Around the Rock: Natchez and Waffle Wagon Bring It

Welcome to “Around the Rock,” a weekly peek into my culinary adventures and a means to keep you in the loop with all the happenings in our Little Rock food scene.
Big Orange Midtown flat out knows how to make an amazing ground turkey burger. I had mine with barbeque sauce, fried onions, bacon, and a sliced pickle. But what makes it stand out? Every single component was spot-on–from the freshly ground turkey meat, to the pile of crispy bacon, to sweet sauce. If you’re looking for a relatively healthy burger option, go with the turkey at Big Orange. You will not be disappointed.
Speaking of disappointed, my beloved Franke’s (Rodney Parham location) let me down on Thursday night. The fail-safe dishes of fried chicken tenders and eggplant casserole proved to be …a failure. Unfortunately, I got the last few chicken strips in the bin. The chewy, somewhat dried out meat was made even worse by the overall greasiness of the strip. The casserole needed a ton of salt to bring it up to code, and even then, lacked in flavor. I ain’t giving up on you, Franke’s. But I need a good showing the next time around.
Have you ever been to Mickey’s Special Affairs in WLR (on Huron Lane)? It has to be Little Rock’s best kept secret for cupcakes. Although, judging by the steady stream of customers, most of you all already know about the place. Mickey’s combines quality, taste, and value like no one else in town. I think each cupcake runs about $1.50-$1.75, and they are iced-to-order. Mickey’s carries just about every flavor imaginable, but my favorite is the strawberry cupcake with strawberry cream cheese icing.
When Greg Henderson gives you a pile of just-picked figs, there’s only one thing left to do … head to Hillcrest Artisan Meats. While there, I purchased 20 slices of prosciutto, a small packet of goat cheese, and a pint of lentil salad. Nothing, I mean nothing, pairs better with figs than the above ingredients, with a drizzle of honey. As for the lentils, they’re a separate issue, but I polished them off as well. Amazing lentils.
Props this week go out to Natchez and the Waffle Wagon. These two eateries couldn’t be more different, but there is one attribute they both do share: damn good food. That’s the wonderful thing about food, whether you’re at a fine-dining establish like Natchez, or in front of a cool food truck like Waffle Wagon, it’s all about execution. And both of these places are doing it right.
Can you believe it? I made my first visit to Silvek’s, the independent bakery in the Height’s Kroger. It was something I’d been meaning to do for quite some time, but getting over there can be a struggle for yours truly. I ordered two hunks of apple crumb cake ($5.95 each) and certainly felt like I got my money’s worse. The cake is extremely rich and sweet; good luck if you can eat more than a few bites at a time.
Finally, many of you know Alice Stewart from 96.5’s “The Alice Stewart Show.” Alice has allowed me to talk food on her show several times over the past few months, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity. Alice is a class act and she also happens to be the captain of a bipartisan Race for the Cure team: Red, Webb, and Blue. The race is October 19th, and if you’re interested in joining the team and/or making a donation, please click here.

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