What’s coooking
The newest restaurant apparently coming to the busy East McCain Boulevard area in North Little Rock is Fire Mountain, an upscale steak restaurant owned by the Ryan’s Steakhouse chain. The address is 4000 Springhill Plaza Court and the phone number is 945-8887.
The phone number is disconnected and the paper around the windows is gone, indicating to us (in lieu of getting a returned phone call from chef James Botwright) that Lulav, Botwright’s planned upscale kosher California cuisine restaurant, is not going to be opening, at least not downtown on Sixth Street. Botwright, who did preview the restaurant with a private party on Jan. 29, reportedly ran into some city codes that kept him from officially opening. The final straw, we’re told, was a city requirement that Botwright install a grease pit although he contended he would not need one.
Capsule reviews
COTHAM’S IN THE CITY This place (the version near the state Capitol) is so popular now, even the father of the U of A’s football coach has to wait in line to get a seat (and the football coach, smartly, didn’t arrive until dad and mom were already seated. It was so popular this same day, the guy who hit the game-winning shot for Arkansas back when the Hogs were good in basketball and won the national championship (that would be Scotty Thurman) had to wait as well. And so did we. And we can’t blame the legislators in town. Oh, there were some, for sure, and the Capitol staff to boot, and we were all waiting. Cotham’s just draws them in from everywhere, and if you’re there at 11:30 a.m. you’re going to go wanting for a seat immediately. Skipping the what-it’s-known-for hubcap burger and rings, we instead went for the plate special of fried chicken, which was a large breast and drumstick, and both were fine -– not spectacular, but plenty good in a greasy-spoon sort of way. What we enjoyed better were the fried green tomatoes as an appetizer, with ranch dressing on the side. The flavor of the tomatoes was allowed to stand out without being suffocated by over-spiced batter. Service was reasonably fast despite every table taken and the unceasing line out front. 1401 W. 3rd St., 370-9177. L Mon.-Fri. $-$$ CC. No alcohol. (Also Cotham’s West, 14710 Cantrell Road, 868-1744. LD Mon.-Sat., L Sun. $ CC Beer and wine.)
PIGGY SUE’S We had it in our mind that this was a barbecue place. And indeed it is. The “St. Louis-style” ribs weren’t the tenderest we’ve ever had — maybe that’s how they like them in St. Louis — but they were tasty and abundant. The $9 order was plenty for us. Only a very large eater could have handled the $13.50 version. But Piggy Sue’s is so much more than barbecue, and if we’d known in advance the kind of variety it offers, we might have tried something else. There’s plenty to try, because Piggy Sue’s is a throwback to the days before fast-food specialty places, when restaurants offered everything. Piggy Sue’s has aged-beef steaks, as well as “Favorite Plates” of the meat-and-two-sides variety, including, of course, chicken-fried steak with cream gravy (“This may be our regular customers’ favorite item”) and chopped steak with brown gravy and onions. It has pasta and catfish and shrimp and all sorts of sandwiches besides the barbecue, and appetizers like buffalo wings, and desserts like carrot cake and chocolate meringue pie. On Sundays it has chicken and dressing, roast pork or roast beef, and cured ham. It’s a bit of almost-vanished Americana. 521 Highway 425 South, 870-367-8466. LD 7 days $-$$ CC No alcohol.