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What's cooking/Capsule reviews, Dec. 7 

What's cooking

Jerry Barakat continues to grow his local restaurant conglomeration with the recent opening of Blue Agave in the location on Rahling Road previously housing Barakat’s Gaucho’s Grill. Barakat moved Gaucho’s, Little Rock’s first Brazilian-style churasscaria, to the space formerly leased by Tony Roma’s, at 11 Shackleford Drive.

Blue Agave is described by Barakat as a Mexican-Caribbean-style eatery, but the menu features such Mediterranean-region specialties as paella and bouillabaisse. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Village at Rahling Road. The telephone number is 821-1814.

Incidentally, Gaucho’s Grill’s new number is 954-8787, but for the time being its old number rings directly to the new location. Barakat also owns Jasmine’s/Sesame’s/Jimmy B’s in the Village at Rahling Road, along with Terrace on the Green on Rodney Parham Road.

Rumba, the Mexican-Cuban-style eatery at 300 President Clinton Ave., has changed up its menu. Some of the new items include tortilla-crusted salmon, chicken tacos, blackened fish nachos, a border turkey club sandwich, pulled pork enchiladas and a roasted red pepper bisque. Rumba’s telephone number is 823-0090.

Capsule reviews

NEW: CREW RESTAURANT AND BAR The owner/chef’s culinary background shows in thoughtful but not fussy entrees, including fish, lamb and duck, at one of the new restaurants in the Pleasant Ridge Towne Center. Interesting appetizers include Chinese pork spring rolls and seared tuna with seaweed salad, plus quesadillas and spinach dip perhaps more suitable to the spacious bar, with its big-screen TVs for sports watching. It’s a sleek, metropolitan setting, even if you need not dress fancy. The black-clad team servers hustle to please. Lots of sandwiches will appeal to shoppers and commuters on the run, as well the crispy thin fries. 11525 Cantrell Road. Full bar. CC. $$ 223-3553. LD.

NEW: AMECA EL CANAVERAL MEXICAN RESTAURANT Those ubiquitous “authentic” Mexican restaurants have reached Arkansas County, with one of the nicest eateries around. The food is OK — a little white-cheese bland everywhere for our taste, but the DeWitt folks who pack this place every time we’ve driven by seem to love it. Entrees range from the lunch special taco-enchilada “Speedy Gonzalez” that everyone has (this one is just $3.50 and available every day) to $5.99 combo dinners to the fancy shrimp dishes, carnitas, a rib-eye done the Ameca way with grilled mushrooms and onions, and more. Burritos, taquitos are more are fairly dependable. The salsa is typical, the cheese dip a little runny and begging for more kick, but this reviewer is used to the diversity of Mex in Little Rock. For a little Delta town that hasn’t had much in the way of contemporary-style restaurants open here, Ameca is a welcome addition on the main highway (state Highway 1, near the intersection with U.S. 165), south of downtown. There is also an Ameca in Arkansas County neighbor Stuttgart. 1836 Whitehead Drive, 870-946-0460. Margaritas available. CC $$. LD daily.

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