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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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

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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

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Bella Italia

Review No. 152: Bella Italia

2755 Dave Ward Drive(501) 932-6066

70.1 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said: I was winding up a 24-hour fast (it’s healthy, y’all!) and had just come from a barre workout, so I was HUNGRY. We asked our Facebook friends about new restaurants in case we had missed anything and learned of Bella Italia. Since I always love pasta, I drove home from the fitness studio, put He Said in the car and drove off to find this new Italian restaurant in Conway.

He Said: It was this or fast food. And we weren’t in the mood for fast food. So…this.

Ambience:

She Said: Well, Bella Italia is a new Conway restaurant, but, the appearance is a bit run down, or maybe it’s just a hipster-dive vibe? The building itself is down at heel and certainly looks inauspicious, and inside it feels like it needs a thorough polishing. The dark painted floor doesn’t do it any favors as any chip or scuff makes the floor look like it needs sweeping. I like the dark colors, though, and the booths are reasonably comfy. When we arrived, we had to wait a minute before we scared up the man who seemed to be the proprietor, so it felt rather lonely.

He Said: Yes, this location has not been friendly to restaurants, and much of that is probably the fault of the building itself, which could use some restoration or remodeling. And yes, it was a bit lonely when we walked in, which was admittedly at a very off hour, but the place is open all day long. I understand from other people that it has been quite crowded here at more popular lunch or dinner times.

Drinks

She Said: I ordered an unsweetened iced tea, and it was tasty and nicely iced.

He Said:They have Coke products here, from a fountain. I ordered a Coke. It was Cokey.

 

Food

She Said: The menu has many Italian favorites, raviolis, gnocchi, etc., so it was hard to choose, but I always love a scampi, so I zeroed in on that. But first, our gracious host brought us complimentary garlic-herb rolls, which we devoured with glee. Those things were brilliant! We chose to share the toasted ravioli, and those were very satisfying and would have been a nice lunch on their own. Crisp-toasted with a red dipping sauce and filled with melty white cheese, they were satisfying in taste and texture. We negotiated over the final one, and I let He Said have it because I was anticipating my entrée.

The shrimp scampi comes in a citrus sauce, and it arrives in a soup dish with a roasted lemon (nice touch!). My first bite cleared my flight-clogged sinuses a bit with citrus goodness. The pasta in this dish is not angel-hair or spaghetti, even, but more of a linguini. The shrimp was nicely flavored, but slightly over cooked so it was a bit tough. I couldn’t finish the plentiful dish, though I did try. It was tasty and satisfying.

He Said: I did like the garlic-herb rolls with olive oil a whole lot, and the toasted ravioli were very satisfying—crisp and delicious. Probably not a very good choice for my low-fat demanding pancreas, but it was a treat.

For my entrée I picked the chicken marsala, just one of several traditional Italian or Italian-American chicken dishes on the menu. There are of course a number of the expected pasta dishes as well, and sea food, including my favorite, salmon, but I wanted to try something a little less conventual and a little more “Italian,” so I went with this dish, which involved a chicken cutlet, mushrooms, and a linguine-like pasta with a sauce made of Marsala wine (native to Sicily).I enjoyed this dish a great deal—the chicken was tender and flavorful, the wine sauce was delicious and the mushrooms added a tasty but mild flavor to the dish. And it was low-fat, so it met my specifications

Service

She Said: As mentioned, when we entered around 3 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, we wondered if it really was open, as no one was about, and we were the only ones there. I looked in the kitchen to see if I could find a waiter or hostess. From a back room we were greeted and ushered to the table by a proprietor-looking dude, who seemed as if he could be serving us in a family eatery in Florence, Orvieto or Ravenna. Throughout our meal he was attentive, eager to help us but not overly involved. The courses were served slowly, but that is authentically Italian.

He Said: Indeed, it was a one-man show. The proprietor seated us, took our order, cooked the food, served it, and brought us our check. I understand there is a woman who works there as well—apparently she’s not needed on a Sunday afternoon at 3, when there’s not likely to be a rush. It was a significant wait for the food, and part of this was probably due to the lack of help, but part of it is simply that it takes a while to actually cook some things. It ain’t fast food, so you need to expect a bit of a wait here.

What We Got and What We Paid: One toasted ravioli appetizer, a shrimp scampi entrée and a chicken marsala entrée with iced tea and Coke to drink for $45.18.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival:42 minutes from arrival to entrée service, with appetizers in between… and we were the only ones there for the first 20 minutes.

Rating:

She Said: While my entrée was a little off, the rest of the food was worth a return trip, though I wish the premises could be spruced up a bit in order to be worthy of the dishes served.

He Said: I’d go back. I’d like to try something like the spaghetti or gnocchi next time. Maybe we’ll try the salmon sometime as well. But only when I’m not in a time crunch. The restaurant is only two weeks old, so a little more time might allow them to hire more staff and/or find ways to speed things up a bit.

Is Bella Italia Good At What It’s Good For? This is a mixed bag, but mostly for the better. The food is tasty and satisfying, but the dining accommodations could use some polish.

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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Rally’s

Review No. 151: Rally’s

420 Oak Street
(501) 327-2600

69.5 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

He Said: We had just left church on Sunday morning (well, it was after noon when we left) and were heading for Little Rock to try to make a 1:15 movie, so it made sense to grab lunch at a drive-through and eat it on the way. And there just happened to be a drive-through on our way out of town. Rally’s, one of myriad fast-food outlets along Oak Street, has been on this corner of Ingram and Oak since before we moved to Conway 16 years ago, but to tell you the truth I never even knew its name—just one of the many. Rally’s though, which merged in 1999 with another brand, Checkers, is one of the largest drive-through franchises in the country, with some 800 restaurants throughout the Southeast and Midwest. Their gimmick is a narrow building with drive-through windows on each side (maximum efficiency!). They want to serve fast food that’s not bland and also not expensive. In that, they are successful.

She Said: Yes, along with He Said, I knew there was something foody here, but not what it was until this little experiment of ours caused me to make a list, and Rally’s came up next in my super-secret system of choosing what we’re reviewing and when. I was up for trying a new fast-food burger in town as we cruised down to Little Rock for a flick.

Ambience:

He Said:Uh, well, there’s no real ambience—it’s a drive up window. One could theoretically eat here if the weather is nice, since there are a couple of stone tables outside, but the vast majority, I’m sure, are stopping here because they are going to eat in their car. She Said’s new car is nice, so we had a nice ambience.

She Said: I do like my car; it has heated seats and podcasts on the sound system! Yes, this place is all about getting ’em in and getting ’em out.

 

Drinks

He Said: They have Coke products here, including Barq’s Root Beer, which I ordered. It was a medium drink and I was glad they had the root beer, but there was probably about a quarter’s worth of actual root beer in the glass, since (as so often happens in such places) they decided what I must have really wanted was a cup full of ice and a shot of root beer.

She Said: I had fancy water with me, so I stuck with that because I like it better than soda or tea. Sorry, dear reader.

 

Food

He Said:I ordered the spicy chicken sandwich and we split a medium order of Rally’s Famous Seasoned Fries. The sandwich was breaded and fried chicken on a sesame seed bun with a bunch of lettuce. The breading was crispy and definitely had a hot kick to it, which was not bad (Rally’s says it’s chicken that “bites back”). The sandwich was pretty dry, though, and I wondered why there was no sauce or condiment of any kind on it. I did hit a very small patch of something, probably mayonnaise, amongst the lettuce at one point, but it was barely noticeable. So, the sandwich was tasty but dry. The fries were also spicy, though not so hot. They were crisp and tasty with a slightly unusual seasoning. I’d have liked them better if I’d had some salt to put on them, but that did not seem to be an option at the drive through. Maybe I should have asked, but I didn’t think of it.

Still, according to their online nutritional facts, the chicken sandwich had only13 grams of fat, which is not bad. Unfortunately, the fries had 24 grams of fat, and She Said didn’t help me with many of them, so I would need to be more careful if I ever order lunch here again!

She Said: While I never cook beef at home, I do enjoy a good burger occasionally out, so since He Said was covering the chicken angle, I was perfectly happy to ask for the burger. As usual, I went for the basic offering because the other deluxe-style offerings looked too big and caloric. I chose the Rally Burger, no cheese. And I was pleasantly surprised by this burger of this place I had never once considered eating. It was meaty, nicely cooked, and the toppings were generous (but I forgot to say “no tomato,” so there was plenty of that, too), including a lot of fresh onion (sorry, Ruud!). I wondered if there was a “special sauce,” but it was just mayo, ketchup and mustard, mixed. The basic burger here is a good size, meaning big enough to feed you and not big enough to weigh you down, at 320 calories, with more protein than fat—and plenty of carbs, which is why I ate two (2) of He Said’s fries… and that’s what he calls “splitting” fries with me.

Service

He Said:Well, I think there was only one guy taking orders from both windows during the noon hour, and he didn’t sound all that happy. So I can’t say we got particularly friendly service, but it was fairly quick, and it was not surly, so that’s a win.

She Said: And our order was correct, which is always something you’ve gotta check at the drive-through.

What We Got and What We Paid: One Rally Burger, one Spicy Chicken Sandwich, one medium fries, and one medium root beer, all for $9.59.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival:13 minutes, which is a bit long for drive-up service.

Rating:

He Said:The food was not exactly the same as everywhere else, and it was inexpensive, but it’s unlikely I’ll stop here again any time soon. Perhaps if I want something really quick to eat on the road, but I didn’t find anything here that lifts it above other similar places.

She Said: I thought the hamburger was a cut above many fast-food offerings, and the next time I’m in a hurry for a burger fix, Rally’s willbe on my list.

Is Rally’s Good At What It’s Good For? Our experience was a mixed bag with a successful burger and less satisfying chicken sandwich. Since burgers seem to be their specialty, if you drive through here, let them lead with their strengths.

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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Larry’s Pizza

Review No. 150: Larry’s Pizza

1068 Markham Street

(501) 329-3131

69.0 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said: I always enjoy a pizza day! I was fueling up for a longer run the next day, so I figured it was time to visit the classic pizza buffet of Larry’s. I still had to be mindful of how much I ate, but I wanted to give this place a try, as I had only eaten at a Larry’s in Little Rock once before.

He Said: Larry’s is an Arkansas pizza chain that started with a single location in Little Rock in 1992, opened a second restaurant in Bryant in 2001, and then in rapid succession spread to North Little Rock, Conway, a second Little Rock location, Cabot, and more. I’m pretty sure most people go here for the buffet, or what they call the “parade,” which costs a dollar more for dinner than it does for lunch. But you actually canorder a specialty pizza here. We chose the buffet.

Ambience:

She Said: It’s not exactly relaxing here, or cozy. Everyone was friendly, of course, but the large game room in the back with its bright lights and the large open room for the diners doesn’t create an intimate or soothing place to sit and eat—though I’m sure that’s not why people come to Larry’s. I felt a little antsy there so when my max was reached, I was ready to GO.

He Said: No, it isn’t the comfiest or coziest place I’ve been. It seems like a place that you might want to bring your kids, since there’s a whole back room with an arcade and other kid-friendly pastimes. But the main dining room is just a big warehouse of an eating area.

 

Drinks

She Said: I had unsweetened iced tea, and it was not memorable in either a good or bad way.

He Said: They had Coke products here. I didn’t see any root beer so…Dr. Pepper it was. Which was fine, as Dr. Pepper goes.

 

Food

She Said: We arrived right as the restaurant opened, so while the salad bar was completely set up, the pizzas on offer were meager. But all we had to do was wait and each new addition to the buffet options would be announced and served to diners at their places before what was left was put on the buffet. I waited out the mac and cheese pizza (though that does sound intriguing) for my one true pizza love: pepperoni. It wasn’t long before the waitress was singing my favorite siren song, and I was gazing down at a narrow piece of thin-crust pepperoni pizza (after an unmemorable trip to the salad bar for some lettuce, cucumbers and a dribbling of Ranch dressing).

I had two pieces of the pepperoni and one piece of cheese during our visit. All were about half the size of a piece of pizza at other restaurants, chains or local. It’s a buffet, so it doesn’t matter how small they are: Just help yourself to more. It was certainly lackluster. The crust, while thin, was not crispy and the slice hung limply from my hand as I took the first bite. It was also rather greasy. Of course, since it was so small, I had another piece. Before declaring my meal over I tried a piece of the cheese pizza, which was about the same, just cheesier.

We shared a piece of the peanut-butter-chocolate dessert pizza, and this was quite delicious, though a bite or two was all I needed of the sugary confection. I had expected more bread sticks, cheese bread and other doughy delights on the buffet, but all we found was pizza and salad.

He Said: Well, I don’t know, Jones, the salad bar wasn’t bad. It had three different kinds of greens, which is rather nice, and the usual suspects in terms of vegetables to include with the salad. They also had a pretty decent selection of dressings, including a fat-free Ranch, which is what I had.

I tried three different pizzas—the small pieces did mean I could get a variety without overdoing it on the fat grams. When we first arrived, there was a pepperoni pizza on the buffet, which I tried. I was a pretty standard pepperoni pizza. Then the parade servers came out, and one of them had a cheeseburger pizza, which I thought I’d take a crack at. It did taste like a cheeseburger—they even had pickles on the pizza, which added a special little zing to it. I was thinking I’d like to try something low on the fat scale, something vegetarian or maybe with chicken or turkey, and I was about to waylay one of the parading servers and ask if they ever did anything with chicken, when one of the came out with a chicken honey mustard pizza. It was as if they’d reached into my soul and created the pizza I always wanted but didn’t know to ask for. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t actually “low-fat,” but with those ingredients I figure it was not as high in fat content as the other pizzas.

Before She Said had a chance to say, “let’s blow this pizza parade,” one of the paraders came by with that chocolate peanut butter pizza. This was definitely not low-fat, but I could not resist a few bites of it and yes, it was to die for.

It’s true that the thin crust pizza at Larry’s could be crispier—those pieces were rather limp. But they did have some unusual and tasty variety here. As for the lack of stuff on the buffet, it’s true, all they have are the salad and the pizza. But there is a lot of variety in the pizza, and if you are longing for breadsticks, you can get them if you order a specialty pizza rather than doing the buffet.

 

Service

She Said: Because this is a buffet, you pay as you enter to a friendly clerk, select your seats and hit the buffet, but Larry’s adds an extra nicety: As the pizzas come out of the kitchen, they are circulated in the dining area by wait staff who call out the selection so you can raise your hand if you want some. This way, you burn even fewer calories heading back up to the buffet for more food. It also means that when the pizzas hit the buffet, they may have been seriously depleted by the crowd in the dining room, so don’t wait. If you want those slices, get ’em while they’re hot!

He Said: Yes, that’s what they call the “parade.” You do pay when you come in here, but there is a place for a tip on your check when you enter, and you might want to think about those parading servers when you pay.

What We Got and What We Paid: Two buffets and two drinks for $22.37 before tip. This is for the dinner menu; lunch is a bit cheaper.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: 4 minutes!

Rating:

She Said: If I’m going to spend my dining opportunities on pizza, it needs to have a crispier crust and be less greasy. If Larry’s is your jam, this will just mean there’s more for you.

He Said:I like the variety, and I like the various tastes, but I will admit there may be better pizza in town. There are certainly crispier crusts.

Is Larry’s Pizza Good At What It’s Good For? There are other buffets with broader options and crispier crusts, but Larry’s delivers friendly service and lots of variety of pizza pie.

 

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