What’s cooking
Ed David says that his Bubba & Garcia’s New Mexico-style restaurant will now open Oct. 1 in the Riverdale space that once was a Faded Rose, before David built a larger Faded Rose next door. He had planned for a much earlier opening of Bubba & Garcia’s, but the old Rose needed a reworking, and a change in construction crews led to more delays.
Word is that the Cornerstone Deli and Pub will be resurfacing next door to its old location in mid-October on Main Street in North Little Rock. Chris and Mike Kent split with a third partner, who had the lease on the old space, so the Kents decided to reopen the Cornerstone at their “Hive,” which has been an art space and recording studio. Meanwhile, it appears the old space at 312 Main St. will also reopen as a restaurant called Reno’s.
Capsule reviews
AISHA’S FISH CHICKEN AND BARBECUE Aisha, the cute girl for whom this soulful quick-food restaurant is named, is 13 now, but you can watch her grow in photographs on the wall of a place originally built for a fast-food franchise across from UALR. The food isn’t particularly fast now, but it’s made lovingly, from fresh fried catfish fillets to heavenly smelling barbecue smothered in a selection of homemade sauces, the hottest of which packs a cumulative wallop. A regular rib-tip plate for $7 would stun a heffalunk, as a friend once put it. We can’t imagine how many you could feed with the “large” plate. It’s a lip-smacking, messy pile of crusty rib ends, with all the good fat, soft tendons and rich goodness you expect from that part of the pork –- fall-apart tender. Cole slaw was so-so. The crispy fried okra was fine, as were the big catfish fillets, which, thank goodness, lacked the bottom-of-the-pond funk you sometimes encounter in these parts. Sandwiches and fried chicken (including wings in the good sauces) are among other choices in a simple place where the smell of the fryer is ever present. The pecan pie is made in house. 2900 S. University Ave. No alcohol. CC $ 562-4555 LD Mon.-Sat.
FADED ROSE In these listings you often hear the newest about the “original” Rose at the expense of Ed David’s second location out west in Bowman Curve. The westward Rose doesn’t seem to have the bustle you encounter on weekend nights in Riverdale; at least that was our experience recently, but don’t take this as complaining. It was surprisingly “romantic” Rose for Companion’s and this reviewer’s night out, as the crowd had long left (it was still only 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday) with just what appeared to be a few regulars watching a pro football game at the bar and another couple occupying a second table. When we asked if the overhead fans could be shut off, we were obliged immediately, and the rest of the service was top-notch, too. As for food, sure it’s the same great steaks and such that you find in Riverdale. Companion, who eats at all the top steak-serving restaurants in Little Rock on a fairly regular basis, swears by the Rose filet as the best piece of meat for the money. The price has crept upward, we noticed (as have the prices on about everything else, of course, like gas), but at $19.95, plus a $1 add-on for blackening –- Companion says you MUST get it blackened, and served medium, which still allows for a nice pink hue and no loss of flavor –- it’s still relatively a steal. We even got gumbo as an opener with the steak, and the Rose’s gumbo hearkens to some joints we frequented back in the day in New Orleans with a not-too-thick broth, seafood and okra. When Companion asked if the olives could be removed from what is basically a Decatur Street salad (soaked in oil and olives, in other words), again she was obliged with an “of course.” We’ve never quite experienced such a laid-back Rose visit before, and it was refreshing and fun for this couple. They have good deals on wines by the glass; our personal favorite is the Greg Norman cab-merlot blend to complement the filet. There are plenty of other rich and tasty Creole-style entrees if you’re missing New Orleans right now. Bowman Curve, 224-3377. Full bar. CC $$-$$$ 663-9734 LD daily.