What's cooking, capsule reviews March 23 

What's cooking
The finishing touches are being put on Mimi’s Cafe, situated in the parking lot of Garden Ridge, between Heritage Road and Chenal Parkway in West Little Rock and next to On the Border restaurant. Mimi’s is a West Coast chain of breakfast-lunch-dinner eateries with plate lunches and a variety of offerings, including specialty breads and muffins, steaks and burgers, fish and pastas. It’s begun pushing eastward with franchises. Opening date here is targeted for April 18-20.

Chef Paul Novicky and Nu Cuisine Lounge spring into the new season with a new menu, including eight new appetizers. Some of the pre-entree offerings include fried blue cornmeal crusted oysters with horseradish soft polenta and grilled corn/jalapeno salsa, and the salmon and ahi tuna tataki platter (the tuna paired with honeydew/pineapple salsa, the Asian barbecue glazed salmon with edamame peas). The specialty cocktail list has been given a spring cleanup.
Also, Nu is taking reservations for Mother’s Day Brunch on May 14. Call 378-7500.

We reported this a couple of weeks back on the Arkansas News Blog, but to bring you up to date: Chris King and Suzon Awbrey, the owners of Sticky Fingerz, have settled on the name Rumba Revolution for their new venture at 300 President Clinton Ave. That space has been home previously to the Pour House Bar and Grill and two other ventures, most recently Coconut Bay and Club Coconuts. King and Awbrey plan for a restaurant that will feature a Mexican-Cuban blend “unlike anything around here,” King says. The restaurant should be up and running next month. The bar/club space will be remade into a venue to draw up to 700 people for top club touring acts. It should open by early summer.

Capsule reviews

UPDATE: P.F. CHANG’S Allow us to differ with the Mongol hordes that cause waits into the hours to eat at this Brinker chain Chinese. We tried for a telephone reservation. Sorry, not available. But don’t worry, we were told. “There’s no wait currently and rarely is there much of one on Sunday evening. Come on out.” We went instantly. Eight minutes later we arrived. There were no seats available. We were promised a 10-minute wait. It stretched to 30. In the interim, people who walked in after us were seated, as were people with reservations. We waited another 10 or 15 minutes after seating for tea. Another 10 or 15 minutes for food and then we were delivered entrees. The appetizers were forgotten. The food was lukewarm, overly bland and familiar to anyone who’s eaten at any of the ubiquitous Asian joints around town, with one exception. We appreciated the effort on seared salmon with stir-fried vegetables and brown rice. It’s a healthy, carefully seasoned plate. Too bad the kitchen managed to do the near-impossible – overcook the salmon. Our Sunday evening pretty well ruined, we had to wait for our check while our server took an interminable time to manhandle some crepes stuffed with moo shu pork nearby. We know we’re in a minority, and undoubtedly had a night not typical of this wildly popular national chain, but for us: never again. 317 S. Shackleford Rd. Full bar. CC. $$ 225-4424 LD daily.

UPDATE: NEW CHINA On a recent trip to Memphis, New China’s name — listed on the highway sign touting restaurants at the next I-40 exit — caught our eye. Chinese fare is among our favorite, and now, it’s in Brinkley, too. New China is a small restaurant that shares a strip center with Kroger and Wal-Mart. There was consistent business on our Friday evening stop. You can order from the usual gazillion dishes off a menu, or go for the all-you-can-eat buffet. Buffet, we hit. The soups were excellent, boiled shrimp plentiful, and more non-standard entrees were here than what you would expect for a small-town place. One we have never seen before was an entree named “dragoon and phoenix.” It is a shrimp wrapped in chicken with a lightly seasoned non-fried coating. We noticed a lot of take-out business, too. Load up your Styrofoam container from the buffet, weigh it at the scales by the register, and pay $4.29 per pound, or order from the menu. Soft-serve ice cream and other desserts are available. 1401 Pinecrest Shopping Center, 870-734-1889. $. CC. LD daily.



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