Seeking a Delicious Lunch? Try Walking Through the Red Door (Business Lunch Review)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 12:00 am  

Red Door
3701 Old Cantrell Road
Little Rock
(501) 666-8482

Cuisine: Eclectic Southern
Dress Code: None
Noise Level: Low
Price Range: $5-$16
Seating: 99
Credit Cards: All major
Reservations: For parties of seven or more
Rating: 3.5 waiters
2010 Revenue: $678,096

A few months back, your trusty Arkansas Business lunch team tried out Loca Luna, the Riverdale eatery that's earned numerous plaudits over the years. While the cheese dip and the desserts were very good, the team was underwhelmed by so-so entrées and left wondering what all the fuss was about. A handful of previous visits had left us with the same impression.

But regardless of our ambivalence, we decided to see if the Red Door, located next to Loca Luna and also owned by Mark Abernathy, would deliver. It did. Actually, Red Door's fare was so much better than our Loca Luna lunch that it seems odd that the two restaurants are owned by the same person.

The service was excellent. We were seated quickly, with the appetizer out in about five minutes and the entrées out about 10 minutes later.

First up was a bowl of cream of roasted poblano and sweet corn soup ($4). It was great: creamy, with a wonderful slow-build heat from the poblano, sweet high notes from the corn and a crunchy sprinkling of bacon.

Chicken-fried prime rib ($10) was just about perfect: crisp batter, tender prime rib and delicious gravy. The side dishes were also fantastic. Green beans were bright and still had some life to them, and the macaroni and cheese was unbelievable. The only possible quibble was that the portion could have been larger. That's hardly a deal breaker, though.

The Julia Child Style Roast Chicken with apricot honey glaze ($8 for a 1/4 bird) was superb, though if you're really hungry, go for the 1/2 bird at $12. Again, the sides were very good: mashed potatoes were creamy and peppery and sautéed vegetables were tasty and cooked just right.

The Serious Fish Sandwich ($9) was seriously good, mild but flavorful fried cod on a buttery, perfect hoagie. Likewise, the fish taco ($9) was a hit, and one taco proved to be plenty. Both dishes were served with a pile of crisp, mouth-watering shoestring fries.

Blackberry cobbler with ice cream ($8) was massive, enough for two or three people to enjoy. It was also tasty and a nice cap on a very good meal.

There are some intriguingly titled items that we'll be sure to try on our next visit. For example, the Red Door Outrage might sound like the name of a 19th century peasant massacre that sparked a revolution in some oppressive ruler's far-off fiefdom, but actually, it's a sandwich. Judging from the menu's description (grilled Angus tenderloin medallions, apple wood bacon, fries, jalapeno jack cheese, a fried egg and fixings), it would seem to be outrageous and delicious in equal measure. We'll be sure to go back and find out.



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