Monday, December 31, 2012

Blueberry fried.

There are too many items to confuse the mind at the bakery at Country Village near Star City.  Between the cakes, the pies, the doughnuts, the loaves of bread and cookies and jams and jellies and canned goods and such, there are so many things to make the mouth water.
Yet it's a very good idea to keep your sense of purpose, to walk in and order a blueberry fried pie or three.  Made from blueberry preserves created on-site, wrapped in doughnut dough and deep-fried, this is a pie with heft and moxie, and it deserves your full attention.

Country Village Bakery
158 Knight Haven Circle
Star City, AR 71667
(870) 628-3333

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Apple cinnamon fried.

In the book, we talk about the Delta custom of the fried pie by the cash register.  You can find them all over the state, wrapped in wax paper or cellophane and offered for sale for a buck or two to pick up and take with you.

The danger in this is when the pie needs heat.  A good pie is buttery and spice-packed enough where it doesn't matter.

That's the case at the Country Store in Rison, a gray-washed convenience and fuel center that offers wax paper wrapped fried pies in a cardboard box right next to the register.  The apple-cinnamon pie is our favorite; packed with soft-stewed cinnamon spiced apple and just the right amount of sugar, this pie takes it over the top with a decadent dusting of even more cinnamon and sugar.
Rison Country Store
1980 U.S. 63
Rison, AR 71665
(870) 357-8259

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Strawberry icebox.

The buzz around Searcy is that there's a new great place for catfish in town.  That place is The Lunchbox, and it's less than a year old.  But its recipes and catfish roots go straight to the famed and now defunct Georgetown One-Stop, the final word in all things catfish in Arkansas.

However, cheating oneself of a slice of the strawberry icebox pie at The Lunchbox is paramount to personal mutiny, and one's tastebuds might take an act of protest, if one can be determined.

What we do like about the strawberry icebox pie at The Lunchbox -- fresh-frozen chunks of Arkansas strawberries suspended in strawberry-juice pink tinted whipped cream, with enough extra whipped cream from a can on top to choke a horse.  The only other viable option is one of the restaurant's fabulous homemade fried pies, which can suitably be accepted if you're absolutely freezing.

1100 East Race Avenue
Searcy, AR
(501) 268-4040
On Facebook

The Lunch Box on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 28, 2012

Coconut meringue.

Every morning, Tuesday through Saturday, Charlotte Bowls makes pie crust.  She makes just enough pie crusts to fit in enough pans to fill every section of counterspace in her kitchen at her famed Keo shop -- and no more.  The pies are filled, the meringue is beaten and dotted on top, and the pies are baked.

Locals know to order pie when they come through the door -- or better yet, have an order called in when the restaurant opens at 11 a.m.

If you miss out on the coconut meringue pie, named the best coconut meringue in the South by Southern Living, there are other pies... and cakes as well, though the layered delights are often overlooked.

And if for some reason you eek in the door at the end of the day looking for your Keo Klassic and miss out on burger AND pie, you still have an opportunity at greatness with a classic milkshake.

Charlotte’s Eats and Sweets
290 Main Street
Keo, AR 72083
(501) 841-2123

Charlotte's Eats & Sweets on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Apple tartine.

How about an upside-down pie?  Though it doesn't look out of alignment with its internal axis, this slice of apple tartine was cooked the other way around.  The chefs at Terry's Finer Restaurant, the little French-inspired cafe attached to Terry's Finer Foods in the Heights, prepare this beauty in a flat iron skillet apples-down, each slice coated in a blend of cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg and butter, the dough for the crust sprawled over its top like a firm blanket.  It's only when the apples have fully caramelized that the pie is inverted into its final form.

Terry’s Finer Restaurant
5018 Kavanaugh Boulevard
Little Rock, AR 72207
(501) 663-4152

Terry's Finer Foods - The Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Brown sugar.

Is there any sort of pastry Tandra Watkins creates that we don't love?  We haven't found it yet.

Her brown sugar pie with bourbon whipped cream deserves to be highlighted on the menu at upscale Ashley's at the Capital... what surprises us is that it's actually the featured wintertime dessert over at Capital Bar and Grill across the lobby.  The brownie-crisp top crust, the almost pecan-custard (yet pecan-less) filling, the decadent and light slightly alcoholic cool cream... it'll make you thankful.

Check out the book for the recipe, and for more on Tandra.

Capital Bar and Grill
11 West Markham
Little Rock, AR 72201
(501) 374-7474

Capital Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sweet potato.

There are two types of sweet potato pie.  There's the really sweet version, and there's the spicy, more savory version.

Sim's falls more on the savory side, but splits the difference as well.  Made over the years by different members of the family, the pie has essentially remained the same over the past several decades -- a spice-packed smooth concoction packed into a simple flour crust.

Why it goes well with barbecue, we may never really know.  But this specialty is a good one to counteract the astringently pungent and sweet barbecue sauce that soaks every slice of white bread that barbecue comes into contact with.

Sim’s Bar-B-Que
1307 Barrow Road
Little Rock, AR 72204
(501) 224-2057
Sim's Bar-b-que on Urbanspoon

2415 Broadway Street
Little Rock, AR 72206
(501) 732-6868
Sim's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

7601 Geyer Springs Road
Little Rock, AR 72209
(501) 562-8844
Sims Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 23, 2012

PCP (pineapple, coconut, pecan).

Ed and Kay's Restaurant in Benton is known far and wide for the Mile High Pie, but that's not the end of good pie at the whitewashed, red topped restaurant on the southwest side of town.

Our favorite, bar none, is Miss Alma's PCP pie.  The restaurant was, after all, Ed and Alma's before it was Ed and Kay's.  That pie... made from the same recipe after all these years, is still just as good (and it's in the book).

Somehow, the blend of pineapple, shredded coconut and pecans comes out buttery and pleasant, a perfect concoction with heft and sweet dreams.  It's almost good enough to allow you to eat nothing but pie -- but then you're missing out on fried potatoes, humongous breakfasts and homegrown lunches.  And you don't want to do that.

Ed and Kay’s Restaurant
15228 Interstate 30
Benton, AR 72019
(501) 315-3663

Ed & Kay's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cinnamon cream.

There are always a selection of desserts at the end of the line at Franke's Cafeteria in Little Rock.  They range from simple Jell-O to marshmallow-and-chocolate-syrup topped brownie pies, coconut and chocolate cakes, strawberry shortcake -- and every manner of pie.  Sweet potato, egg custard, chocolate cream, banana cream, lemon meringue, fresh strawberry, lemon icebox, pecan, cherry, cherry cream cheese...

and cinnamon cream.  In fact, we have yet to find another version of cinnamon cream pie anywhere in the state.

The cinnamon-infused graham cracker crust topped with cinnamon cream, cinnamon custard and more whipped cream on top is a delicate and delicious end to a traditional Arkansas restaurant meal of escalloped corn, butter beans and any of a wide array of dinner items, from catfish to fried chicken to cabbage rolls.

Franke’s Cafeteria
400 West Capital
Little Rock, AR 72201
(501) 372-1919
Franke's Cafeteria on Urbanspoon

11121 North Rodney Parham
Little Rock, AR 72212
(501) 225-4487

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chocolate meringue.

Like waitresses that call you "sweetie" and "sugar?" Stop in at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Greenbrier.  There's always three or four good choices for entrees for that plate lunch, and there's way too much cheese in the omelets...

and there are always a couple of good pies in the pie case.

One of the best -- the chocolate meringue pie.  The darker chocolate flavor combines well with the thick-pack meringue, which is rich with just the right touch of sugar.

Wagon Wheel Restaurant
166 South Broadview
Greenbrier, AR 72058
(501) 679-5009

Wagon Wheel Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Coconut cream.

You can't get more out-in-the-country than the Viola Stampede.  At the crossroads of the north Arkansas ribbon of US 62 and the rural winder Highway 233, you'll find the little roadside diner laced with twang and sweetness, not just of the dessert variety.

If they have a coconut cream pie, get it -- get it all -- especially if you love coconut.  It's a whipped delight, with a base made of crushed coconut cookies, a coconut custard and a coconut-infused whipped cream topper.  Two hands of goodness.

And if you do decide all you want is a slice for later, be further warned -- that slice won't make it to your destination, and your fingers are going to be coated in sweet stickiness.

Viola Stampede
9740 U.S. 62 West
Viola, AR 72583
(870) 458-2112

Viola Stampede on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Strawberry rhubarb.

For more than three decades, The Village Wheel has been the place to go for family dining in Bull Shoals.  That doesn't mean there isn't a certain amount of innovation in the menu.  For instance, the onion rings have always been pretty decent -- but it's the fried macaroni and cheese that deserves attention these days.

That is, unless there are homemade pies on the menu - which are extraordinary.  We especially like the startlingly tart strawberry rhubarb, which bites hard against the smooth, sweet ice cream it's almost always served with.  It's a sweet-tart glory.

 Village Wheel
1400 Central Boulevard
Bull Shoals, AR 72619
(870) 445-4414

Village Wheel on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Peanut butter.

Walk into the Mabelvale Mecca, elsewise known as Three Sams' Barbecue Joint, and you may be overcome with the desire to have yourself a slice of Italian cream cake.  There will be everything brownies to tempt you, and divine peanut butter cookies all stacked and ready to go.  Then you will be inundated with the scent of good barbecue spice, and you will begin to drool.

It is essential, at this point, to not lose sight of the ultimate goal.  So here's a photo.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to acquire a slice of this heavenly goodness, packed top to bottom with peanuts and a smattering of peanut butter cups, before you leave the property.  Fail, and you will be crying about it for days to come, until your path takes you once again to the mecca.

Three Sam’s Barbeque Joint
10508 Mann Road
Mabelvale, AR 72103
(501) 407-0325

Three Sam's BBQ Joint on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 17, 2012


If'n you are between Russellville and Alma during the lunch hour (or lunch three hours), and it's a weekday, and you are hankering for good home food, you absolutely have to diverge from the interstate and seek out the little dinerette over near the post office in Lamar.  The little two-room white building is the place to go for good chili, marvelous fried okra and a selection of delicious pies.

While we are the happiest with the caramel pecan pie, we have to give special props to Sweet Treats for the most elaborate and tasty layered version we have found.  In addition to the traditional pecan sandy crust, cream cheese layer chocolate custard and whipped top, there's an additional cream cheese layer.  Would that make it a five-layer delight?

Sweet Treats
5 Main Street
Lamar, AR 72846
(479) 647-0133
And on Facebook...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Raspberry cream cheese.

When you dine at Trio's and you're done with your meal, there will come to your table a vision of desserts extraordinaire.  On a single platter will be samples of a dozen desserts, each more yummy than the next.  You will capture a view of such lovely delights as amaretto cheesecake, chocolate bombs, smooth flan, layered chocolate and carrot cakes and so much more.

You must be strong.  You must resist the urge to choose anything but the raspberry cream cheese pie.  This you will order with coffee or tea.  And when it comes, when you are blessed at the table with this perfect blend of sweet custard and tart raspberry couli, when you are deigned worthy for such a slice of pie perfection, you will gently take a spoonful on the tongue and remember what good desserts are meant to be. And you will feel the tinge of a tear.

For a moment, at least.  Then you'll eat the rest of the pie, and praise the food deities for another wonderful slice.

8201 Cantrell Road #100
Little Rock, AR 72227
(501) 221-3330

Trio's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"The Best" Key Lime.

Smooth.  Tart.  Sweet.  Yes, all the things necessary for a good Key Lime Pie.  Is The House's Key Lime Pie the best in the state?

It really doesn't matter... when you're talking about naming a pie.  And by naming this slice "The Best Key Lime Pie," maybe a stroke of genius has happened.  We think it's tasty.

The House
722 North Palm
Little Rock, AR 72205
(501) 663-4500

The House on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 14, 2012

Strawberry icebox.

 Pie for breakfast?  Yes, pie for breakfast.  Pie instead of breakfast?  That's your own choice.

We enjoy the breakfasts served at Susan's Restaurant in Springdale.  They're hearty and satisfying, from the O'Brien potatoes to the chili-filled omelets.  Biscuits are fluffy, gravy is sausage-y and the pie case is almost always full.

Of the pies at Susan's, none speaks to us more than the strawberry icebox pie -- with its almost-frozen layer of fresh strawberries in a whipped cream emulsion and its whipped cream crown.  
When strawberries aren't seasonally fresh, they're from quick-frozen local berries, and if none are available then you just don't get that strawberry pie.  You'll have to settle for the almost-as-good pecan pie, instead.

Susan’s Restaurant
1440 West Sunset Avenue
Springdale, AR 72764
(479) 751-1445

Susan's Restaurant on Urbanspoon