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Posted by Michael Stern on Saturday, June 6, 2015 5:33 AM

Charcoaled

NWA, locals' shorthand for Northwest Arkansas, produces tons of poultry; and there are several restaurants in the region that make a big deal out of chicken dinner. AQ Chicken House, opened in 1947, is the daddy of 'em all. Now a big, family-friendly outfit with a broad menu that includes ribs, brisket and blue plate specials, it sets the highest possible standards for pan-fried chicken. Each piece seems to be nearly as much crusty skin as supple meat. A great alternative is to have the chicken charcoal cooked, a process that yields spicy skin imbued with the flavor of smoke and a vigorous lemon-pepper smack. Barbecued chicken also is available. If you can't make up your mind, the menu does offer a sampler platter of three pieces, each cooked a different way.

Meals start with featherweight, glossy-topped cloverleaf rolls hot from the oven; and among essential side dishes are a slightly spicy sweet potato casserole, batter-dipped French fries (insanely, deliciously oily), seasoned green beans, smoky baked beans and real mashed potatoes. When you order your meal, be sure to put in an order for dessert. Fried peaches take a good 15 minutes to cook, and they must not be missed. Fresh -- yes, fresh -- slices of peach are battered and fried and served hot under a pile of ice cream.

There is a second location on Highway 71B in Fayetteville. 479-443-7555.
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Roadfood of the Day: Bob's Bar & Grill - Ponca, NE
Posted on Saturday, June 6, 2015

Burger & Fries

That burger is huge and thick. And the plate of fries is even bigger and piled high. They use six-pack boxes to hold the condiments (local color).
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Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, June 5, 2015 5:01 AM

Money Shot

The neighborhood of Ghent in Norfolk, Virginia, has gone upscale in recent years and has become home to some of the finest fine-dining dining rooms in Hampton Roads. It also is where you will find Do-Nut Dinette, a counter-only diner with a salty short-order cook, sassy staff, and stools for scarcely more than a dozen customers (plus some wooden tables outside). The menu is a hash-house paradigm featuring eggs and various breakfast meats, greasy-good hash browns, and buttery grits; plus, as you might guess, donuts.

One big batch of donuts is made each morning (about twelve dozen on weekdays), so good sense demands arriving early. They will be fresh; and, more important, they will exist. It is not uncommon for a day's supply to run out by noon. There is only one kind: raised & glazed. They are light, not cakey; but there is a pleasant doughy substance to them very unlike common donut blobs of sweetened, deep-fried fat that taste ethereal hot from the fry kettle but soon become leaden sinkers. One stool-sitter, who had lived in North Carolina back in Krispy Kreme's salad days, declared Do-Nut's donuts to be "Like Krispy Kreme was before they got full of themselves."
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Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, June 5, 2015 4:29 AM

Of the many fine pancakes we have eaten coast to coast, we have a special spot in our heart for those made at Grove Café. When you order one, the very word will take on new shades of meaning, for in this place a pancake is, in fact, a pan cake – a good-size cake that has been cooked on the griddle. It is nearly an inch thick in its center and wide as its plate – a pillow-soft round of steamy cooked batter that has an appealing pale orange hue. With a couple of peppery, piggy Iowa sausage patties, one of these cakes is a mighty big meal. Two of them are listed on the menu as a “short stack” – a meal strictly for the tallest appetite.

Grove Café also offers omelets and French toast for breakfast, as well as hamburgers, hot beef, and meat loaf at lunch; but to many of its long-time fans, including hordes of Iowa State alumni who have consumed tens of thousands of calories in this comfy place, pancakes are all that matter.

Located in the old business district, Grove offers seating at bare-tabled booths and at a low-slung counter that offers a view of the cooking area. A large sign above the kitchen jokes, "Just Like Home: You Don’t Always Get What You Want."
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Roadfood of the Day: Tripoli Bakery - Lawrence, MA
Posted on Friday, June 5, 2015

Pastry Assortment

The box contains a whoopie pie, cream puff, and lobster tail. Tripoli's pastries are sweet and fresh.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Thursday, June 4, 2015 5:46 AM

To say the name of this restaurant correctly, pronounce the first syllable like the prow of a boat ("bough"), off of which fish are picked from a net. In fact, Bowpicker is a boat – a small fishing vessel now marooned on dry land. The fish and chips it serves are some of the best we've had anywhere. The fish is albacore tuna, dense and meaty, big hunks of it enveloped in a hopsy golden coat. When I asked a member of the staff what made it so delicious, she answered, "It's a secret. But we don't know what the secret is."

The fish is available as a five-piece platter or a three piece. The chips that come alongside are nice, thick-cut spuds, but the fish itself is so good that I didn't want to use up too much appetite on them.

Bowpicker is a tiny place, so small that you don't go into it. You walk up to it along a sort of permanent gangplank where you place your order and receive the food. As for dining facilities, they consist of a couple of picnic tables. I saw several customers dining off their dashboards.
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Posted on Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cheeseburger

This is Whitey's hamburger with bacon, cheese, lettuce, pickle and onion. Boring bun but beautiful burger.
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Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 9:24 AM
Fexy partnership: the best road trip ever?

Jane and I have dedicated our lives to exploring good eats all around America, starting with the first edition of Roadfood (the book) in 1978. Fifteen years ago, when Stephen came to us with the idea of turning Roadfood into a website, we thought it would be a fun little sideline to our main work, which was in books and magazines. Since then, the tables have turned and Roadfood.com has taken center stage. Below: The original Roadfood.com team meets in 2002 to eat New Haven pizza. Steve Rushmore, Cindy Kuchle, Michael, Jane, Stephen, Marc Bruno

From Book to Website

Roadfood is our life (original cover above), but Stephen has another life, running a multinational corporation. As Roadfood.com grew over the years, Stephen's responsibilities in his "real job" grew also, leaving him less time to devote to Roadfood.com. It was frustrating for him and for us (we're clueless about the nuts and bolts of website design and maintenance), and also for users who yearned for more proactive site maintenance and improvements such as a robust mobile app.

We met Lisa Sharples several years ago when she was at the helm of Allrecipes.com. We liked each other right away. Lisa totally understood Roadfood. Since that meeting, we have been trying to figure out how to work together. When she and her husband, Cliff, started Fexy Media last year, we all knew that there was great partnership potential.

As many of you know, Fexy Media acquired Roadfood on June first. What this means for the future of the website is that we now have a family of dedicated experts on board to enhance and expand the Roadfood experience. Some changes, such as a quick cosmetic makeover, happened overnight. In the short term, we anticipate beefing up the mobile app and finally blocking that annoying forum spam. In the longer run, we are going to amplify the site's digital offerings, create video content, and develop technology to enrich user participation and contributions.

Roadfood always has been about exploring local culture and great regional food, and that will not change. Roadfood.com has become what it is thanks to the participation of adventurous, opinionated, and well-spoken website participants from around the country. That will not change either. In other words, the content remains; it is the delivery system that is going to improve.

Movin' On

As we focus on building Roadfood.com, we aim to engage with our offline audience in more and better ways (see you in Cajun country in October!), and we also hope to work together with other companies in Fexy's portfolio. For instance, at the same time Fexy acquired Roadfood, they acquired Serious Eats. Talk about potential synergy!

An essential part of our deal with Fexy is that Jane and I maintain our roles creating and overseeing content. Now we have a team of great people to help us along the way with resources we never could have dreamed of when we set off in our car back in the 1970s with a stack of folding paper maps as our guide and a portable typewriter to document the journey.

Below: An early trip to the Southwest. Jane enjoys Texas BBQ (note knife chained to the table); Michael records the trip with a Polaroid camera.

Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2015
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Comments (1)
Posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Blueberry Pie

We were tipped off to Chester Creek Cafe At Sara's Table by a Duluthian chocolatier who told us that the pies were better than his mother's. Here's a slice of blueberry. Note the coarse grains of sugar atop that flaky crust. The filling is intensely fruity and just sweet enough.
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