasy hash brown casserole and a hot, gooey honey bun. It's definitely too much food for one person, and exactly the right amount of food for a hungry brunch-goer.
Less successful, however, was the second entree we ordered: the Egg and Ham Chimichanga. In theory, this sounded awesome: a deep fried breakfast burrito filled with eggs, ham, and cheese. In execution, the eggs were overcooked and dry, the ham was non-existent, and the poor burrito shell was fried to the point of no return. Even with this weak showing, the plate was still better than most brunch plates we've gotten around town. The sides for the chimichanga were the same as for the Benedict, so all was not lost, but it won't be a dish we'll order again.
While nobody would ever consider Shorty's to be fine dining, it's a pretty great place for cheap eats and even cheaper drinks. The chain has tried unsuccessfully to expand in Arkansas, but the Little Rock branch (and one in Jonesboro) keep plugging right along like they always have. If you've only considered Shorty's a quick spot for lunch or a place to hit up for a burger in the evenings, think again: the brunch is good, it's cheap, and it might just be the best Sunday breakfast option that Rodney Parham Road has to offer. Shorty Small's is located a 11100 North Rodney Parham Road and they are open daily.
I've got a lot of respect for my Eat Arkansas co-conspirator Dan Walker, but sometimes we just don't agree about food. Things like maple-bacon doughnuts or pizza joints can cause any number of good-natured food-related arguments between us, so when Dan doesn't like a place, I usually wind up trying it myself to see if maybe he's gone off the deep end again.
Back last summer, Dan wrote up his experience at B-Side, the breakfast joint attached to Lily's Dim Sum on Rodney Parham Road. While the general opinion of B-Side in Little Rock is positive (including more than a few Readers' Choice awards from various publications), Dan's opinion was that the whole thing was a much-ado about relatively nothing. Not wanting one our local favorites to go down without a fight, I decided to go try the place for myself, an experience that leaves me with only one conclusion: Dan was completely right.
Wanting to try something I hadn't seen written up before, I went for the El Amigo brunch platter, a large plate of black beans, chorizo, scrambled eggs, tortilla strips, and pico de gallo. The large portion was a complete waste, though, as the entire thing lacked much flavor at all and came out almost completely cold. I inquired about the lack of spice in the dish — after all, it's advertised as a Mexican-inspired breakfast — and got the answer that spice just doesn't sell in the Little Rock market, an assertion I find to be completely ridiculous. From Chinese to Cajun to Mexican to the spicy chicken at Popeye's — there are tons of dishes in this town with an ample amount of spice and flavor that sell just fine. As for the lack of temperature heat in the dish, my server just said "duly noted" and went about her way. Lack of spice may be a personal preference (although I've gotten better chorizo from gas stations), but cold eggs and tough beans are unacceptable.
Our table tried a couple of other brunch dishes, including the Mad Scramble, a glorified potato omelet with only the slightest scattering of the bacon advertised on the menu. Temperature again was a problem, as if the dishes had spent some time hanging out at the serving window before getting picked up and brought the the table. The entire experience was so mediocre to not even rate being called "bad," rather it was simply one of the more forgettable meals I've ever had. It's impossible for me to believe that this plate of bland, lukewarm food is the best breakfast that Little Rock has to offer — especially since even a dive like Waffle House can at least get food served at temperature. All-in-all, I know B-Side has its defenders, and trust me: I wanted to be one of you. Unfortunately, I'm afraid Dan had it right all along: there's just not enough substance at B-Side to make it worth the hype.
The chicken fried steak was a decent representation of this classic southern favorite. The breading was crispy and golden brown, the underlying steak was sufficiently tender to easily be sliced through with the edge of a fork. It's not a mind-altering chicken fried steak (which I don't believe I ever had before) but it was tasty enough to warrant a repeat order. The eggs were done perfectly, likely the result of Frontier's veteran cooks spending countless hours at the flattop, turning out hundreds of eggs a day. The whites were soft and tender and when cut into, the yolks ran like a golden river released from the confines of an inhibitory dam. The hash browns were crisp but a little under-seasoned, nothing a sprinkle of salt didn't help. The biscuits are well done, fluffy and golden, with flaky insides that are rich with butter. Some may prefer to enjoy each item separately, but I tend to mix each part with its neighbor...steak and egg, egg and biscuit. They love each other, let them play together.
The buttermilk pancakes arrived piping hot, screaming for a dollop of whipped butter to grace their steaming surface. The two manhole-sized flapjacks were simply adorned with a swirl of whipped cream and we topped them off with maple syrup and butter available at the tableside. They weren't decorated with blueberries, chocolate chips, or nuts...they were simple mixtures of flour and water, but they were wonderful.
I don't have the time or the coronary arteries to eat breakfast like this every morning. But every once in a while, it's nice to mosey into your morning slow and easy, enjoying casual conversation over a warm plate of food. It will take you a bit longer than that value-menu Egg McMuffin, but it's certainly time and money well spent.
10424 Interstate 30
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…
Every city and town needs a reliably good local donut shop. A place where the bustling townsfolk can stop by on their way to the office and grab a box of warm glazed to win the affection of their fellow coworkers, or a place to rustle up a few chocolate coated Long-Johns and Bavarian-cream-stuffed donuts before setting out on a family road trip for the weekend. Often the greatest donut shops are not flashy or particularly beautiful on the exterior, often they are the kind of place you might drive by numerous times without even noticing they exist. But for those who are able to slow down and look around, perhaps even actively seek out an exceptional donut shop, these inconspicuous establishments make for a pit stop worth pulling over for.
In Benton, the walls of Dale’s Donuts have been packing in happy patrons since the early 90s. Donut lovers from all around central Arkansas are waking up early to make the drive to Benton in order to procure the hot, glazed pillows of fried dough that Dale’s has been perfecting for years.
One donut that stands out in the variety offered at Dale’s is the indulgent maple and peanut. The standard glazed donut gets a healthy slab of maple frosting and is then sprinkled in chopped peanuts. Although they are, perhaps, a little too generous with the frosting, the combination of maple and peanut is an unconventional pleasure. Another customer favorite, rather unique to this shop, is the chocolate cream filled bars. While most donut shops limit themselves to custard and whipped cream fillings, Dale’s offers a whipped chocolate cream, which they inject into a chocolate glazed Long-John. They are able to get the cream to travel the entire length of the bar, providing each bite with a good blend of chewy donut and creamy chocolate filling.
Since May, Revolution (the restaurant attached to the Rev Room) has been hosting a Beatles Brunch on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. What this means is, you order something called Strawberry Fields Salad, or maybe Lovely Rita Frittata, which you munch against the soundtrack of a multi-generational covers-crooning trio in the corner. Could be a bit high on the cheese factor (and it was, literally and figuratively), which is maybe why it took us a few months to make it out. But when we did, it was fun.
First off, Revolution’s décor is fabulous. It’s like a cross between a Día de los Muertos parade and a host of Toulouse-Lautrec dancers crashing a New Orleans house party, if that house is nestled inside a shallow cave. Start with an old warehouse (exposed pipes and jutting vents and such) painted black and retro-fitted with skylights that pour forth precise bars of light. Add roomy booths, an extensive collection of liquor bottles, saloon lamps and some strategically placed Mexican skeletons and wah-lah — the perfect place to medicate your Saturday night indulgences with a Sunday morning Bloody Mary. And this Bloody Mary lives up to the décor. It’s spicy but not peppery, stout but fresh, served with tangy pickled okra and a rim of chunky Cajun salt ($5 a joy-ride).
Food-wise, we went with cheese and eggs — though you could go with chicken and waffles or steak or even chicken hash (an intriguing prospect, no?). The Day Tripper Frittata was more omelet than quiche, with three cheeses (cheddar, monetary jack and, for a texture switch-a-roo, feta) and three veggies (spinach, tomato and portabella). It was well-cooked but, despite the host of ingredients, the salty feta eclipsed everything. The frittata was served with a side of tiny cubed potatoes (as all the entrees seemed to be) and boringly basic ketchup. This was no “Here Comes the Sun” moment, but it was a perfectly solid “Day Tripper,” and we’d do it again.
We also tried the Octopus’s Garden, two pan-fried crab cakes on a toasted English muffin, topped with poached eggs and a chipotle hollandaise. Even presented nicely (and it was), this is the kind of dish that solicits giggles. It’s just so, well, round. And gelatinous. And jiggling. But it tasted great, although it's a little heavy for our first-thing-in preferences. The hollandaise was mildly sweet and smoky, without being clumpy or thick (both common downfalls of hollandaise, in our experience). The wilted baby spinach tucked under the muffin was a happy surprise.
Entrees will run you around ten bucks, and the music isn’t over-powering. In fact, it was comforting and a little dreamy. Nothing like staying up all night and then breakfasting in a haze of good friends, red velvet, streaming light and gauzy curtains, while the whimsical melody to “Blackbird” floats behind and around you, somewhere just out of reach.
When I first heard about this thing called the “biscuit mountain” from the menu at B-Side, I was both excited and a little frightened. What kind of gastronomic behemoth could warrant such a name? I envisioned some kind of fairy-tale sized monstrosity, brought out on a giant platter requiring a waiter on each end to heft it onto the table. This imagined “biscuit mountain” would likely be at least two dozen buttermilk biscuits stacked, pyramid-like, a foot or two high, with thick sausage gravy streaming down the sides like volcanic lava. The eater would likely be challenged to strap on a bib and devour the concoction, perhaps with hands tied behind the back, in less than an hour in order to claim a novelty t-shirt and get their Polaroid pinned up on the restaurant’s wall-of-fame. You know, the kind of thing that Man vs. Food guy would be all over.
Well, my dreams were quickly shattered. What I got were two ordinary-sized biscuits, each with a pork sausage patty, a scoop of white gravy and an easy over egg. I’m not saying it’s tiny, but this thing is no mountain, hardly even a hill. But I suppose it appeals to those with more sensible portioning expectations. The most important question is, how did it taste? Perhaps the flavors are big enough to live up to its name? Not so much.
The biscuit mountain’s biggest problems stem from two of the four major elements, the gravy and the egg. The gravy lacks the richness needed in a good sausage gravy, a problem I’ve encountered all to often in biscuit and gravy dishes. The egg was just a little too “easy over,” so much so that the topside had a thin coat of completely raw egg white, transparent and clinging to the top of the “mountain.” I was a little nervous to even eat it.
Luckily, the meal wasn’t a complete disappointment. I ordered the fried “beignets,” which are served up four or eight to an order, with your choice of dipping sauces. I pounded down my order of eight donut-hole-like beignets with lemon and blueberry dipping sauces in a matter of minutes. They were nothing like what you might find in NOLA’s French Quarter but they were satisfactory.
Was this just a fluke? An off day? I’d be interested in going back for B-side’s chicken and waffles but raw chicken is not a risk I’m willing to take.
In my opinion, there are few things more intoxicating than walking into a donut shop early in the morning. The sights and smells leave such comforting impressions on the mind that it seems nearly impossible for your day to go wrong after such an experience. Mark’s Donuts, in North Little Rock, has been frying up hunks of dough since 1978. That’s more than 30 years of day-in-day-out kneading, frying, glazing, and stuffing sweet treats for the hungry and grateful patrons that frequent this neighborhood gem. Mark’s humble establishment may not seem like much from the outside, indeed the less-than-attentive driver would likely pass by it many times over without even noticing its existence, but what lay inside those weathered walls are some of the finest donuts I’ve ever eaten…anywhere.
Walking through the doors of Mark’s you are immediately overwhelmed with the sweet perfume of sweetened, fried dough. The racks behind the counter are stuffed full with enough variety to give the most indecisive of patrons heart palpitations, but luckily, these delights are cheap enough to drag home a dozen or two in order to sample the smattering of donut delectables Mark’s has to offer.
The standard by which any decent donut shop should be judged is their plain glazed, and Mark’s definitely rises to the occasion. These are denser and plumper than your average glazed donut, yet they retain a soft, pillow-like texture that pulls apart easily when bitten into. It’s a completely ethereal experience sinking your incisors into a hot, golden glazed donut from Mark’s. While many have touted the wonders of a certain donut chain offering “hot doughnuts now” pulled off a conveyer belt, I believe Mark’s has got them beat (to a bloody pulp) in nearly every aspect. In my opinion, the difference in quality is night and day.
With the plain donut providing a firm foundation, Mark’s other donut varieties continue to impress the palate of picky donuteers. The coconut-coated finds the thickly glazed donut rolled in shredded, sweetened coconut that gives the donut a slightly crispy chew on the exterior, beautifully countered by the soft inside. The fruit-filled varieties, which come in strawberry, blueberry, and lemon, are perfectly balanced blends of fruit, jam and dough. A personal favorite is the cream-filled, which finds white, airy cream piped in the center of a golden dough ball. It’s not overwhelmingly sweet, as this variety often is, but a harmonious interplay of dough and creamed sugar.
Mark’s in not the latest hotshot to hit the blossoming donut scene, but it certainly knows its way around the kitchen. While I vow to continue my search for the greatest donuts in central Arkansas, I am beginning to think I may have already found them. Once you try Mark’s for yourself, I bet you’ll come around to my way of thinking.
(Mark’s is open Mon-Sat from 5:30-11AM. Cash or check only)
4015 Camp Robinson Rd.
North Little Rock
I was skeptical, to say the least, of Delicious Temptations before my first visit. Tucked away in an indiscrete corner of northwest Little Rock, in a dreary strip mall, nearly completely hidden behind a Party City store, what good could come from this? Well, a whole lot, folks. What I found inside the welcoming doors of Delicious Temptations was, well, as you may have expected, delicious.
Only about a third of Delicious Temptations’ menu is geared towards breakfast, but here is where you will find some really wonderful things happening. And, in my humble opinion, the shining star in this constellation of breakfast beauties is the yogurt pancakes.
I’m really not even a big pancake guy, to be honest. I mean, I like them, but they are not typically my carb of choice when I sit down to breakfast. But after hearing such wonderful, life-altering tales about these near heroic pancakes, I knew this was one flapjack I could not pass up. What makes these pancakes so special is, undoubtedly, the yogurt. And whoever thought to throw yogurt into the pancake batter is nothing less brilliant, I’m talking Mensa level here, people. The tangy, creamy yogurt gives the light, thin cakes a tart, slightly sour flavor, that pairs perfectly with the addition of fresh fruit. I prefer them with strawberries or bananas, but it’s hard to go wrong with any of the optional mix-ins which include chocolate chips, pecans, blueberries, apple, walnuts or coconut. So good, I didn’t even use the syrup. I don’t know who developed this lovely recipe, but what they have created is pure magic, like the Harry Potter of Hotcakes.
For Superman, it was kryptonite. For brave Achilles, it was his heel. Everyone has a weakness and mine is donuts. I realize this is a problem, but there are few things that get me out of bed faster than the promise of a hot, glazed piece of fried dough. I would never advocate eating these gut bombs on a daily basis, but when I feel the need to indulge, a donut is my go-to breakfast item.
With the success of places like Doughnut Plant in NYC, Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, or Dynamo Donuts in San Francisco, in recent years, the humble donut has transformed from underrated and often criticized to trendy, artisanal, and fancified, just as likely to be found in the clutches of a skinny-jeaned hipster as a cop on a late-night stake out.
While the world is full of many beloved donut chains, I have always been partial to the small mom-and-pop donut joints hidden in neighborhoods around the city. And as a recent transplant to Arkansas, I have made it goal to hunt these down as often as possible. Which brings me to Early Bird Donuts.
The display racks at Early Bird are loaded with all the classics: glazed yeast raised, chocolate cake, blueberry cake, maple bars, fritters, cream and jelly-filled bismarks. It was hard to choose just a few, so I went with fourteen (for journalistic purposes, I assure you). Although I couldn’t polish off everything I ordered, I was pleased with my selections.
Those who jones for breakfast, take note: Early Bird, a new breakfast and brunch spot, is now in a soft-open phase at the corner of University and Kavanaugh. They'll be officially open for business next Tuesday.
Bar manager Paul Hohnbaum said the menu will be "breakfast to light lunch" with an emphasis on fresh, scratch-made offerings including high-quality oatmeal, grits, biscuits and gravy, and special egg dishes, as well as a number of pickled items made in the Blue Bird kitchen. The restaurant will feature a full coffee bar and full bar, including infused vodkas, unique mimosas and Bloody Marys.
Hohnbaum said that while the restaurant will strive to source local ingredients, that's not their focus. "It's something we're going to try to emphasize," he said, "but it's not going to be our political statement."
The restaurant will be open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, though Hohnbaum said that the closing might be extended to 5:30 p.m. if there's the demand. We're waiting for a call back from Blue Bird chef Carson Runnells for more on the menu and what early risers can expect.
UPDATE: Chef Runnells called us back. Hit the "continue reading" for details on menu, hours and drive-through offerings.
This is the most insane and hilarious way an old thread has popped back up…
Goof - send me your email to email@example.com
Daniel - better than Cordell's? If so I'd love the recipe.
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