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story.lead_photo.caption The Fried Fish Taco plate at Mockingbird Bar & Tacos features masa-breaded local striped bass from Arkansas Aquaponics in Lonoke; it's served with tomatillo chow-chow and chipotle crema. Special to the Democrat-Gazette

In case you missed the news last week, Jack Sundell and his wife, Corri Bristow-Sundell, have taken over total control of Dos Rocas, 1220 Main St., Little Rock, and have renamed it Mockingbird Bar & Tacos.

The name reflects their decision to add a locally grown focus (the mockingbird is the Arkansas state bird) to the previous Latin American-centered menu. It also solidifies a link with the Sundells' other operation, the farm-to-table-centered Root Cafe, two blocks south at 1500 Main. They've been making changes for the month prior to the name change: "We've been sprinkling in some new menu items and redoing the dining room," Jack Sundell says.

Sundell says their prior Dos Rocas partners, longtime Root kitchen manager and Paraguay native Cesar Bordon and his wife, Adelia Kittrell, have departed "for personal reasons," resulting in the change of name and menu. Dos Rocas in Spanish means "two rocks"; one "rock" was the town where Bordon grew up, Ita, which means "rock" in his indigenous language, Guarani, and the other is Bordon's adopted home, Little Rock. The menu, which centered on Latin American street food, also reflected Bordon's background. Now, Sundell says, "We want to reinvent it, to make it more reflective of our story, Corri's and mine."

Sundell says the focus will now be on Latin American flavors and "foodways" but "through the perspective of Arkansas seasonal ingredients." To that end, as at The Root, more than a dozen area farms are supplying fresh produce, eggs and 100% of the meats.

The new menu has held over a few Dos Rocas items, including the guacamole and queso, some of the tacos, the empanadas and the Nachos Rocas. New items will include Fried Fish Tacos; a Spicy Green Chorizo Hot Dog and nine kinds of tacos, with fillings including a house-made chorizo, spiced braised beef, slow-roasted carnitas and lengua (tongue).

Hours will remain 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; the phone number will also remain the same: (501) 313-5413. There's a new website, mockingbirdlr.com.

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Mary Beth Ringgold, who closed Cajun's Wharf on June 1, and her partners are selling Copper Grill, on the ground floor of the 300 Third Tower, 300 E. Third St., Little Rock, to long-term Cajun's Wharf general manager, Dan Kovach, and a business partner, Lelan Stice who officially take possession Friday. Ringgold will continue to operate the third restaurant in her longtime troika, Capers, and its subsidiary Market at Capers, 14502 Cantrell Road.

Kovach, who has been camped out at Copper Grill since July, plans to keep the name and the staff intact and hopes to have a new menu in place by late November. While keeping most of the Copper Grill favorites, he's incorporating several Cajun's Wharf specialties, some of which he has already been serving at Copper Grill as specials, including the crab au gratin, oysters Bienville and the "decadent" (said so right on Cajun's menu) Boston Casserole. He'll also resurrect the Cajun's Play-De-Do cocktail. "I'm not turning it upside down and sideways," he says of the menu, noting that it went through changes two years ago to make it more casual and "frequent friendly." He's also carrying on what he calls "our special overnight fresh-seafood program" that he instituted at Cajun's, through New York's Fulton Fish Market.

Kovach says he's maintaining the restaurant's current hours, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, for now, but he's open to possibly extending the closing time and even keeping an open mind about possibly adding Sunday brunch. The phone number remains (501) 375-3333; the website: coppergrilllr.com.

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Oyster Bar owner Chris Tanner is proud of this new appetizer on the menu: the Smoked Fish Dip, made with king mackerel and served with saltine crackers. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison
Oyster Bar owner Chris Tanner is proud of this new appetizer on the menu: the Smoked Fish Dip, made with king mackerel and served with saltine crackers. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison

Owner Chris Tanner says to expect incremental changes to his recently acquired Oyster Bar, 3003 W. Markham St., Little Rock, starting with perhaps one new menu item per week, and the installation of new kitchen equipment. "This place has never had an oven," he told us last week. He's also planning to add a grill for grilling oysters.

Changes he has already made include a major ramp-up of the wine list — that should surprise nobody who is familiar with the other restaurants Tanner and his wife, Samantha, own: Samantha's Tap Room and Wood Grill and Cheers in the Heights. And while maintaining most of the eternal Oyster Bar fried-seafood favorites, including the shrimp, oyster and catfish baskets, he has been adding new dishes such as the Smoked Fish Dip, which is already a success (smoked king mackerel with herbs and an olive-oil mayonnaise served with saltines). He has been traveling, checking out the nation's major seafood markets with an eye toward increasing fresh seafood offerings, including adding East and West Coast oysters to the Gulf varieties the restaurant has always served.

Physical changes will include new tables — say goodbye to the red-and-white checkered tablecloths — and new flooring; eventually he'll tear out the current east wall to create room for an actual oyster bar. The former party room, which already has a stage on which he can present entertainment, he's looking at turning into a full-fledged bar. (A mixed-drink license is pending.)

Most of the staff has stuck around; Tanner has been hiring more, including a small prep crew. Hours remain: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; and the phone number is still (501) 666-7100; the website is lroysterbar.com.

***

Despite the lighted "open" sign in the window, the Ohia Poke in the Promenade at Chenal was locked and appeared to be closed during weekend business hours. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison

We reported last week the closure of the Ohia Poke at 623 Beechwood St., Little Rock, and the apparent closure of the original outlet of the three-restaurant mini-chain at 220 W. Sixth St., Little Rock. And the third one in the Promenade at Chenal, 17815 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock? We stopped by twice over the weekend and, despite the bright red "open" sign in the window, the front door was locked and the interior empty during posted business hours, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. We continue to get no answer at that phone number, (501) 817-3946

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Several sources are reporting that Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is bringing back its chicken sandwich on Sunday, which is National Sandwich Day. The sandwich, with a lot of help from social media, was a firestorm best-seller, selling out quickly. USA Today and Fox News both note the unusual Sunday re-launch, but they — and a Popeyes teaser ad — focus on Sunday as the one day that rival Chick-fil-A is closed.

***

Sonny Williams' Steak Room, 500 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, marks its 20th anniversary with a special promotion Friday and Saturday: a 20% discount on all steaks and entrees. There's also a wine special marking its two decades in the River Market. Hours are 5-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 324-2999; make reservations at sonnywilliamssteakroom.com/reservations.

The former Sonic at 101 Carnahan Drive, Maumelle, currently under reconstruction, apparently is to become, according to the agenda for a July 25 meeting of the Maumelle Planning Commission (tinyurl.com/yybts89v) unearthed by an eagle-eyed reader, a Domino's Pizza.

You Scream Holdings LLC opens its newest central Arkansas Dairy Queen at 10 a.m. Saturday in the former Western Sizzlin Express, 43 S. Broadview St. (U.S. 65), Greenbrier. The first 100 customers who buy a cake will receive one free item every week for a year. It will be the largest store so far for franchisees Blake and Gracie Lively, topping their locations in Sherwood, Little Rock, Cabot, Saline County, Hot Springs and Monticello by almost 1,000 square feet. It'll also be able to accommodate RVs and buses. Hours are 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The phone number is (501) 679-0618.

And speaking of DQ, a DQ Grill & Chill is set to open Dec. 16 at 2091 N. Crossover Road, Fayetteville. The restaurant, owned and operated by Tom Smith, will be Fayetteville's second; the other is at 2190 W. Martin Luther King Blvd. The phone number is (479) 442-4400.

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 10/31/2019

Print Headline: RESTAURANTS: Dos Rocas morphs into Mockingbird; ex-Cajun's manager buys Copper Grill

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