In truth, there’s really not enough good French options in Little Rock. I’m not really sure why that is…perhaps it’s not the sort of thing the Little Rock dining public demands. But luckily, we’ve got a solid option opening to the public today.
La Madeleine is a franchise based out of Dallas, TX and they’ve been spreading their wings slowly across the country. I was first introduced to the restaurant while living in Dallas, and ate there periodically during my time there. Generally, the place does some very good business. It’s usually most crowded for breakfast, especially on weekends, where it serves huge numbers of people fairly informal fare, in a casual but classy atmosphere. It’s French food that’s affordable and familiar to American tastes, which is probably part of the reason it’s been so successful. I expect it will be every bit as successful in Little Rock as it has been in other states.
Little Rock’s first La Madeleine location is, not surprisingly, in West Little Rock near the Chick-Fil-A and Home Depot off Markham and Chenal. I’m not sure they could have found a better location…it’s prime real estate for families looking for a decent fast-casual meal without a lot of fuss. There’s plans to open at least 4 more locations across central Arkansas, though the locations of those restaurants have not been released at this time.
The Chi family have really done a wonderful job with the construction and design of this particular restaurant. Even from the outside, it’s an impressive looking building…a towering all stone structure. It’s attractive to say the least. There’re really no need to worry about parking, either, as some have expressed previously might be a problem. There’s several spaces directly surrounding the restaurant, but there’s also a very large lot next door behind the adjacent liquor store. We got a peek inside, too, and they’ve done well there too. It’s fairly standard décor when compared to other La Madeleine’s I’ve seen in the past. It channels the French countryside with numerous signs written in French, photos of France and French chefs, dark hardwoods, high vaulted ceilings, and a cozy fire place. A large covered patio allows guests to enjoy their food outdoors, too.
Diners order at the counter as they enter, then the food is delivered to their table when it’s ready. There’s an area for take-out, and a large bakery case filled with cakes, breads, cookies, and tarts. There’s also a small shelf of grocery items available for purchase.
I imagine there will be quite a crowd swarming this place over the next few months. But it’s worth getting in there when you feel ready for it. Stop by and give La Madeleine a warm “bonjour.”
La Madeleine is located at 12210 W. Markham St., Little Rock. Hours are 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Phone: (501) 221-7777.
(All photos by Austin Mabry)