North Little Rock welcomed two new restaurants in its riverfront area in the past week. Valentine’s, the restaurant in the Arkansas Travelers’ new Dickey-Stephens Park, and the Salty Parrot.
Valentine’s will be open year-round, Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. until close. Reservations are requested, and no reservations are taken for later than 8 p.m. The restaurant is also open on Mondays beginning at 5 p.m. when the team has a home game.
Scott McGehee, who owns Boulevard Bread Co., devised the Italian-style menu with Travs executive vice president Bill Valentine. Jason Neidhart, who has worked with McGehee at Boulevard, is the executive chef. Patio dining will be offered in May. The restaurant seats 62 plus the bar. Valet parking is available. Call 324-2255 for reservations.
The Salty Parrot on Riverfront Drive near the Arkansas Queen, is a Gulf Coast- Caribbean-style bar and grill. Open seasonally from April until October, the restaurant serves shrimp creole and Caribbean seafood casserole, a variety of salads and a soup of the day, burgers and sandwiches. The specialty drinks include margaritas and coastal breezy drinks. Domestic and import beers and wines by the glass and bottle also are available.
When the Arkansas weather turns a little more oppressive than you’d find around the water, the Salty Parrot will use a micro-drop fan system in the building to cool the surroundings about 20 degrees below the outside temp, so the windows can stay open.
The telephone is 372-5777. Hours are 11 a.m. to close (last customers leaving) Tuesday through Saturday. Live entertainment is provided nightly.
UPDATE: HOT SPRINGS BRAU HAUS Little Rock may be a German food wasteland, but not Hot Springs. This fun, subterranean grotto in Spencer’s Corner has a variety of classic German dishes and a fantastic selection of German and other European beers on tap and in the bottle. The goulash was a great starter — a rich broth covering chunks of tender beef. The beef in our sauerbraten, on the other hand, was dry and tough, and overall the dish was just a bit too vinegary. We much preferred our friend’s frikadellen, a very tender meatloaf that was well herbed and served with a mushroom gravy that was flavorful. Another advantage was that the dish came with a generous portion of classic German potato salad — which was just vinegary enough — vs. the boring egg noodles that accompanied the sauerbraten. 801 Central Ave., Spencer’s Corner, Hot Springs. Full bar CC $$ 501-624-7866 D Tues-Sun
UPDATE: RHODA’S FAMOUS HOT TAMALES The name doesn’t say it at all at this little jumble of modular buildings hard by the railroad tracks just a short distance east of U.S. Highway 65 from the first stoplight on the north side of town. James and Rhoda Adams have been making Delta-style tamales for better than 30 years here. They are moist, meaty and spicy. You won’t be disappointed by about a half-dozen topped with chunky home-made chili (a bit greasy, just the way we like it). But you might want more. They’re addictive. The Adamses (their daughter is part of the family operation, too) will drop some American cheese on top unless you tell them not to. We prefer them cheese-less. You won’t see it on the hand-lettered menu board, but they have sweet, soupy, finely chopped cole slaw in the refrigerator, a good cold counterpoint to the tamales. Rhoda isn’t only about tamales. Huge burgers, the meat formed and grilled before your eyes, seem popular with the local folks. We arrived late for lunch and most of the vegetables on the soul food dinner — greens, sweet potatoes, beans, macaroni and cheese — had been wiped out, along with the smothered pork chops and corn bread. Rhoda also seems to have a hard time keeping her homemade pies — custard, meringue, chocolate and pecan are among the choices — and cupcakes in stock. We saw a customer leave without a pecan pie he’d dreamed of for failure to call ahead. He didn’t look happy. Caution: Some may be put off by the modest appearance of the place. You couldn’t be safer or find friendlier folks. Drop a contribution in the jar for the building fund of the church the family attends. 714 St. Mary St., Lake Village. 870-265-3108 $ Cash only. No alcohol.