This week we traveled to Des Arc, Arkansas to try out Dondie’s White River Princess. I was asking around for places to eat seafood, and my teacher friends just raved about this place. The hubby picked me up right after school, and we drove out to Des Arc.
Des Arc is about 40 minutes from Cabot and well worth the drive. This is the definition of an old Arkansas town where everybody knows your name. Now, everyone might not know your name in Dondie’s because people come in from everywhere! :)
Dondie’s opens at 5:00 on Thursday, Friday, and Satudays. We got there a little before 5, and decided to do some sight seeing. I just love small towns. As we drove into town, we were greeted by the water tower.
The old courthouse building.
The bridge that was on their town banners on the light poles.
This is such a rural place, I was able to take several picture of the bridge without cars on it. You can’t do that in those big city towns.
Not far from the bridge is The Riverboat. This is Dondie’s. It brought out the kid in me instantly, and the oohs and ahhs were abundant.
Once we got inside and they asked where we wanted to sit, of course, we had to sit on the second floor. The view was the best!
While we were looking at the menu, Kathy, our sweet waitress, took our drink orders.
“This is so cool”, said Rustin. He quickly drank his sweet tea, to refill his own cup. Our waitress is usually wearing out the floorboards from our table to the drink station getting his sweet tea refilled.
We glanced over the menu, but knew we were going to get the buffet that was downstairs. See, I do exercise. Knocked two things out at once. Eatin’ and working out. I wish it were always that easy. :)
Something on the menu, that did catch our eye, was the Fried Gator Tails. I asked our waitress, “Like REAL alligator.....like their actual tail!?” She assured me that they were the real deal, and I just had to try some for you.
Gator Tails were surprisingly really good! They were crunchy little bites of......well, alligator. It is really hard to describe them because I’ve never had something like it to compare it to. They don’t “taste like chicken”...like everyone says things taste like. They aren’t gamey. It was tender, salty, non-reptiley goodness. (Did I just make up a word?) It came with a sweet chili sauce, but I enjoyed it all on its’ own.
(The portion was larger than in the picture, but like Toad Suck Buck's Mac and Cheese Bites, I got really excited to try gator and forgot to take a picture. I will do better next time. Hopefully.)
For the first round of the buffet, I got the fried shrimp, peel-and-eat shrimp, catfish, and clam strips. Don’t judge me on plate presentation.
The fried shrimp was one of my favorites. The batter was crunchy, the shrimp fresh, and it was cooked perfectly. I dipped it in the cocktail sauce for added flavor. The sauce was amazing and complimented the shrimp and clam strips nicely.
I popped the chewy clam strips in my mouth really fast. Since I was a child, I have eaten clam strips and always get them at every buffet. Love them.
The catfish was also one of my favorites. I like some good catfish, and this is the best I've had so far. The batter was not overpowering and was coated perfectly. As you pulled the catfish apart, it was flakey and tender. They were always hot and fresh because it goes so fast at the buffet line. Dipping the fish into the tarter sauce makes it a perfect combination of salty and sweet. Speaking of sweetness...
Rustin handed me one of these to try. The hubby does not normally share food, but he does his fair share of stealing it. I knew there was something up.
I assumed it was a mozzarella stick. I was wrong.
I was really wrong. It was an apple stick. Quite the opposite.
Filled with cinnamon, sugar, apple cubes, and goodness, I had to get more. Now, these are right in the middle of the buffet line. The ole regulars know what they are, but us first timers are clueless. They’re trying to trick ya, but you’re in the know now. You’re welcome.
It was a sweet ending to a great meal.
After dinner, I got to meet and talk to the owner/cook, Mike Skarda. He and his wife, Karen, have owned the place for 23 years. He said he has had a passion for cooking since he was a kid, and you can tell in his cooking. Along with his buffet, he is well known for his prime rib steaks. His steaks are on the full menu that was added later on for more variety. The prime ribs are aged for 50 days and sought after by many. People from Mississippi call to reserve a steak when they are coming into town. They often sell out at night because they are so good. I will definitely have to try that next time!
Wow! Writing about a buffet is hard work. As opposed to writing about one main dish, you have, well, all that you can eat. My notes were longer, and my belly was fuller. Luckily, I got that exercise going up and down the stairs to the buffet line.