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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Los Tres Potrillos

Review No. 184: Los Tres Potrillos

1090 Skyline Drive
(501) 327-1144

82.7 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

He Said: This whole review is a little bit tricky because we’ve already reviewed Los Tres Potrillos (“The Three Horses”), but we did so a couple of years ago when they were in their old location inside the Howard Johnson. We’ve been meaning to give them a try at their new location near I40 exit 125 and decided to make a review meal out of it. It is, in a way, a new restaurant for Conway.

She Said: Yes, we decided to have lunch here once the new location of one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Conway was open for business.

Ambience:

He Said: I had forgotten that this was my favorite of the 654,321,098 Mexican restaurants in Conway—there being so many others to review—and had only been back a couple of times, but I was never crazy about its previous location in the hotel. This new place is much more conveniently located, and more attractive and roomy inside. Sure it looks like another sports bar interior, and has a lot of TVs with, you guessed it, sports on them, but it’s pretty comfortable and not unattractive.

She Said: The ambience is muchimproved, if you ask me, with so much natural light, and modern, sleek décor. I pretty much ignored the televisions and just enjoyed the hipper vibe while I prepared to enjoy some of my favorites from the menu.

Drinks

He Said: Pepsi products so, naturally, Mountain Dew. I have not given up soda, or caffeine, for Lent.

She Said: I was done working for the day, so I selected a classic margarita on the rocks, the medium size. It was nicely adult, both sweet and tart, the way a good marg should be.

Food­

He Said: They got our drink orders and brought us drinks and chips and salsa right away. The chips were fresh and crispy and the salsa very tomato-ey and mild, which is how I like it so I was happy. The menu may have been new since their move—I can’t really say since it’s been awhile since I’ve been here. But there were a lot of choices on it, typical of Mexican-American restaurants in the area. There’s a pretty broad and inexpensive lunch menu, which I looked at (since we were there at lunchtime) but in the end I opted for a “build your own” meal, where you pick two (or for a bit more money, three) items from a typical list (tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc.) and they come with Mexican rice and refried beans.

I ordered a chicken taco and chicken burrito with the rice and beans with red sauce (there was a cheese option). What I got was the burrito, rice, and beans, with a taco salad in a crispy corn-tortilla bowl. At first sight I was tempted to send it back but when I saw the taco salad it looked so good I decided to keep my mouth shut and eat it. Which is quite a trick, if you think about it.

The burrito with the red sauce was tasty, tangy, and just what I wanted. The rice and refried beans were pretty typical, but were quite good. The salad, which contained tomatoes and lettuce with lots of shredded chicken, topped with sour cream, was delicious. I went away more than satisfied that Los Tres Potrillos had lost nothing by moving up the road apiece, and vowing that we needed to come back here more often.


She Said: 
I was frozen by choice for some time with the large menu, which I think is the same as Los Tres Potrillos’ previous iteration. I remembered how good the fish tacos were, so at first I thought I would order those. As I noshed on the delicious small order of guacamole with the fresh, crispy chips (I don’t like salsa, so I always start with guac), I kept scanning the menu finally settling on a salad, as I love those edible salad bowls and felt like something a little less heavy mid-day. I made the absolute right choice. The chicken was tender and perfectly seasoned for the salad, and the bowl was light and crispy. I couldn’t finish the portion, as the plentiful protein of the chicken made it very filling, but I wanted to. I’ll be scheming to get back here to eat this again very soon.

Service

He Said: We were seated and attended to pretty quickly, and our server was prompt and attentive. He did make the one mistake in the order, as I mentioned above, but that led to a happy conclusion, so no harm no foul.

She Said: Everyone was friendly and helpful from the first welcoming greeting to the final thank-you-for-coming farewell.

What We Got and What We Paid: One large taco salad with chicken, one “build-your-own pick-2” lunch with burrito and taco salad, one regular guacamole dip, one medium house margarita and one Mountain Dew, all for $27.63.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: 19 minutes from entry to entrées.

Rating:

He Said:  Still my favorite Mexican place in Conway, now with nicer digs.

She Said: The attractive and appealing setting finally matches the delicious food.

Is Los Tres Potrillos good at what it’s good for? Yes! In fact, it’s even better at what it’s good for than it was before, because the food has a setting that make it even more enjoyable.

NOW AVAILABLE!

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Stacey Margaret Jones’s novel, Mr. Catherine, is available online from the following sellers (ebook only through June 24, ebook and paperback as of June 25, 2019): AmazonBarnes & NobleGoogle Play and Apple Books.

Where is Catherine? Catherine has gone missing, a year after confessing to having an affair. Her husband, a marriage and family therapist, hides her infidelity from the police to protect her reputation—and to shelter his pride.

As the secrets begin to pile up, Mr. Catherine, the unnamed husband of the missing woman, is plunged into a world of underground dealings, kidnappers, ex-lovers and drug running in Little Rock, Arkansas, all while grappling with his part in the highs and lows of the life they led together.

With each passing day, a sleepless Mr. Catherine grows more frantic, drinking and popping pills, which stir up painful visions and remembrances that hold a mirror up to the narrator as he comes to terms with his own emotional betrayals.

Mr. Catherine is a fast-paced domestic noir that explores the dangerous secrets between a husband and a wife, as well as a deeper meditation on marriage, connection and honesty.

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Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux

Review No. 183: Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux

955 South Amity Road

(501) 399-4511

82.7 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said:I’ve been watching the progress at the Walk-On’s building site in “South Flatlandia” any time I got on or off the freeway there, so when I noticed it was open, I asked Siri when I could go. When we tried the first Sunday we knew they were open, the wait looked crazy and the parking was worse, so we bailed and went to one of our favorite neighborhood Mexican-food joints instead. Finally, on a Thursday around 4:30 p.m., we tried again, this time finding a parking spot right by the door and a booth waiting for us.

He Said: Walk-On’s is a fast growing sports-bar chain that is now in eight southern states, the location in Conway being the first one in Arkansas (another is opening in Rogers). Called “Walk-On’s” because its cofounders, Brandon Landry and Jack Warner, were a pair of walk-ons (unrecruited players) on the LSU basketball team, and after graduation founded their first restaurant in Baton Rouge near LSU’s Tiger Stadium in 2003. Perhaps the chain is now best known because Saints quarterback Drew Brees became a co-owner of the franchise in 2015.

Ambience:

She Said:This décor is Extreme Sports Bar, for which they clearly had a large line-item in the budget for televisions. TVs are EVERY! WHERE! It was hard to notice much else, except that it feels like a casino inside with little natural light in a large space. I personally don’t care for making all the waitresses wear super short cheerleader skirts any time of year, but especially when it’s cold. And I guess they don’t employ waiters, either…? It’s also rather loud, even for an American restaurant, and I noticed I was a bit hoarse on the way home, just from trying to chat to my husband over our meal.

He Said: With upper management consisting of two former college basketball Tigers and an all-pro NFL quarterback, it’s no great surprise that the décor is extreme sports-bar. When I walked in I was reminded at first of TGI Fridays, but the large screen TVs everywhere tuned to every imaginable sporting event earned it “extreme” status. It was indeed pretty loud and not particularly relaxing for an evening out with your significant other, though I imagine it could be a rousing place to watch a Razorback game or the Final Four or the Super Bowl. As for the short skirts, I suppose the point is to create a cheerleader vibe, but one server did admit to us that she was pretty cold. And look, ever since Title IX female athletes have had significant status, so why assume that the patrons of a sports bar are all going to want to ogle young girls in short skirts? Where are the male servers?

It’s a little difficult to find the way in to this place, since it’s built off the death-trap double roundabout on Dave Ward designed by some insane city planner. And when you get to the parking lot you’ll probably still see what looks like a crazy number of cars. But there’s lots of room inside so do not despair if it looks like it may be hard to get a table. Check out the standing people in the lobby for a better measure of the crowds.

Drinks

She Said: While the cocktails looked appealing, I stuck to wine and enjoyed two glasses of a decent cabernet. It is winter after all, even if the waitresses aren’t allowed to dress for it.

He Said: Our server was new (of course, since the place just opened) and wasn’t sure whether they had Root Beer. They did not. But they serve Coke products and I had a Sprite. It was exactly what I expected it to be.

Food

She Said: The menu is big, but not too big to find what makes you happy, and I quickly settled on the po boy section, as I was in the mood for a tasty sandwich of some kind. It came with waffle fries. The po boy was huge, and I brought half of it home because the catfish was definitely tasty, nicely breaded and battered, and I didn’t want to leave it behind. The bread wasn’t much, but it knew it wasn’t the star of this show. I found the waffle fries too spicy, but I am a South Dakotan who likes bland things, so I’m sure not all will agree with me. I would have the po’ boy again, but would like a less spicy side dish.

Instead of an appetizer, I opted for dessert because I saw the magic word, “beignets” on the bottom of the menu, so we shared an order of those. These were worth the price of admission. It’s been several years since we’ve dined on these doughnut delicacies at Café du Monde in NOLA, so I won’t make any direct comparisons, but I will say these beignets were tender within with a crisp fried exterior and plenty of powdered sugar goodness to enjoy.

He Said:There are a lot of things on the menu but if you’re trying to watch your fat content it gets narrowed down fairly quickly—even the turkey sandwich, which would be a low-fat option, comes with bacon. And with an eye on those beignets for later, I went for the seafood section and had the sweet chili salmon, which came with green beans and garlic bread. Thinking I might still be hungry, I thought I’d try an appetizer of onion rings as well. The onion rigs were a pleasant surprise, not at all greasy and with a spicy Cajun kick that I didn’t expect (well, it’s a Louisiana based restaurant so I should have expected it, but they were, after all, just onion rings). This is the taste that She Said objected to, but her favorite flavor is, as I’ve said before, bland.

The salmon was tasty. It was, as is to be expected in any place like this (i.e., sports bar-type place rather than one that specializes in seafood) overdone, but not terribly so, and the chili flavoring gave it a subtly sweet taste. The green beans were not from a can but seemed fresh and well-cooked. The garlic bread was OK—nothing to write home about.

The beignets were pretty much the highlight of the dinner. I’d go back there just for them—and maybe to watch game seven of the NBA finals.

Service

She Said: Our service was very good and everyone was very friendly and efficient.

He Said: Yes, the service was remarkably good for a place that had a big crowd for dinner and that had only be open a very short time.

What We Got and What We Paid: One catfish po boy with waffle fries, two glasses of cabernet, one order of beignets, an order of onion rings, a sweet chili salmon dinner and a Sprite, all for $62.73

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: 26 minutes, with no waiting for seating.

Rating:

She Said: I didn’t find it particularly relaxing, but the food was good enough and the service was friendly.

He Said:Not the place for an intimate date, but the food is decent and you’ll probably like it if you like sports bars.

Is Walk-On’s good at what it’s good for? Yes, if you like your TV time with a side of NOLA-adjacent cuisine, you’ll like Walk-On’s.

NOW AVAILABLE!

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Stacey Margaret Jones’s novel, Mr. Catherine, is available online from the following sellers (ebook only through June 24, ebook and paperback as of June 25, 2019): AmazonBarnes & NobleGoogle Play and Apple Books.

Where is Catherine? Catherine has gone missing, a year after confessing to having an affair. Her husband, a marriage and family therapist, hides her infidelity from the police to protect her reputation—and to shelter his pride.

As the secrets begin to pile up, Mr. Catherine, the unnamed husband of the missing woman, is plunged into a world of underground dealings, kidnappers, ex-lovers and drug running in Little Rock, Arkansas, all while grappling with his part in the highs and lows of the life they led together.

With each passing day, a sleepless Mr. Catherine grows more frantic, drinking and popping pills, which stir up painful visions and remembrances that hold a mirror up to the narrator as he comes to terms with his own emotional betrayals.

Mr. Catherine is a fast-paced domestic noir that explores the dangerous secrets between a husband and a wife, as well as a deeper meditation on marriage, connection and honesty.

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Denny’s

Review No. 182: Denny’s

900 Crain Drive

(501) 504-6965

82.1 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said: Weaning ourselves off the holiday + travel food bacchanalia has not been easy, so on a recent Saturday when He Said had an all-day rehearsal for Red Curtain Theater’s Into the Woods, we decided we’d throw ourselves a food bone and enjoy a diner breakfast. What better way to do that than cruise down to Conway’s shiny new Denny’s?

Denny’s in Conway has special meaning to us, as the old Denny’s on Oak Street was the first restaurant we ate in together when we moved here in 2003. We walked over to the former iteration from our hotel, and I remember feeling very self-conscious as a Yankee, as if I were in a foreign country and would stick out too much with my lack of accent, so I stayed very quiet and to myself. I also had the strange reflex to speak Czech when in public, too. These days, I’m much more comfortable in my “new home,” but Denny’s is still a walk down memory lane.

He Said: Denny’s is one of the larger restaurant chains in the world, with some 1,700 restaurants throughout the United States and in a dozen or so foreign countries. It was founded in California in 1953, and in 1963 started franchising restaurants. Denny’s is now headquartered in South Carolina. Close to my own heart, Denny’s has been working with the Humane Society of the United States for more than 10 years and works with its suppliers to ensure that animals are treated humanely.

Ambience:

She Said: This Denny’s is danged shiny! It’s brand new, and while it has the diner feel, it also has a huge photographic mural wall of the Arkansas countryside and a light-bulb Conway sign in one area. It feels like a posh Denny’s. You’re greeted by a hostess at the cash register when you enter and seated.

He Said: Yes, there’s a clean and comfortable atmosphere here.

Drinks

She Said: We came for breakfast, so I had coffee with cream and water. The coffee was strong-ish. I did have a cup of espresso when I got home, just to make sure I was awake.

He Said: I had orange juice, which I believe was Minute Maid, if that’s your idea of a good time.

Food

She Said: I struggled with choice at Denny’s, mostly because the combinations were a big puzzle, and I was looking for the exact roster of breakfast favorites. The “slams” mostly include two meats—sausage and bacon—which is too much for me. The build-your-own slam does not allow waffles as an option (I asked), but the waffles breakfast did not include the things I wanted, so I went for a berry pancakes breakfast, which included bacon (I changed it to turkey bacon), hash browns and two eggs cooked to order (over medium, please).

First, the bacon was no bueno; I was distracted by ordering turkey bacon instead of bacon-bacon, so I forgot to stipulate extra crispy. This was like sautéed bologna. Blech. What a waste. Crispy bacon is the only way to go, pork or turkey. Moving on to better times: The pancakes had blueberries in the batter, and lots of fresh banana and strawberry slices on top, and they were good, particularly the fresh fruit. I ate about two-thirds of the serving. It was a treat, but didn’t feel junkie or decadent because of the fruit. The fried eggs were more on the “easy” side than medium, but I like that, and I like to soak up the egg yolk with pancake and hash browns, so it was good. The hash browns were pretty much perfect: a crispy top layer, with a satisfying firm underlayer of salted potato goodness. I would order this breakfast again.

He Said: I decided to go with the “build your own omelet” option. I asked for an egg white omelet with pepper and onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and cheddar cheese. This option comes with hash browns and toast, with a choice of white, wheat, sourdough or pancake (!). I opted for the sourdough.

The omelet was quite good, though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t egg white but rather the whole eggs. That increases the fat content, of course, which I was trying to keep down, but I also didn’t have time to send it back so I just ate it. And it was good, as you might expect. I also didn’t feel bad about eating it because Denny’s does use cage-free eggs, they say. I have to agree with She Said about the hash browns: they were done just right. The sourdough bread was also good. It had an unusually generous amount of butter on it, which also jacked up my fat content, but sure tasted good. I would say that my breakfast was quite tasty, though fattier than I bargained for, so I made plans to eat pretty light the rest of the day.

Service

She Said:Service was fine. Our waitress was focused and efficient. She was busy. We did wait awhile for our food, though, almost half an hour, but He Said reminded me that no Denny’s has ever been speedy.

He Said:She was busy but efficient. Not sure whether to blame her or the cook for the full egg instead of egg-white omelet, though since she did repeat my order to me when she took it, I’m inclined t believe the cook got it wrong. In any case, you’ll be glad to know it didn’t affect her tip.

What We Got and What We Paid: One berry pancakes breakfast, coffee, one build-your-own omelet with hash browns and toast, and a glass of orange juice, all for $27.07.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: 26 minutes, with no waiting for seating.

Rating:

She Said: Denny’s offers diner staples in a shiny new restaurant, packaged in popular combinations.

He Said:This is one of the better chain diners around. Certainly a lot of choice for brunch.

Is Denny’s good at what it’s good for? If you like breakfast with lots of options with time to wait, this is the place for you!

NOW AVAILABLE!

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Stacey Margaret Jones’s novel, Mr. Catherine, is available online from the following sellers (ebook only through June 24, ebook and paperback as of June 25, 2019): AmazonBarnes & NobleGoogle Play and Apple Books.

Where is Catherine? Catherine has gone missing, a year after confessing to having an affair. Her husband, a marriage and family therapist, hides her infidelity from the police to protect her reputation—and to shelter his pride.

As the secrets begin to pile up, Mr. Catherine, the unnamed husband of the missing woman, is plunged into a world of underground dealings, kidnappers, ex-lovers and drug running in Little Rock, Arkansas, all while grappling with his part in the highs and lows of the life they led together.

With each passing day, a sleepless Mr. Catherine grows more frantic, drinking and popping pills, which stir up painful visions and remembrances that hold a mirror up to the narrator as he comes to terms with his own emotional betrayals.

Mr. Catherine is a fast-paced domestic noir that explores the dangerous secrets between a husband and a wife, as well as a deeper meditation on marriage, connection and honesty.

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Panda Express

Review No. 181: Panda Express

811 East Oak Street

(501) 358-3082

82.1 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

He Said: If this looks a little familiar, it may be because last week we reviewed “Panda Wok.” This week it’s Panda Express.Which is in fact our third Chinese restaurant in a row. This is one of the problems with getting to be low on our unreviewed restaurants list. But Panda Express, recently opened in Conway, is a different kind of animal.

Panda Express is part of the Panda Restaurant Group, founded by Andrew and Peggy Tsiang Cherng and Andrew’s father, Master Chef Ming-Tsai Cherng. The first Panda Inn restaurant opened in Pasadena, California, in 1973, and as of 2017 there were more than 2,000 locations in the United States, making it the country’s largest Chinese fast-food restaurant chain. One of the company’s corporate values is giving back to the communities in which their stores are located, as well as a consciousness of our environmental crisis and a determination to lessen their own carbon footprint. They promise to be a good neighbor in the Conway community. Let’s hope that continues to be the case.

She Said: Yes, we’re getting far enough into this project, that most of our yet-to-be-reviewed restaurants in Conway are chain stores, for which we’ve already done at least one, but I was excited to try out this new place, as we’ve watched its progress over the months of construction. We decided to drop in for lunch on a weekday and arrived right around noon.

Ambience:

He Said: As you come in there’s a line for you to choose and pick up your food. You can choose to get the food to go or dine in. You can also go through a drive-through. When you first get in line, there is a TV that gives you instructions on how to order: You can order a bowl, which gives you one entrée and one side; a plate, which give you two entrees and a side; or a large plate, which gives you two entrees and two sides. So if this is the first time you are there, you might be unclear on how to order, but the TV helps, and you’ll be a whiz at it the second time you come.

The seating area itself is relatively small. It’s new and bright and clean, with a TV tuned to a sports channel perched atop the far wall. There are several small booths around the perimeter of the room and two long tables in the middle, I suppose for large parties, though it seemed more likely to me that people were going to end up sitting with other people they didn’t know because they were forced to sit here when all else was full. But that’s just a little introvert phobia—probably won’t bother youat all. Move on, nothing to see here.

She Said: It’s clearly a fast-food restaurant, although a little shinier and brighter because it’s brand new. It’s also very efficient. When you walk in, the ordering gauntlet is right there, and the rest of the space is devoted to the smallish-seating area.

Drinks:

He Said: They are some soft drinks in containers on ice as you move through, with Coke in bottles. There were also fountain drinks with Coke products. I had a Barq’s Root Beer from the fountain, which was a welcome sight.

She Said: I tried an unsweetened fruit tea that was very nice and made a tasty change from my usual unsweet tea. It went better with the food than soda would, I think.

Food:

He Said: The menu was not extensive for a Chinese place, probably a necessity for a fast food joint that needs to have things ready on demand. Most entrees were chicken dishes, but there were a few beef ones and a shrimp option. I had a bowl with Honey Sesame Chicken and Fried Rice. We also ordered a couple of extras: spring rolls which come two to an order, and chicken egg roll, which was fairly large and was fried. Plus She Said talked me into getting a chocolate chip cookie so that she could have a bite.

The chicken entrée was tender with a crispy outside, and the sesame and honey were flavorful but pretty subtle. One could probably say that, compared with a couple of the other Chinese places in town, this was a bit bland. The fried rice was not bad, and contained peas and other vegetables that gave it some flavor. The egg roll was OK as well—nothing to write home about, but certainly tasty enough. The cookie was fine, soft and chocolatey, though a bit generic. I’ve certainly had better chocolate chip cookies, even, as this one was, out of a cellophane wrapper. My favorite part of the meal was actually the vegetable spring roll which was surprisingly flavorful and fresh tasting.

The advantage of eating at a large chain is that nutrition facts for everything you eat are readily available online So after the fact I looked up what I had eaten: the honey sesame chicken contains 490 calories and 22 grams of fat—by itself not too bad. However, the fried rice had 520 calories (!) and 16 grams of fat, the egg roll 200 more calories and 10 more grams of fat, the spring roll 95 calories and only 4 grams of fat, and the cookie 160 calories and 7 grams of fat. This gave me a grand total of 1465 calories and 59 grams of fat. This, by the way, is about what I should have for an entire day—so if I didn’t eat anything other than lunch, I’d be fine. The moral, I guess, is that I ought to have looked up nutrition figures before eating. Also, for you, dear readers, pay attention at any fast food place to what kind of nutrition you’re getting here.

She Said: I really dithered about what to order because the shrimp sounded healthy and lean, and with the walnuts in the dish, I figured it would be something new to me, but at the last minute, I switched to the kung pao chicken, which is fried chicken bites with peanuts and a somewhat hot chili sauce. I also chose fried rice for my side (which in a bowl is really just the foundation for the entrée on top). The chicken was good, not too spicy, but it definitely had a little kick. I thought the fried rice was a bit bland, but it also tasted rather fresh and light. I too really liked the vegetable spring roll and will definitely order that again.

Overall, I found the food to be less rich and interesting that traditional American Chinese restaurants in Conway, but at the same time, I am really happy there’s a drive-through, single-serving Chinese restaurant here, where I can get just a helping of Chinese food, instead of the big family-size dishes we get in our usual haunts.

Service:

He Said: Things are pretty hectic here around lunchtime, and the place is still new so the servers aren’t completely familiar with everything yet. But really the service here was quite good, friendly and speedy. No complaints here.

She Said: Service was very efficient and friendly. We were glad we arrived just ahead of the lunch rush, as there was a line out the door not long after we sat down. The staff kept everything friendly and moving along. This is the kind of place where every time someone enters, workers call out a friendly welcome.

What We Got and What We Paid: One bowl honey sesame chicken and fried rice, one bowl kung pao chicken and fried rice, one order of spring rolls (2), one chicken egg roll, one cookie, and two small drinks, all for $15.34, but note this was the cost with a “buy one bowl, get one free” coupon. So add another $6.40 if you don’t have a coupon.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: 6 minutes.

Rating:

He Said: For fast food that’s a little change from burgers or tacos or fried chicken, this is a good alternative. Still, it’s fast food.

She Said: I can tell I’ll rely on this place for a drive-up food option that’s different, with some light and tasty options.

Is Panda Express good at what it’s good for? If you want single-serving, fast food Chinese that’s a little lighter and healthier—and if you like the one or two dishes on their smaller menu—Panda Express is for you!

NOW AVAILABLE!

IMG_5986

Stacey Margaret Jones’s novel, Mr. Catherine, is available online from the following sellers (ebook only through June 24, ebook and paperback as of June 25, 2019): AmazonBarnes & NobleGoogle Play and Apple Books.

Where is Catherine? Catherine has gone missing, a year after confessing to having an affair. Her husband, a marriage and family therapist, hides her infidelity from the police to protect her reputation—and to shelter his pride.

As the secrets begin to pile up, Mr. Catherine, the unnamed husband of the missing woman, is plunged into a world of underground dealings, kidnappers, ex-lovers and drug running in Little Rock, Arkansas, all while grappling with his part in the highs and lows of the life they led together.

With each passing day, a sleepless Mr. Catherine grows more frantic, drinking and popping pills, which stir up painful visions and remembrances that hold a mirror up to the narrator as he comes to terms with his own emotional betrayals.

Mr. Catherine is a fast-paced domestic noir that explores the dangerous secrets between a husband and a wife, as well as a deeper meditation on marriage, connection and honesty.

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Panda Wok

Review No. 180: Panda Wok

2625 Donaghey Avenue

(501) 329-8889

81.5 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said:He Said picked me up from the airport after I returned from a Las Vegas weekend with a high school friend. Even though I had eaten so much in Vegas that the city government wrote me a letter saying I had to leave because their own people needed some food, too, I was feeling a little peckish after my flight and travel. We thought Chinese take-out was probably the right answer, so I could go home and be with my dogs after my absence.
He Said: So Panda Wok was a place I’d seen out of the corer of my eye when driving down Donaghey, but never gave much thought to. It doesn’t have a flashy outside that makes you take notice. But it had risen to the top of She Said’s list, so I was time to give it a look.

Ambience:

She Said:It’s a shopping-center-mostly-take-out Chinese restaurant, and it’s neat and tidy with sparse tables, and a counter with a menu board. It didn’t make me change my mind about getting take-away food, but it was clean and bright.

He Said:Yes, but it was also small and not particularly homey. You could eat here if you had to, but take out seemed like it would be cozier.

Drinks

She Said: We didn’t get drinks.

He Said:You could, however, get drinks if you wanted. Looked like they had a variety of Coke products.

Food

She Said: The menu was very large, but I saw cashew chicken on the menu board, and crab Rangoon on the paper menu sheets, soI needed to look no further. The crab appetizers were good, actually tasting like they had seafood in them, which in many places, they do not, so that was a nice surprise. The wontons were crispy and the filling was soft and rich, just as I like them.

The cashew chicken was very good, with a nice variety of veggies (not just teeny corns), and very tender, seasoned chicken. There were a lot of cashews and plenty of chicken. I got fried rice with this, as well, and it was also tasty. This is one of the better examples of this dish I’ve had in Conway, and I would definitely order both of these selections again.

He Said: I checked out the menu, which was so extensive I was paralyzed by choice for a moment. Fortunately, we were the only ones in the place at the time and the server seemed to be perfectly fine giving me all the time I needed. I finally settled on the honey chicken, a personal favorite of mine. It came with white rice but I asked to have fried rice instead because I like fried rice.

The honey chicken may not have been the lowest-fat option I could have had, what with the crispy fried outside of those chicken pieces, but at least it wasn’t red meat, which seems to affect my digestive issues. I found the fried rice to be quite nice—it didn’t have a lot of extra vegetables in it, as some fried rice does, but it was quite tasty for, essentially, just the rice. The honey chicken itself though, was very tasty. The chicken was crispy on the outside, tender and delicious on the inside, and the sauce was sweet and tangy and they were not stingy with it. Overall, this may have been my favorite Chinese dish anywhere in Conway. I’m sorry not to have made the extreme sacrifice for you, dear readers, and ordered a few other dishes, but this was plenty for me. And the portion was very generous: generous enough for me to save half of it for lunch later in the week.

Service

She Said:Service was prompt, efficient and friendly; I wouldn’t change a thing. The food was nicely packaged for transporting, too, which is always appreciated.

He Said: What She Said said.

What We Got and What We Paid: One order of Honey Chicken and Fried Rice, one order of Cashew Chicken and one of Crab Rangoon, all for $21.84.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: 15 minutes.

Rating:

She Said: The cashew chicken was definitely yummy, and it makes me want to try more on their menu.

He Said: I’d definitely come back here for the honey chicken. If I try anything else, it will probably be off She Said’s plate.

Is Panda Wok good at what it’s good for? Yes, indeed! They prepare the old standards of American Chinese cuisine very well for you to enjoy at home

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Las Palmas

Review No. 179: Las Palmas

786 Elsinger Blvd.

(501) 329-5010

81.4 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

He Said: It must be admitted we are running low on Conway restaurants that are not part of fast-food chains, so we set about searching through our list and discovered this little gem among the fast food rubble. Las Palmas itself is a part of a small local chain with sister locations in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Russellville. True, it’s another one of those 965,422,165 Mexican restaurants in the greater Conway area, but it’s nevertheless real food, so off we went.
She Said: So it’s about No. 965,422,164ththat we’ve reviewed! We had time for lunch on a weekday, and I was glad not to head to a drive-through. We live fairly close to Las Palmas but had never been inside. It was time.

Ambience:

He Said: It’s a cheery little place. When you walk in, you are immediately struck by the upbeat salsa music coming over the sound system. The walls are painted in rich Southwestern colors and decorated with appropriate wall hangings and some small pictures, andthere were a couple of TVs tuned to south-of-the-border soccer news.

She Said:Yes, it’s in the shopping center and looks like every other business in that row, but when we walked in, I felt like I’d found the party I was looking for! The music is very festive, and the décor and friendliness of the staff really did make me feel they’d be waiting for us for the fun to begin.

Drinks

He Said: Our server asked for our drink orders as we were sitting down, and brought them immediately thereafter. They haveCoke products, from which I chose a Mello Yello, just because I could.

She Said: It was only lunch, but for you, dear reader, I was willing to sample a traditional margarita on the rocks. It was a nice weekday-midday marg, not too “grown up” and nicely tangy, not overly sweet. I enjoyed this small one very much.

Food

He Said: Before we even thought about ordering, we got two little bowls of salsa with a basket of chips. The chips were fresh and crisp, and the salsa was mild and sweet, just the way I like it. The menu is huge, and I actually had to ask the server for more time so I could look it over. I finally decided on the No. 3 combination, which is a taco and enchilada with rice and beans. I had chicken rather than beef, because of my pancreatic aversion to red meat, and chose a crispy taco, since that’s the kind I like. The enchilada had a creamy cheese sauce.

The taco came with the meat and shredded white cheese, and I added some salsa and it was fine. The enchilada was tastier with the tangy cheese. The rice was pretty standard Mexican rice, and the beans were creamy and fresh. I threw in some salsa, mixed it all together and used my tortilla chips to scoop it up and was very satisfied.

She Said: The menu was comprehensive, and though I usually go for a vegetarian combination plate, I didn’t want quite that much food for this meal, having had a late breakfast. I quickly settled on the shrimp quesadilla, as it combines two things I love into one entrée. I expected the flat quesadillas that one usually gets, in which the ingredients are chopped and spread in with the cheese, and the tortilla is grilled, almost like a pressed panini, but this was a nice buttery flour tortilla that was crisp from the pan, but was wrapped around the plentiful ingredients inside, which included a number of large grilled shrimp, along with onions and peppers. The plate included a bit of guacamole and sour cream and lettuce to apply as I desired, which I did. The meal was very tasty and well textured, and that tortilla itself was a delight. I ate most of it and didn’t feel full or like I’d overdone it when we left. It was a great lunch dish (though I didn’t see it among the lunch specials).

Service

He Said: Our server was prompt, friendly, courteous and attentive but not overly so. This being lunchtime, everything was pretty speedy. Overall, the service was great. If you’re in a hurry for lunch, you can also pick up items to go, though there is a surcharge for that, according to the menu.

She Said:I found the service to be just right, especially for lunch. Everyone smiled as they interacted with us, and we didn’t wait too long for anything.

What We Got and What We Paid: A No. 3 combo (taco, enchilada, rice and beans) with a Mello Yello, plus a shrimp quesadilla with a margarita (it’s five o’clock somewhere!), all for $31.32. You pay this, by the way, at the counter when you leave, not to your server.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: 14 minutes, which included extra time for He Said to peruse the menu.

Rating:

He Said:The food here is fresh and tasty, the service is excellent. The prices may be higher than some other places in town, but the food is probably better than those places.

She Said: I’ll return for the shrimp quesadilla and the party atmosphere!

Is Los Palmas good at what it’s good for? Yes! It’s a fun Mexican restaurant with fresh food and friendly service.

NOW AVAILABLE!

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Stacey Margaret Jones’s novel, Mr. Catherine, is available online from the following sellers (ebook only through June 24, ebook and paperback as of June 25, 2019): AmazonBarnes & NobleGoogle Play and Apple Books.

Where is Catherine? Catherine has gone missing, a year after confessing to having an affair. Her husband, a marriage and family therapist, hides her infidelity from the police to protect her reputation—and to shelter his pride.

As the secrets begin to pile up, Mr. Catherine, the unnamed husband of the missing woman, is plunged into a world of underground dealings, kidnappers, ex-lovers and drug running in Little Rock, Arkansas, all while grappling with his part in the highs and lows of the life they led together.

With each passing day, a sleepless Mr. Catherine grows more frantic, drinking and popping pills, which stir up painful visions and remembrances that hold a mirror up to the narrator as he comes to terms with his own emotional betrayals.

Mr. Catherine is a fast-paced domestic noir that explores the dangerous secrets between a husband and a wife, as well as a deeper meditation on marriage, connection and honesty.

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Fresh Donuts

Review No. 178: Fresh Donuts

855 South German Lane, Suite 4

(501) 504-6037

80.9 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said:I came down with a cold that He Said so generously shared with me, so I was free eating and not exercising. This gave me the motivation and opportunity to add doughnuts to my morning last week, so I looked on the list to see where we had not yet visited and drove down to Dave Ward to this doughnut shop I hadn’t even known existed.

He Said: My own cold having not yet receded, I was more than happy to let She Said go get doughnuts. Mmmm…doughnuts….

Ambience:

She Said: It’s very similar to other Conway doughnut purveyors, with a small display case and a counter and the menu and prices on an overhead board. It’s bright and cheery, but nothing special.

He Said: Wasn’t there. Hence, have no opinion.

Drinks

She Said: In my sinus-headache induced haze, I didn’t notice what they offered. I was here for fatty carbs, and that is what I procured.

He Said:See previous comment.

Food

She Said: I know I’m always charged to get CHOCOLATE for He Said, so I got two chocolate glazed doughnuts. I also selected a doughnut with pink frosting and sprinkles, an apple fritter and a blueberry cake doughnut. He Said claimed the chocolate and the sprinkles, so I focused my eating efforts on the fritter and the blueberry doughnut. I ate half of each when I got home and saved the rest for comfort food later. The apple fritter was very satisfying, sweet fried dough around chunks of flavorful fruit made it my favorite. The blueberry cake doughnut was also fruity, though a bit sweet.

He Said: That was no chocolate glazed doughnut. It was a chocolate iced yeast doughnut. The pink sprinkled doughnut was also a yeast doughnut (as opposed to cake, like She Said’s blueberry). The doughnuts were fine—very typical frosted yeast doughnuts, with nothing particularly remarkable about either the icing or the doughnut. They were both sweet enough to let you know you’ve had a doughnut, but nothing special registered for me in either the frosting or the consistency of the doughnut itself that would make me seek these doughnuts out in particular, the way I would, say, Ed’s or Krispy Kreme. As my daughter so eloquently remarked last week, “Meh.”

Service

She Said: The service was veryperfunctory. This might be more appealing at the drive-through, which Fresh Donuts also offers. She did throw in some doughnut holes gratis, so that was nice.

He Said: Wasn’t there. Couldn’t say.

What We Got and What We Paid: Four doughnuts and one apple fritter for $3.32.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: 3 minutes.

Rating:

She Said: The doughnuts were fine, the service wasn’t memorable, and this is a little out of our way, so we’ll probably stick with Love’s and Ed’s when we want doughnuts.

He Said: If I was dying for a doughnut and was driving by, I might stop here for one. As a doughnut destination, though, I probably wouldn’t rank this one highly.

Is Fresh Donuts good at what it’s good for? Sure, especially if you like apple fritters and fast, perfunctory service.

 

NOW AVAILABLE!

IMG_5986

Stacey Margaret Jones’s novel, Mr. Catherine, is available online from the following sellers (ebook only through June 24, ebook and paperback as of June 25, 2019): AmazonBarnes & NobleGoogle Play and Apple Books.

Where is Catherine? Catherine has gone missing, a year after confessing to having an affair. Her husband, a marriage and family therapist, hides her infidelity from the police to protect her reputation—and to shelter his pride.

As the secrets begin to pile up, Mr. Catherine, the unnamed husband of the missing woman, is plunged into a world of underground dealings, kidnappers, ex-lovers and drug running in Little Rock, Arkansas, all while grappling with his part in the highs and lows of the life they led together.

With each passing day, a sleepless Mr. Catherine grows more frantic, drinking and popping pills, which stir up painful visions and remembrances that hold a mirror up to the narrator as he comes to terms with his own emotional betrayals.

Mr. Catherine is a fast-paced domestic noir that explores the dangerous secrets between a husband and a wife, as well as a deeper meditation on marriage, connection and honesty.