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Dunderbak’s returns with a twist

By Jennifer Christman

This article was published February 7, 2013 at 3:12 a.m.

pretzel-with-port-wine-cheese-spread-and-a-bratwurst-with-sauerkraut-grilled-onions-and-mustard-at-mr-dunderbaks

Pretzel with port wine cheese spread and a bratwurst with sauerkraut, grilled onions and mustard at Mr. Dunderbak's.

Mr. Dunderbak's

Mr. Dunderbak's in North Little Rock's McCain Mall. (By Jennifer Christman and Eric Harrison)
[View Full-Size]

— Mr. Dunderbak’s is bak!

The former McCain Mall mainstay, specializing in sausages and pretzels (and maybe most importantly beer and wine in an otherwise dry shopping center), has returned, revitalized for a new era.

Perhaps this fills you with teased-bangs-and-power ballads sort of nostalgia. “I haven’t been there since high school!” said one friend about the joint that opened in 1973.

Or maybe it fills you with fear. Said another friend who didn’t mourn its closing in 2000: “Mr. Dunderbak’s used to scare me as a child!”

For me, who maybe visited the old location once toward the end? It just fills my belly.

Dunderbak’s, now occupying a corner of the downstairs food court directly at the end of the escalator, still serves up sausages - the likes of Polish and Italian and smoked brats (all $4.95). But now it also offers vegetarian versions ($4.95-$5.10).

It still functions as a bar, selling individual bottles of wine (Barefoot and Beringer) and beer (everything from Killian’s Red and Corona to Stella Artois and Sam Adams) and also draft beers (like Guinness, Diamond Bear, Spaten Oktoberfest, Schlafly and Bud Light).

It also now functions as a coffee bar with Silvek’s pastries. The still retro and yet retooled Dunderbak’s even offers gluten-free bread (with an additional charge) from Dempsey Bakery.

The drill at Dunderbak’s can be a bit dizzying. Want a sausage? Get into that line. Want a pretzel? Get intothat other line. Want a sandwich (there’s a counter in the back), get into that line. Want all of the above and drinks? You’re going to have to do some line-hopping, paying at one station then retrieving your various items - with staff assistance - from the others (it can be tricky when the snug entrance is crowded with customers, shopping bags and strollers).

Then it’s time to find a seat - at one of the stools out front, at counters that line the side or in the back where chairs, armchairs and booths fill the dim, more spacious Old-World rathskeller-esqueinterior, decorated with hanging baskets and flags.

So much for the new offerings. We sought full meat and full wheat.

During two visits, we tried the salty, satisfying bratwurst (on one occasion, we were given a much longer-than-thelink roll) and a smoky, suitable Polish. We ordered them smothered in sauerkraut, and then added our own mustard and grilled onions - available for self-service on the front counter.

But the Dunderbak’s delicacy we most looked forward to sampling was the pretzel ($1.15-$2.25), primarily the legendary Deluxe Pretzel, spackled with spreadable cheese (choice of a champagne, port wine, garlic, cheddar), then stacked withsodium in the form of corned beef and diced dill pickle.

It might sound weird - and look that way, especially if you elect the not-found-innature, nuclear-colored, rich port wine spread - but it’s a guilty-favorite kind of wonderful. Those seeking something simpler can always pick a “plain” pretzel that we’d be more likely to call “perfect,” in texture, color, salt and toasty temperature.

Surprises await at the sandwich counter. In addition to requisite sandwiches like Reubens ($5.85), Dunderbak’s serves a bagel with lox ($6.25); Middle Eastern fare like hummus, gyros and falafel ($4.25-$6.50); a “vegetarian” meatball hoagie ($7.50); and a “vegan” turkey sandwich ($5.50).

One can also go the “Your Creation” route ($6.50), choosing meat, cheese and bread from a menu. That’s what my dining companion did, selecting a piled-high corned beef and Swiss (wait, isn’t that a Reuben? Not quite - he chose ciabatta bread instead of rye). Sandwiches come with chips and a pickle spear. German potato salad ($2.65) is available as a side.

Also available at the sandwich counter: a meat and cheese plate ($11.95), which includes a half-pound of meat (ham, turkey or German salami) and a quarter-pound of cheese (cheddar, provolone, Swiss or pepper).

Oh, and it comes with crackers. Regular or glutenfree ($1 charge), of course.

Mr. Dunderbak’s

Address: McCain Mall,

3929 McCain Blvd., North

Little Rock

Hours: (Mall hours) 10 a.m.-

9 p.m. Monday-Saturday,

12:30-6 p.m. Sunday

Cuisine: Sausages, pret

zels, sandwiches

Credit cards: AE, D, V, MC

(minimum purchase of

$5)

Alcoholic beverages: Beer,

wine

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Carryout: Yes

(501) 753-4109

sites.google.com/site/

mrdunderbaksofarkan

sasinc/

Weekend, Pages 31 on 02/07/2013

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