What’s cooking
It’s all wings all the time at Wingstop at 11321 W. Markham St., and now the franchise that specializes in hot or mild Cajun, lemon, Hawaiian and teriyaki chicken parts takes flight to North Little Rock on April 18 to open a second nest at the Lakewood Village Shopping Center. Paul Leonard’s second franchise of the Dallas-based bird banquet hall will be twice as large — 2,000 square feet — as his Markham Street coop across from Academy Sports. Side orders include seasoned fries fresh-cut daily, potato salad, bourbon-baked beans, hot cheddar cheese sauce, cole slaw and salad, and there’s beer and wine to wash the wings down with. In Little Rock, Wingstop’s phone number is 224-9464.
Capsule reviews
STARLITE DINER Our two favorite breakfast foods in all the world are blueberry pancakes and pecan pancakes, so imagine our joy when we discovered on a recent visit to the Starlite Diner (our first) that its menu includes not only blueberry pancakes and pecan pancakes, but blueberry-and-pecan pancakes. The Starlite actually manages to pack quite a bit into its menu — all of it cheap, and available in whatever combination and quantity suits your appetite. (How many places have you been to where they let you order one pancake?) Our pancakes and scrambled egg were more than serviceable, especially considering the price. Our companion went the more traditional heart-attack-on-a-plate route, and finished off every bite of his bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and biscuits and gravy. The two waitresses in the small non-smoking room tag-teamed to keep the coffee coming — no minor virtue, in our opinion. Plus, there’s the ambiance: The diner, at the corner of MacArthur and Military drives, looks like a giant, super-shiny 1950s camper trailer, and the inside is similarly throw-back, with lots of turquoise and pink. It’s a great place for a weekend breakfast or a late-night snack — they serve breakfast all day long. 250 E. Military Road, North Little Rock, 753-1433. BLD 7 days (open until midnight Fridays and Saturdays) $ CC No alcohol.
DRAGON PALACE This all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet is hard to find but worth the hunt. It’s tucked in the corner of the small Bowman Station shopping center across from Sam’s in West Little Rock. The buffet is hot and plentiful. At dinner and Sunday lunch, sushi, crab legs and more fish specialties are added. One in our group tried the Mongolian grill. And after a taste, everyone in our party had to go try it, too. Basically you get a plate and create your own meal from a large selection of raw vegetables, some noodles or rice, and add chicken, beef or pork, or, on some nights, squid. An attendant will grill your choices with oils of your choosing for a wonderful, hot entree. (We may skip the buffet altogether from now on.) The grill reminded some of our group of Benihana, but without the knife tricks. 801 S. Bowman Road, Suite 5, 225-0095. LD 7 days. $-$$ CC Beer and wine.
LA MAISON DES TARTES Serving fancy French pastries and entrees in what once was an industrial building may sound a little outré, but there’s hardly anything more “in” than Vince Pianalto’s La Maison. His gourmet pastries are for real — but don’t take our word for it. Head there for lunch on a Saturday and order a goat cheese and pine nut tart, or if you have a sweet tooth, the apple pecan. We indulged recently and got the apple early at the Farmer’s Market, where La Maison sets up shop on Saturday morning, and then checked out the pine nut combination at lunch at the Maison. A cassoulet of white beans and duck sausage and a poached albacore sandwich came to our table too, and despite the stark-ish surrounds of the salle a manger (a huge flower arrangement relieved the gloom), we couldn’t have felt more French if we’d been in la belle you-know-what ourselves. And the pommes frites! Long as la plume de ma tante, skinny and perfectly fried. Excellent baby greens, of course. We could have had lapin instead of canard — Maison offers bun rabbit cooked a number of ways. We opted for a custard and semisweet chocolate concoction instead, half of which was plenty for four. For food this good, the prices are right on the money ($9 for a Croque Madame that would have fed three; $11 for the cassoulet; $8.50 for tart and salad; $1.59 for coffee). 841 S. School St., Fayetteville 479-521-1004. 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Tue.-Sat. $$ CC Wine and beer.