Around the Rock: Food and Service Shine at Natchez

My weekly views…
We dined at Natchez this past Saturday night and found both the food and service to be outstanding. Bites of the Moroccan spiced lamb shoulder, red snapper and braised short rib were all met with favorable results, but it was my rabbit fettuccine that really stole the show. Handmade fettuccine tossed in a cream sauce with braised rabbit and meticulously diced vegetables, proved to be a hearty and satisfying dish. A huge portion prohibited me from polishing off the plate, but made for fantastic leftovers the following day. Also, if it’s available, don’t hesitate to order the light and refreshing spiked cucumber lemonade. As a side note, chef Alexis Jones’ talents continue to be overshadowed by what feels like a drab atmosphere and décor. Make no mistake, these things play a key role in the overall dining experience, and sadly, continue to be an issue at Natchez. That’s a shame, because with its high quality of food and service, this restaurant should be packed on a Saturday night. And it was not.
Speaking of atmosphere, the Afterthought Bistro could use a shot of adrenaline during its lunch service. My wife and I walked through the door at 11:45 a.m. and it was almost 11:50 before we were greeted by a host. Yes, almost five minutes. Only two other diners were in Afterthought at the time, which can’t bode well for business. All that said, the food was excellent. My wife’s house-made potato chips were thin, crisp and not at all greasy, and my seared Ahi tuna salad was cooked to perfection.
My goodness … Franke’s Cafeteria does a mean turkey and dressing on Wednesdays. It damn near felt like Thanksgiving in August as I crushed that T&D with a heaping spoonful of cranberry sauce. And, of course, I got the eggplant casserole, which rarely disappoints. The same cannot be said about Franke’s rolls. They should be awesome, right? Wrong! They’re always bland, which makes no sense to me.
And the news…
The 2nd Annual Latino Food and Music Festival takes place on Saturday, September 13th from 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. at the Argenta Market (521 Main Street, NLR). General admission ticket are $15 (in advance), $20 at the door, and kids 12 and under are free. Food and drink vendors will be available. To purchase tickets, click here.
Check out Big Orange Midtown on Tuesday, September 2nd at 5:00 p.m. to try a special Pin of Lazy Magnolia Brewery Oak’d Me and the Dev Ale. The pin will be tapped at 5pm. Apparently, this will not last long, so get here early. Lazy Magnolia Brewery Representative Joshua H. Boggs will be on hand to talk all things Lazy Magnolia.
In the bittersweet news department, the very talented chef Ken Dempsey has accepted the position of Chef de Cuisine at Arkansas Surgical Hospital in Maumelle and will be leaving E’s Bistro (our favorite little hidden gem up in North Little Rock). Congrats to Ken! He’ll be at E’s for another three weeks, so drop in, eat some crab-stuffed grouper, and say hi.

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