Hello. I’m Jay Ruud and I’m glad you’re here.

Eat It, Conway!

A He Said/She Said Romp Through the Restaurants of Conway

Jay and his awesome wife (poet and novelist Stacey Margaret Jones) attempt to eat their way through conway. Our goal is to eat at, and review, every restaurant in Conway, Arkansas. if we miss one, please let us know!

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Ed’s Custom Bakery

Review No. 157: Ed’s Custom Bakery

256 Oak Street

(501) 327-2996

72.6 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

He Said: Before my troublesome pancreas moved me into a new food reality, I used to stop by Ed’s regularly to get a couple of doughnuts for me and for She Said. In the six years since I was put on a permanent low-fat diet, I’ve largely avoided doughnuts as just too dangerously fatty. But She Said told me we were due for a doughnut visit, and Ed’s popped up on the radar. So I was sent to hunt and gather.

She Said: Yes, Ed’s was part of our Saturday-morning ritual for a long time, when He Said would buy doughnuts and stop for a soy latte for me at Starbucks. But then we switched to Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe for homemade banana buckwheat pancakes, and we’ve never looked back. But when Ed’s came up next on the magical list, I was pretty happy, buckwheat pancakes or not.

Ambience:

He Said: You cango through a drive-through here, and if you know exactly what you want that’s a convenient way to go. You can also eat here at one of the three or four tables they have in the small area, and the place is pleasant enough inside. I decided to go in and order at the counter, since I didn’t know if the two dollars I had in my wallet was going to be enough or if I’d have to use my credit card—and there is an extra charge here if you use your credit card for orders under $5, so I figured if I was going to get charged extra, I’d just add on to my order until it was more than $5 worth—surely I could find a goodly number of sweet treats to eat later if I needed to. Turns out two doughnuts was less than $2, so it was fine. So was the ambience.

She Said: It’s always fun to go to the counter of goodies and make your selection, but I let He Said take care of that this time. I didn’t even have to tell him what I wanted. He remember from all those Saturdays of yesteryear.

Drinks

He Said: They do have coffee here, if you want to sit down and have a cup with your doughnut. But I was getting it to go, so I didn’t get anything to drink.

 

Food

He Said: It’s a bakery, so of course they have a lot of bakery goods on display: cakes, cupcakes, brownies, bars, pecan pie and lots and lots of cookies, in particular the frosted smiley-face cookies that are something of a trademark for Ed’s. But my mission here was doughnuts, and that’s what I was going to get.

In the halcyon days before my low-fat diet, I would always get the chocolate glazed as the most decadent and delicious of all the doughnut tribe. There were occasional Saturdays when I arrived later than usual, and sometimes when that happened, tragically, the chocolate glazed doughnuts were no more. I knew that getting here around lunchtime was risky, and as I looked in the display case I froze for an instant—I didn’t see any chocolate glazed at first. Then, with a sigh of relief, I spotted just two left, almost hidden since they were well toward the back of the shelf.

Just so we’re clear, I’m talking about what is essentially a classic yeast (a.k.a. raised, as opposed to cake) glazed doughnut with the extra added deliciousness of a thick chocolate frosting. It doesn’t get any better than this in the doughnut world, and I savored the variety of sweetnesses. A quick nutritional check suggests that these doughnuts at Ed’s are likely between 240-250 calories apiece, and contain 11-12 grams of fat. This is not as unhealthy as I had been telling myself, in fact, and perhaps I could have one of these babies occasionally again, if I don’t go crazy the rest of the day.

She Said: He Said brought me my beloved standard order of a blueberry cake doughnut. I absolutely love these little flavor bombs of deliciousness. Lightly glazed, they are still very sweet, but the fruit adds delight to this purple circle of goodness. I know that He Said likes to go on and on about the chocolate glazed, but they do not hit the spot like a perfectly made blueberry doughnut.

He Said: Do too.

Service

He Said: I had a friendly, helpful and professional counter maiden, or whatever one should call them. Things were a little bit busy at the counter, and one of the servers was on the phone taking an order, but things moved quickly, and I got my order in a timely manner.

What We Got and What We Paid: One blueberry cake doughnut, one chocolate glazed doughnut, for the exorbitant cost of $1.64.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: Oh, about a minute. I did have to wait in line for a few minutes before getting waited on, but I’m pretty sure I was in and out in five minutes.

Rating:

He Said: There are a few other bakeries in town that may have more choices than Ed’s, but nobody has better doughnuts, and if I get a craving, I’m going back here for a chocolate glazed fix.

She Said: Ed’s has been meeting our doughnut needs for 16 years, and we plan on them continuing to do so because their doughnuts hit the spot.

Is Ed’s Good At What It’s Good For? Abso-doughnut-lutely!!

Just named a finalist for the INDIE award for best Mystery novel of the year:

Jay Ruud’s most recent novel, Lost in the Quagmire: The Quest of the Grail, IS NOW a finalist for this year’s INDIE award for books by independent publishers. You can order your copy direct from the publisher (Encircle Press) at http://encirclepub.com/product/lost-in-the-quagmire/You can also order an electronic version from Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/814922

LostInTheQuagmircover

When Sir Galahad arrives in Camelot to fulfill his destiny, the presence of Lancelot’s illegitimate son disturbs Queen Guinevere. But the young knight’s vision of the Holy Grail at Pentecost inspires the entire fellowship of the Round Table to rush off in quest of Christendom’s most holy relic. But as the quest gets under way, Sir Gawain and Sir Ywain are both seriously wounded, and Sir Safer and Sir Ironside are killed by a mysterious White Knight, who claims to impose rules upon the quest. And this is just the beginning. When knight after knight turns up dead or gravely wounded, sometimes at the hands of their fellow knights, Gildas and Merlin begin to suspect some sinister force behind the Grail madness, bent on nothing less than the destruction of Arthur and his table. They begin their own quest: to find the conspirator or conspirators behind the deaths of Arthur’s good knights. Is it the king’s enigmatic sister Morgan la Fay? Could it be Arthur’s own bastard Sir Mordred, hoping to seize the throne for himself? Or is it some darker, older grievance against the king that cries out for vengeance? Before Merlin and Gildas are through, they are destined to lose a number of close comrades, and Gildas finds himself finally forced to prove his worth as a potential knight, facing down an armed and mounted enemy with nothing less than the lives of Merlin and his master Sir Gareth at stake.

Order from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Quagmire-Quest-Merlin-Mystery/dp/1948338122

Order from Barnes and Noble here: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-in-the-quagmire-jay-ruud/1128692499?ean=9781948338127

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Bulgogi Korean BBQ

Review No. 156: Bulgogi Korean BBQ

317 Oak Street, Suite 1

(501) 358-5923

72.2 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said: It was time for lunch and I was hungry. I had heard this place was open, so we thought we’d risk it, even though it was a very new establishment.

He Said: I wasn’t even sure what Korean barbecue was, but I go where She Said tells me to, and so I showed up in the full flush of my ignorance at Bulgogi’s door.

Ambience:

She Said: We didn’t know what to expect when we arrived, and as we entered, we found that it is a quick-serve restaurant in which you order at the counter and find a seat while you wait for your order. It’s a small space, though open with red and white on the walls. We ended up at a bistro table toward the back because it was the only one left when we arrived. (Again, I ask, who likes to sit at bistro tables? What is the point of sitting up so high your feet can’t touch the ground?)

He Said: Somebody must like them, Jones, or they wouldn’t have them. But like you, I am not one of those people. It did seem an area too small for the business, but I guess that’s a good problem to have if you’re going to rank problems. A lot of the traffic here is for take-out orders, so they may not have thought they needed as much space. But the tables were almost full when we got there at lunchtime.

Drinks

She Said:While I was tempted to sample the Korean coffee on offer, I chose the unsweetened iced tea, which was tasty and nicely brewed.

He Said: I had a Jarritos soda, lemon-lime flavored. I didn’t actually order it myself, but She Said got if for me because I was holding the last available table as she ordered the food. She ordered it because it came in a bottle while the Dr. Pepper I told her to get me was a fountain drink. And I have made my preferences known about that. I did think it a little strange for a Mexican soda to be sold at this Korean place, but why not? We live in a global society. And it was pretty good soda.

 

Food

She Said: The menu isn’t big, but it’s varied, and I had trouble choosing, and as I waited my turn at the counter, I kept switching until I arrived at the cash register and just blurted out what was the current front runner. We split the egg roll and the fried spring roll with sweet and sour sauce, and they were tasty, the egg roll with its pork, and the spring roll with the salad inside. My entrée choice was the gim appetizer (crispy dried seaweed) and the Korean street tacos with chicken. They arrived together, and this was good, because the seaweed was better with the tacos—it tastes pretty ocean-y (fishy), so it’s better with other things. I folded up the little sheets and ate them with bites of the soft tortillas, grilled chicken and onions. The tacos were also tasty. The sauce was VERY spicy, so I used it sparingly, and by the final bites I skipped it altogether. This was plenty of food for lunch, and I left a bit of the second taco as I was full.

He Said:I agree that the spring roll and the egg roll, which we went halfsies on, were tasty. Fairly typical of what you get at most decent Chinese restaurants. For my entrée I had the Fried Rice Bowl with Chicken. (You can also get Steamed Rice Bowls, and you can get either with beef, pork, chicken, or a combination. Since the chicken would naturally be lower in fat, I went for that). This was quite good, with generous amounts of tender, tasty chicken, with a good portion of broccoli and other vegetables, and very flavorful fried rice. It all tasted really fresh. And there was plenty of it. Unlike She Said, though, I ate all of mine, and would probably order it again.

Service

She Said: The service at the counter was friendly and helpful, and other employees were also nice and upbeat. Our single issue was likely related to the newness and popularity of the place: Our food took a long time to arrive after we ordered: 37 minutes (from arrival, or 32 minutes from ordering) for the appetizers and then 4 more minutes for the entrees. We did finally ask about our order, and it wasn’t long then that it began arriving. They apologized for the wait.

He Said:Yes, people were friendly enough, but the wait was long. They did just have their ribbon-cutting/Grand Opening here on April 30, so they have not been open long. I’d say you might not want to count on this for lunch if you’ve got limited time, at least not until they are broken in (or unless you do take-out).

What We Got and What We Paid: 1 egg roll, 1 fried spring roll, 1 gim (Korean style dried seaweed), fried rice bowl with chicken, 2 chicken tacos, 1 bottle Jarritos soda and 1 unsweetened iced tea for $22.15.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: As noted above, 41 minutes from arrival to entrée.

Rating:

She Said: I thought the food was tasty, fresh and healthy, so I’m interested in returning, once they refine the process and can get the orders out faster.

He Said: I’d definitely come back here. I liked what I had, and they also have noodle bowls, soup bowls, and salads, all of which may be worth a try.

Is Bulgogi Good At What It’s Good For? If you’re looking for fresh Korean offerings, it is indeed, but not if you’re in a hurry (for now).

Just named a finalist for the INDIE award for best Mystery novel of the year:

Jay Ruud’s most recent novel, Lost in the Quagmire: The Quest of the Grail, IS NOW a finalist for this year’s INDIE award for books by independent publishers. You can order your copy direct from the publisher (Encircle Press) at http://encirclepub.com/product/lost-in-the-quagmire/You can also order an electronic version from Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/814922

LostInTheQuagmircover

When Sir Galahad arrives in Camelot to fulfill his destiny, the presence of Lancelot’s illegitimate son disturbs Queen Guinevere. But the young knight’s vision of the Holy Grail at Pentecost inspires the entire fellowship of the Round Table to rush off in quest of Christendom’s most holy relic. But as the quest gets under way, Sir Gawain and Sir Ywain are both seriously wounded, and Sir Safer and Sir Ironside are killed by a mysterious White Knight, who claims to impose rules upon the quest. And this is just the beginning. When knight after knight turns up dead or gravely wounded, sometimes at the hands of their fellow knights, Gildas and Merlin begin to suspect some sinister force behind the Grail madness, bent on nothing less than the destruction of Arthur and his table. They begin their own quest: to find the conspirator or conspirators behind the deaths of Arthur’s good knights. Is it the king’s enigmatic sister Morgan la Fay? Could it be Arthur’s own bastard Sir Mordred, hoping to seize the throne for himself? Or is it some darker, older grievance against the king that cries out for vengeance? Before Merlin and Gildas are through, they are destined to lose a number of close comrades, and Gildas finds himself finally forced to prove his worth as a potential knight, facing down an armed and mounted enemy with nothing less than the lives of Merlin and his master Sir Gareth at stake.

Order from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Quagmire-Quest-Merlin-Mystery/dp/1948338122

Order from Barnes and Noble here: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-in-the-quagmire-jay-ruud/1128692499?ean=9781948338127

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Domino’s Pizza on Salem

Review No. 155: Domino’s Pizza on Salem

740 South Salem Road, Ste. 114

(501) 450-3000

72.1 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

He Said: She Said was having a very busy week at her day job, which was keeping her up till late at night, and she thought it would save time if we ordered a pizza this week rather than go out. So I said sure, and turns out she was going to drop off some dry cleaning and would be going right by a Domino’s Pizza place, which we have not reviewed, and said she’d even pick it up (the pizza I mean). So as you see, I had even less than usual to do with the arranging of this week’s story.

Founded in 1960, the company has more than 15,000 locations in 85 countries. This is fewer stores than its greatest competitor, but Domino’s is the largest pizza chain in the world based on global retail sales. Eat your heart out, Pizza Hut! There are two Domino’s locations in Conway, and we went to the one on Salem for our pizza pickup today.

She Said: And, I had a secret interest in Domino’s this week: One of my favorite podcasts, Reply All, had an episode recently on a strange phenomenon in which someone named Adam Pisces orders a Diet Coke online from Domino’s outlets all over the country, but never picks it up, so PJ and Alex were trying to figure out what in the Sam Hill was going on… and every time they said “Domino’s,” I thought “PIZZA,” so, that was that.

Ambience:

He Said: I can’t say a thing about this since I didn’t set foot in the place. But She Said can tell you all about it.

She Said: Well, when you order online from the Salem Road Domino’s, you can pick up your order at the drive-through, so I didn’t set foot in the place, either, but since I love my car and the drive-through attendant was friendly, I will give thumbs up to the ambience!

Drinks

He Said: We did not get any drinks to go. I can’t even tell you whether they have Coke or Pepsi products. Wait, yes I can, I can look on their online menu. Looks like they have Coke products, but not a large variety. I suppose I would have had a Coke if I had been ordering something. Which I wasn’t.

She Said:I should have pulled an Adam Pisces and ordered a Diet Coke with my pizza, but I didn’t.

 

Food

He Said: OK, they have a particular crust here called “crunchy thin,” which let me assure you is the kind of crust that God intended when he invented pizza. I note that Domino’s is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and it strikes me that the archetypal pizza of my memory, as formed in my Wisconsin childhood, must have been in the air when Domino’s developed this crust. Not only that, but they cut the pizza into squares, which is how actual pizza is supposed to be cut—not in these pie pieces you get from other brands. Yes, this is pizza as I remember it. We had pepperoni, mushrooms and green peppers on this heavenly crust, and it had the perfect blend of Italian spices that turned it into manna in the wilderness.

Yes, this was my favorite pizza in town. I know I should throw my weight behind newer, smaller, more independent, more organic pizza places, rather than go with the corporate giant. It’s like rooting for the Yankees or, worse yet, the New England Patriots. But I can’t help it, folks: This was my kind of pizza.

Now I know that pizza is not especially friendly fat-wise. Looking at the nutrition guide online for Domino’s, I believe there were about 74 grams of fat in this pizza, which was not too bad—most of that was from the cheese and pepperoni, of course. Of that, I probably had 50 grams, considering what I ate compared with what She Said ate. I admit I went overboard. But if I don’t eat anything else the rest of the day, I can probably cajole my pancreas into not reacting too badly. And anyway, it was probably worth it.

She Said: Yes, when I opened that box and saw the pizza cut into the squares of my husband’s childhood, I knew there would be swooning, and when I took a bite and heard the crack of that crisp crust, I knew we had found Racine pizza in Conway, from Domino’s of all places. And, just like He Said, I loved it. The sauce was well seasoned, the toppings were tasty, but most importantly, the crust was just right. There’s nothing more to write…

Service

He Said: I had great service, personally. She Said came in the door carrying a box and said, “Pizza’s here!” And I didn’t even have to tip her!

She Said: Haha! The online interface was easy to use, though I didn’t see how to make the pizza more customized by halves, such as green peppers on only half, which I would have liked. But otherwise it was very easy to use.

What We Got and What We Paid: I had a coupon from Honey.com, so I got what might have been an $18 pizza (a 14-inch pepperoni pizza with green peppers and mushrooms) for $11.10.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: I ordered it online from eastern Conway, and by the time I arrived at the drive-through window about 13 minutes later, it was ready.

Rating:

He Said: I need to have this crust again, though maybe I’ll go with a small size and purely vegetarian toppings.

She Said: Yes, this crispy-cracker crust was delicious and hard to find in these parts. We’ll be ordering Domino’s again!

Is Domino’s’s Good At What It’s Good For? If you’re looking for a super-thin-crust pizza, then yes indeed!

Just named a finalist for the INDIE award for best Mystery novel of the year:

Jay Ruud’s most recent novel, Lost in the Quagmire: The Quest of the Grail, IS NOW a finalist for this year’s INDIE award for books by independent publishers. You can order your copy direct from the publisher (Encircle Press) at http://encirclepub.com/product/lost-in-the-quagmire/You can also order an electronic version from Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/814922

LostInTheQuagmircover

When Sir Galahad arrives in Camelot to fulfill his destiny, the presence of Lancelot’s illegitimate son disturbs Queen Guinevere. But the young knight’s vision of the Holy Grail at Pentecost inspires the entire fellowship of the Round Table to rush off in quest of Christendom’s most holy relic. But as the quest gets under way, Sir Gawain and Sir Ywain are both seriously wounded, and Sir Safer and Sir Ironside are killed by a mysterious White Knight, who claims to impose rules upon the quest. And this is just the beginning. When knight after knight turns up dead or gravely wounded, sometimes at the hands of their fellow knights, Gildas and Merlin begin to suspect some sinister force behind the Grail madness, bent on nothing less than the destruction of Arthur and his table. They begin their own quest: to find the conspirator or conspirators behind the deaths of Arthur’s good knights. Is it the king’s enigmatic sister Morgan la Fay? Could it be Arthur’s own bastard Sir Mordred, hoping to seize the throne for himself? Or is it some darker, older grievance against the king that cries out for vengeance? Before Merlin and Gildas are through, they are destined to lose a number of close comrades, and Gildas finds himself finally forced to prove his worth as a potential knight, facing down an armed and mounted enemy with nothing less than the lives of Merlin and his master Sir Gareth at stake.

Order from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Quagmire-Quest-Merlin-Mystery/dp/1948338122

Order from Barnes and Noble here: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-in-the-quagmire-jay-ruud/1128692499?ean=9781948338127

 

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Foghorn’s

Review No. 154: Foghorn’s

2310 Sanders Road

(501) 205-4299

71.6 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said: One of our friends hipped us to this new restaurant on the Conway scene, so on a weekday, we arrived for lunch a little after 1 p.m. to try it out.

He Said: Foghorn’s is in a location that has not proved especially fortuitous for previous restaurants—Outback moved from here to a more visible location on Oak Street. The nearby location which housed Ruby Tuesday’s did not work out so well for that franchise. I suspect the fact that these restaurants are hidden away from areas of major traffic flow and, in fact, are difficult or inconvenient for Conwegians to find, might have something to do with this, but there are, if I’m counting right, five hotels back in this area, so Foghorn’s might do fine just relying on the just-passing-through traffic from those places. Foghorn’s is a Springdale-based restaurant and sports-bar chain with five locations in Northwest Arkansas. For their 15th anniversary, they decided to expand into central Arkansas and chose Conway as their first location here.

She Said: Yes, the Flatlandia in this neighborhood can be a bit challenging to navigate, especially if you see the sign from the freeway whilst traveling through.

Ambience:

She Said: As He Said mentioned, this restaurant is in the former home of the original Outback Steakhouse, and it has a cozy pub feel, with the dining area divided up so you don’t feel like you’re seated in a great stuff-your-face hall. There are a lot of televisions (even in the men’s and women’s rooms) so you can catch what you’re interested in, or just not talk to each other if you happen to find yourself out and about without a personal screen to distract you. It’s comfortable and relaxing as even with the televisions, it’s not loud.

He Said: It definitely has a sports bar feel. And yes, they do have wide-screen TVs hanging on the wall in the restrooms, so that if you’re watching a game, you don’t have to worry about missing anything if you have to make a pit stop. So, they got that going for them.

Drinks

She Said: Foghorn’s has a full bar, and while I was tempted to enjoy a gin and tonic or a glass of vino, I had a long afternoon of work ahead, so I chose an unsweetened iced tea instead. It was really good; tasty without being overly strong.

He Said: They have Pepsi products here. So, Mountain Dew for me. It was a fountain drink with lots of ice, if you like that sort of thing.

 

Food

She Said: The menu is extensive with many choices of chicken wings (and 50 kinds of sauce!) and burgers, along with salads, etc., but I was in the mood for a burger and fries, so I chose the plain Foghorn’s burger (no cheese) and home fries. This turned out to be a good fit for me, as the burger was tasty and satisfying without being too huge… just this no-frills serving was more than enough food for me for a mid-day meal. The burger comes with lettuce, tomato (no thanks!), onions and pickle and there is mayo on the table. While the burger was good, the fries were the stars of the show, with their perfect seasoning and crispiness. I would order this again.

I had one bite of the fried pie He Said chose for his dessert, and it was delicious. I love apple desserts, and this one was the real deal, with a flaky crust and lots of crisp-tender apples in the filling.

He Said: Yes Jones, you stole my thunder with your review of the fried pie, but it was quite good, as fried apple pie tends to be. I wouldn’t call it better than the Fried Pie shop on Harkrider, but it will do.

The same can probably be said about the wings: I had six regular wings with the “gold” sauce (as She Said said, they have fifty sauces to choose from here). The “gold” was  combination of mustard and a sweet smoky barbecue sauce. The wings were fine, though I can’t say they were any better than other wing places in town. The advantage here is the variety of sauces and rubs, I would think. You’re bound to find something that you like here. The real stars of the show, though, were the home-made potato chips that I ordered with the meal (She Said was getting the fries, so I thought I’d try something different). These were like potato candy—I could have eaten about a ton of them. In the interest of full disclosure, though, I need to mention that I had a bit of a stomach pain a few hours after lunch, due, I’m pretty sure, from all the fried food I’d eaten here. So, you might keep in mind that most things here are fried.

The appetizer I ordered—the chips and salsa—was nothing to write home about. Personally, I like salsa that is mild and heavily flavored toward the tomato side. I asked the server if the salsa was hot, and she answered honestly that she had never had it (the place has only been open for a couple of weeks, so that’s understandable), but she had a customer who told her that he wouldn’t call it hot. Well, turns out that customer was lying—though I suspect he was probably flirting with her, trying to show her how manly he was by convincing her that nothing was too hot for a he-man like him. Not sure how that worked out for him, but in fact, the sauce was rather hot (not terrible, but hot enough) and not tomato-ey at all. All I could taste was hot and maybe a little pepper. I wouldn’t recommend it. The chips, on the other hand, were really good! Light and crispy. I’d get them again with some other kind of sauce, like a cheese or guacamole (neither of which my pancreas will let me eat but you would probably be fine).

Service

She Said: Our server was prompt and attentive, professional and cheery, and for a new restaurant, this is definitely appreciated.

He Said: She was quite perky and just attentive enough. Gold star for the server.

What We Got and What We Paid: One chips and salsa appetizer, one 6-piece traditional wings with Gold sauce, one Foghorn’s burger with a small fries, one apple fried pie and one iced tea for $34.14.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival:22 minutes from arrival to entrees.

Rating:

She Said: Foghorn’s is a solid player in the pub/sports-bar scene in Conway, especially on the potatoes side.

He Said: Fried potatoes and fried pie are your friends here. If you have trouble digesting the fried stuff, you probably need to be careful at Foghorn’s.

Is Foghorn’s Good At What It’s Good For? They may not be the best wings in town, but the burger is solid and the potatoes really shine, and as a pub, it’s got great service and a relaxed vibe.

Just named a finalist for the INDIE award for best Mystery novel of the year:

Jay Ruud’s most recent novel, Lost in the Quagmire: The Quest of the Grail, IS NOW a finalist for this year’s INDIE award for books by independent publishers. You can order your copy direct from the publisher (Encircle Press) at http://encirclepub.com/product/lost-in-the-quagmire/You can also order an electronic version from Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/814922

LostInTheQuagmircover

When Sir Galahad arrives in Camelot to fulfill his destiny, the presence of Lancelot’s illegitimate son disturbs Queen Guinevere. But the young knight’s vision of the Holy Grail at Pentecost inspires the entire fellowship of the Round Table to rush off in quest of Christendom’s most holy relic. But as the quest gets under way, Sir Gawain and Sir Ywain are both seriously wounded, and Sir Safer and Sir Ironside are killed by a mysterious White Knight, who claims to impose rules upon the quest. And this is just the beginning. When knight after knight turns up dead or gravely wounded, sometimes at the hands of their fellow knights, Gildas and Merlin begin to suspect some sinister force behind the Grail madness, bent on nothing less than the destruction of Arthur and his table. They begin their own quest: to find the conspirator or conspirators behind the deaths of Arthur’s good knights. Is it the king’s enigmatic sister Morgan la Fay? Could it be Arthur’s own bastard Sir Mordred, hoping to seize the throne for himself? Or is it some darker, older grievance against the king that cries out for vengeance? Before Merlin and Gildas are through, they are destined to lose a number of close comrades, and Gildas finds himself finally forced to prove his worth as a potential knight, facing down an armed and mounted enemy with nothing less than the lives of Merlin and his master Sir Gareth at stake.

Order from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Quagmire-Quest-Merlin-Mystery/dp/1948338122

Order from Barnes and Noble here: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-in-the-quagmire-jay-ruud/1128692499?ean=9781948338127

 

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Shorty’s Bar-B-Que

Review No. 155: Shorty’s Bar-B-Que

1101 Harkrider Street

(501) 329-9213

70.9 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

He Said: I didn’t really know much about Shorty’s Bar-B-Que—hadn’t even noticed it before, since, though the address is on Harkider, it’s not actually onthat road but slightly off on a short side street. But it was on the list She Said had compiled, and came up on our radar this week. Since barbecue places are almost as numerous in Conway as Mexican restaurants and pizza joints, I had a feeling of déjà vu all over again walking into the place.

She Said: Yes, we’re getting to a point in the restaurant list where we’re hitting lots of chain pizza joints with the odd barbecue and bakery thrown in. I like to go for meat and veggies on days I’m eating low-carb, so Shorty’s was on deck for a recent Tuesday lunch.

Ambience:

He Said: It’s a pretty bare-bones interior, with only a few small old historic pictures and a few UCA Bears items on the walls, and one TV set tuned to some daytime talk show aimed at old folks, with the volume turned up fairly high. You order your meal from a guy at the counter, who hands you your drink and takes your cash or check (they do not accept credit or debit cards here—keep that in mind before you go or you’re going to be disappointed), hands you your drink, and then brings the food out to your table.

She Said: This place is very “down home.” There’s a large dining area with booths and tables, and the counter to your right as you enter has a friendly man behind it to take your order. I think if you walked in here without a clue what the cuisine was, you’d know in a moment that you were about to nosh on some barbecued meats.

 

Drinks

He Said: They have Pepsi products here as fountain drinks. I had a Mountain Dew, as is my wont when Pepsi is at hand. It was 9/10 ice, but what actual soda was there was tasty.

She Said: I had a pretty strong unsweetened iced tea, so I was careful with it so I could go to sleep that night.

Food

He Said: My usual go-to at a barbecue place is some kind of pulled chicken sandwich, because that is likely the lowest-fat item on the menu. That was not an option on the menu here. So I opted for a grilled chicken plate, which came with barbecue sauce on the chicken, and two sides. My wife often considers me full of beans, so I went that direction and ordered baked beans and green beans as my sides. I also had the choice of a roll or toast, and on a whim I picked the toast (there was no choice of what kind of toast—i.e., white, wheat, or rye—and what came was white).

The grilled chicken could have been a little more tender, but it was fine, and the barbecue sauce gave it a nice but not overpowering tang. The baked beans were also fine—the sauce they were in was not as thick as some others I’ve had in town but it was tasty. The green beans were actually my favorite part of the meal: They were not your typical green beans but rather Italian or Romano beans, the flat-green bean variety. They might have come from a can for all I know but they were still a pleasant surprise and tasted quite nice.

The toast was nothing to write home about, as my mother used to say. If I’d had some butter or jelly to put on it I’d have been happier, or if I’d been able to order rye or wheat toast. I think if I come back to Shorty’s I’ll try the roll next time—and also hope for some butter.

She Said: I went for the pulled pork plate, and I also chose the green beans, but skipped the baked beans for cole slaw, as I wanted to eat it with the meat, as I would if I had a sandwich. I skipped the toast and roll, and He Said’s toast experience assured me I hadn’t missed anything there. At Shorty’s, we weren’t given a choice of sauces, but I liked the house’s offering, which was tangy-sweet. I also felt the meat could have been more tender, but overall, it was a solid offering. The cole slaw was very finely grated, and it was tasty and went well with the meat, as I had hoped.

As He Said wrote, the green beans were the star of the plate, nicely salted, tender and tasty. Don’t miss these on your next trip to Shorty’s—especially since green beans at such venues tend to be disappointing.

Service

He Said: The guy at the counter was friendly and efficient. He may have been the cook too as far as I could tell—fortunately there was only one other couple in the place when we got there at the unusual time of mid-afternoon, so he wasn’t terribly busy. It was he who brought the food out to us pretty quickly afterwards. So considering the kind of place this is the service was prompt and satisfactory.

She Said: Yes, I was just thinking of him as the “Shorty,” myself. He was helpful at the counter with our questions and did deliver our orders promptly.

What We Got and What We Paid: One grilled chicken plate with green beans and baked beans and toast, one pulled pork plate with green beans and cole slaw, one Mountain Dew and one unsweet tea, all for $24.18. But note that they only take cash or checks here—don’t expect to pay with a card. Fortunately, this happened to be a day I was carrying some cash, which is pretty unusual for me these days.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival:9 minutes

Rating:

He Said: It’s possible that Shorty’s has some signature dishes that regulars will rave about. As for me, though, what I had was pretty average. I wouldn’t mind coming back again, if I happen to be carrying enough cash on me (which is rare), but there are other places in town whose barbecue I prefer.

She Said:As the basics of barbecue go, I agree with He Said that my food was fine, but didn’t stand out—except for those beans.

Is Shorty’s Good At What It’s Good For? Shorty’s provides a down-home atmosphere for a good-enough barbecue plate meal.

Just named a finalist for the INDIE award for best Mystery novel of the year:

Jay Ruud’s most recent novel, Lost in the Quagmire: The Quest of the Grail, IS NOW a finalist for this year’s INDIE award for books by independent publishers. You can order your copy direct from the publisher (Encircle Press) at http://encirclepub.com/product/lost-in-the-quagmire/You can also order an electronic version from Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/814922

LostInTheQuagmircover

When Sir Galahad arrives in Camelot to fulfill his destiny, the presence of Lancelot’s illegitimate son disturbs Queen Guinevere. But the young knight’s vision of the Holy Grail at Pentecost inspires the entire fellowship of the Round Table to rush off in quest of Christendom’s most holy relic. But as the quest gets under way, Sir Gawain and Sir Ywain are both seriously wounded, and Sir Safer and Sir Ironside are killed by a mysterious White Knight, who claims to impose rules upon the quest. And this is just the beginning. When knight after knight turns up dead or gravely wounded, sometimes at the hands of their fellow knights, Gildas and Merlin begin to suspect some sinister force behind the Grail madness, bent on nothing less than the destruction of Arthur and his table. They begin their own quest: to find the conspirator or conspirators behind the deaths of Arthur’s good knights. Is it the king’s enigmatic sister Morgan la Fay? Could it be Arthur’s own bastard Sir Mordred, hoping to seize the throne for himself? Or is it some darker, older grievance against the king that cries out for vengeance? Before Merlin and Gildas are through, they are destined to lose a number of close comrades, and Gildas finds himself finally forced to prove his worth as a potential knight, facing down an armed and mounted enemy with nothing less than the lives of Merlin and his master Sir Gareth at stake.

Order from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Quagmire-Quest-Merlin-Mystery/dp/1948338122

Order from Barnes and Noble here: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-in-the-quagmire-jay-ruud/1128692499?ean=9781948338127

IMG_3540

Agape Asian Noodles

Review No. 154: Agape Asian Noodles

1700 Altus St. Suite 105
Conway, AR 72035

(501) 358-6023

70.7 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said: I was looking for some carbs and lean protein, and we’d had this place on our radar for a few weeks, so it was time. We decided to have an early dinner here that turned out to coincide with the restaurant’s grand opening celebration. At first we thought maybe it wasn’t going to work out to dine here because of the big event, but we were allowed to order from the menu, so we got to try their food while still enjoying the party.

He Said: Yes, they were having quite a party, and the place was crowded. Whether it will stay that way remains to be seen—other places have not been so lucky in this space, but third time’s the charm, they say.

She Said: Of course, the French say, “Never three times without four!” But this isn’t a French restaurant, so never mind.

Ambience:

She Said: We’ve been to two iterations of restaurant in this space, and it’s not too changed from either one of those. Dark, polished surfaces and lots of natural light. One difference is that the full bar set up is used to blend nonalcoholic drinks for this restaurant that doesn’t serve alcohol.

He Said: Lots of light is right—I was in full sun for much of the meal.  Some kind of sun-blocking shades or blinds might be something to think about here. Otherwise they space is comfy enough.

 

Drinks

She Said: I had a milky cold tea drink, and it was tasty and refreshing. It went well with the spices of the dishes.

He Said: I had the green tea I usually have in Asian places. It was fine.

Food

She Said: To start out, we shared spring rolls with sweet and sour sauce, and they were tasty, texturally satisfying and a nice appetizer. For my entrée, I chose the Pad Thai, and to supplement that in order to meet personal macro-nutrient targets (long story), I wanted two pieces of salmon nigiri sushi (fish over rice) and a rainbow roll. What I got was the Pad Thai and some kind of nigiri special that included salmon, tuna and shrimp nigiri, which was way more than I wanted (and cost more, too). The rainbow roll was fine. The Pad Thai was a bit disappointing. What I love about Pad Thai is the noodle deliciousness mixed with the scrambled egg, peanuts and cilantro, but this dish was mostly noodles in the Pad Thai sauce, with a rare egg bite and very-difficult-to-find peanuts. This dish is something I canmake at home, but don’t because it’s so much dang work, but when eating this, I wished I’d done it myself.

The sushi was good, though it was more than I wanted, and I brought a lot of it home to have another day. I also brought the Pad Thai home and when I reheated that, I added egg and nuts to it so it could fulfill its potential.

He Said: I have to agree about the spring rolls, Jones. I did enjoy them as an appetizer and would definitely order them again. I tried the Lo Mein with chicken for my entrée, and might look elsewhere on the menu next time. Lo Mein is a dish made with spaghetti-shaped egg noodles and a sauce combining olive oil, soy sauce, ginger and perhaps a few other ingredients, usually mixed with vegetables like peppers, onions, bok choi, snow peas, broccoli, carrots, along with some protein source like beef, or chicken. The dish here was almost all noodles, with some very thin strands of chicken and what I think were onions, but very few of them.

I will say that we were given, as part of the Grand Opening celebration, a small amuse bouche of their pork belly dish that was absolutely delicious—that’s something I would recommend, though I couldn’t actually eat an entrée of it myself because pork belly would have too high a fat content form my uncooperative pancreas. But I’d recommend the Lo Mein only if what you mainly want is noodles.

Service

She Said: The evening was a bit out of the ordinary with the opening and many visitors, but our service was good (except that I didn’t get exactly what I ordered). Everyone was friendly and helpful.

He Said:Yes, considering the fact that we had stumbled upon a special Grand Opening celebration, the service was quite good, as they tied to separate us from the special little extras they were serving those who’d been invited to the opening. It was a bit awkward but they handled it well.

What We Got and What We Paid: Spring rolls appetizer, Pad Thai (shrimp), Nigiri (regular), Rainbow Roll, Lo Mein (chicken), Original Milk Tea, and Green Tea, all for $59.83. It’s a bit steep, but then, She Said inadvertently ordered three entrees for herself.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival:20 minutes from entry to entrees.

Rating:

She Said: I liked the variety of offerings here, but I was disappointed in the Pad Thai, which is a favorite dish of mine. The sushi was fine, though it wasn’t what I ordered.

He Said:There are a lot of choices here, it’s true. My impression is that at least at this point it’s hit and miss. You could very well find something you like, like spring rolls and pork belly.

Is Agape Good At What It’s Good For? Agape is still new, though we found it to be a jack of all trades…

Just named a finalist for the INDIE award for best Mystery novel of the year:

Jay Ruud’s most recent novel, Lost in the Quagmire: The Quest of the Grail, IS NOW a finalist for this year’s INDIE award for books by independent publishers. You can order your copy direct from the publisher (Encircle Press) at http://encirclepub.com/product/lost-in-the-quagmire/You can also order an electronic version from Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/814922

LostInTheQuagmircover

When Sir Galahad arrives in Camelot to fulfill his destiny, the presence of Lancelot’s illegitimate son disturbs Queen Guinevere. But the young knight’s vision of the Holy Grail at Pentecost inspires the entire fellowship of the Round Table to rush off in quest of Christendom’s most holy relic. But as the quest gets under way, Sir Gawain and Sir Ywain are both seriously wounded, and Sir Safer and Sir Ironside are killed by a mysterious White Knight, who claims to impose rules upon the quest. And this is just the beginning. When knight after knight turns up dead or gravely wounded, sometimes at the hands of their fellow knights, Gildas and Merlin begin to suspect some sinister force behind the Grail madness, bent on nothing less than the destruction of Arthur and his table. They begin their own quest: to find the conspirator or conspirators behind the deaths of Arthur’s good knights. Is it the king’s enigmatic sister Morgan la Fay? Could it be Arthur’s own bastard Sir Mordred, hoping to seize the throne for himself? Or is it some darker, older grievance against the king that cries out for vengeance? Before Merlin and Gildas are through, they are destined to lose a number of close comrades, and Gildas finds himself finally forced to prove his worth as a potential knight, facing down an armed and mounted enemy with nothing less than the lives of Merlin and his master Sir Gareth at stake.

Order from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Quagmire-Quest-Merlin-Mystery/dp/1948338122

Order from Barnes and Noble here: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-in-the-quagmire-jay-ruud/1128692499?ean=9781948338127

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Einstein Bros. Bagels

Review No. 153: Einstein Bros. Bagels

250 Donaghey Ave
Conway, AR 72035

(501) 852-8886

70.6 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

He Said: She Said had been craving bagels since she listened to a podcast about them recently, so this was an important visit. It’s not as if Conway is swimming in bagel shops the way it is in Mexican restaurants and pizza joints. In fact, unless I’m missing something somewhere, Einstein Bros. is the only bagel shop in the city, though apparently they are becoming all the rage in larger cities. While Einstein’s is not going to supplant any specialty places on the east coast, it’s what we’ve got here so She Said and I took it on for this week.

The company was born in Golden, Colorado in 1995, and originally combined several smaller chains that were all selling in cities that did not have a strong bagel history. In 2014, the company was acquired by the German holding company, JAB. (This is a company that admitted two weeks ago that its founders had been Nazi supporters and had utilized forced labor in 1943, something they regretted and pledged $11 million to charity as a kind of self-imposed penance. While that doesn’t really affect a company that was in existence long before they acquired it in 2014, it’s still a bit ironic that they should own a bagel franchise).

Currently, Einstein Bros. has more than 700 locations in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

She Said: Yes, dear readers, I’m addicted to the Gastropod podcast, which explores food through the lens of science and history, and the hosts recently took on bagels. After just 5 minutes of listening to them on the morning dog walk, my mouth was watering, and I was all about applying some bagels to my face.

Ambience:

He Said:It’s modern, clean and shiny in this Donaghey Hall location, though it’s pretty Spartan inside, with no frills and few tables. It’s kind of like they don’t want you to actually eat there, but would prefer that you take the food away.

She Said: For this visit, He Said picked up the food after his art history class. I have been there before for lunch when I was teaching writing at UCA. It’s not incredibly comfortable or relaxing. It’s really for take-away.

 

Drinks

He Said: We did not order drinks, since we were taking the hint and bringing the food home. They did have Coke products, though, plus Caribou Coffee products, if you do want to top off your fluid levels.

She Said: I do have a nostalgic attachment to Caribou Coffee after living in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, where they are almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks, but I drank my own drinks at home.

 

Food

He Said:They have a wide variety of bagels and toppings, as well as good looking breakfast egg sandwiches, deli sandwiches, signature sandwiches, and hot sandwiches, on a choice of ten different varieties of bagels. You can also get muffins or cookies or other things to add to your meal. We were just having sandwiches, and I ordered the “Tasty Turkey” from their “Signature Sandwiches” list. This is, as their menu describes it, is a sandwich made up of “roasted turkey, spinach, cucumber, lettuce, tomato with onion and chive schmear on an asiago bagel.” This little number has only 500 calories, and so is one of the lighter sandwiches on the menu. It does have 15 grams of fat, likely mostly from the cream cheese, and, well, the bagel, but that is acceptable for my low-fat diet.

This signature sandwich was quite tasty. The cucumbers were a kind of surprising treat in the midst of the turkey, onion and cream cheese flavors. And the asiago bagel was dense, chewy and cheesy. This is a nice alternative to a Subway or Quizno’s sandwich shop, and feels more substantial than a typical sandwich.

She Said: I’m a bagel traditionalist, and I love plain bagel with lox and a schmear very, very much, so I ordered the Nova Lox and Bagel Sandwich, which is a plain bagel, cream cheese, red onion and smoked salmon. If you are tracking macro-nutrients, this sandwich delivers 63 grams of carbs, 21 grams of fat and 26 grams of protein, which is about perfect, macro-ratio-wise. (There were tomato slices, but I gave them to He Said.) While I know there are empirically better bagels out there in the world, boiled and baked for the perfect consistency, these are our only nongrocery option in Conway. And, it answered my craving satisfactorily. It was filling (at 460 calories), tasty with pleasantly mixed textures. I will definitely order this sandwich again.

Service

He Said:The young fellow at the window was friendly and courteous, and though he didn’t immediately know what the ingredients for the Tasty Turkey sandwich were (he may have been relatively new), he found out right away without losing his good humor.

She Said: He Said brought the bagels home, and he’s cute and friendly and brings me food, so my service on this order was amazing!

He Said: !

What We Got and What We Paid: One Tasty Turkey signature sandwich and one Nova Lox signature sandwich, for $15.54.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival:7 minutes.

Rating:

He Said:I would come back here again. The bagels are tasty and a nice change from more common sliced bread. The prices did seem a bit on the steep side, though

She Said: This bagels and lox with a schmear is on my list of Conway delights that satisfy cravings.

Is Einstein Bros. Good At What It’s Good For? It’s good enough if you like bagel sandwiches.

Just named a finalist for the INDIE award for best Mystery novel of the year:

Jay Ruud’s most recent novel, Lost in the Quagmire: The Quest of the Grail, IS NOW a finalist for this year’s INDIE award for books by independent publishers. You can order your copy direct from the publisher (Encircle Press) at http://encirclepub.com/product/lost-in-the-quagmire/You can also order an electronic version from Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/814922

LostInTheQuagmircover

When Sir Galahad arrives in Camelot to fulfill his destiny, the presence of Lancelot’s illegitimate son disturbs Queen Guinevere. But the young knight’s vision of the Holy Grail at Pentecost inspires the entire fellowship of the Round Table to rush off in quest of Christendom’s most holy relic. But as the quest gets under way, Sir Gawain and Sir Ywain are both seriously wounded, and Sir Safer and Sir Ironside are killed by a mysterious White Knight, who claims to impose rules upon the quest. And this is just the beginning. When knight after knight turns up dead or gravely wounded, sometimes at the hands of their fellow knights, Gildas and Merlin begin to suspect some sinister force behind the Grail madness, bent on nothing less than the destruction of Arthur and his table. They begin their own quest: to find the conspirator or conspirators behind the deaths of Arthur’s good knights. Is it the king’s enigmatic sister Morgan la Fay? Could it be Arthur’s own bastard Sir Mordred, hoping to seize the throne for himself? Or is it some darker, older grievance against the king that cries out for vengeance? Before Merlin and Gildas are through, they are destined to lose a number of close comrades, and Gildas finds himself finally forced to prove his worth as a potential knight, facing down an armed and mounted enemy with nothing less than the lives of Merlin and his master Sir Gareth at stake.

Order from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Quagmire-Quest-Merlin-Mystery/dp/1948338122

Order from Barnes and Noble here: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-in-the-quagmire-jay-ruud/1128692499?ean=9781948338127