Saturday, March 29, 2008

Rocky's Pub

6929 JFK Blvd, North Little Rock, Arkansas (501) 833-1077

I don't know why I've waited so long to review this place. We normally go there at least once a week and have for quite some time. It's not that I think it should be kept a secret, that was blown a long time ago and the place stays packed pretty much all the time. It's not because it's unremarkable, it's definitely worth a review - the food is quite good and I really like the folks that work there. So why wouldn't I tell you about it?

Probably because I'm lazy, but let's just say that I just never got around to it until now. Why now? Because the other night when we went in there, I tried something different and was so impressed I felt compelled to write about it. We've tried the Italian food there. It's quite good. The Philly Cheesesteak is the best you can get this side of Pat's Steaks in Philadelphia. [They don't have the hot sauce like Pat's, though :-( ] I love their home made potato chips. But that night I tried the "Rocky's Griller" sandwich. Ham, bacon, tomato, cheese all grilled up on big thick, buttery slabs of Italian bread. I may not eat anything else when I go there ever again. If you've read here for any length of time you know that I'm like that.

Nestled in the Indian Hills Shopping Center along with Kroger and other retailers, you may not find this place on your own. But word of mouth has been a good friend to the Dunlaps, and business is brisk in their little store front.

Rocky's is a good place to have a drink, too. There's lots of regulars there and the repartee between the staff and the regulars is entertaining and you find yourself being pulled into the conversation with them. I've gotten where whenever we want to get take out from there, I don't call it in. I just go sit at the bar, place my to-go order and have a couple of drinks and soak it all in. Pat, the owner (there is no Rocky,) always comes out from the kitchen and greets me by name when I come in. He knows what brand of beer I want to order, and he makes sure that things are running smoothly and everyone is getting what they want.

Mind you, this is not a fast food place. Don't go if you are in a hurry to be somewhere else. But if you don't mind a leisurely pace, friendly (and entertaining) staff, and great food combined in one feel-good atmosphere, this is the place to go. Maybe if enough of us become regulars there, Pat will take over the empty restaurant down the hill where Gabriel's used to be. Then there'd be room for all of us.

Moderate pricing, generous portions, clean, pleasant and friendly. Highest recommendation.

Friday, March 14, 2008

If You Didn't Get It All Over You, You Didn't Do It Right

Whole Hog Cafe
5107 Warden Rd
North Little Rock, Arkansas 72116

Ya'll know that I'm very provincial when it comes to barbeque. As I've mentioned before, with the exception of the Rendevouz, I think Memphis barbeque is highly overrated. I can't tell you how many times I've been in Memphis and had people swear that this place or that was the best 'que in the world. I didn't buy it then and I don't buy it now. Compared to Arkansas, Memphis barbeque is just sub-standard. I'd rather eat boiled pork with catsup sauce at a dairy bar.

Which brings to mind just how important sauce can be on a perfectly smoked piece of meat. I love the delta style vinegar based sauce like you get at the Dixie Pig. The Carolina style mustard based sauce at Sims has been a favorite of mine for nearly thirty years. But what if you could get the best of both of those worlds in one place?

The answer to that question is the Whole Hog Cafe. And the fact that they always seem busy will attest to just how appealing that can be. But here's a tip: folks in Little Rock being uneasy about crossing the river (something about fear of water, hydrophobia or something...) the one in North Little Rock always seems to have at least one table available. Never fails. And with six different distinct styles of sauce on the table, you can combine to your heart's content to make the perfect sauce. Mine is the tangy mustard sauce (#6) with an overlay of vinegar and spices sauce (#4). Oh, and there is a seventh, volcano sauce, that's only available on request.

Perfectly smoked meats, this is the vitamin Q that your body craves. And I'm particularly enamored with the half smoked chicken plate. Yes, I know, real barbecue typically consists of pork (we ain't Texas, ya know). That's good too, but give the chicken a try if you haven't. This, folks, is the real deal. Arkansas barbeque at its finest. A hybrid if you will.

Legion Hut Grub

Who'd of ever thought that the best kept secret in Little Rock, when it comes to homestyle cooking, would be the American Legion Post over on Capitol Avenue? Promise to keep it to yourself and I'll let you in on it...

Unlike many of the cafes around, the MM Eberts American Legion Post #1 at 315 East Capitol doesn't have a regular rotation of dishes. That is, they don't necessarily have fried chicken on Tuesday and meat loaf on Thursday etc. But it's some of the best homestyle cooking I've had in years.

Yesterday I had salmon croquettes and they were big and hearty and delicious. The mashed potatoes are the real deal and quite creamy (as my daughter pointed out) and the green beans are a must taste. We've seen dishes such as chicken fried steak, b-b-q chicken, bacon wrapped chopped sirloin, and others. Good, wholesome and tasty.

I haven't tried it, but the salad looks good. The only thing I've had there that I wasn't totally thrilled with was the "Mexican" dishes. But it's easy to steer around them because there are always good choices every day. Good iced tea and the best part of all? $6.50 for a heapin' helpin' and a glass of tea. Hard to beat and highly recommended...

Call them at 372-2608 and have them email you the menu every day.