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story.lead_photo.caption Chef Andre Poirot's New Orleans-style crab cakes are the basis for the Crab Cake Benedict he's serving for Sunday brunch at 42 bar & table. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison

A couple of special-occasion brunches earlier this year have set the table (so to speak) for a now-weekly 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday brunch at 42 bar and table, on the lower level of the Clinton Presidential Center, 1200 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock. The inauguration (so to speak) took place this past weekend for Father's Day. The menu, which combines Southern staples with chef Andre Poirot's French training and influences, include shareable breakfast appetizers (including beignets by the half-dozen and dozen) and a Crab Cake Benedict (with Poirot's New Orleans-style crab cakes topped with a tangy, lemony Hollandaise), plus build-your-own bloody Mary and bubbly bars, the latter featuring champagne and a selection of juices. Call (501) 537-0042 or visit visit 42barandtable.org for reservations.

Pasta J Italian, an offshoot of the Pasta J Italian at 1314 Green St., Benton — no connection with restaurants of similar names in Bryant or (now closed) in west Little Rock — opened last week, after some delays, in a kiosk most recently occupied by Katmandu MoMo in the River Market Ottenheimer Market Hall, 400 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock. The limited menu focuses primarily on items the Benton restaurant serves as lunch specials — pasta (lasagna, manicotti, spaghetti and meatballs, etc.), salads and four sub sandwiches, plus a kids' menu. Hours are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Saturday. There is not yet a phone number; the one in Benton is (501) 315-6800.

Meanwhile, the River Market folks confirm that Middle Eastern Cuisine, a few kiosks west of Pasta J's, has a new owner: Obaida Abdin, ex-wife of Wael Abdin, who retired in December.

We are assured that the street address for El Mezcal will be the same as the business it replaced, the Afterthought Bistro & Bar, which is 2721 Kavanaugh Blvd. in Little Rock's Hillcrest. Opening day is still up in the air, however. Partner Vicente Hernandez says he has approval from the state Health Department, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division for his liquor license and the city fire marshal but he's been awaiting the installation of tempered glass in the windows and the subsequent final building inspection for a certificate of occupancy. We're still trying to track down hours and a listed phone number.

Taqueria Azteca has opened on Crystal Hill Road near the line between North Little Rock and Maumelle.
 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison
Taqueria Azteca has opened on Crystal Hill Road near the line between North Little Rock and Maumelle. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison

And speaking of Mexican restaurants, Taqueria Azteca Original Mexican Food has opened at 13503 Crystal Hill Road, North Little Rock, off Maumelle Boulevard. It's in the strip center storefront fronting the Walmart that previously housed the most recent version of Smokey Joes BBQ and, prior to that, a short-lived outlet of Dallas-based Dickey's Barbecue Pit. The setup is assembly-line, not unlike that of Chipotle: order a basic item (street tacos, burrito, nachos, tostadas, quesadillas or tortas); choose the "filling" (carne asada, ground beef, shredded chicken, shredded beef, chicharron en salsa, eggs with nopal cactus, eggs with potatoes and chorizo, chile rojo, chile verde, tongue, grilled chicken, pork al pastor, carnitas) and toppings (cilantro, onions and cilantro, hot sauce, mild sauce, tomatillo/green sauce, sour cream). You can also order pork tamales, salads and desserts. It looks like a chain — the employees all wear smart uniforms, for example — but the only other example we've found is a location in Benton — 1526 Arkansas 5 North, to be exact. Hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The listed phone number is (501) 800-1088.

And still speaking of Mexican restaurants, the two branches of La Poblanita Mexican Buffet, 1415 John Barrow Road, Little Rock, and 3400 E. Broadway, North Little Rock, have applied to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division for permits to sell alcoholic beverages on-premise. Also applying for such a permit: the nearing-completion U.S. Pizza, 12 Rahling Circle, Little Rock.

Grand opening has been pushed back another week, to Monday, for the Little Rock branch of the Spa City's Bone's Chophouse in the former Arthur's Prime Steakhouse space at 27 Rahling Circle. The core menu will be the same as the original at 3920 Central Ave. in Hot Springs, with some different appetizers and a few different dinner features. Hours will be 4-10 p.m. daily, with a 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday brunch. The phone number is (501) 821-5800.

A delay in the fire department inspection has postponed the opening of the new Hillcrest Ohia Poke outlet at 623 N. Beechwood St., Little Rock, just south of Kavanaugh Boulevard, originally scheduled for today. Owner Au Tran now anticipates starting soft openings next week. Hours will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. The phone number is (501) 353-2405.

This Rocky's True Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich with marinara sauce was a big seller at Rocky's Pub when it was in the Indian Hills Shopping Center on John F. Kennedy Boulevard in North Little Rock. It's due to reopen soon in the former Jo Jo's BBQ in Sherwood. Democrat-Gazette file photo
This Rocky's True Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich with marinara sauce was a big seller at Rocky's Pub when it was in the Indian Hills Shopping Center on John F. Kennedy Boulevard in North Little Rock. It's due to reopen soon in the former Jo Jo's BBQ in Sherwood. Democrat-Gazette file photo

Look sometime in the next two to three weeks for the resurrection of Rocky's Pub in the former Jo Jo's Bar-B-Q, 117 Country Club Road, Sherwood. The original steak sandwich shop/Italian restaurant/bar in the Indian Hills Shopping Center on John F. Kennedy Boulevard, just on the North Little Rock side of the border with Sherwood, closed in January 2014. Joel Dunlap and partner Megan Duncan, of the family (former Philadelphians Kristine and Patrick Dunlap) that had previously operated Rocky's, first brought back the Philly steak part of the business as Rocky's Togo (that's pronounced "to-go," not like the country in Africa), making and selling cheesesteaks and Philly chicken sandwiches out of a west Little Rock commercial kitchen. Operating hours will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number, (501) 732-7400, which we're told is being installed this week, was not yet operating by deadline. The Facebook page is facebook.com/Rockys-Pub-131500486916235.

Arkansas' only Burger 21 outlet, on Chenal Parkway in Little Rock, has closed. Democrat-Gazette file photo
Arkansas' only Burger 21 outlet, on Chenal Parkway in Little Rock, has closed. Democrat-Gazette file photo

Google says the Burger 21 outlet at 12319 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, is "permanently closed." And it is no longer listed among the chain's locations at the website, burger21.com/locations. The phone number, (501) 916-2520, hadn't yet been disconnected by deadline but leads only to a phone tree and messages left on the voicemail were not returned by deadline.

And Springdale-based Black Apple, Arkansas' only cidery, is expanding its distribution to more than 30 restaurants and bars in Little Rock and North Little Rock beginning July 1 with a week of events to introduce its flagship Hibiscus Cider, year-round Semi-sweet Cider and two seasonal summer ciders — Grapefruit and Pineapple. The schedule:

• 7-10 p.m. July 1, Vino's Brewpub, West Seventh and Chester streets, Little Rock, tap takeover, with Black Apple goblets available while supplies last.

• 4-9 p.m. July 2, Lost Forty Brewing, 501 Byrd St., Little Rock, with special food pairings and a goblet giveaway. Black Apple and Lost Forty will also make a special announcement about future collaboration.

• 4-9 p.m. July 3, Petit & Keet, 1620 Market St., Little Rock, tap takeover and small-plate pairing.

• 5:30 p.m. July 4, Dickey-Stephens Park, 400 Broadway, North Little Rock, followed by Arkansas Travelers baseball and a fireworks display.

• 9 p.m. July 4 (after the Travs game), Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack, 107 River Market Ave., Little Rock.

• 7-10 p.m. July 5, Flying Saucer, 323 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, cider flights, tap takeover and goblet giveaway.

• 7 p.m.-2 a.m. July 5, Bar Louie, McCain Mall, McCain Boulevard and U.S. 67-167, North Little Rock.

• 1-5 p.m. July 6, Whole Foods, 501 S., Bowman Road, Little Rock. The store will give away Black Apple swag; four ciders will be on tap, with a special food pairing.

• 3-6 p.m. July 6, Lucky Lou's, 425 E. Third St., Little Rock. Free gourmet dog treats — bring your pups.

• 10 p.m.-midnight July 6, Midtown Billiards, 1316 Main St., Little Rock, Hibiscus cider and Black Apple goblets.

• 10 a.m.-2 p.m. July 7, Loca Luna, 3519 Old Cantrell Road, Little Rock, brunch featuring Hibiscus cider and "Cidermosas."

As is the chain's tradition, Wayback Burgers outlets, including the one in Little Rock — 16900 Chenal Parkway — are marking the first day of summer, 10 a.m.-close on Friday, June 21, by giving away free 12-ounce Black and White Milkshakes, no purchase necessary, while supplies last. The shakes, as the chain is careful to point out, are "crafted with Blue Bunny vanilla ice cream, Hershey's chocolate syrup, Monin French vanilla syrup and milk. Visit WaybackBurgers.com.

And Wine Enthusiast magazine has listed Little Rock's Petit & Keet, where Susie Long, Arkansas' only female level-2 wine sommelier, presides over the restaurant's wine bar, as one of "America's 100 Best Wine Restaurants" in its July 2 issue. The list is currently available online: winemag.com/100-best-restaurants-2019.

Has a restaurant opened — or closed — near you in the last week or so? Does your favorite eatery have a new menu? Is there a new chef in charge? Drop us a line. Call (501) 399-3667 or send a note to Restaurants, Weekend Section, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ark. 72203. Send email to:

eharrison@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 06/20/2019

Print Headline: RESTAURANT NEWS: 42 bar and table brunch; Pasta J Italian in LR; El Mezcal waits on windows

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