FILLING BIG SHOES: New owners at Fisher's.
We all know how the passing of time makes the old days look so grand. Those shakes at the ol’ malt shop tasted better, burgers at the fast-food joint were bigger, the ol’ LaSalle ran better than any car we’ve bought in the past decade, that sort of thing.
We figure there might be some longtime fans of “Cuz” Fisher’s musing today about the old days, before Rick and Delana Green bought the place in March: “Why, I remember when an order of onion rings was piled so high, it took Mae and another waitress to carry the plate to the table. And darn near half your pie would be hanging over the edge of the plate. And the beer was served ice cold.”
OK, muse about the beer, because it’s long gone. That’s fine. We’ve left Fisher’s plenty stuffed and in need of a cot without having a beer or two on the belly to put us completely out for the afternoon. When we think of Fisher’s, we won’t ever think about how much we miss the beer.
But when you do long for yesterday, take a look at those menu prices, which made us feel like we’d stepped back in time. This is still an authentic, circa 1960s diner, and we love it. Tarantino could have filmed one of his “Pulp Fiction” segments there.
Rick and D’s Fisher’s Cafe, as it’s now known, has most of the Fisher’s favorites we and thousands others came to love. We tried as hard as we could to detect anything different about those “French fried” onion rings, still piled mountain high, and the best we could say, and we’re probably wrong, is that the cooking oil doesn’t seem to be as greasy. Good thing there.
Pies? They’re made now by Laverne, who is Rick’s mom, and lordy she had some big shoes, and pie crusts, to fill, the way Mrs. Fisher did them. Well, we’ve sampled all the pies and they’re great. Maybe the slices are slightly smaller than before, but they’re ample enough. Again, good thing.
The fresh, small salads are the same, in the same little brown bowls, and the Greens know it would have been a sin to touch the house dressing — the old railroad diner, tomato soup and mayo concoction, or however it’s made. We love that dressing on crackers, in fact.
Old Fisher’s had tasty barbecue, but we don’t remember the hickory smoke wafting around the building quite as much as it was recently when it was pouring from the grill outside in back. Rick does his own barbecuing and, though we do miss the sliced pork sandwich on the old Fisher’s menu, the large chopped pork suffices nicely. The spare ribs, which were a measly $5.95 lunch special with two vegetables one day, were meaty with a nice crusty outside. With a little more rubbing and sitting to flavor the meat more, they could have been perfection.
The hamburger steak plate seemed to have a smaller patty than before, and hence a smaller serving of onions and gravy on top; but again, the portions you get in all the entrees are plenty.
The plate lunch of four vegetables found a fan, particularly the beans that seemed cooked true Southern style with lard.
If there were complaints, it was with the chicken fried steak. It happened to land smack dab in the middle of one of our companion’s pet peeves: The “Chicken Fried Steak” that turns out to be a pre-formed puck of mystery meat. The one at the new Fisher’s was made extra-disappointing by its sheath of skin-like coating that sloughed off the grey flesh inside at every bite. Pretty. Freakin’. Nasty.
With that exception, what the Greens have changed, they’ve changed or added for the better. They ran the old Market Cafe in North Little Rock for a few years, where diners there swore by the tamales, and they’ve brought Laverne’s tamales to Fisher’s. We ordered a dozen plain, and from the looks of our waitress when she said, “You don’t want the chili and cheese?” we realized we had erred. The tamales are fine, not up to Doe’s level, but tasty nonetheless. They have a more orange/brown appearance to the cornmeal covering, and the filling isn’t ground as thinly as Doe’s. We can imagine, though, that they’re taken up a notch with the accompaniments. Trust your waitress at Fisher’s Cafe, in other words.
It appears that Fisher’s regulars have been just fine with the transition from Roy and the missus, who ran it for four decades, to the Greens. We found it teeming at breakfast recently, and our lunch visits called for a circling the diner before we spotted a parking place. We didn’t have to wait to sit, but the bustling serving team — a mixture of the veteran waitresses from Fisher’s with some fresh-faced youngsters, all donning either aqua or maroon T-shirts — get you in and out.
Rick and D’s Fisher’s Cafe
1919 E. Broadway
North Little Rock
Fisher’s is a dependable breakfast spot. The breakfast omelets look and taste terrific, and are loaded with the meat of choice. In our case, the choice was sausage. The biscuits are wonderful. Dining companion’s over-medium eggs were cooked perfectly, and the side of ham was several pieces of grilled meat.
6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Inexpensive to moderate prices. All credit cards accepted. No alcohol.