A few days in Arkansas

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buffetbuster
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/07 15:21:13 (permalink)
Monday November 3, 2008 

Breakfast was at Wagon Wheel restaurant in Greenbrier.

I arrived at 5:45AM and the parking lot was already jam packed with pickup trucks. But, most of them were in the process of leaving. This place must be perfect for working people, because they open early and get you out quick.

The inside was a typical small town cafe where they all seemed to know each other.


The breakfast specials:

Since I knew I was going to get the biscuits & gravy with the chocolate gravy, I never bothered to look at the regular menu. I explained to the waitress that I wanted to try the chocolate gravy, but was unsure if I would like it. She suggested that I get one biscuit covered in the chocolate gravy and one with the more typical sausage gravy. I agreed.


I should have known better, because I loved the chocolate gravy! It wasn't too sweet, since that wouldn't have worked at all. But, it still had a distinct chocolate flavor. The regular gravy and biscuits were both winners, too.


When the waitress asked me how I liked, I gave her the good news. She told me, "If it wasn't for the chocolate gravy, I would have darn near starved to death as a kid!"

Since I just had chocolate as part of my breakfast, I thought it prudent if I only have one piece of pie. Here are my choices:

Just guessing, but I think ChiTownDiner would go for the cherry (I assume that is what they meant by cheery), while CajunKing would go for the banana split pie. Here is my banana split

and it was every bit as good as it looks.

http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Writeup.aspx?ReviewID=2475&RefID=2459

After showering and checking out of the hotel, I made the short drive to Little Rock. My first stop was to visit the state capitol building. I checked in at the info desk and told them I wanted to take a guided tour. She said there was a tour at 9:30AM that I could join, but it would be with about 45 7th graders. Sounds good to me.

When the kids showed up, they were the biggest 7th graders I had ever seen. I asked the teachers with them and they turned out to be mostly juniors from nearby Hall High School in Little Rock.

Here is the outside of the capitol.

If you look closely, you can see two workers in the middle of the columns, just below the dome. Here is in the rotunda, looking up.

The governor's reception room:

The ceiling of the house of representatives chamber:

On the grounds, they had monument to the famous Little Rock nine.

The tour guide said they are the only capitol with a civil rights monument on the capitol grounds. But my favorite thing about the tour:

Hey, if Jesse Ventura can become the governor of Minnesota, I don't see why Charlie Daniels can't be the Secretary of State of Arkansas!

Time for lunch!

Much more to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/01/05 15:49:32
#61
ChiTownDiner
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/07 15:38:01 (permalink)
I'm in for Cherry but the Banana Split looked mighty good also!

Jury is still out on the chocolate gravy deal...
#62
buffetbuster
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/07 15:39:29 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by ChiTownDiner

Jury is still out on the chocolate gravy deal...
I was a skeptic too, but I am now a believer!
#63
Greymo
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/07 15:52:44 (permalink)
What a great report. I am enjoying it very much and would love to eat at a couple of the stops that you made. We made stops in Arkansas along a riverboat cruise a few years ago and still enjoy the memories of the great people that we met and also a wonderful barebeque lunch that we had at a hunting lodge.
#64
EliseT
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/07 18:01:56 (permalink)
quote:

Paul-
This was a weekend I wish I was twins, so I could have been in both places.


Ooh, I kind of wish you were twins too!
#65
susanll
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/07 18:19:43 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by buffetbuster

Saturday November 1 cont.


I took my tray into the side dining room. The pork bbq sandwich was covered with what sure seemed to be store bought cole slaw. The pork itself was just okay.




Which is one of the reasons I don't do slaw on the sandwich. Get it on the side, taste and then decide.
#66
susanll
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/07 18:22:53 (permalink)
"Next, I got on I-40 heading west and checked into my hotel in Russellville. While unpacking, I discovered I had accidentally taken the remote control from my hotel in Memphis with me. Oh well, I will have time to return it before my trip ends."

Hmmmm, I may need to alert the MPD.
#67
susanll
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/07 18:30:52 (permalink)
Great report. No trip to the Clinton library?
#68
Ort. Carlton.
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/07 19:27:26 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Curbside Grill
Shadow knows.


Curbside Grill,
That was by Paul Peek on the Columbia label (insert laugh here). -- My favorite record by him is "Pin The Tail On The Donkey," but that's for another thread (and God rest Ferde Grofe'!).
On The Trail, Ort. Carlton in The Sweet Suite that is Athens, Georgia.
#69
Ort. Carlton.
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/07 19:30:18 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by porkbeaks
When I ate at McClard's, I had to have one of these over-the-top tamales.


Porkbeaks,
You making me mighty HONGRY, and not long ago I done et.
A TAMALE SPREAD... who'd'a thunk it? -- Leave it to McClard's. I've gotta get there just once before I depart this mortal coil.
Full Of Middle-Aged Spread Myself, Ort. Carlton in Unskinny Athens, Georgia.
#70
Ort. Carlton.
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/07 19:48:11 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by buffetbuster
... One of the towns I drove through was Harrison, which gets kudos for having such a lovely art deco building.


Buffetbuster,
My thought is that this was built after a fire burned up its predecessor, and was once the Hotel Benjamin Harrison. It sure looks like one of those old highway hotels of the 1920's to 1940's, doesn't it? -- What is it used for now?
Our similar building in Athens (the Georgian Hotel) is now condos; I might just end up buying one there. THEN I would have a place to invite y'all to instead of a residential mini-warehouse full of my stuff on top of my parents' years and years of furniture-that-I-don't-need!
Slightly Janitorially Explanitorially, Ort. Carlton in 30601-Central.
P. S. I'm trying to clean everything out of my house, but it really is an uphill climb to the bottom!
#71
Curbside Grill
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/07 22:36:26 (permalink)
Buffetbuster
Just glad you liked the chocolate gravy. People here always show up at work with there biscuit and chocolate gravy.
#72
MiamiDon
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/08 08:44:34 (permalink)
Another fine tour, BB. I did some checking on the web, and I think that Feltner's Whattaburger is not part of the Whataburger chain.
#73
mr chips
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/08 11:03:49 (permalink)
BB, as always an excellent report and photos.You are an example for us all. Hope you will be able to find time for a visit to the Pacific Northwest.
#74
buffetbuster
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 06:12:47 (permalink)
MiamiDon-
Thanks for finding that out. If they aren't connected, I wonder why and how they can use the Whatta-burger name.

mr chips-
Thanks for the compliment! I am still planning on spending a week in Oregon in the near future. February or March are most likely. Very much looking forward to it.

Curbside Grill-
What do you think of the chocolate gravy? I imagine it isn't for everyone.

Ort-
Your knowledge of, well, just about everything, continues to amaze. I can't remember what that building is being used for. But, it was obvious that it has been recently been refurbished.

susanll-
I have already had my run-ins with the Memphis police department. Long story, but it involved an overly aggresiive squirrel!
#75
buffetbuster
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 06:44:55 (permalink)
Monday November 3, 2008 cont.

Knowing that I passed up a chance to dine with Travelin Man at Arnold's Country Kitchen in Nashville (one of my very favorite places), the pressure was on to have a great lunch!

A mere 10 miles out of town, I arrived in the small town of Scott and found Cotham's Mercantile.

If you think the front looks kind of run down, you should see the side, which shows the building is on stilts!

Looks like my kind of place!

From an interior window, you can see what they have for a backyard.


The inside is decorated with all kinds of old stuff. I took several inside photos, but this is the only one that came out.

Haven't I seen this motto at some other Roadfood establishments, too?

Anyone remember where?

They have a couple maps where you can use a push pin to show where you are from.

It looks like people have come here from all over the country.


They are best known here for their huge burger, called a Hubcap.

It is supposed to take up and entire dinner plate! Knowing I still had some other meals later in the day, I decided to forego the huge burger and check out the special instead.


When I asked for the fried pork chops, the waitress quietly shook her head and told me she just tried them and they were tough. I certainly appreciated he telling me this. So, I switched back to the Hub Cap burger. Unfortunately, since I had complained earlier that it was too big for me, she thought I wanted the junior Hub Cap.

Though not as impressively big, it was still bigger than the typical burger. BTW, I got it with cheese and fully loaded with the works.

It may not look like it in the photo, but the burger was plenty juicy, which you don't usually see in a burger of this size.

As good as the burger was, the onion rings were even better.

These beauties were lightly battered and very fresh tasting. Delicious!

I had to try at least one other vegetable here and the yams turned out to be a good choice.


My photo taking drew lots of attention. The pretty young blonde waitress showed me the George Motz Hamburger America book, which includes Cotham's. I told her I was a fan of the book, but the real reason I was there was because of Roadfood. She read the Roadfood review I brought and seemed grateful that she could keep it. Talking to her for a while, you could tell she was a Roadfooder at heart! Among her Little Rock suggestions for me was The Flying Fish and she was actually the second person so far to tell how good it was. No time on this trip, though.

I had no room for dessert, but I did get a fried pie to go.

http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Writeup.aspx?ReviewID=2473&RefID=2458

Once back in the city, I visited the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.

Since this is still a working high school

(and a huge, beautiful one, with art deco touches), the museum is in the visitor's center across the street. I very much enjoyed the time I spent here and learned a lot about it. Just horrible what those kids had to go through.

As I was leaving, a school bus with the kids from Hall High School were just pulling in. Am I being stalked?

Time for lunch #2!

More to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/01/05 15:50:17
#76
leethebard
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 08:01:48 (permalink)
Wow...what an honest waitress...never had one tell me NOT to order something,steer me in another direction maybe,but outright tell me not to order something...hope you tipped her nicely!!!!
#77
Curbside Grill
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 08:04:19 (permalink)
BB
Chocolate gravy is not sweet as you found out. When you mention this treat to people they automaticly think of sweet,almost candy bar sweet. Have to tell people, Try it, Mikey likes it. Do not know where this got started, but chocolate goes futher than meat, and in the poor south. Maybe way of extending the budget. Idea turns most people off,if not raised with it.
Still I love the building photo's, so much is being torn down for new. And Ort's knowledge, unreal.
#78
buffetbuster
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 08:42:29 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by leethebard

Wow...what an honest waitress...never had one tell me NOT to order something,steer me in another direction maybe,but outright tell me not to order something...hope you tipped her nicely!!!!
I think this may have been a first for me, too. My cynical side might say she had ulterior motives, like having me order a more expensive dish. But, she did inadvertently give me a smaller burger than I asked for, so I don't think that was it. Needless to say, I appreciated her honesty and she did receive a generous tip.
#79
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 08:50:21 (permalink)
Curbside Grill-
I am a little curious..... Your profile says you live in Tennessee, yet you say people show up at work with the chocolate gravy. Is there a place near you with the chocolate gravy or do you work in central Arkansas?

If there is a place near you with the chocolate gravy, are there a lot of places in the South that make it?
#80
Curbside Grill
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 09:06:23 (permalink)
Seems to run from N. GA ,S.TN and run a swath west thru Ark. We have two markets here that have biscuits and gravy on menu everyday and the people here make their own, and raised on it. We have diversity here. Next time Poverty Pete or Pogophile here can show him. Pogophile can say it is here. Cotton Pickers and chocolate gravy lovers.
#81
buffetbuster
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 09:09:13 (permalink)
Curbside Grill-
Thanks for the explanation. I had thought it was a unique item to Wagon Wheel restaurant or central Arkansas. Obviously, my Yankee is showing!
#82
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 10:52:40 (permalink)
Monday November 3, 2008 cont.

My next meal was Shaka Smoke Lodge, located in the newish looking River Market

area of downtown, next to the river. The inside

is like a giant food court with lots of seating in the middle.

Shaka Smoke Lodge is a barbecue place with a huge menu.

I went for the pork barbecue sandwich, with sides of beans and potato salad.

The latter item tasted straight from the grocery store. But the unsauced pork was nice and tender and barbecue beans were even better.


http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Writeup.aspx?ReviewID=2100&RefID=2044

There were a number of other interesting food places worth trying, including a pie place, but I knew I was eating a big dinner, so I passed.

Outside, there was a nice amplitheater for concerts and plenty of seating for the locals to enjoy their lunches outside. My favorite thing was the pig statue,

who seems to be the official mascot of the market.

Next stop was the Clinton library and museum. Being a history lover, I had been to every official presidential library except this one. The Clinton Library was opened in 2004, just a few weeks after my last visit to Little Rock.

Interesting design for the building, that frankly, left me cold.

The old bridge in the background, I believe, is just a pedestrian bridge now.


I spent probably 2 1/2 hours here. They did have a replica of the oval office, which I have seen at other presidential museums. But, this was the first one I noticed that had a replica of the cabinet room. You even got to sit in the president's chair.

I checked into my hotel room and headed out for dinner. It would have been nice if I could have eaten a later dinner, but the Steelers were on Monday Night Football, so I had to be in my room by 7:30.

Dinner was at Doe's Eat Place.

Now, I ate here in 2001 and loved the place. But, it was in a rather scary neighborhood. I even asked my waitress at Cotham's Mercantile about whether it was safe at night and she said yes, just act like you don't have any money. I am glad to say that the area around it now is not nearly as frightening as it was.

Doe's is part of a small chain and is best known for their run down restaurants and excellent steaks. The inside is still nothing to look at.

And the floor, like Michael Stern says in his review,

is clean, but well worn.

One of the problems with coming here by yourself is that there are so many things I want to try, but I couldn't possibly eat them all. The menu:

It is too bad I couldn't try the tamales or some of the shrimp, but I came here to eat steak. So, I ordered the 2lbs. t-bone, which is the smallest steak they have.

Your meal starts of with a terrific salad.

All the menu says is it is marinated. I asked the waitress if she could tell me more about it ans she described it as a Louisiana-style soak salad. Can't say I have ever heard of a soak salad before. Maybe CajunKing is familiar with it and can tell us more about it. I can tell you that even with all that meat coming, I ate every bit of my delicious garlicy salad.

When the steak was sat down at my table, it still sizzled for a good 30 seconds. A great sound!

I am by no means a steak lover, but this was a real thing of beauty! The meat is presliced, which I appreciated.


With the combination of crusty outside and juicy interior, this is the best steak I have ever had.

The french fries

were also hot and were not at all greasy. Loved them! Even the boiled potatoes, bathed in all that butter

were enjoyed.

I have no idea if they offer dessert at Doe's Eat Place or not, but I was way too stuffed to find out. I wasn't able to eat my entire meal, but I sure came close.

http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Writeup.aspx?ReviewID=2152&RefID=2119

After buying a Doe's t-shirt and paying my bill, I returned to my room for the night and watched the game, which I also very much enjoyed! For a snack, I ate my apricot fried pie

from Cotham's Mercantile.

More to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/01/05 15:50:56
#83
buffetbuster
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 11:06:24 (permalink)
I know Travelin Man has also recently been to Doe's Eat Place in Little Rock. Hopefully, he will chime in with his opinion and maybe have a photo or two.

#84
Leania_1stone
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 12:58:13 (permalink)
I was just at the rivermarket a couple of weeks ago with my friend Jamie I was thinking about trying the bbq but she wanted to try the sandwhich place so that's where we ended up....didn't care too much for it next time we'll try the bbq :)
#85
mar52
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 14:53:56 (permalink)
Once again, I'm JEALOUS!

I dream of chocolate gravy. A friend in Tennessee tells me of it. I want it bad!

I also want that steak.

Beautiful pictures. Really enjoyed all of them.
#86
Curbside Grill
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 16:22:36 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by mar52

Once again, I'm JEALOUS!

I dream of chocolate gravy. A friend in Tennessee tells me of it. I want it bad!


Just a roux,cocoa power,milk and touch of sugar.
Not responsible for biscuit.
#87
Sundancer7
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 16:30:12 (permalink)
I visited the Clinton Library about 2 years ago. Some call it a shoebox but it was impressive to me. The setting is very nice.

You did a nice write up about Doe's. I have never tried the one in Little Rock but I did the one in Greenville, MS. It was not as the nice as the one you showed in your pics in LR. The steaks were super duper.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
#88
buffetbuster
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/09 21:18:40 (permalink)
Paul-
I have only ever been to the Doe's Eat Place in Little Rock, but my mind just can't fathom that the original one in Greenville, MS is even better. I will be eating there during the first week of December, so I will let you know.
#89
joerogo
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RE: A few days in Arkansas 2008/11/10 10:29:27 (permalink)
BB, The steak preparation looks the same as Peter Lugers. Just 1/3 of the price.

Was it prime or choice?
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