Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas!

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FrecklesAZ
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2003/08/17 18:16:51 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Liketoeat

Alirush, Bushie, and JL Warren - your mentions of the AQ bring back great memories of long ago, particularly of the original (& then only) AQ in Springdale. Also many memories of the Venesian (spelling?) Inn at Tontitown and its great rolls, the only rolls I've ever encountered which were better than those at the AQ. The Venesian Inn steaks really weren't that good, looking back, but they were wonderful Sunday night suppers for their prices back in my undergraduate and graduate school days. Last time I was at Tontitown the Venesian was still operating but the steak dinner I knew for $2 was then $10 or $12. Also at Tontitown back then Mary Maestri's was in her own home and was unlike any dining experience for quality, service, and value that I've ever known. The current big commerical Mary Masetri's is good but nothing like the original. To tell about Mary's is too long a tale but I'll be glad to do so later tonight if you are interested. Back in graduate school days when I occasionally got taken out to dinner on someone's expense account,
Heinie's Steak House just south of (and then relocated just north of) Springdale was a top notch Chicago quality steak house, with Heinie having come down there with that experience from being a Chicago restauranteur. As far as I know Heinie's and the folks he sold out to are long gone.

JLWarren, I've not yet heard back from my Bentonville friends re their knowledge of Riverside Grille, but will let you know when and if I do hear anything.

As to Cothams, its located in what used to be an old fashioned general merchandise store (maybe a bit heavier on the hardware than most such old stores were) in the little town of Scott, AR, on US 165 twenty miles or so out of North Little Rock. The old store building still has in it a lot of old left over stuff, mostly hardware, from when it was closed, that is used as decoration. The front of it is built on land but the majority of it is built on stilts out over this bayou. Along the banks of the bayou on both sides of the store they have a number of farm animals and chickens the children enjoy watching. Think I'm right on these times - Cotham's is closed on Sun. and Mon., open for lunch only Tues. and Wed. and is open from like 11A to 8P Thurs. thru Sat. It is surely nothing fancy but does have good food, various chicken fried steak, hamburger steak, etc. dinners and plate lunches each day. The plate lunches are the only Cotham disappointments I've ever had. They are not bad but are not as good as plate lunches in a number of other such places, however. Cotham's piece de resistance, tho, is its Hubcap. It is a 17 oz. (raw weight) hamburger served on a hubcap sized bun with pickles, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, mustard, and mayo. You can also get it as a cheeseburger or peppercheese cheeseburger or maybe another special way of two. Its served with french fries which can be swapped off for onion rings for extra charge. Price of the hubcap, at $8.95 believe it is, exceeds prices of all plate lunches and most of the other dinners, but is worth it. Its the thing to get, particularly if you've never been there. It's fun to see a new diner's eyes bulge when first a hubcap is set before him. Cotham's hubcap is not quite as tasty as either Phillips Grocery (Holly Springs, MS) burgers or the bar burgers at Port of Call in New Orleans, but they are good and something which should be tried for the experience. Cotham's also has great fried catfish. Take time to tour around Scott, too. It is an interesting little old town. There is a "Cotham's in the City" on Capitol I believe it is in Little Rock, and honestly, its food is probably about as good as out at Scott, but being in a modern setting (something that was formerly a TGI Friday's or some such), it just doesn't taste the same

Hope this makes some sense. I'm a bit rushed to get to a meeting now. Regards to all. Liketoeat
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FrecklesAZ
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2003/08/17 18:52:05 (permalink)
This is my first time. I had to reply because your comments brought back old, fond memories. Yes, James at the Mill at Johnson, does have terrific lunches and the setting and environment is pleasant and soothing. And as you mentioned AQ Chicken House, the original in Springdale and the new(er)one in Fayetteville does have an excellent selection of chicken--and why not? that's the Tyson's chicken neighborhood. But the BEST meal for years IS the Venesian Inn, in Tontitown. The yeast rolls are worth the trip alone, not to mention the spaghetti and chicken. The most economical chicken dinner can be secured during the annual fall Grape Festival held in Springdale. The Catholic elementary school cafeteria serves mass meals, all the spaghetti, rolls, and grapes you can eat and pay extra for more chicken. It's a great family & friends experience, EXCEPT for the long lines and parking. I remember when there were NO lines...times have changed. Anyway, you can also buy GRAPE icecream during the Grape Festival--imagine that! It's pretty tastey too. I never particularly cared for Coy's of Fayetteville, preferring Herman's Rib House, located in an old HOUSE (imagine). Last I knew they had changed hands but the food (sic. ribs & hamburgers) was still good and the owner was experimenting with a breadpudding with an authentic brandy sauce (get a designated driver). It had a dark, shadowy feeling but not smoke filled. Arsaga's on N. Block is/was a cool coffee shop hangout, it had a door connecting it to the neighboring local bookstore they've branched out to (as far as I know) one other location. Hugo's, just down the street was where I always went during college, a basket of fresh, skin cut fries with Thousand Island dressing for $1.75 (back then), plus their lemmon mousse was terrific. Cable Car Pizza will make you a feta cheese, salmon pizza with olive oil--or whatever your bizarre heart desires. I don't know whether Gaylord's is still in business. I was one of their very first patrons when they first opened...I loved their slow cooked oatmeal, and biscuits and gravy. Fuzzy's Restaurant and Bar has BATTER dipped fries!!! the most sinful things. That was my hangout after I returned from the military. There's a small breakfast/lunch place in Johnson which is also located in an old farmhouse, you park in the yard under trees. Their cinnamon rolls and blueberry pancakes are fun, it was also where I was able to drag my dad off to when I wanted him to myself--for an extended breakfast.
#32
Liketoeat
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2003/08/20 12:09:27 (permalink)
Hi, FrecklesAZ - Enjoyed your post and certainly agree with you that Tontitown's Venesian Inn is great. You surely hit its strengths - rolls (probably best I've ever eaten), spaghetti, chicken. And from a value/relative worth standpoint (not an absolute standpoint), you could (in the past at least) put its steaks in that category. What amazes me most is that it still exists after all these years in basically its 1950 - 1960 form. Enjoyed too reading your coments re the Tontitown Grape Festival. Great times there in years past, but haven't attended it in years. Did you make it this past weekend for the 2003 version? Think James at the Mill is these days the best restaurant in the state but am totally unfamiliar witht the breakfast place at Johnson. Tell us more about it. Not that familiar with most of the Fayetteville places you mentioned. Never was at Coy's there, but I've before mentioned on here that the worst meal (in terms of both food quality and servce) I ever experienced was at Coy's in Hot Springs, which has always gotten such rave reviews from both customers & food writers.
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Laughing Goddess
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2003/08/20 23:58:42 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Liketoeat

I know all about the growth in northwest Arkansas, but didn't realize you guys right across the line in Missouri were also part of that booming area. The growth is great for the economy, but it is surely destroying the beauty and charm of the area. Such is the price of progress anywhere, I guess, and its surely a better way to destroy beauty and charm than by senseless political fighting and economic stagnation/decline, both of which are doing in all of eastern Arkansas.


Hi Liketoeat,

Yup, you're right about the mad growth here. For the past 4 years I've gone home to visit my parents for the summer, and I can't believe the changes when I get back. Old stuff I liked gone, new stuff here. 71B is crazy. I wouldn't say the beauty is gone -- just have to stay off 71B, which is just fast-food-strip-mall hell.

And the changes I'm talking about are week-to-week here, not just month-to-month. But Dickson Street will be really pretty if they ever finish it.

By the way, the Inn at Carnall Hall is now open. I went by last week and it looks beautiful (from the outside, anyway) and the parking lot was full -- and school's not even in session till Monday!

Sadly, Pianalto's in Tontitown is now gone. But they are still baking up lovely stuff to sell at the Farmer's Market in the center of town, and they should get a permanent place soon.

Sandwich recommendation: Jammin Java, in the center, where Hog City used to be. They use wonderful bread, from a bakery on Gregg Ave (can't think of the name), Boar's Head meats, and lettuce, tomatoes, etc. from the Farmer's Market (well, why not, since it's right outside?).

And what d'y'all mean by "the old Mary Maestri's"? There is a Mary Maestri's in Tontitown -- you mean it's not as good? I haven't been there yet, or to the Venesian Inn either (because I loved Pianalto's so much that I never tried the others). So where do I go in Tontitown now?

The Washington County Fair is this weekend. Come on up! Corndogs all around
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Liketoeat
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2003/08/21 09:50:04 (permalink)
Laughing Goddess, thanks for your message above. Surely glad to hear of opening of Carnall Hall. Please keep us posted of further progress/advances there. Is Ella's open yet? Know in one sense progress is good, but in several other senses I hate to see/hear of so much progress/change. I was unaware of redo of Dixon Street. What is that. Sorry to read of closing of Pianalto's (before I even got to go there) but glad to read of its future. Thanks for other recommends. I recommend both Venesian Inn and the current Mary Maestri's at Tontitown, but the current Mary's is a far cry from the original, which I described in detail in my 6/11/03 post above in this forum. Am sure you would have loved it. Thanks for all the info. Liketoeat
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matilda427
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2003/08/22 12:58:03 (permalink)
In regards to Cotham's, don't forget that there is a location in Little Rock, Cotham's in the City. It's on Third and Victory, just a few blocks west of third and Chester streets. Same food as the original in Scott, but a little less "shack on the water" and general store feel. They are open mainly for lunch, M-F and I think they have dinner on Friday nights, but close pretty early for LR at around 8 or 9pm. Don't forget their cobbler, and also, when the Legislature is in session (FYI they are going tohave a special session in December), be prepared to wait for a table. It's worth the wait.

They also have the very best onion rings in central Arkansas, hands down, and pretty good plate lunches. If you are traveling through LR and not headed towards Scott (in the direction of the airport) take the Chester Street exit off of I-630 and turn left on third street. It's a good roadfood stop for anyone passing through the rock.
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matilda427
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2003/08/22 13:04:29 (permalink)
Gotta respond to the subject of steaks and the long-lost Coy's. I never ate at Coy's but heard wonderful things about it. If you are looking for good steak in Little Rock, skip the chains (Outback, Sonny Williams, unless you like spending that kind of$$). Go to Doe's. I think the original was in Mississippi, but our Doe's has fantastic, HUGE, steaks, served family style with boiled potatoes, perfect crispy fries, and texas toast. Let your toast fall in the drippins. Yum! It's just off of Chester, on Markham, I think.

A lot of people around here think Doe's and think hot tamales. Persoanlly, I don't like their tamales that much...the filling is too ground for my tastes. I just found a fantastic tamale store called La Pena on the other side of town, on Baseline Road, just south of Geyer Springs. It's a mexican grocery store, mom-and-pop variety, and they make the best tamale's I've ever had. Fresh, hot, wrapped in real corn husks, in chicken, pork, or beef. $1 a tamale and very, very filling. Can't be beat.
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matilda427
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2003/08/22 13:10:37 (permalink)
Gotta respond to the subject of steaks and the long-lost Coy's. I never ate at Coy's but heard wonderful things about it. If you are looking for good steak in Little Rock, skip the chains (Outback, Sonny Williams, unless you like spending that kind of$$). Go to Doe's. I think the original was in Mississippi, but our Doe's has fantastic, HUGE, steaks, served family style with boiled potatoes, perfect crispy fries, and texas toast. Let your toast fall in the drippins. Yum! It's just off of Chester, on Markham, I think.

A lot of people around here think Doe's and think hot tamales. Persoanlly, I don't like their tamales that much...the filling is too ground for my tastes. I just found a fantastic tamale store called La Pena on the other side of town, on Baseline Road, just south of Geyer Springs. It's a mexican grocery store, mom-and-pop variety, and they make the best tamale's I've ever had. Fresh, hot, wrapped in real corn husks, in chicken, pork, or beef. $1 a tamale and very, very filling. Can't be beat.
#38
Sundancer7
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2003/08/22 16:03:51 (permalink)
I ate at Coy's several years ago in the western part of Little Rock close to where the Courtyard is located. I went back and they ahd closed the restaurant I was at. I do not know what happened. I liked their steak and pecan pie.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
#39
Laughing Goddess
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2003/08/25 12:39:29 (permalink)
Have to pipe up about the Doe's here in Fayetteville, too. Their porterhouse steaks are fabulous, and huge!! I always end up with a little left over for Snoopy, so we're both happy.

If anyone tried Ella's at the Inn at Carnall Hall, please report back. I'd like to know if it's as good as James at the Mill (I expect it is). But I'm too poor to go there now. I'm finding out what the phrase "working poor" means.
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SocialButterfly
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2004/11/08 17:53:35 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by jlwarren

I recently ate at the River Grille (1003 McClain Rd.) in Bentonville. I was thrilled to find a good restaurant in this town. The atmosphere was nice, subdued lighting and jazz. The menu was quite pricey for such a small town. The price that really got my attention was $3.95 for a baked potatoe! Not being too hungry and a little food weary, I ordered the crab cakes, the River Grille House Salad and that darned potatoe. Give the crab cakes a miss, very floury. The salad was great, a nice wedge of lettuce with cherry tomatoes and red onion with good blue cheese. The potatoe was good, and came with the toppings on the side as requested. When I got the bill, much to my surprise, the potatoe had turned in to a $5.45 potatoe! When I asked the food server, she explained that toppings are extra! And this was not posted in the menu. In all my years of traveling the world and eating out, I have never seen this. It is not the money, it is the point. Diners beware, is this a new trend??
#41
SocialButterfly
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2004/11/08 17:55:02 (permalink)
Have you ever tried 1936 Club in Fayetteville, AR? Great steak, large seafood selection, and tons of great pasta dishes and dinner size salads. Most prices are very reasonable. They also have a GREAT crab cake.


quote:
Originally posted by jlwarren

I recently ate at the River Grille (1003 McClain Rd.) in Bentonville. I was thrilled to find a good restaurant in this town. The atmosphere was nice, subdued lighting and jazz. The menu was quite pricey for such a small town. The price that really got my attention was $3.95 for a baked potatoe! Not being too hungry and a little food weary, I ordered the crab cakes, the River Grille House Salad and that darned potatoe. Give the crab cakes a miss, very floury. The salad was great, a nice wedge of lettuce with cherry tomatoes and red onion with good blue cheese. The potatoe was good, and came with the toppings on the side as requested. When I got the bill, much to my surprise, the potatoe had turned in to a $5.45 potatoe! When I asked the food server, she explained that toppings are extra! And this was not posted in the menu. In all my years of traveling the world and eating out, I have never seen this. It is not the money, it is the point. Diners beware, is this a new trend??
#42
robicheaux
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RE: Diners beware in Bentonville, Arkansas! 2004/11/09 10:10:14 (permalink)
This is the HOME of Wal-Mart, I thought everything was cheap around Wal-mart!
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