Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sandy's Homeplace Cafe - Little Rock, AR

Today was a great day for some comfort food.  The Spring weather sprung, then the Natural State's typical temperamental skies brought April showers with some really chilly air.  I had never been to Sandy's, although my husband often made it there over the years to catch up with his long time friend Chris whenever Honey is in town from work.  He brags about the amazing food that is prepared for him at the camp where he works in Alaska a few weeks on and a few weeks off.  Fresh - caught cod and salmon, Prime Rib night, all kinds of manly food for the hard workers on the desolate North Slope.  Leaving me to think, what do you think my food is.....chopped liver?

But wait, this is chicken liver.  His favorite chicken liver.  So good that it keeps him coming back almost as often as U.S. Pizza keeps him coming back for their large pepperoni, garden salad, and cold beer.  That's my husband's kind of food.  My kind of food is usually overpriced or hard to find.  While I introduce the kids to things like carpaccio and duck confit, Jereme offers Shipley donuts and Coca Cola.  I cringe a little, but it's like my favorite manager said, "Just do the right thing most of the time."  I think he was talking about food choices.

Sandy's has been around a long time.  You can tell by the dated interior, the old tables, old chairs, the floors, the walls, and the way the owner herself walks around greeting people at their tables by name.  The buffet is tiny with a section of chicken livers and some chicken fried steak as your main course.  Two large Crock Pots each hold a choice of white or brown gravy.  The vegetable choices today that I noticed were mashed potatoes, boiled okra, cabbage, and corn.  I don't think you could fit much else on there.  But the staff was attentive, in and out of the kitchen checking to keep the buffet full.  Refilling tea and water and keeping fresh, sliced white onions out on the table.  Sandy herself hollered at someone at one point by name to tell him where the rolls were kept.

My husband was telling me about how Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe came in before I got there.  He asked Jereme if "you boys save any food for me?"  Jereme always likes to pat politicians on the back good 'ol boy style.  "I thought you packed your lunch, Gov."  That got a chuckle.  "As a matter of fact, as a public servant, shouldn't you have parked further down the road and walked a little?"  My husband likes to go there...  (There had been a gentleman who placed an orange cone out front for the Governor's vehicle.  The parking lot is also small.)  More chuckles.  Arkansas has had some pretty amicable Governors, you know.  We had 2 Term President Bill Clinton, and then we also had 2008 Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.  We think Governor Beebe has been one of the best!

As I looked around Sandy's, amazed at how the mainstays always keep it so simple, I notice a few notables in their suits and ties.  An ex news guy who now works in radio.  The suits and ties are mixed in table by table with blue - collared workers in their jeans and Carhartt attire. Jereme and I are the same.  I'm in my suit for my daytime advertising sales job while he's in casual North Face fleece, not that it's as cold as Alaska.   I'm one of only 3 women at Sandy's, besides her.  Her place reminds me of many other mainstays off the beaten path of downtown Little Rock.  Even in the industrial area of Little Rock, on 15th Street, I still recognize the politicos entertaining people here when they can entertain them anywhere they want.  As I enjoy my plate full of food, nodding my satisfaction, my husband reads my mind.

"You can't just do a place like this.  It has to be food that everyone likes with classic sides."  I agree and continue to scope it out.  "Two different choices everyday, but the same every week."  No stress of having to work out menu choices.  Low overhead.  Only open for lunch.  Steadily busy on the day that chicken liver is the special.         

Jereme asked if I'll come back to Sandy's with him.  Of all his favorite places, at least this is the one where I don't have to worry about crappy service ruining my meal.  I maintain a nice Zen most of the time (maybe it's in my Vietnamese blood), and it takes a lot to disrupt that, and today I saw nothing at  Sandy's that I didn't like.  I told Sandy I wished she would make meatloaf, but she wont budge from the handwritten menu posted by the register.  I'll just have to enjoy all of her other dishes.  And I know I will.

For more info on Sandy's, this was what I found.

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