Good meals are those shared with good friends. Great meals are those shared with friends in the most comfortable settings. Renee's Cafe in Black Rock fits that locale to a T. Settled into an old house by the Black Rock bridge
on Highway 63, cresting the first ridge out of the Delta into the Ozarks, its whitewashed exterior clads a wood-paneled dinette and den packed with reclaimed booths and dining room tables, chalkboards and whiteboards lettered with daily lunch specials, and sweet-as-pie waitresses with good advice on what to get. The food's marvelous, too.
Though Renee's has been mentioned to me before, my journeys through Black Rock have been limited these past few months. Fortunately, we found our way to the little cafe on a leafing expedition Sunday, right at lunchtime. One of the signs outside says Cafe, the other says Restaurant, neither actually says Renee's, but that's all right, too.
Inside the front door, there's a tight kitchen to the right and a packed dining room center and left. It was full, with people sitting at every manner of table. We walked through to the back and had a seat at a dining room table against the back wall, next to a sliding glass door. The guys at the next table joshed with us about our big cameras, and Hunter pointed out she had her choice of whatever chair
Our waitress shared with us a board full of specials, including three "meat" items and a whole spread of vegetables, along with homemade chili and a list of available pies. We made our selections and chatted a bit.
Our meals came out a while later -- obviously made right when we asked for them. Grav had gone with a burger, a double bacon cheeseburger served with spicy tots. This burger was pretty substantial, with roughly quarter-pound hand-patted patties and good quality bacon, and it was thick. The tots? They were all right, though on retrospect Grav could have gone with one of
about a dozen different options rattled off by our waitress.
We had thought about the kid's meal for Hunter, but a single chicken strip and French fries didn't seem like much. I shouldn't have worried. She ordered the lunch special and got the chicken strips, which were hand-breaded and enormous. She also chose for her sides coleslaw and corn-on-the-cob, and when told how
much the child loves corn, we found her corn-on-the-cob nestled in a bog of corn. Which she ate all of. ALL of it. The chicken, she did her best with, but that was a big meal, and some went home.
Me? I chose wisely. I knew I wanted some mac and tomatoes (a fine Arkansas dish, no matter what Grav says) and pairing such with the slightly sweet and definitely homemade all-beef meatloaf was wise. I also had fried squash, also hand-battered and very juicy, and mashed
potatoes with gravy. That gravy I sopped up with a dinner roll -- it was homemade cream gravy and it was just magnificent in its simplicity. Salted right, too.
At one point, one of the lovely ladies on the staff walked through and admonished us all to have the blackberry cobbler that had just come from the oven, but I realized on trying to stand that even though I hadn't quite made it through my plate, I didn't have room. Next time, I sure will, if I don't succumb to the homemade Snicker bar pie.
One more thing about Renee's -- it's CHEAP. The prices are ridiculous. And if you're planning to go head out to Lake Charles and NOT stop here, you're crazy.
One more note. Map directions are funky. This restaurant is located just west of the Black River on US 63, at the intersection with Highway 117, across from the gas station.
Renee's Cafe (or Renee's Restaurant)
3430 US 63
Black Rock, AR 72415
Never in my life have I heard of Black Rock, AR. But I have found there are MANY small towns of Arkansas I have yet to explore or hear about. I need to explore my state more!ReplyDelete
You had me at spicy tots. Never tried them, but it sounds delicious.ReplyDelete