Re:Burgers, Barbecue and Pie
Thu, 05/24/12 3:53 PM
Friday April 27, 2012 (cont.) Once we got on I-40 towards Little Rock, I called into work. What should have been a quick phone call turned into longer than expected and I wasn't paying attention where we were on the highway. By the time I got off the phone, we had already passed my next planned stop, Ed & Kay's. This is small cafe right next to the highway that makes really good pies. Equally disappointing is that I had also wanted to stop and see the only known building made of bauxite. The reason we couldn't double back was that I knew that our lunch destination, Charlotte's Eats & Sweets gets very crowded and I didn't want to wait in a long line. So, we wanted to be there when they opened at 11:00AM. If I had been paying better attention to what we were doing, we could have had pie at Ed & Kay's, seen the bauxite building and arrived at Charlotte's in time for their opening. Very disappointing! Charlotte's is located in Keo, Arkansas, a small blip on the map southeast of Little Rock. According to the 2000 census, Keo had 235 people and I can tell you there hasn't been a major growth spurt since then. Charlotte's is easy to find as there aren't many businesses here. It is between the tiny city hall and just a little further down the street, a taxidermy shop. We arrived around 10:30AM, which allowed us some time to catch up on our notes for the trip. Around 10:45, other cars started to pull in and when the doors opened, there were about 25 people milling around outside. By 11:15, there was a wait for a table. In the front room, there is a long case full of tea pots, knickknacks and antiques. On the other side, sits a walnut soda fountain. The back dining room is much bigger and on my previous visit here, was full of ladies from the Red Hat Club. Even before we looked at the regular menu, we were eyeing up the dessert list. Maybe someday I will try one of the cakes, but for now, it is all about the pie. When the waitress came over, she recommended ordering our pie ahead of time, because they are known to run out quick. Needless to say, that was our plan, too. Johnny went caramel pie, I went chocolate and they were soon sitting at our table. This quartet of diners had the same idea, as they had their pies on the table before their entrees. When I went to use the men's room, I noticed a counter with pies a'plenty lined up. I ran back to our table to grab my camera. When they saw me taking the photos, they invited me in for some closer shots. These are some seriously gorgeous pies! We eventually quick the pie oogling and ordered our entrees. Here is the main sandwich part of the menu. Johnny went for the signature sandwich, known as the Keo Klassic. This is smoked turkey, tomato onion, avocado, Monterey Jack cheese on sourdough. Sounds good, but not particularly interesting. The twist is they deep it in a Parmesan garlic cream and then grill it. The top part of the bread it light and crispy, while the bread underneath stayed soft. Johnny was also a fan of the thick, creamy cheese and the tasted fresh avocado. He loved his sandwich. On my previous visit to Charlotte's, I had the same sandwich and also thought it was a winner. This time, I went for another of their "very special specialties", the reuben. Now, this isn't one of those giant overstuffed reubens you would see at a deli, but more like a delicate reuben from a tea house serving ladies lunch. It was not too thick, easy to eat and had a wonderful, strong, yet not overpowering horseradish flavor. I very much enjoyed it. Both sandwiches came with potato chips, olives and a dill pickle. It was finally time to dig into our pies. I know, I'm as surprised as you are we didn't eat the pie first. The meringues on the pies were a true thing of beauty. While we were eating our sandwiches, one of us accidentally bumped the table and we just watched the meringue just shake back and forth. The top was lightly burnt, the meringue a lovely white. It was airy, yet still had substance to it, if you know what I mean. The filling for both the chocolate and caramel was extremely dense, not overly sweet and unmistakably homemade. These were some of the best pies of the trip. And further proof that Arkansas might be the best state in the country for pies. If we didn't have such a rigorous pie schedule ahead of us,we would have tried more pie here. We spotted the strawberry pie on another table and it looked so good. It should be noted that Charlotte's is only open for lunch on Tuesdays through Saturdays and does not accept credit cards. Charlotte's Eats & Sweets 290 Main Street Keo, AR 501-842-2123 We got back in the car to look for pie in Little Rock. Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Thu, 05/24/12 9:39 PM>