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Atlanta to NW Arkansas (report)

Milt | Sep 1, 200311:48 PM

We returned this evening from our 1700 mile trip to Gravette, Arkansas. In chronological sequence are our dining experiences. Thank you Chowhounds, for making a wonderful trip for us.

Lunch Friday was at River Front Market and Restaurant, Biscoe, Arkansas. We ate on the Cache River in a building built on a pier, giving us a wonderful view. We both chose catfish fillet dinner, which arrived about twenty minutes later, piping hot - along with fantastic slaw, fries and hushpuppies. The dinners were $6.95 each, and ice tea for $.70 with all the refills you cared to serve yourself. Almost more than we could eat. Certainly more than we should have eaten, but we ate every bite except the large slice of onion.

Dinner Friday evening with my cousin and her husband at her favorite place, Catfish John's, in Rogers, Arkansas. Since it was also a Chowhound recommendation, we graciously went along,not mentioning what we had for lunch. My cousin's new daughter-in-law had never cared for catfish until this evening. She proclaimed her fried shrimp to be excellent, and vowed to order catfish the next time. We felt every item was very good, but not quite as good as River Front in Biscoe. The chicken was the least impressive of their three offerings. The slaw and fries were decent, but nothing to rave about.

Breakfast Saturday and Sunday mornings are only being mentioned because I was so impressed by what we had. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Rogers, Arkansas and they offered a continental breakfast which included (if I can remember everything), coffee (regular & decaf) with 4 International Creamers or Half & Half, hot chocolate, hot tea, fresh cantaloupe, grapefruit, watermelon, whole apples and bananas, three juices, 2% and skim milk, granola and another dry cereal, oatmeal, bagels, english muffins, pastries, donuts, white, whole wheat, and raisin bread, french toast, hard boiled eggs, a large array of Dannon and Yoplait yogurt, biscuits and gravy, sausage biscuits, cream cheese, honey, preserves, jelly, peanut butter, cinnamon, and canned peaches - at least. I may have forgotten something.

Saturday noon was at the Hutchinson reunion in Gravette, so no further report.

Saturday evening at Doe's Eat Place in Bentonville, Arkansas. I continued our reunion visiting by taking a party of 15 to this expensive steak house. The steaks, broiled shrimp, salads, tamales, and gumbo were all rated very good to excellent by each diner. My only complaint was the form of the ticket. I was presented with a small yellow note pad sheet which listed only a dollar amount, sales tax, gratuity and total. No detail was provided for a sale well into three figures. I am confident it was reasonably accurate, perhaps totally acurate, but a lising of the various items and their respective prices seems the only professional thing to do.

Sunday lunch was at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars's restaurant in Altus, Arkansas. I had beef stroganoff, my wife had a dish with a German name which I can't remember. It was chicken rolled in breadcrumbs and herbs. We also had green beans, she had potatoes, and we had an excellent salad. This was our second trip to Wiederkehr's. We discovered it a number of years ago (pre-Chowhound), and it is still an excellent place to eat.

Sunday evening was to be at Rendezvous in Memphis, but we learned that they are closed on Sunday and Monday. We then chose Blues City Cafe on 2nd and Beale St. In the middle of the Labor Day Blues Festival, they were packed. We finally got in and I ordered a full rack of ribs for $19.95, while my wife ordered Southern Soul Stew, otherwise known as beef stew. The weakest ice tea I have been served in years was promptly brought to our table. Dinner was not very many minutes behind the tea. The stew was decent, the ribs were quite good, the slaw was decent, the fries were generally overdone, the onion rings were decent, the toast was good.

Lunch today was to be at Niki's West on Finley Blvd, but they were closed for Labor Day. A couple of blocks away on Finley was Costa's Famous Bar-B-Que, and it already had several cars in the lot at 11 am. Costa's was voted Best in Birmingham by the local paper in 1985. My wife's chopped pork sandwich, and my chopped beef sandwich were both quite good. The slaw was fresh and crisp, but fairly bland. The fries were decent. The ice tea was large and decent.

Thank you to everyone who provided input. Our query, and the general reports which we searched for and found made for a wonderful trip. We took a large stack of printouts with us,, because we didn't know exactly where we would be at meal time. Thanks to you Chowhounds, we had one to a dozen excellent choices for each meal exactly where and when we wanted to eat.

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