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Clean breaks 

Fox and Hound is a winner for pool.

rack 'em up: Fox and Hound provides tournament-quality pool tables.
  • rack 'em up: Fox and Hound provides tournament-quality pool tables.

Given the sometimes shady reputation pool halls have — second in wickedness only to bars in the worried imaginations of many religious folk — Lakewood Village shopping center might not be the first place you'd think of when you think of shooting a game of Hoodlum's Chess. Then again, Fox and Hound ain't your average pool hall. Clean, well-lit, and stocked with tournament grade pool cues and 10 tourney-quality tables, the Fox and Hound in North Little Rock — part of a chain with 84 locations nationwide — puts the gentlemanliness back in the most gentlemanly of table games. Looking out from the wood-paneled and brass-appointed inside, it's easy to forget that you're marooned in strip-mall limbo.

One of the best things about Fox and Hound is that you don't have to worry about grabbing a roll of quarters to feed the table before you head out. You pay for games by the hour — $8 bucks per — leaving a driver's license at the front counter in exchange for a box of pool balls. Though beginner-worthy sticks are available at the table, you can also rent better-quality cues for a buck. The walls are lined with flat screens playing most any sport your heart might desire. If you're not interested in television or billiards, there's always the other great pool hall pastime: drinking and eating. Fox and Hound has a generous menu, including bar fare like burgers, chicken strips and nachos, but also full-on entrees like steaks, fish, big salads and desserts (to take a peek at the menu, visit their website at www.foxandhound.com). Their beer selection is fairly extensive, and they offer great drink specials like $2 pint nights.

The joint is open until 2 a.m. seven nights a week, with live music on Fridays and Saturdays, Karaoke on Tuesday, and Texas Hold 'Em poker tournaments on Mondays and Thursdays.

A recent visit found pool enthusiasts of all ages and all skill levels leaning over the felt, the crack of breaks, clinking glasses and laughter filling the place. Though service manager Amber Collet admits she's terrible at pool — which possibly has something to do with the fact that she also was never any good at geometry, she said — she sees the appeal. "I think for a lot of people it's just an escape," she said. "It's a sport that doesn't require any strenuous activty, so any age can do it. It's a game of skill, so there's definitely strategy behind the shots they make."

Sure, there are other, more gritty pool halls in town if you want to act out your Fast Eddie fantasies a la "The Hustler" (Best Place to Shoot Pool runner-up Midtown Billiards definitely leaps to mind in that regard). However, if you're looking for a calm, relaxing place to lift a pint while leaning on a stick, Fox and Hound is hard to beat.

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