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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Love’s Donuts

Review No. 169: Love’s Donuts

317 West Oak Street

(501) 781-8888

75.7 Percent finished reviewing  Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said:I needed some real motivation for my Wednesday-morning workout, so I promised myself doughnuts from a newer purveyor of this perfect food in Conway. After I put down my weights, I jumped in the car to make good on my promise.
He Said: I was busy and did not go along on the doughnut run. Hence, I was not responsible for the types of doughnuts brought home, and so can only comment on what was placed before me.

Ambience:

She Said: Love’s is cute, bright and friendly. You can get breakfast sandwiches and sausage rolls (kolaches) here, too, and you can also use the drive-up window for your order. I wanted to see all my choices, so I went in. This, by the way, is a little bit of a hassle because you need to park in back and walk through the drive-up lane to get to the store entrance. In the future, I will probably just roll on up.

Drinks

She Said:We did not sample their liquid wares. I was laser-focused on my doughnut mission.

Food

She Said: Well, waiting until after my workout meant that a lot of the pretty or special doughnuts had already gone to good homes in other people’s bellies, and I wasn’t even able to fulfill He Said’s order for a chocolate glazed doughnut. I did see that there were still apple fritters in the display case, so I knew I’d be just fine. To make it up to He Said, I got a glazed doughnut and two more frosted ones, a strawberry and a blue one with sprinkles.

The apple fritter was very good, satisfying and sweet, with the fried dough cradling the apple chunks very pleasingly. The glaze was just right. I will get this again. And even though I was craving it and had worked up a sweat for it, I couldn’t finish it, as it was pretty filling. I saved the rest for another day… and then He Said ate it!

He Said:Doughnut lovers are well aware that there are two chief types of doughnuts: the yeast doughnut and the cake doughnut. I don’t know whether they have cake doughnuts at Loves, because She Said only brought home samples of yeast doughnuts. Also, doughnuts can be filled with cream or custard or jelly, and again I don’t know whether such types are available here or not, since none were brought home to me.

Apparently, as She Said said, no chocolate doughnuts of any kind were left in late morning when she swung by, and she brought home a yeast doughnut with pink (strawberry), another yeast doughnut with a kind of bluish frosting and sprinkles or “jimmies,” a glazed doughnut (also yeast, as glazed doughnuts invariably are), and that apple fritter. I did end up eating both the frosted doughnuts and the glazed doughnut over the next couple of days, and I admit I finished the apple fritter as well.

The glazed doughnut was OK as glazed doughnuts go. The two frosted doughnuts just seemed pretty dry to me—the frosting wasn’t very generous and the yeast doughnut was not particularly undry (I avoid the “m” word because She Said can’t stand it). The best of the lot was indeed the apple fritter, as She Said asserts. If I were to go here again, that’s what I would order.

Now I admit it is possible that their cake doughnuts are more undry, or that any cream or jelly doughnuts they have would be more to my liking, so I might need to give them another chance, go early, and get something chocolate and/or filled. It’s also possible that the gourmet sandwiches are worth a look.

 

Service

She Said:The service was great! The woman who waited on me was very friendly and patient as I made my choices. My favorite aspect of the whole visit was when I was leaving, she called out, “See you tomorrow!” (Isn’t it pretty to think so…)

What We Got and What We Paid: One apple fritter, one glazed doughnut, one strawberry frosted doughnut and one frosted doughnut with sprinkles for $3.62.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: 2 minutes from walking in the door to walking out with doughnuts!

Rating:

She Said:I thought the apple fritter was worth the trip, and next time I’ll go earlier to try find some more variety in the display cases.

He Said:I’ve definitely had better doughnuts in town, but I concede there may be better ones here if I get here early enough.

Is Love’s Donuts and Gourmet Sandwiches good at what it’s good for? It was good enough with the fritter and is worth another trip to sample more of their breakfast goodies.

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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Local Patio Grill

Review No. 168: Local Patio Grill

912 Front Street

(501) 932-6123

75.2 Percent finished reviewing  Conway restaurants

The Situation

He Said: We were having a nonreview meal at Pasta Grill a week or so ago, when we looked across the street and noticed that a new restaurant, the Local Patio Grill, had opened in the old John Daly’s Steakhouse space. This steak, salad and seafood place has been open for nearly a month at this location, and the name comes apparently from the seating that seems to be available on the patio jutting out toward Front Street from the second floor. I’m guessing that’s not getting much use in the 98-degree weather we’re having lately, but could be a nice option in the fall.
She Said: Yes, for the two weeks in spring and the two weeks in fall that it’s pleasant to be outside, that will be awesome! We thought this place would be a good place for a Friday night date, so off we went downtown Conway for dinner and drinks.

Ambience:

He Said: I don’t think they’ve remodeled much since the space had very recently been done over by the John Daly folks before their sudden closure about a year ago. We sat in a booth in the bar area, with about eight TV sets tuned to different stations across from us that gave the place a sports bar feel, though a rather stylish one, with gorgeous tin ceilings in the style of 100 years ago.

She Said: The vibe is “posh pub,” and I liked the feel. There’s a buzz and energy, but the dark accents and ceiling keep the room feeling almost cozy. It has a club feel, as well, and is definitely upscale, but not fussy. I felt relaxed and ready for the weekend.

One thing I will bring up, probably not very helpfully, is the name seems very strange to me. “Local Patio” is not the best choice… what other kind of patio would it be? “Far Away” or “Multinational Conglomerate”? And with The Patio Café literally down the street, it’s bound to be confusing. I also thought the menu could use one more proofreading session, but given that it’s a new establishment, I’m sure that will work itself out in time.

Drinks

He Said: They have Pepsi drinks here, so I ordered a Mountain Dew. I could have had a refill, but I declined, since I almost certainly would not have been able to sleep if I’d had another one.

She Said: They have cocktails and beer and wine. I perused the drinks menu and didn’t see my favorite, a cosmopolitan, so I requested it, but I was told I could only get the cocktails “on the list.” I think their liquor license was about 5 days old by then, so I’m hoping someday they get a little more expansive in their cocktail reach, especially once the weather turns toward actual patio weather. So, I went with my second choice, the “Skinny Margarita.” I enjoyed this drink very much, and actually prefer it to the syrupy sweet margaritas we’ve all become accustomed to: the “skinny” version is, I’m told, actually closer to the classic marg. This was nicely grown up, tangy but not sour, and very nice to sip on a hot day. To go with my meal, I had a glass of cabernet. It was a nice pour, in a proper glass, and was slightly fruity—but still pleasantly dry.

Food

He Said: Before we’d even looked at the menus, a server brought us a couple of rolls and a green salad with a light creamy dressing. We ordered the goat cheese bruschetta appetizer, which came as a kind of do-it-yourself kit with about eight pieces of toasted bread on one plate and about eight little balls of goat cheese flavored with what I think was a sweet balsamic vinegar. So you spread your own cheese on the bruschetta slices and it was delicious.

For my entrée it may come as a great surprise to readers that I ordered the salmon, which came with a mango chutney relish topping, and perched upon a short tube of wheat shell filled with a rice and vegetable medley. The presentation was beautiful and the different flavors and textures delightful. The salmon might have been slightly overdone for my taste, but as my wife always tells me, I should specify “medium” to the chef.

Of course, dessert was probably not something I should have had, but I was thinking of you all, dear readers, so I felt it was my responsibility to order the Chocolate Surprise. This was a round piece of chocolate cake with brown powdered sugar and vanilla ice cream. The “surprise” was a gooey chocolate center. This also came with a remarkable presentation—an outline of fork and knife in brown sugar. But the taste was the real treat. If you like chocolate (and if you don’t, I don’t even know why you’re reading this), you’ll love this dessert. I only have one complaint: I should have ordered my own instead of sharing it with She Said. It was not huge, and it was over all too quickly.

She Said: When I saw the goat cheese bruschetta “kit,” I was thinking it seemed a little chintzy, but actually, the goat cheese was so flavorful, that just that light spread on the bread was perfect. I loved this appetizer, and there were a lot of delicious-sounding choices on the list.

I had a harder time choosing my entrée, and I almost went with one of the runners up in the apps department. This restaurant takes standards and tweaks them, and a couple of times, something that sounded good originally got tweaked in a direction I didn’t want (maybe with tomatoes or spicy heat, for example). In the end, I went with the seafood pasta, which was shrimp, scallops and salmon over angel hair pasta in garlic oil, with diced, fresh tomatoes (which aren’t as objectionable to me as stronger tasting red sauces). Overall, I found this to be a guilt-free, fresh and healthy entrée, with lots of light protein that was tasty and filling but not heavy. I did think it needed a bit of salt and that the shrimp and scallops were both slightly over cooked. But I will order this again when I want to go out but don’t want to break the fat-macros bank.

 

Service

He Said: We got a lot of attention, from our server as well as from the woman who seemed to be the manager. The server checked back with us several times, and the manager was back at least three times. This may have been in part because we came early and there weren’t many in the restaurant, though by the time we were finished it was full. Anyway, we had a lot of service—nothing to complain about here!

She Said: The service was indeed attentive from many staffers, pleasant and efficient. The only hiccup I noticed was how long it took to get our dessert; but the beautiful presentation was worth the wait!

What We Got and What We Paid: Bruschetta appetizer, one Chef Seasoning Salmon, one Seafood Pasta, one “Chocolate Surprise” dessert, one glass Mountain Dew, one Skinny Margarita, one glass Cabernet, all for $76.95.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: 28 minutes from arrival to entrées, though we did get salads and break immediately, and our shared appetizer also arrived in this window.

Rating:

He Said: This is a legitimate new addition to the finer dining scene in Conway. It’s a good (though not an inexpensive) complement to Mike’s Place and Pasta Grill.

She Said: This fills a great niche in Conway: posh pub. If the cocktail menu expands or becomes more flexible, it will be even better.

Is the Local Patio Grill good at what it’s good for? Absolutely! Posh pubs aren’t cheap, but they are definitely enjoyable, and this one offers interesting and tasty fare in an attractive and relaxing atmosphere.

 

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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Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

Review No. 167: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

1345 E. Oak Street

(501) 504-2420

74.8 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said:It was a busy Saturday morning, and in an effort to fit in this meal between a treadmill run and an afternoon wedding, I asked He Said to run to the Popeyes less than a mile from our house to pick up food for a quick lunch at home. It turned out not to be so quick…
He Said: Popeyes was founded in a suburb of New Orleans back in 1972—the restaurant was actually named after “Popeye Doyle,” protagonist of The French Connection, which had just won the Best Picture Oscar. By 2002, Popeyes was second only to KFC in terms of numbers of units for a quick-service chicken chain. By now Popeyes has restaurants in at least 40 states and 30 foreign countries. And yet, to tell the truth, I did not even know there were any Popeyes locations in Conway until She Said told me it was next on our list to review. Partly that may be because I never have much reason to keep going east out of town on Oak Street beyond Conway Commons shopping center, and so didn’t realize it was just a block or so beyond, on the south side of the street.

Ambience:

He Said: The place looked like every other fast food place. It was bright and pretty clean, with a counter to place an order at. Nothing about the interior to put you off, but nothing to make you regret that you were picking up your food rather than dining in.

 

Drinks

She Said:I asked for unsweet iced tea, which He Said brought to me with no ice, so I added a bunch from the fridge, and it was fine.

He Said:In my defense, I had put ice in it. The ice had melted by the time I got the order home. They had Coke products here, but no root beer. The did have Fanta, and I went for a Strawberry Fanta drink. It was a tasty change and had no caffeine, which I was fine with.

 

Food

She Said: I had a two-piece chicken meal with dark meat, including a leg, a biscuit and French fries. The chicken was fine: It was crispy, not greasy. The seasoned fries were pretty limp by the time they came to me, which is not the best feature of fast food, which is going to be picked up often and taken home or to work, etc. The best thing was the biscuit, which was flaky and buttery. Overall, though, the meal was forgettable, and given the calories and fat grams, somewhat regrettable.

He Said: I had checked Popeye’s online nutrition guide before visiting the store, and had a few items that were pretty low in fat content so that I could eat healthy: The online nutrition chart showed what they called a “Naked Chicken Wrap” which had only 6 grams of fat, or a “BBQ Naked Chicken Po Boy” the thought of which, at just 7 grams of fat, made my mouth water. When I got to the actual store, however, I found that they do not have the wraps or the po’ boys on the menu here, so I had to regroup.

I ordered mild chicken tenders which I remembered did not seem to be especially fatty on the chart. Indeed, when I checked after coming home, I found that an order of three mild tenders had 14 grams of fat, so my 5-piece order must have about 24 grams. So that was within my pancreatic range, especially since I ordered green beans as my side, and those had only 1.5 fat grams. Unfortunately, I then realized that the biscuit that comes with every order has 15 grams of fat in itself. That meant that my entire lunch came in at a little over 40 grams of fat. That was a good 2/3 of my daily limit.

I have to agree with She Said that the chicken was crispy and tasty without being greasy—probably less greasy or fatty than KFC right down the street. The green beans were nothing to write home about—they seemed to come straight out of a can. As for the biscuit, I agree it was quite tasty—probably loaded with butter which was responsible for those 15 fat grams.

 

Service

He Said: Here’s where things get sticky. I placed my order at the counter and paid, then waited with my order number. And waited. And waited some more. It was 20 minutes before I got my food. And people ahead of me did not seem to be getting their orders any faster. It is possible that the drive-through was clipping along at a better rate, because I didn’t see that many cars lined up. Or it could be that people waiting in the drive-through line just gave up and drove off, which kept the line shorter. In any case, it would be hard to justify calling this “fast food.” We could have gone to sit-down restaurant and been served as quickly.

She Said:I was pacing the floor at home, wondering where the food was, hoping you hadn’t had some kind of tragic chicken accident, Ruud.

What We Got and What We Paid: Two-piece chicken meal with dark meat, biscuit and French fries, with unsweet iced tea; five-piece chicken tenders with biscuit and green beans and a strawberry Fanta, all for $17.09.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: 20 minutes after order was placed.

Rating:

She Said:Meh.

He Said: The chicken was probably as good as most fast-food places, and the biscuits were pretty good. And the price was not bad, but overall it was not a memorable meal.

Is Popeyes good at what it’s good for? It’s certainly not fast, and there’s definitely better chicken in town.

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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Franke’s Cafeteria

Review No. 166: Franke’s Cafeteria

1101 Fendley Drive

(501) 932-6123

75 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

He Said: One of the oldest continually operating restaurants in Arkansas, Franke’s Cafeteria (named to the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame in 2018) celebrates its centennial this year. C.A. Franke, founder of the franchise, opened a doughnut shop in Little Rock in 1919, after spending the last years of World War I stationed there, and in 1924 turned the place into a cafeteria at 115 West Capitol. The restaurant became popular offering food made from scratch throughout the day, and at one time had restaurants in Hot Springs and in Fort Smith as well as Little Rock. Currently there are two Little Rock locations, and the Conway location opened earlier this year at the former site of the Dixie Café, which closed in 2017.

She Said: I had gone a couple of times to Franke’s downtown Little Rock when I was commuting to the Riverdale area for work, but hadn’t been back since the aughts. When they announced they were going to add a location in the former Dixie Café space—another restaurant I hadn’t visited much since my Riverdale workday life—I figured they’d be appealing to that former chain’s clientele, which isn’t usually our style of eating. But sometimes a gal needs a big ole plate o’carbs. So off we went for Sunday dinner.

Ambience:

He Said: The place looks exactly as it did when it was the Dixie Café—even the Dixie Café sign is still out front, though it’s faded and weather beaten—might be a good idea to get rid of that. It appears that nothing has been changed—it’s a fairly large space with relatively comfortable booths and tables. Long counters have been put in along the front and the right side of the building, behind which a number of servers are stationed to dish out your food, cafeteria style.

We did, however, arrive at exactly the wrong time, on a Sunday around 1 p.m., which is just the time to catch the after-church crowd. and I do mean crowd. There was a significant line that stretched halfway around the restaurant when we walked in, and that wasn’t all that fun.

She Said: I had some traumatic Dixie-Café-work-lunch flashbacks while standing in line, so I felt it was time to make some new memories here, as it does look exactly the same, down to the plastic plants in between the booths and the deep red half-walls. It definitely has a cafeteria feel, with diners carting their trays about and servers calling out to people. It was relaxed and social overall.

Drinks

He Said:They have Coke products as fountain drinks. These include Barq’s Root Beer. Which is what I had.

She Said:As they didn’t offer Prosecco at the drinks station, I went with my other summer fav, unsweetened iced tea. It was fine.

Food

He Said: They have a wide variety of main dishes, salads, sides and desserts here, and they have a featured item of the day, which on this day was meatloaf wrapped in bacon. In my pre-pancreatic days, I would have jumped at that, but I tried to be more fat-conscious, so I opted for the baked fish entrée, which was tilapia. I also had a salad, with lettuce and cucumbers and an Italian dressing, which seemed the lowest fat option. I had sides of cabbage and of a squash casserole and couldn’t resist a piece of pecan pie for dessert. And I should add that they don’t skimp on the servings here.

The quality of the food I had was quite good for the kind of restaurant this is. The baked tilapia was seasoned just right, was flavorful and not overdone. The squash casserole had a little bit of a sweet tang to it and was quite tasty. The cabbage wasn’t bad—it had a little peppery seasoning that She Said wouldn’t have liked but that I did. The cabbage also had corned beef mixed in, which a normal person would have liked but because I was trying to keep fat intake down I skipped eating. There was also a wheat roll with butter that was very nice as dinner rolls go. As for the pecan pie, this was for me the highlight of the meal. It was also the worst thing I could have had for my diet, since there is a lot of fat in nuts like pecans, but I only ate part of it and left a lot of the pecans, but loved the sweet pecany taste of the pie.

She Said: For my food goals these days, I too keep fat grams low (around 60 grams) most days, and my carb grams are over 200 grams each day, so I figured if I chose wisely, Franke’s might be just the place for me, and I was right! I indulged in the fried fish, which was flounder, and then chose higher-carb, lower fat sides to fill my tray: pasta-zucchini salad, mashed potatoes and a wheat dinner roll. Everything was very tasty, and I dressed up my potatoes with a little bit of butter instead of the offered gravy, which was a lot fattier, and also something I couldn’t trust not to be too peppery. The fish was good, but it was a lot more breading than flounder. I had some of the coating, but then just started opening it up and scraping out the fish, as I had some protein goals for myself, too. Seriously, the breading could stand up on its own. That’s a lot of breading. The fish was very good when I got to it: mild, nicely cooked and flaky. I also really liked the pasta salad, which wasn’t overly seasoned and made a nice showcase for the squash and zucchini in the dish. The mashed potatoes were the star of my tray: nicely whipped, perfectly salted and were perfectly yummy with just the addition of a pat of butter. I could eat those all day! The wheat dinner roll was also the kind of thing I come to southern eateries for. I was tempted by the biscuits, too, but that roll was the real deal.

I did have a couple of bites of He Said’s pecan pie, but the filling was too sweet: I could feel the sugar on my teeth and when it hit my system. I had to calm myself down with some flounder.

 He Said: Too sweet for YOU maybe. I thought it was just right.

Service

He Said: This is a little hard to judge, because it was a cafeteria. We got directions when we came in from one of the workers as to where to stand in line. The servers were friendly and helpful enough, though they did have some difficulty sometimes keeping straight all of the people in line at that hour, and I felt rushed in a few places, though that was probably more the result of the crowd behind me than the mood I was picking up from the servers.

You don’t pay right away here, but you save your ticket and you eat first, then pay before you leave. I didn’t realize why this was until we sat down and an attendant introduced herself and asked if we needed anything. What we had actually needed was someone to help us with our trays and finding a table to sit at, so it was kind of late to ask. But the attendant did bring She Said some butter for her roll, and offered to bring me a box to take my pie home in when it looked like I was flagging, but I rallied to down the pie instead.

She Said:As our dear readers know, this isn’t my favorite service model. If I’m going out, I want to sit down, take my time with the menu and have it brought to me. I’m klutzy, and I was wearing platform heels, so I was really nervous with my super full tray, just sure I was going to drop everything before we found a place to land. In the future, I’ll ask my server to bring me my drink so at least I won’t have to manage that ball in the juggling act. Our server was friendly and helpful, as was everyone we met. I do feel that this model makes you wait on yourself and then you feel guilty not tipping. (We tipped! We always tip!)

One thing I found confusing is how much things are. There is a menu at the front you can take, but it’s not super clear that you’re to do that, and in line the signage doesn’t communicate beyond a few specials very well what the prices are. If you’re watching your budget, go online first and sort it out.

What We Got and What We Paid: A green salad, a pasta salad, baked tilapia, fried flounder, cabbage, squash casserole, mashed potatoes, two wheat dinner rolls, and a slice of pecan pie, all for $35.67. Not the cheapest cafeteria meal I’ve ever had.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: 20 minutes in line.

Rating:

He Said: Franke’s gives you a lot of choices and their food is plentiful and tastes good. You might want to be careful how many sides you add because these can add up.

She Said:As southern cafeteria’s go, there’s a reason Franke’s has been around 100 years: They know your favorites and how to make them for a crowd.

Is Franke’s good at what it’s good for? Yes. It’s a southern cafeteria with a lot of tasty choices, where it’s easy to eat too much (and maybe spend too much).

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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Maggie’s Original Cookie Company

Review No. 165: Maggie’s Original Cookie Company

2850 Prince Street, Suite 17

(501) 336-9600

74.5 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said: After a ladies-who-lunch outing with my mom and a friend, I wanted to take a little sweet treat home to my husband, so I pointed the car toward Maggie’s, a cookie-making fixture in Conway I hadn’t visited for a while.

He Said: This all happened without me. I just got to sample the cookies when they were brought home. I should add that She Said did not appreciate my singing Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” through the devouring of the cookies.

Ambience:

She Said: This little shop has a counter, but is not for “dining in,” so it’s cheery, and it’s also rather functional and efficient. You walk in and there’s the cookie display, and it’s obvious what you’re supposed to do: choose cookies!

He Said: If you say so.

Drinks

She Said: I honestly didn’t even check for drinks, but I don’t think they sell them.

He Said: I’ll take your word for it.

Food

She Said:I couldn’t just get one cookie for me and one for He Said, so I chose two of the no-bake cookies I went there seeking, and then an assortment of chocolate chunk, chocolate sin and white-chocolate-chip macadamia. It was hard to wait to eat them when I got home, but I did wait and applied one of the no-bakes to my face tout de suite. It was very good, chocolatey and nicely textured with the oatmeal but not chunky or bland. I couldn’t wait to eat another, but I was trying not to over-do it, so I had one bite of the peanut-butter chunk cookie, which had thin lines of icing on top. It was very good, but the icing made it a bit on the sweet side. I was very happy with my cookies, with my choices overall.

He Said: I am also very happy with your choices. I grabbed one of those chocolate sin cookies and it was so good I immediately grabbed the other one. Next day I had the white-chocolate chip macadamia cookie ,which was also excellent—macadamias have a lot of fat in them, which is not particularly too good for my pancreas but it was just one cookie and there were only a few slices of macadamia so shut up, pancreas. Then the next day I had what was left of the frosted peanut butter chocolate chunk cookie that She Said had tried, and it certainly wasn’t too sweet for me. I also had the second no-bake cookie, which was to die for. Just let me say that all of the cookies I had were delicious, and I’d get cookies here any time. I’d like to come back tomorrow and pick some more.

 

Service

She Said: The staffer who waited on me was patient and helpful, though not particularly smiley or friendly, though you kind of expect hyper smiles at a cookie place. Still, I was pleased the service overall.

He Said: Yeah, I was very pleased with the service I got: She Said came home and put a bag of cookies into my hand. And I didn’t even have to tip her.

What We Got and What We Paid: Six cookies for less than $5.

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

Rating:

She Said: The variety of cookies is perfectly tempting without being overwhelming, the service is efficient and the cookies themselves are scrumptious!

He Said: Delicious cookies for a decent price. As someone once said, that’s good enough for me.

Is Maggie’s good at what it’s good for? Yes, it is! Beautiful cookies to take home and devour!

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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Hole in the Wall Cafe

Review No. 164: The Hole in the Wall Cafe

1016 Markham Street

(501) 205-1325

73.5 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

She Said: We were looking for some southern cooking for my Missouri-native mother during the waning weeks of her annual Arkansas visit from South Dakota. Of course, we knew this was the opportunity we’d been waiting for to try The Hole in the Wall Café.

He Said: Yes, we’d never actually eaten here for a regular meal, having been acquainted with it when the Conway Dinner Theater used to perform here when it was the Old Gin. But those meals were not the everyday restaurant meals now available at this Hole in the Wall.

Ambience:

She Said: The foyer is quaint and welcoming with chalkboard signage, and friendly patrons as they leave (one man told us, “Food’s very good here!” as we walked in). Staff members are friendly, as well, although the space is rather cavernous and lunch-roomy—which I guess is fitting for a cafeteria-style restaurant. There’s a large television high up on the wall that may have been showing sports-ball (I didn’t pay attention to it). There doesn’t seem to be much noise-abatement for the hard surfaces. Overall, I didn’t find the space as “down home” as the food.

He Said: It was, it’s true, kind of a big almost barn-sized space, and it’s true, it was none too quiet, but on the whole I didn’t find it uncomfortable.

Drinks

She Said: I enjoyed some unsweetened iced tea with lots of ice. It was tasty, and not too strong, and didn’t keep me awake at night, so I give it an A+.

He Said: It’s been a few days, but I think I had a Mountain Dew. It was a fountain drink and this would mean that they have Pepsi products here. But I’m willing to be corrected if I’m remembering wrong. I do enjoy a good Dew though.

Food

She Said: We visited for lunch on a fried-chicken day, and that was by design: I lovefried chicken, and it’s not a treat I often allow myself for obvious reasons (and when I calculated my macros after lunch, I saw I blew ALL of my daily fat grams on the chicken alone). I also enjoyed the dinner roll I chose over the corn bread, and ate it up very quickly, before I even finished the first chicken leg. Entrée decided, my next choice was for two of the sides on offer, which were more varied. Already high on fat, I went for the carbs (and fat) of mashed potatoes with a little bit of gravy and the macaroni and cheese. The potatoes were very creamy, and while I only wanted a bit of gravy because I was afraid it would be too peppery, it was rich and satisfying without too much of that bully spice. The macaroni and cheese reminded me of my mom’s, which is a compliment, but it wasn’t as good, so I went lightly on that, because I also ordered dessert.

The desserts confront you before you see the sides on the cafeteria line, and I was breaking a fast, so I was pretty hungry and unable to resist. The lemon ice box pie looked light and summery (and had a chill name). It was very good, only slightly too sweet, cool and lemony. I loved every bite, but I still shared some with my Mom.

He Said: I had a Chicken Parmesan lunch plate with sides of hashbrown casserole and green beans, with a dinner roll (as opposed to cornbread, which was the other choice), and a brownie-like piece of cake with a thin fudge and pecan frosting.

The menu did list a grilled chicken breast, but when I asked about it I was told they were out, but I could wait 15 minutes for them to make one. Since I didn’t want to make everyone else wait, I opted for the chicken parmesan, and in doing so almost certainly raised my fat intake by a few dozen grams, so not the greatest move health-wise. On the other hand, the chicken parmesan was really, really good. If you like chicken and you like cheese, you will really like this entrée. The hashbrown casserole was also good, and also cheesy. Both dishes reminded me of Cracker Barrel—same kind of down-home cheesy American dishes—but more authentic and home-made. The beans were all right, though I didn’t find them unusually good. They may even have been from a can. They also had bacon in them, which most people would probably like. For me, of course, trying to cut down on the fat intake, it wasn’t the best scenario, so I ate around the bacon.

The dinner roll was, I believe, also home-made, and it was warm and quite tasty. Considering the kind of place this is, I wouldn’t be surprised if the corn bread was just as good. As for the chocolate cake, it was the last piece they had (all other desserts were various kinds of cheesecake or creamy pies), and I had the (probably false) impression that the cake would have a little less fat. It was a pretty run-of-the mill cake/brownie bar, not bad but nothing to write home about.

 

Service

She Said: This is a cafeteria lunch spot, so you go to the start of the line to get your tray, plate, silverware and napkins, and then head down the line to make your selections. The offerings are written on boards behind the counter as well as presented to diners behind the glass so you can see what you are getting. Everyone was very helpful, friendly and efficient. We also had several staffers come to our table to make sure we didn’t want to-go drinks and to take dishes when we were finished with them. This upped the friendly quotient.

He Said: Yeah, what She Said said. It’s basically a cafeteria, but the folks here are friendly and they check on you.

What My Mom Thought: Mother had fried chicken with two sides, but skipped the bread option. She thought the food was very good southern food, that filled her up because she ate it all.

What We Got and What We Paid: Three lunch plates which included two sides, two desserts and three fountain drinks for $36.45 (for three adult people).

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

Rating:

She Said: This southern cafeteria lunch place in Conway is the real deal, fast, friendly and serves delicious food.

He Said: For real southern cooking that’s got some good old-time flavor, it’s hard to beat The Hole in the Wall.

Is The Hole in the Wall Cafe good at what it’s good for? Stop in for yummy, down-home Southern fare and enjoy dessert, as well!

 

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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Rolled Up Ice Cream Shop

Review No. 163: Rolled Up Ice Cream Shop

1100 Bob Courtway Drive Suite 12

73.6 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants

The Situation

He Said: We’d just eaten a Sunday-after-church meal at Mike’s Place and decided to go to this Rolled Up Ice Cream place for dessert on the way home. It’s been open about a month, but we’d walked our dogs by here in the morning, and noticed it would be open Sunday afternoon, and so here we came. And by the way: The sign says “Ice Cream Shop,” not “Ice Cream Shoppe,” so that’s a point very much in their favor.

The process practiced here originated in Southeast Asia, and, known as “Thai rolled ice cream.” or “stir-fried ice cream,” hit the United States in 2015, and has since, as they say, been sweeping the nation.

She Said:So it’s ethnic food! Yes, once we walked Gwenhyfar and Lavinia by the store, I was thinking about nothing but ice cream, since it’s a pretty big treat in my book. We don’t keep it at home and don’t stop in for it very often, but this, dear readers, was for you, so I was all about it.

Ambience:

He Said: It’s very bright and cheery, and also fairly sparsely decorated inside. There isn’t a lot of seating here—one table and then a long counter along the wall with benches all along the way. As it was, we had food in the car and didn’t stay, but rather took the ice cream home with us. FYI, 95-degree weather wreaks havoc on ice cream if you don’t eat it fast enough.

She Said: Yes, the natural light from the windows wall on Bob Courtway makes the shop light and airy. The ice cream counter is the natural focal point of the small shop, and that’s okay, because it’s very entertaining.

Drinks

He Said:We didn’t have any here, but they did have drinks—some sodas, tea, bottled water. But we were just here for the ice cream.

Food

He Said:There were two columns of roll-up possibilities on the menu on the wall: One column listed ice-creams with lots of kinds of candy or cookies. The other listed ice cream mixed with a variety of fruits. I chose the chocolate base with chopped strawberries, which also came with fresh strawberries on top and a swirl of chocolate syrup in the middle. It was served in a small cup as five rolls of ice cream, with fresh strawberries and a piece of a chocolate Hershey bar topping it all off. I could have had whipped cream as well, but I figured I was playing it dangerously anyway with the likely fat content of the ice cream, and chose to forego the whipped cream.

My ice cream dish was delicious. Fresh, creamy, chocolatey and strawberry-ey, it really hit the spot on a very warm day. Since the shop is just down the street from our house, I have a feeling we’ll be swinging by here fairly often.

She Said:I was a little overwhelmed by choice and went with the red-velvet roll, which includes a red-velvet Oreo (don’t @ me… I have mixed feelings about flavored Oreos, too) and chocolate in a vanilla base with crushed Oreo on top. I also added in a Reeses peanut butter cup, and got one crushed up in ice cream and one whole as “garnish” on top.

I really loved the process of this! Instead of getting ice cream from a tub and flattening it out with various sprinkles, the attendant takes the actual sweet cream and pours it on a cold plate, upon which it quickly freezes. While it’s doing so, he or she chops up the additions and mixes them together, finally flattening the now-ice cream into a square shape so it can be rolled up into those five delicious rolls and served on end in a cup with garnish.

It was really tasty, too. The additions were so well mixed given the process, and, of course, the sweet treats dressing the dish made it even more decadent. I was torn between the red velvet and the mango roll on the fruit-additions side of the menu. Next time, I’ll try that. It sounds delicious and that much healthier.

 

Service

He Said: When we showed up around 1 p.m. on a Sunday, we were the only ones in the store, so we got a lot of focus from the three ice-cream rollers in the place. It was kind of fun to watch them make the roll-ups pouring the cream onto the cold, chopping up the ingredients, spreading out the ice cream and rolling it into coiled strips. It’s kind of like Hibachi ice cream.

She Said:Yes, we had the attention of the entire staff! Everyone was friendly and asked us if we’d had rolled ice cream before. We thought we had, but not like this! It was fun, and I’d love to take our grandsons in so they could enjoy the process as well as the sweet, chilly treat.

What We Got and What We Paid: One Chocolate Strawberry roll up, one Red Velvet roll, both for $13.29.

Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: Nine minutes from orderin’ to eatin’.

Rating:

He Said: We’ve been to several new ice cream places in Conway, but so far this has been the one I enjoyed the most. Of course, what I’d really like is to find one that had frozen yogurt, since that would be a low-fat option. Tell me if you find one.

She Said: I really enjoyed it, and since it’s not only on my side of town, but also walking distance, I hope they stick around. I’d like to try the mango roll!

Is Roll Up Ice Cream good at what it’s good for? YES indeed. A tasty, if slightly pricey, cool treat for summer, completely customizable. Yummy fun!

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.