A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.
Friends, let me let you in on a little secret: It's hot out there.
As the folks over at the college will tell you, August is the month when many Arkansans – fed up with the heat of July — say chuck it all and commit themselves to an existence revolving around cold beer, nude kiddie-pool lounging and abject sin. Ironically, all that mass nekkidness physically draws the entire state several feet closer to Hell, resulting in even higher temperatures – not to mention multiple skin grafts for the owners of cars with black vinyl seats. Now you know.
Given that none of us is going to even think about repenting until The Lord sees fit to cut us a plea bargain around mid-September or so, you might as well indulge your inner glutton with a cheeseburger and some ice cream. You're just going to sweat off those extra calories on the way to the mailbox anyway.
In Little Rock, one of our favorite joints when it comes time for a milkshake and a burger has long been the Purple Cow. Recently, we heard the venerable Little Rock joint had been sold (they've got franchises in Plano, Dallas and Fort Worth, Tex., as well as Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, Virginia) so we decided it was time to stop in to see if the latest owners had made any changes.
The good news is: from the looks of the menu, everything is the same as it ever was. There's some comfort in that, even when the parking lot is the temperature of a George Foreman grill.
On a recent visit, we tried our old favorite: the pepper jack burger ($5.55) with a side of the Cow's delectable onion rings. To go with it, we went with the triple treat chocolate malt ($4.15). Companion, meanwhile, tried the chicken Caesar salad ($9.25), with a (yawn) unsweetened ice tea.
Our food arrived quickly, with plenty of the friendly service that the Purple Cow is known for. Our burger was really well prepared – a nice-sized grilled patty with pepper jack cheese and generous toppings. It was very tasty, well-seasoned and served with a toasted bun. It might be a bit tepid for you heat lovers, though which is why the Purple Cow also offers their five-alarm burger ($6.25), which features pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, salsa, chipotle mayonnaise and “special seasonings.” (We had one of these a few years back, and we can tell you: It's enough to break you out in a cold sweat.) The onion rings, meanwhile, were excellent; sweet onions, fried in a spicy, crunchy coating. Then there was the third in this unholy trinity, our malt. Though Purple Cow's milkshakes and malts might seem a bit pricey, they're actually a sort of two for one special, given that they bring both the full glass and the big metal shake-machine cup – half full, with a long spoon – to the table. It's more than enough for two.
And about that milkshake: this one was a killer; made with Yarnell's chocolate ice cream, with chocolate syrup and shaved white chocolate on top, it's rich enough to make you feel a little guilty from thinking about starving orphans in benighted countries. Orphans aside, it's very, very tasty.
Companion, meanwhile, found much to like about her chicken Caesar salad; a big, big bowl of mixed greens, black and green olives, marinated chicken breasts and tangy sauce. Though they managed to trip the switch on one of her pet peeves – not heating up the chicken, which she said always makes her suspect her salad was cling wrapped in some big refrigerator 10 minutes before it hit the table – she said it was overall very nice, with a tasty scald on the chicken breast, a good dressing and a nice zing from the green olives.
As far as we know from our recent visit, nothing has changed at the Purple Cow other than the owners and maybe the menu layout. That's a good thing. They don't call it comfort food for nothing.
The Purple Cow
11602 Chenal Parkway
If you're in the mood for a sweet little kick, try one of the Purple Cow's adult shakes ($6.25); any flavor of malt or shake on the menu with a 1 ounce shot of amaretto, Irish cream, crème de menthe, coffee liqueur or orange triple sec stirred in. It's a mixed drink that even a Baptist preacher wouldn't turn down.
Sunday - Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Sunday brunch, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Cheap to moderate; all credit cards accepted; beer, wine, some mixed drinks.