What’s cooking
The sign on the door at the former Erba location on Chenal Parkway in west Little Rock says that a La Hacienda Mexican restaurant will be coming soon. La Hacienda was said to be looking at Highway 10 as well. Erba closed about a month ago.
A Flying Burrito, which has a location in Fayetteville, will be opening in the River Market district next to Willy D’s piano bar.
Capsule reviews
BUTCHER SHOP This venerable spot — in this location so long that most probably forget the Asher Avenue, everybody-cooks-their-own days — falls somewhere in the not-too-cluttered middle ground of area steak houses. On the lower end there’s Western Sizzlin; at the upper there’s Sonny Williams. Lower middle? Colton’s. Upper middle? Riverfront Steakhouse. The Butcher Shop sits right on the dividing line between them, and here’s what that gets you: 1) really fine cuts of meat; thick, tender filets; massive hunks of New York strip, juicy, obscenely large pieces of prime rib; in short, the kind of meat you can’t find at the local grocery; 2) decent prices for those steaks, a sizable notch below prices at the high-falutin’ steak joints; 3) medium-grade, at best, bread and salads; the former, too soft; the latter, too plain, with unexceptional dressings, though the Caesar was decent; 4) not a ton of ambience; it’s comfortable but not fancy; and the larger non-smoking room is a definite step up from the smoking area, which looks and feels a bit like the room where a Kiwanis Club might have its weekly lunches, maybe at a Shoney’s; 5) not exactly high-brow clientele or dress code; as many blue collars as white, as many shorts as suits; and that’s no biggie. We don’t often go to steak houses, preferring to frequent restaurants that prepare dishes we either don’t know how to fix or are unwilling to take the time and energy to fix. We can make a decent steak. But not like these. So when we do go out for steak we go for the meat — really good meat. That’s what the Butcher Shop’s got, and that’s why it’s still around after all these years. 10825 Hermitage Road. Full bar. CC $$$ 312-2748 D daily.
LAST CHANCE LAKESIDE RESORT Though it’s easiest to get here if you’re a Hot Springs Village property owner or a POA guest, you can ask the HSV gate attendant for permission to go to the restaurant and you’ll be given a visitor’s pass. Then, once you’re in the Village, get over quickly to this fine little steakhouse and burger joint next to Lake Balboa, with a deck and boat dock that tend to be in demand when the weather cools a little. The Last Chance offers the choice of buffalo meat as well as cow, and the buffalo is a little leaner, but the cow is just right, in our opinion. Rib-eyes are thick and juicy, potatoes come loaded up if you want, and there is a fair selection of wines, plus beer on tap and other beverages available from the bar. The thick blue-cheese burger is also one of our favorites. Fried shrimp and the like are also available for seafood lovers. Try to save room for dessert, as Melody Edmonds, one of the employees, makes the best pies around –- especially coconut cream. The place has an interesting cowboy movie motif throughout, and in other ways it might remind some of Little Rock’s Faded Rose, though without the Cajun specialties. It’s worth a stop. 488 Ponce de Leon. Full bar. $$ 501-922-4870. LD daily.