Frankes Cafeteria Review Little Rock

Frankes Cafeteria Review Little Rock

Frankes Cafeteria Review  – Little Rock, Arkansas

Touted as Little Rock’s oldest operating restaurant, Frankes is cafeteria-style American and Southern classics, with a set number of entrees available each day as well as different specials each day of the week.  Grab a tray and walk through the cafeteria line where the servers will hand you the dishes you point at or call out, starting with an abundance of old-fashioned salads, like “Ambrosia,” then sides, entrees, breads, desserts, and beverages.

Pricing is by item, tho you can elect to have a flat price for your entree depending on whether you opt for one or two sides.

I opted for the catfish meal, which isn’t on the heating table but cooked to order.  Comes with crinkle-cut fries and one side, I chose the collard greens. The fish was excellent, crispy, piping hot, lightly seasons.  Fries were as you would suspect.  Greens were also superb, cooked right, highly seasoned. There were two fruit salad choices, I chose the wrong one (I was looking for sweeter).  I also chose a soft roll and had chocolate cream pie for dessert (not pictured).

Lunch was around $10.

Two locations in Little Rock.  Here’s the full menu, including the rotating daily specials. (Subject to change, imagine).

 

 

 
Franke's Cafeterias Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
 

Franke's Cafeterias Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Frankes Cafeteria Review – Little Rock, Arkansas

Frankes Cafeteria Review – Little Rock, Arkansas

 

Choice Hotels Review

Choice Hotels Review

 

Choice Hotels Review

For most of my career, I traveled the world, mostly staying in the finest hotels an area had to offer. Many 5 stars, some purporting to be 7 stars. Of course, there were some that claimed “5 star” and that simply meant there was a door with a lock on it, or glass in the window.

Domestically, both with planes and hotels, I fall into a pattern where I’m terribly loyal to one company or another, for an extended period of time, then something happens, and I’m off to another company.

With national chains in the US, consistency can sometimes be uneven, since the hotels are owned by franchisees.  Of course, they are supposed to maintain the standards set forth in their agreement, but it doesn’t always happen.

I have found that isn’t the case with the dozen brands owned by Choice Hotels.  I have found the inns of the chain to be very consistent, even tho the different brands are geared to different price points, to cover the entire spectrum of travelers.

In the past week, I’ve stayed in a “Sleep Inn,” “Comfort Inn and Suites,” and “EconoLodge.”

My experience in each of them was excellent. Friendly, personable staff, clean rooms, tastefully decorated with the latest amenities – all included a large screen TV, microwave, mini-fridge, complimentary coffee maker, iron and board, hairdryer.

All included complimentary hot breakfasts, at the “higher end” of the range of this offering in all hotels.  Included are: hot eggs, breakfast meats, biscuits and gravy,   hot and cold cereal, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, made to order waffles and syrup, sweet pastries, slices of bread, bagels, muffins, fresh fruit, several juices, coffee, tea, cocoa, milk. “Extras” include cream cheese, peanut butter, fruit spreads, honey, hot sauces, salt and pepper.

I imagine this can vary by location.  I  know I was in an EconoLodge this summer in a small town in Iowa, and the hot breakfast was mostly prepared in-house from scratch.  That was wonderful.

Some hotels have indoor pools, some outdoor, some don’t have them.  Everyone I have been in had excellent free wi-fi throughout the building.

Their loyalty program “Choice Privileges” is good, with lots of partners and it’s easier to earn free nights than with most programs I’ve been a member of.  Choice Hotels is also now in the vacation rental business if that’s your preference for stays away from home.

The company began as a non-profit referral group for seven Florida hotels in 1939. Today, the complete list of Choice’s brands includes the following brands, in 41 countries, with 560,000 + rooms:

  • Ascend Hotel Collection
  • Cambria Hotels
  • Comfort
  • Sleep Inn
  • Quality Inn
  • Clarion
  • MainStay Suites
  • WoodSpring Suites
  • Suburban Extended Stay Hotel
  • Econo Lodge
  • Rodeway Inn
  • Vacation Rentals by Choice Hotels

I recommend them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choice Hotels Review

Choice Hotels Review

 

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock ARMeh. Though I didn’t go for the beer, but I hear it gets high marks for a microbrewery. (What’s smaller than a microbrewery? A mini microbrewery?  Anyway, this place is pretty small, in a pleasant residential section of LIttle Rock.

Some friends wanted to meet there, so meet we did. They all ordered beers. I had a diet cola. I always have a diet cola. Or bottle watered. Do I have a drinking problem and purposely stay away?  Nope, never did.  But after I passed into adulthood, paying to consume something that was either going to make me sick or lose a day – seemed silly.  Still does.

Four persons.  Two ordered food.  One ordered the black bean burger, one a catfish strip basket with cole slaw and fries.  Bean burger came with spinach, onions, hummus, and mushrooms with a maple cayenne mustard on a vegan bun.

The joint wasn’t crowded and we were the only ones who ordered food.

Ten minutes. Twenty. Thirty.  I inquire of the (only) waitress.  “What, well I put that order in, let me check.”

She passed by the table a few minutes later with the news “He was just plating it, it will be out in a minute.”

Result?  It wasn’t.  “He” started on the order when she went back.  So at the 45 minute interval, out cames the food, prettily plated (well, in baskets), bean burger first bite – satisfactory.  Catfish first bite. “Does this look raw to you?”

It was.

Good lord, people own up to your mistakes.

And millenials? Speak up when you aren’t happy with goods or service. Expect better.

It was resolved by taking it off the bill.  Really?  That’s it?

Maybe the beer is good.

 

 

Stone's Throw Brewing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Chis Chinese Express Restaurant Review Little Rock Arkansas

Chis Chinese Express Restaurant Review Little Rock Arkansas Saturday Morning Dim Sum

While they have several locations in Little Rock, its the Chenal Parkway location that serves dim sum, at least on the Saturday morning we stopped by. Chis Chinese Express Restaurant Review Little Rock ArkansasCould happen at other locations or on other days, I didn’t inquire. I’ll leave that to you.

I lived and worked in China for a number of years, so I’m snotty about Americanized Chinese ‘cuisine.’ So I’ve never been in a Panda Express or a P.F. Changs. Let me know if my life is somehow missing some bliss because of that.

So I was skeptical about the offer of a dim sum brunch in Little Rock. I asked all the relevant questions of my dine-mate. “Does it come in little baskets?” “Are there ladies pushing carts around?” “Do they have chicken feet?”

Affirmative to all.

The menu and server explanations were Americanized for sure, but the food was very authentic and very good. Lots of steamed dumplings, Chinese vegetables and the like. Overserved.

The restaurant is very tastefully decorated in subtle tones – surprising for a strip mall location next to Dominos (which was a comfort in case the food was really bad, I could have them run a pizza over) (Yes, I agree, Dominos is awful).

The entire facility, including the restrooms and what I could see of the open kitchen, was immaculate. There are tables that can be pushed together in alcoves to fit modest sized groups. The regular Chinese menu is available concurrent with the dim sum.

Pricing is fair. Recommended.

Chi's Chinese Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chis Chinese Express Restaurant Review Little Rock Arkansas Saturday morning dim sum
Chis Chinese Express Restaurant Review Little Rock Arkansas Saturday morning dim sum

Mehfil Indo-Mughlai Pak Cuisine Restaurant Review Little Rock Arkansas

Mehfil Indian Review Little Rock

 

Mehfil Indo-Mughlai Pak Cuisine Restaurant Review Little Rock Arkansas

Do you remember the very first moment you ever tasted a certain food?

The first time I ever had Indian food was in a seedy, dark, 2nd floor eatery in Wanchai, a neighborhood of Hong Kong, seated across from a stunningly beautiful Chinese woman named Vida. We were co-workers and when she found I had never had Indian food, she was determined to give me an education.

And did she. My recollection is she ordered most of the menu and we plowed through it with abandon, washing down servings with Kingfisher beer.  I loved every bite. Every new flavor, every nuance.

Later in my tenure in Hong Kong, I moved out to a small island an hour ferry ride from the city, and we had our very own, very small Indian restaurant, sat about eight,  and it was my habit to spend most Saturday afternoons there – when I wasn’t traveling Asia for work.

So in Little Rock, Mehfil Indo-Mughlai Pak Cuisine is the place.  “Mehfil” means “an evening of courtly entertainment or concert of Hindustani classical music and dance, performed for a small audience in an intimate setting.”

No such entertainment at this elegantly appointed restaurant, and we went for a highly recommended buffet, which as luck would have it, wasn’t being offered that night.

No matter, we ordered old favorites from the very complete menu.

We started with complimentary poppadum (flat, dried wafers of spicy lentil flour, deep fried), moved into naan, both garlic and cheese, with bowls full or raita (yogurt with cucumber and cilantro) for mopping.  A gaggle of chicken dishes came next,  saag,  tikka, and tikka marsala.  All poultry cooked in the tandoori clay oven, giving it that nice charred texture and smoky flavor.

No room for dessert, in fact we took a lot of food home.

The restaurant wasn’t very busy for a Friday nite (perhaps because they cancelled the buffet?) so service was attentive and pleasant.  The gent was kind to explain dishes or ingredients we had questions about.

They did not have Kingfisher beer (sad face) – he said it was “no more” and I thought he meant out of business, but more likely he meant at the restaurant.  They also did not have Tiger Beer, another beer frequently served with Indian in SE Asia.

So it was Stella for me, wine for the rest of the table.

I’d like to go back for the buffet.  They’d regret letting me in.

Mehfil Indo-Mughlai Pak Cuisine Restaurant Review Little Rock Arkansas

Mehfil Indo-Mughlai Pak Cuisine Restaurant Review Little Rock Arkansas

The Flying Fish Review – Little Rock, AR

The Flying Fish Review – Little Rock, AR

Flying Fish Little Rock Review

With about a dozen locations, the Flying Fish is a fish and seafood-centric eatery, offering fried, grilled, broiled and steamed fish and seafood, as well as po-boys, gumbo, tacos, and appropriate side dishes. The full menu of the Little Rock location I visited is here. A few salads, chicken strips and a lonely hamburger round out the menu.

The Little Rock location is “counter service” – you order back by the kitchen, await your vibrating beeper to go off and then collect your food from another station. Tables at this location are at the front of the restaurant, facing President Clinton Avenue (which runs to the Clinton Presidential Library, within walking distance. This is also the “marketplace section” of downtown, so there are plenty of other distractions nearby.

I ordered the two filet catfish basket, which comes with fries and two hush puppies ($9.50). I would have liked some slaw, but lately restaurants seem to think coleslaw has some actual monetary value and charge the same price for it as they would for most any slide, and I object to that.

This location has beer, wine, frozen margaritas, and the usual soft drinks, lemonade, iced tea and coffee.

I pronounce the experience a success. I’ve been on a catfish jag lately, and this was great. Crispy, light breading, easy on the corn meal. Pretty ordinary fries, and I can take or leave hush puppies. Something else I’m not sure restaurants should charge for.

If you’re in one of the dozen cities Flying Fish has planted their flag, I recommend it. Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas only.

Flying Fish Review

Flying Fish Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

The Flying Fish Review

The Flying Fish Review

Chilis Grill & Bar Review, Markham St, Little Rock, AR

Chilis Grill & Bar ReviewI rarely visit establishments in this segment – fast casual chains.  Just not my thing. However, I’ll go, if I’m invited and somebody is insistent.

In this case, when I asked the inviter why she chose this restaurant, she said “for the irony.”  I get it.  You probably don’t.

Anyway, this is a “new” location for Chili’s, in that they moved a bit west from a location they had occupied for decades. So in that regard, it isn’t “brand new,” personnel should be used to the menu, systems, customer service and such.

It’s too loud. If one of the restaurants goals is to get people to linger at the bar, they ain’t gonna, if they can’t carry on a conversation. It’s quite an extensive menu, offering appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, entrees and some Tex-Mex.  I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest these types of restaurants, with this many items offered, aren’t cooking from scratch in-house.  Lots of ‘heat and eat’ going on, especially in the entree department.

There were three of us, we skipped the appetizers, tried some of their fancy pants cocktails (meh), and ordered.  One sandwich, one spicy burger, and my entree choice.

Fifteen minutes and a “manager” shows up and tells me they are out of my entree, but will get some in the following morning.  I offer to wait, but she doesn’t get it.  I’m forced to make a decision for a substitute within seconds.  I screw up and order a burger. (Incidentally, this is one of those places that doesn’t trust your judgment to order a burger at the doneness level you prefer).

Few minutes go by, the rest of the tables food arrives.  Not mine.  Tick tock tick tock.  Fifteen minutes.  Just a burger and fries, nothing special except the cost – 2-3x fast food. Fries have seasoned salt on them, which I don’t care for generally.  Cheese and bun were both cold. Not “not warmed,” but cold.  With the order confusion, I think they should have knocked something off the check. Nope.

They’ve joined the technology age in they have the tablets at the table where you can order, pay, or play games (for a fee).  The tablet completely freaked out trying to pay the bill. Saw this same unit (“Ziosk”) at another chain recently, also not working.

Despite this automation upgrade, four different servers called at our table, not out of a quest for excellent service, but rather out of confusion.

The entire experience reminded me of why I don’t like fast casual.  Also a segment which millenials are abandoning in droves, I’ve read. Expect some to fold.

Chilis Grill & Bar Review

 

 

 

Chili's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chilis Grill & Bar Review
Chilis Grill & Bar Review

Soul Fish Review – Little Rock, AR

Soul Fish ReviewIt can sometimes be a challenge to find satisfactory restaurants in Little Rock that are open on Sundays.  Fortunately, there’s Soul Fish, right downtown on Main Street.  Emphasis at this eatery is “bonafide Southern,” with a further emphasis on seafood. (See menu below).

We started with the smoked catfish dip, something I’ve never encountered, and I’m sorry about that, because it was delicious.  Smokey, salty, creamy, accompanied by tortilla chips which I would bet are made in house.  A light fry, crispy without being jaw jarring, light salt. The perfect go-with.

I went for the fried catfish basket, there are three choices for the size of serving, I went for the small one, since I was on the road, didn’t want to have leftovers.

The fry breading on the fish is exceptional. Cornmeal based, with a hint of one of the Creole seasonings (my palate isn’t sophisticated enough to tell them apart – could be Tony Chachere’s, Zatarains, Old Bay, or a concoction dreamed up in-house.  In any case, it’s really tasty.

There’s a wide choice of sides with baskets and plates, I chose natural cut fries, and slaw and hush puppies were included.  The slaw was excellent, rough chopped cabbage with a dressing that is creamy, sweet and tart at the same time.  Other sides?  Cucumber Salad • Black Beans • Corn • Cajun Cabbage • White Beans • Baked Sweet Potato • Fried Okra • Coleslaw • Black Eyed Peas •  Mashed Potatoes • Green Beans • Sweet Potato Fries • Broccoli • Mac N Cheese • Zucchini • Collard Greens • Pickled Green Tomatoes.

My dining companion was my daughter and after a major assist of plowing thru the dip, she opted for the Caesar salad with blackened shrimp added. Also delicious. Very fresh greens and the shrimp were cooked exactly right.

Children’s menu, desserts, beer and wine available.  I’d return.  You should go.  Appetizer, two entrees, two beverages, tip, $40.

Open daily at 11A. Soul Fish has four locations; in addition to Little Rock, find three locations in greater Memphis.

Soul Fish Review

Smoked catfish dip

Soul Fish Review

Fried catfish basket

 

Soul Fish Review

Menu – click to enlarge

 

 

 

Soul Fish Little Rock Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Soul Fish Review

Soul Fish Review