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Maybe this reviewer should admit he’s not the best person to write about the new North Little Rock Hooters. For me, an even bigger sin than no service at all in a restaurant is the waiter or waitress who doesn’t know when to quit. I really can’t stand that. Look pal, I always want to say, here’s a $20 tip — now for the love of God, stop asking if I want another wedge of lemon for my water and leave me to stuff my gob in peace.
I understand that having pretty, friendly-to-a-fault women fawn over you is fully 96.3 percent of the appeal of Hooters. The waitresses do that in spades: sit at your table like an old buddy while they take your order, laugh at all your stupid jokes, even snap on rubber gloves to de-bone your chicken wings (an operation that leaves the viewer with a really weird mix of lust and revulsion — imagine an alien autopsy performed by a pneumatic brunette in orange hot pants and skin-tight, low-cut top).
And while having a woman who looks like she just stepped out of the Topheavy Tools calendar shuck your wings might be the coolest thing since macaroni and cheese for some dudes, to be honest, it kinda creeped me out.
My problem was not prudery, but needing some air. But Hooters isn’t a strip club, anyway. The truth is that Hooters is less about sex than it is about playing to the weaknesses and interests of guys, in all their tacky, tactless and — yes —T-and-A obsessed glory. Hooters knows its clientele well, and has perfected its pitch accordingly: beautiful waitresses who dress like cheerleaders, TVs in abundance, humongo beers, and a menu full of food you could eat in a universe that never saw the invention of the fork.
In fact, a strip club is to Hooters as Hustler magazine is to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue — so any reluctance on the part of women who want to try Hooters is wholly unwarranted.
My lunch companions, who included several women, were much more willing to go with the flow. While ol’ sourpuss was grumbling under his breath, they had a rollicking good time.
One thing our group agreed on: The food was actually better than any of us expected. We had assumed it was all about the cheesecake, but the menu is more extensive than standard bar fare, with plenty of fish and fowl entrees and 10 sandwich offerings.
Hooters is famous (in the food category) for its chicken wings, so we decided to start off with some of those. There are eight different sauces available; we tried Hot (wings breaded), the Samurai (wings breaded, though we were told later that was a mistake — we should have gone “naked”), and the 911 (wings naked). The Hot wasn’t quite hot enough, but the Samurai wings were good, thanks to a sweet and tangy teriyaki sauce that brought quite a bit of flavor to this oft-neglected appendage of our favorite bird. The 911 wings finally approached the needed level of heat, leaving our lips feeling as if we’d kissed a potbellied stove long after the bones were cleared away.
We needed no “de-boning” — the Hooters veteran in our group knew precisely how to handle it, tearing away the little wing like a grenade pin, then twisting the two bones together so the meat slipped easily away — but the waitress really seemed to want to help. We told her, “Have some fun.” She was so friendly and eager to please that we could not say no.
For entrees, we chose the Philly cheese steak, a Hooters Cobb salad and the New Orleans shrimp — a half-pound of ocean creepers sauteed in what was described as a Cajun roux (thin, but pronounced in rosemary, thyme and other herbs) and served with flat bread.
The Cobb salad was palatable but boring, and corporately correct, with tomatoes on the side. But no avocado, and topped with honey mustard instead of blue cheese. The Philly cheese steak was pretty much the standard issue: a hoagie roll stuffed with thin sliced steak, grilled onions, mushrooms and green peppers, all topped with melted provolone and served with a side of too-salty curly fries.
The most Hooters-appreciative of our lunchmates said he won’t be rushing back for the food anytime soon. But he said Hooters looks like a good place to hang out for awhile, down a few beers, and watch the game …
He might have trouble getting in. When the Times photographer went to Hooters to snap a picture at 2 p.m., there was a line outside the restaurant and an hour wait. Some people like friendly.
And while that doesn’t appeal much to anti-social ol’ Yours Truly, it’s an admirable quality to be had in any restaurant, no matter how pretty the waitresses are.
4110 E. McCain Blvd.
North Little Rock
In other cities, Hooters’ menu offers a wings and Dom Perignon special for $129.99, but in North Little Rock the choice is Korbel and wings for $49.99. Heck, how about some Andre and wings for $9.99 and we’ll call it a feast?
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Inexpensive to moderate prices. Credit cards accepted. Full bar, including a wide range of beers served on tap in 25-ounce mugs.