Burger joint of the week: The Chopping Block Steakhouse | Rock Candy

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Burger joint of the week: The Chopping Block Steakhouse

Posted By on Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 11:01 AM

BIG TASTE:  Blue Cheese Bacon Crumble Burger at The Chopping Block Steakhouse
  • Kat Robinson
  • BIG TASTE: Blue Cheese Bacon Crumble Burger at The Chopping Block Steakhouse
There is something to be said for a steakhouse burger. They tend to be meatier, somehow — either from being fresh meat ground on-site or cooked on a grill or… or something.

The burgers offered at Mena staple The Chopping Block Steakhouse come deliciously grill-charred, fat on grilled buns with an ample supply of fries. I’m not certain why I haven’t heard more about this place.

Found it while I was down in Mena a while back on assignment. It’s in a two story log cabin along Highway 71 south of downtown, a friendly environment peppered all over with photos taken by the proprietor, William Rainey. He and his wife have been running the place since 1991, and have owned it outright since 2000 — though the original restaurant dates all the way back to 1975.

As per our usual mission, at least one of us was going to consume a burger — and we’d already agreed that we’d share a burger this time. But the smell of smoke and of fresh beef that permeated the air when we arrived made that choice impossible. We both wanted burgers of our own.

We decided to split an appetizer while we were waiting for our burgers to be cooked to order. For us, the Texas Toothpicks ($5.99 or $2.99 for a half order) were a must, and we were well pleased with them — a plate full of onion and jalapeno straws served up with a choice of dipping sauces. We chose cheese sauce and Ranch dressing, but honestly neither one was necessary… they were nicely battered and seasoned, crispy and addictive.

Our burgers came out shortly — half pound burgers served up on platters with big doses of French fries. The sourdough buns were nice and toasty, obviously cooked on the grill alongside the burger patties. Very nice.

My dining companion had chosen the Blue Cheese Bacon Crumble ($6.99 with fries) — a burger with blue cheese crumbles, big strips of bacon and a blue cheese dressing. The blue cheese was impressively clumped over the top of the patty, slightly melted — and an equally impressive rasher of bacon curled over the top of it all. It smelled smoky and delicious.

I’d gone for simplicity with the Steakhouse Burger ($4.99 with fries). It came out very simple — no cheese (I didn’t order any), a single slice of tomato, a big flat pickle, shredded iceberg lettuce and mayo and a pickle spear on the side. But altogether it was a lovely burger. The sourdough bun had apparently been buttered before grilling and was nicely toasty but still holding up well. The char lines on the beef were a little crusty, and the inside of the patty was a balanced pink between medium and medium rare. The patty had been seasoned with onions and black pepper, maybe a little salt but nothing else to hide the good fresh quality beef within.

The fries were also worthy of mention — handcut on site and hearty-thick planks meant to stand by a steak.

The burgers were delicious and filling — and I still don’t know how we managed to come to the idea of sharing a dessert, but we did — a Brownie Cheesecake that was really rich, nutty and with huge chunks of brownie in it. What surprised us about this was the price — $5.99, more than we had expected. I suppose richness has its price.

There are many, many, many other options at The Chopping Block — a whole array of steaks, of course, all hand-cut on site. There are lots of seafood options — catfish and shrimp star there. There’s a selection of Country Dinners, half a dozen salads and even a couple of Mexican options. We’ll probably stop in on our next visit.

The Chopping Block is open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. (479) 394-6410 or check out the website.

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