Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Maddie's Place - Definitely worth many visits

1615 Rebsamen Park Road (between the Buffalo Grill and The Faded Rose)

A quick digression: as I wrote the address above, I remembered something from a recent trip to Paris (France, not west Arkansas). As my friend and I were cruising along the Left Bank, I spotted a "Buffalo Grill" out of the corner of my eye (2 Rue Raymond Aron, +33 1 45 86 76 71). As I subsequently discovered, there are at least ten "Buffalo Grills" in and around Paris. I guess that's where the place here got its name years ago. And, all this time I just thought they were clever.

OK, Maddie's Place. Go there. End of review. Not really, but you could stop there and be fine. They've been open about two years now, according to Jason, the manager. So, I'm a little late to the party on this one. Nothing new for me.

This is a New Orleans-style eatery, and the chef and owner, Brian Deloney worked for "Emeril!!!" (just couldn't help myself) in New Orleans and Las Vegas for "almost ten years" (according to their Web site: www.maddiesplacelr.com). My friend and I had lunch there today, and we'll go back. Lunch for two: $20 without tip, and a much, much better value than Pho Thanh My.

The facts: the food's good, fresh and well-prepared. The service was great at 1:30p, with Jason, the manager, waiting on us and adding a lot to our enjoyment of the place. He's personable and seems to have a genuine interest in taking care of his customers. Hmmm. Pop Quiz: How many other places can you truthfully say that about these days? Right.

I asked about the gumbo, and Jason tried to steer us away from it because he thought they were ending a batch in the kitchen and that the last bits were too thick. However, I asked for a sample, and he brought a bowl for us to try -- gratis. That is in "free." I began to like him and the place more and more. The gumbo was good: flavorful and not shy about seasonings, i.e., with a nice amount of filé and spice heat, but not overdone.

My friend had a bowl of white bean and ham soup and a spinach salad with goat cheese, sugared pecans and a light vinaigrette. She liked the gumbo better than the soup, only because the soup had a spice that she didn't care for (I couldn't identify it). Others might enjoy it a great deal.

I had an oyster po-boy with fries (my default New Orleans lunch). The fries were shoe-string, fresh and perfectly cooked. The oyster po-boy was large -- enough for two to split, actually. The oysters were fresh and perfectly fried. And the toasted Leidenheimer french bread (a New Orleans po-boy staple) was slathered (and I say that in a loving way) with a very nice Remoulade sauce.

Jason kept coming around and asking us if we needed anything and what we thought of the food. I admit, I like that in a place if I think it's not disingenuous. Here, I think it's sincere.

So, we left with plans to come back for supper sometime soon. Roughly lighter in the wallet as the day before at Pho Thanh My, but with an entirely different attitude. The place has high quality food and an undeniably amiable vibe, courtesy of Jason. In fact, if he gets around to adding Sazerac cocktails to the bar menu soon, I may very well become a "regular."


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