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What's cooking/Capsule reviews, Oct. 12



What's cooking

Michael Selig, the chef and owner of Vermillion Water Grille at Third and Commerce streets, will be the guest chef for the October River Market Cooking Club class. Selig will prepare items from his menu, answer questions and let the participants try the food on Saturday, Oct. 21, in the River Market’s third-floor meeting room. The class runs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Cost of the class is $10. Call 375-2552 to register.

Capsule reviews

UPDATE: SADDLE CREEK WOODFIRED GRILL Looking for a mountain getaway in the middle of the afternoon — or evening, for that matter? Then head over to North Little Rock and visit Saddle Creek. This place will make you forget that you are dining in the parking lot of a strip mall — it is located in the space formerly home to the Lakewood Mexico Chiquito. The atmosphere is warm and cozy, with its exposed stone and wood interior, large fireplaces and high ceilings. The menu is full of appetizers and sides, enough that one could make a meal out of those alone. We tried the calamari, which was tasty, though thinner and crispier than most. There are plenty of entrees to satisfy any appetite — burgers and sandwiches, chicken, pasta, wood-fired pizzas, salads and even ribs. But you can’t go wrong with the filet — ours was flavorful and cooked to perfection — while the rib-eye was served more raw than the medium rare was asked for, and the only real flavor came from the herb-roasted mushrooms (which can be added to any entree for $2.95). Our friendly waitress was kind enough to remedy the mix-up on the steak’s temperature, while companion and I munched on one steak — which consequently was enough to feed us both. Another note here on the filet — it is served with a loaded baked potato, but if you are a fan of the garlic mashed variety, we highly recommend a substitution. Friendly waitress even gave us a couple of extra helpings when she boxed up the uneaten portion of our rib-eye. (We thank you for that, friendly waitress!) If there is a wait when you arrive at Saddle Creek, no need to worry. Just pull up a seat at the end of the bar and sample a martini from the extensive martini menu while you enjoy watching the pizzas, and other kitchen creations, being prepared and baked in the wood-fired oven. 2703 Lakewood Village, NLR. Full bar and wine list. CC $$ 812-0883 LD daily.

NEW: PASTA JACK’S We visited the Maumelle Boulevard storefront version of this little chain with outlets in Benton and Bryant and were reasonably satisfied with the $6 lunch special — salad, a slice of garlic toast and a choice of pasta dishes. It’s essentially Fazoli’s with a dressier dining room (but, hey guys, get a piece of artwork or three) and a beer and wine permit. Portions are generous. The marinara sauce on our lasagna (leaner on cheese and meat than some versions in the grocery store freezer) was tart, but benefited enormously from a shake of red pepper flakes. The salad was crisp, mostly romaine with a garlicky vinaigrette. You place your order at the register and a server runs it out — quickly. Chicken, shrimp, sausage and vegetables or a couple of different standard sauces can be added in various ways to spaghetti, ravioli, tortellini and manicotti. Dinners, with bigger portions, run up to $10.75 for scampi alfredo. Salad is extra. Starters include stuffed mushrooms. Ease it down with some vino — Yellowtail chardonnay is $16 a bottle; Principato red is $23 a magnum. Kids’ meals (and what kid doesn’t like spaghetti) cost $4.25. 9811 Maumelle Blvd. Beer and wine. CC $ 753-6860 LD, except L only Sunday.

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