We will not go into why I spent a ot of time in bars as a child, but I do clearly remember the value of a well-programmed jukebox. There's something about the stretched out steel of guitar strings and the languid spread of lyrics over a concrete-floored barroom populated by those seeking the ease of the end of the day through communion, food and a good sip of something tasty.
In 1977 I turned all of four years old (catch me sometime and I'll pontificate on the oddness of my rather complete memory of places and lack of memory of certain faces from the four decades that have passed since) and yet I do recall places like the Rockin' Pig so very clearly. It is a credit to its owners and staff that the aesthetic is preserved at an establishment opened in, I believe, 2013.
Being on the Great Arkansas Pie Hunt, that included a bite of pie. Fried pies are on the menu at the Rockin' Pig, and I was going to have myself one before the night was over. I was also going to have dinner, which I had passed up on the impromptu trip to town where I'd stopped in to shoot pie in Conway, Greenbrier, Leslie, Marshall and Harrison. I wasn't going to be able to properly crash out at the Wanderoo without something substantial in my belly.
inhaled. That's what they were. Inhaled. I was hungry. They were soft and meaty and then they were gone. I have no regrets.
In fact, had I not been seeking pies, I might have settled up right then and called it a night. But I had to shoot pie and try pie, and there's always a box, right?
Not this time.
Those berries, though, were molten, and that's where the ice cream came in. Utilizing vanilla bean instead of just plain old vanilla is an inspired touch, and the resulting hot-cold temperature to flavor combination brings to the tongue the sensation and flavor of another 1970s era treat for me - hot blackberry cobbler straight from the oven at the end of a day of blackberry picking in the middle of summer. That flavor was always found at the end of a very hard day of work for a kid - first avoiding the ticks and chiggers to pull off blackberries into a bucket, take them home and rinse them and hand them over to a grandmotherly figure who would whip up a quick butter crust that would be laid out in a casserole pan, to be filled with the washed berries, dusted with sugar, topped with more dough... the ice cream would be churned out in the carport, us kids taking turns at the rigorous task of cranking that abomination in its bucket laden with salt and ice, the flavor brought together with sweetened condensed milk and sweat rolling down from bangs and over bare arms, that sort of anticipation that built all night from coming in when the cicada hum segued into the croaking screams of frogs and crickets, from making sure to take enough peas and fish and cornbread to satisfy the elders without filling one's self up to where one couldn't manage a bowlful of cobbler and ice cream...
I'm sorry, someone left the portal to 1977 open.
I suspect Rockin' Pig will become one of my cycle of restaurants I enjoy when I sojourn in Eureka Springs, alongside favorites such as Local Flavor, Mei Li Cuisine and others. It's mid-range in price, and that brisket. Man, that brisket.
You'll find the Rockin' Pig Saloon at 2039C East Van Buren (US Highway 62) on the east side of Eureka Springs. It's open every day 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. and an hour later on Friday and Saturday nights. For more information, call (479) 363-6428 or check out the website.
Click to enlargen menu pages.