5 Eagle Mountain Boulevard
This place was reluctantly recommended to us by our motel clerk as being "not too bad." It was, I'm afraid, only slightly oversold.
|Them Texas flags ain't foolin' nobody|
Colton's is a Little Rock-based franchise chain with a few dozen locations in five states. It seems to be the brainchild of a solid B student in the junior college's Restaurant Science program: everything about it is culled from one successful chain or another, from the buckets of peanuts on your table to the layout of booths and tables in the dining rooms. The atmosphere is fin de siècle trendy fused with aw-shucks hillbilly. If it weren't for the concrete floors, hard walls, and complete lack of sound-deadening materials, we would not have been treated to the cacaphony of the five squealing teeny-bopper co-eds in the corner booth, the audio from at least three televisions tuned to different channels, the canned-music soundtrack, and some unruly screaming baby in the other dining room. But credit where credit is due: when I complained about the noise to the waitress, she handled it with aplomb, and offered to turn off the television closest to us.
|Alec Baldwin, who doesn't eat|
in Independence County, Arkansas
(photo by David Shankbone)
So we had to drink water. Local tap water is crystal clear and only slightly flavoured with treatment chemicals. I could get used to it, though it does make me really appreciate the Edwards Aquifer. Since we had the bucket of peanuts, we passed on an appetizer and went straight to salad, which was pro forma packaged. Not bad, but nothing to attract any real attention. Mostly just a salve to the guilt of not ordering the side of steamed veggies or green beans.
Our entrées were New York strip with loaded baked potato (an extra charge for the loading seemed kind of nickel-and-dime-ish) at $19, and a ribeye and shrimp combo for $20. The New York strip, ordered medium, came out somewhere between rare and medium rare. Other than that, it was a good piece of meat: maybe not USDA Prime, but acceptable, except for the price. The potato was large enough to be respected but not large enough to be impressive. That is both good and bad, depending on whether you feel you should be impressed by a baked potato.
|What do those ratings mean?|
The shrimp, five of them, were medium sized, battered in corn meal and fried artlessly. They were just shrimp, served with a mediocre cocktail sauce in a little plastic tub. Their main function is to remind the diner that Arkansas is a long way from the Gulf, and there are no shrimp in the Mississippi River. They are as good as one would get at, say, Red Lobster or some similar chain. They do not justify their cost.