Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Pantry Thumbs Up!

We have been wanting to eat at The Pantry since they opened.  I have to admit I am not sure when they did open.  The one time we tried it was Sunday and they were closed.
We finally got the chance when our friends suggested we go there to share a "pre-Christmas" dinner.  We were not disappointed.  The service was excellent. Our server was very knowledgeable and treated us as if we were her only table for the night.  She was not overly attentive, but made sure she was available should we need something.  Her knowledge of the wine list was commendable as we always have questions.


The food is eclectic and leans toward Eastern European as the owner is from the Czech Republic. There were five of us and we all ordered something different.  We wanted to experience as much as we could for a first-time visit.  I got Wiener Schnitzel with Iron Skillet Potatoes and Chuck got The Pantry Pie, Goulash Stew with mashed potatoes cooked like a Shepherd's Pie.  Our friends got the Lasagna Al Forno, Czech Roast Beef , and Seared Salmon. We got Hummus as an appetizer for the table.  One of us (who shall not be named:) always gets dessert and shares.  This time "she" got one of the chocolate choices...not sure which one?  I told you it was eclectic!


It was all delicious; however, we decided we liked the Wiener Schnitzel the best with the Pantry Pie and Salmon coming in second and third.


The acoustics are not good for visiting, but we did anyway.  They are working on correcting the problem.  I suggest something soft on the walls and/or ceiling.  Everything right now is "hard-scrape". 


Chuck and I will put it on our list to go back to...sit at the Bar or maybe in the Lounge; have a beer for him and wine for me; and share the Baby Back Ribs and maybe the Bio Mushrooms or Pommes Frites (translated-fried potatoes).


Highly recommend The Pantry if you are not already a fan.
The Pantry Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Michaelangelo's Thumbs Up!

We met our cousins at Michaelangelo's in Conway before we went to see James Carville last week at the Reynolds Center at the University of Central Arkansas, Conway.


It is located in Downtown Conway. You can get to it by taking the I-40, Oak Street Exit.


We split the Chicken Parmigiana and each had a House Salad with the House Dressing on the side.  We always have the dressing on the side.  Usually, the waiter makes the salad and drowns the lettuce with the dressing.  I like to taste the salad with a hint of the dressing... usually a vinaigrette.  We had more than enough to eat and it was delicious!   It was Monday, raining, and not crowded.  Sometimes I find that if there isn't a lot to keep the waiter on his toes, the service lags.  Not so, this time!!!  The service was good even though our waiter had a "shadow" in training with him. 


Michelangelo's Italian Ristorante on Urbanspoon
Definitely going back...soon! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Oak Street Bistro Thumbs Up!

Our table on right
thru the passage on left
A night out of dining with our cousins and entertainment. I think it is called a "date night" these days.


We have been reading about the Oak Street Bistro in some of our free publications:  Soiree, and the Arkansas Times. We were ready to give it a try.


We had tickets to see Tommy Emmanel at UCA, Conway.  This was the perfect time to give "Oak Street" a try and visit with our cousins at the same time.


Bar area




The service was great.  We arrived before our cousins and sat at the bar until they arrived. We ordered a
Blue Moon beer for Chuck 
and a
Ecco Domini Pinot Grigio for me!



We loved it.  I had the Wild Chicken Breast and Chuck had the Mahi Fish Tacos, which were great.  The only down side: the scallops appetizer...it was cold and bland when we were thinking warm and tangy. Our cousins eat there enough so they have their favorites: Shrimp Fettuccine and Oak Streets Shrimp and Grits...although this time the Special of the Day : a red fish baked in foil was selected by one of the two! 
Go Figure?  I always stick with the "Tried and True" at any restaurant...that is "Tried by me and judged "True"!


Bottom line:  go for it!
Oak Street Bistro on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bota Box Wine

Just found a new wine that is great for travel, cooking and just drinking.  When we take a car trip, I don't want to lug along a bottle of wine.  I am the only Oenophilia in our family.  I can never finish a bottle before it is time to come home.  Bota Box is perfect!  It was was recommended by Terry's Fine Wines before our last trip.  It holds three 5.6oz glasses of wine and is very reasonable in price. I have only tried the Pinot Grigio, but I am giving it a "thumbs up".  


Today I bought a Cabernet and a Merlot Bota Box " night.  I can use it to add to my spaghetti sauce and some left over to go with it.  I am hoping the "red" is as good as the "white".  I have not tried the Chardonnay either.  I'll keep you posted.


I recommend it.  It is not only "eco-friendly" with its recyclable box, but it tastes good!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Browning's Thumbs Up!

Wow!  Chuck and I decided to eat out after his guitar lesson.  I read until he finished then we headed to Cantrell Road.   We have been curious about Chipolte that just opened in the Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center. Well, imagine our surprise...they were lined out the door to get in to eat.  We are not patient "waiting in line" customers.    After circling the parking lot we headed to the Heights for Chinese until we remembered that Browning's had reopened under new management.  Since our taste buds were still set for Mexican so we settled for Browning's.  


Yes, we are talking about the Browning's Mexican Food Restaurant that has been a Little Rock fixture for over 60 years.  I say 60 years because that is how long Chuck remembers eating at Browning's. In the 1940's his family would travel from Benton to Little Rock for a night out.  There were very few places to eat out in Little Rock:  Hank's Dog House, Bruno's, The Embers, Tijuana and Browning's...can you think of more?


We are back to the "Wow"!  What a transformation!  It is very open, updated and very trendy.  








This is what should have been done the last time Browning's opened under new management...but no they had to give in to public pressure and go for the "same ol'; same ol'" stuff.  We love the new ambiance.  The acoustics aren't great, but bearable. It keeps your conversation private even if you can't hear yourself think.  There are TVs for sports, booths, tables, and a great bar area...something for everyone!  ...and the best part, scrumptious Margaritas!


Saltillo Plate
Chuck had the Saltillo Plate and I had the Summer Plate. They are both menu items from the original Browning's.  Chuck had a punch for nostalgic reasons. The helpings are bigger and the guacamole side is definitely a step-up.


When we go back and we will, we are going to sit at the bar and try some new menu items: Salmon Vera Cruz and Grilled Shrimp Tacos and White Cheese dip when they figure it out. It wasn't available because they had not perfected it...so said the waitress.  Speaking of waitresses, none of the original crew was to be seen.  I think they finally retired. There is a youngish wait staff full of energy and ready to serve.  Just when I said, "I think our food should have been here by now", it arrived.  It was delicious!


Highly recommend you give Browning's a try!



Browning's Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Magnolia Grill, Natchez, Mississippi Thumbs Up!

We took an overnight trip to Natchez to decide if we wanted to commit to their annual Balloon Race Event*.  Natchez is about 5 hours from Little Rock.  We left early Sunday morning and arrived in time to find a hotel room and a quick tour of the town.


Let me tell you...there is not much going on in Natchez on Sunday afternoon.  However, we did luck out when we found the Magnolia Grill for dinner.  


It is located "Under the Hill" and around the corner from the Riverboat Casino.  We did a quick run through the casino and I do mean quick.  It was dinner time or in the South we call it supper. 


We were so early that we were the only ones in the restaurant.  We really enjoyed the view of the Mississippi.  Actually, it was like we had our own private restaurant until others started arriving...locals, I suspect.  I think we were the only tourists.  Obviously, everyone else knows nothing is going on in Natchez on Sunday.


The wait staff was great.  Chuck had Grilled Shrimp with Baked Potato and a Side Salad and I had the Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Fries and Grilled Asparagus.  All of it delicious.  


If you are ever in Natchez, don't miss the Magnolia Grill.  I am sure, however, it will be packed on any other day than Sunday. Time it so you can eat early and beat the crowd for supper.


Magnolia Grill on Urbanspoon*BTW, we decided not to go back for the Balloon Race...maybe in the Spring when all of the azaleas are in bloom.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kitchen Bouquet!

What would I do without it???? 

Dinner tonight: I am cooking frozen meatballs thawed in Mushroom Soup (any brand--who can tell the difference between Campbell and the store brand?) from Kroger, LaSueur English Peas, and egg noodles...add a Combination Salad*..voila, dinner.

Ugh!  the mushroom soup gravy is white! Enter: Kitchen Bouquet.  Ah-h-h-h...rich brown gravy!

No, I cannot give it up.  I refuse to make brown gravy from scratch. Maybe...someday, but not any time soon!


* You do know what how to make a Combination Salad? or is it a Southern "thing"?  Iceberg Lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and mayo...mixed together.  How hard is that?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

If you like Beets!

I love beets!  That is, I love "cold" beets.  I do not like "hot" beets.  

I love beets at Franke's.  This recipe is as close to Franke's Beets that I have ever found.

If  you agree with the above, try the recipe and see what you think.

So Simple:




PICKLED BEETS*

Drain Beets.

Put in a liquid cup measure:
1T    Liquid sweetener
Fill to 1/2C with white vinegar.
Fill rest of cup with water. 

Cover drained sliced beets w/liquid mixture; put in Fridge. 


*Given to me by my friend Evelyn in 1991.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Frullati, Park Plaza Mall Thumbs Up!

We ran down to Park Plaza to pick up a birthday present.  It has been forever since we have been there--we didn't even know that the center platform by the Food Court had been replaced with banquets.  Since we had not eaten lunch, we stopped!  There is quite a variety of eateries from which to choose.  I chose Frullati and Chuck chose Mandarin Express. 


I think I got the best deal--
Whole Panini
the "value meal"-1/2 Pepper Jack Panini with a drink and chips for $7.00 MOL.  It was good and more than enough. However, next time I will ask them to keep it on the panini maker a little longer.  The cheese was not quite melted and the turkey was still a little cold for my taste.  (Am I picky or what?)
Bottom Line: Thumbs Up!
Frullati Cafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I-Hop U-Hop We-Hop to I-HOP Thumbs Up!

Brunch at I-HOP...how can you beat it?  


Senior Sampler-YUM!
On Wednesday we ate cereal at home and went to yoga class at the Jim Daily Fitness Center . By 10am we were hungry so away we went to IHOP...brunch instead of lunch.  I had the Senior Sampler and Chuck had the Senior two x two x two.


Our I-HOP does everything right.,,besides the great food and service.  Right now they are re-roofing with the trendy metal roof material in "I-HOP" blue, of course.  At least once a year they close for two weeks to freshen everything...new paint, new graphics.  Other franchises or even Mom & Pop's need to take lessons...spend some of their capital on the business instead of paying their profits to themselves...short-sighted from my view point.


They also have a great two-fer deal...from 3pm to 8pm you can buy one entree and get another one free.  We are determined to keep this on our radar.  We don't think we can eat at home for the same price.  


IHOP on UrbanspoonTake our advice...Go To I-HOP!  (Of course, I am biased...I think ours had the best one in town!)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

ALL-L-L- A-BOARD!

OK, so you aren't boarding a train...you are going to eat at a new restaurant in Little Rock-All Aboard located in the Stein Mart Shopping Center on Cantrell.  


Main Attraction (besides the food): Your food is delivered to your table in a tray hanging from a model train engine. It travels on a track attached to the wall.and ceiling.  It stops at your table and your food tray is lowered to you.  


There is a waiter available to help you through the process.  He/She will also bring you all those things you forgot to pick up when you got your drink.  Stuff like napkins, salt, mayo, mustard, knife, fork.  Yes, we forgot all of those things and they are not on the table or in your food car.  Hence, Help was definitely appreciated.  We even forgot to tell the waiter we needed straws so we had to get up anyway.  (We, meaning the Chuck of the "We")

The menu is limited ...burgers, wraps, salads. Chuck and I got both got Cheeseburgers.  I had mine with hot pepper cheese and grilled onions. (Note: Red onions do not grill well.  They are for salads.)  Chuck had American cheese with the works.  The Angus beef had a good flavor and the patty was generous.  However, I think I can buy them in the frozen food section of Kroger.  I loved the fries...seemed fresh cut w/peeling on.  However, they were probably bought frozen in bulk.  Obviously, I couldn't tell the difference.


The atmosphere was a little sterile, but was clean.  The staff was friendly and helpful.  They seemed grateful we were there.  We weren't the only ones in the restaurant, but it wasn't full.  We both commented that the location didn't seem to be conducive to foot traffic.  If it succeeds, it will have to become a destination ...probably because of the train gimmick.


All Aboard Restaurant and Grill on UrbanspoonWe will go back, but I think I'll try it for lunch...maybe a salad or a wrap.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cooking Spaghetti!

This is a post from my blog: Tips 'n Good Stuff


I thought this also applied here so thought I would share:


This is so easy that I probably don't need to repeat it here.  However, for all you New-bee's I will anyway.  We will take this in steps:


No. 1  Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil; add a little olive oil.


Note pens in background...
I craft while I cook!
No. 2  Put the spaghetti* in slowly.  I actually break mine in thirds-it goes in the pot much faster.  Some traditionalists probably would shudder at this, but what can I say?  Hey, I even cut mine up with a knife and fork when I eat it...boy, I think they are trembling now.


The tricky part for me is to get the right amount of spaghetti per person.  There are just two of us and I invariably cook too much.  Chuck is better at judging the amount that me so I call for is assistance at this step.


No. 3 Boil for 3 minutes.  To keep the water from boiling over the pot, lay a wooden spoon across the pan.


No. 4 Remove from heat.  Cover and let it sit for 10 minutes.  It should be "al dente" as the traditionalists above would say!


No. 5 Strain with a strainer, empty all but a 1/4 cup of the water from the pot and set the strainer on top.  Set back on the stove and serve the plates from there.


*I prefer Vermicelli or Angel Hair.  I really dislike "fat, gunky" spaghetti. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Out and About from California

We took their picture;
they took ours!

While on vacation in San Francisco we took a couple of days and went south to see San Simeon.  Our first stop was a the Niner Winery in Paso Robles.  We met a couple of school teachers who recommended we eat at Robin's on Burton Street in Cambria. They thought our trip would not be complete without trying it...and we did.  

Salmon Bisque
Our Favorite
The food is international in flavor and presentation seemed to be important to their chef.  However, we find that sometimes "presentation" is not everything.  In fact, it overpowers the food.  This was the case for us.  Chuck, had the special, Grilled Bluenose Bass on a bed of forbidden rice.  The rice was the problem-forbidden rice is a black rice and very rubbery in texture.  The Bass was a little dry.  He did have the Salmon Bisque, which was excellent.  In fact, we could have had it as an entrée.  

I had the Spinach/Artichoke Lasagna.  It was also excellent, but a little to rich for my pallet.  I could only eat half of it.  Since we were traveling, we did not have the option of a "take home" box.  

The service was good as was the atmosphere in a historic adobe house.  We ate early so we had time to look around the gift shops and art galleries.  After all, this is a tourist/artist-type town.  

We are glad we tried it and if you pallet runs to the eclectic then this is the place for you.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On the Border! Thumbs Up!

We got one seat immediately at the bar. Our new favorite thing---sitting at the bar with a glass of wine and a beer on tap.  It is a good vantage point to watch people.  Also, when it's slow, you can have a good visit with the bartender.  The acoustics aren't that great here, but not so bad that you can't visit while you sip.  


We are liking our new favorite thing so much, we are eating at the bar, too.  No. 1 you don't have to wait for a table during busy times and No. 2 the service is faster.


When Chuck got a seat, we ordered. We split a Border Sampler*  as our entrée.  It was delicious and more than enough for us.  We find that we can't eat as much as we did when we were younger. We get that uncomfortable "stuffed" feeling if we do.  We have learned the hard way to limit our quantities and split when we can.


 *Chicken Quesadillas, Steak Nachos and Chicken Flautas. Served with guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo and original queso

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wholly Guacamole! Thumbs Up!

Wholly Guacamole, Batman!  Why am I just now finding this product?  It would have saved me several bad avocado choices and packages of guacamole mix!  I found the snack packs at Target and since have found that Kroger has the large packages. 


I love the snack packs for us.  One pack mixed with a diced tomato is great on our cheese nachos.  I also used part of one on my BLT (w/o the "L") instead of mayo.  The other part I used with the rest of my tomato as a dip for my taco chips.


...and only 100 calories per pack!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Clean the Fridge" Game

Every once in a while Chuck and I play the "Clean the Fridge" Game!  It happens when we get too many leftovers or a full freezer or maybe going on a trip.  Regardless, we play until the "fridge" is empty.  


Night before last we had spaghetti and meat balls with a tomato/olive/celery slaw.  Chuck made the garlic toast. The spaghetti sauce was in the freezer and enough for two.  The meat balls were also in the freezer....in a bag bought from Kroger.  I had celery, vine-ripened tomatoes, and olives...sounded Italian to me.  


I chopped all salad ingredients and mixed in Paul Newman's Olive Oil and Vinegar salad dressing.  Yum...if I must say so myself.  Actually, Chuck gave it a "thumbs up"!
Now how could I not post a picture of
Paul Newman?  Reallllly! Yummy!!!








We still have a freezer full, but the "fridge" part is getting bare.  We will have to get really creative.  I do have some potatoes and canned veggies in the pantry so all is not lost.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Corky's Thumbs Up!

Our new routine...we eat out on Saturday's.  We both work all day on Saturday. Neither one of us wants to cook.  However, I work two hours longer than Chuck so he gets to cook on Saturday...cook: meaning at home or eating out. Nine times out of ten he will select eating out on Saturday.

This time he chose Corky's-in his mind.  Then, I mentioned perhaps Corky's because I wanted to stop at Michael's which was on the way. It is amazing how often that happens. One of us thinks of something and the other one of us picks up on it, too!  It is a real phenomena to us...we call it spooky:)

Well, back to Corky's.  I am not sure why we haven't been in the last few years.  We always love what we order and the servings are more than ample.  In fact, we usually take some home.  


We usually order catfish and chicken tenders.  This night was no exception.  We brought home some of the chicken fingers.  We got two sides each and substitutes were allowed.  Last, but not least---the rolls are wonderful.  They are served first and you can fill up on them if you are not careful.  Honey and butter is on the table.  I could make them the whole meal! 


The service was excellent and our server was perfect (read: smiled and didn't hover-was always available when we needed her).

Corky's Ribs & Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 25, 2011

International Waffle Day!

Just finished making waffle mix for my branch library.  They are planning on celebrating International Waffle Day by serving waffles to patrons today.






I have a great recipe for "Yeast Waffles" given to me many years ago by my sister-in-law, Polly. We make it every Christmas for our Christmas morning breakfast.  It is a tradition we started when my Mom was still with us.  It was her request that we serve it with link sausage, her favorite.  


I am hoping there is some mix left over after the library celebration!


I am glad to share the recipe with you.  What is really great is that the mix will keep up to two weeks in the fridge.


YEAST WAFFLES

Beat: 2  Eggs

Add:        1 tsp. salt
            1 TBS Sugar
            1/2 C. Vegetable Oil
            1 pkg.Yeast in
             1/4 C. Warm Water

Add incrementally:        2 C. Milk
                          3 C. Flour

Make at least one day before using.
Put in a large container.  Keeps at least 2 weeks in Frig.