I don’t often make it all the way out to the Promenade at Chenal – it’s a decent drive out that way from Saline County. But since Jess and I found ourselves with a Saturday afternoon and nothing to do, we decided to make the journey to take a look around the Apple store and grab a bite to eat at a restaurant that has been on our “must try” lists for awhile now: Big Orange, the upscale burger place run by the same folks who do such great pizza and salad over at ZaZa’s. The restaurant has a friendly and attractive layout, and since it was such a warm and lovely day, Jess and I decided to eat out on their small patio. My first instinct was to get something from their very respectable draft beer list, but when Jess pointed out the French press coffee, I immediately changed my mind. I’ve always really enjoyed hot coffee with a hamburger – it reminds me of a lot of late nights when I was in college. The coffee came out perfectly steeped and ready to go, and Jess and I savored a cup with just a splash of the half-and-half served to the side. Heavenly!
Having kick-started our appetites with a little caffeine, we turned our attention to the menu, and while Big Orange has a wide selection of what I’m sure are excellent salads – I had to have a burger. The burger menu is diverse and creative, and I had to try the Spicy Pimento Cheese burger. As an aside, if you’ve never tried homemade pimento cheese on a burger, you are missing out. The burger came out piled high with a creamy, almost runny helping of pimento cheese and chunks of tangy green tomato relish. I didn’t really think it was all that spicy, but the flavor of the cheese was good, and the Creekstone Farms beef was well-cooked: hot, juicy, and served on a roll that actually added some flavor to the plate instead of just being a delivery mechanism for the meat. This was a messy burger to eat, but a yummy one.
My hamburger was big; the Farmer Burger Jess ordered was enormous. That same delicious hamburger patty was topped by thick-cut Petit Jean bacon, butter leaf lettuce, red onion, havarti cheese, tomato, and a fried egg. It was so large that she had to cut the thing in half just to get it down to a more manageable size. As you can imagine, it tasted wonderful. The bacon wasn’t the limp, overcooked bacon that most places use – it was smoky flavored and chewy. The cheese melted into a gooey, creamy mess, and the egg was cooked just until the yolk began to get firm, but not so long that it got grainy and tough. I ate a few bites of this monster, and Jess did her best, but even between us we weren’t able to finish the entire burger – we could have easily just split this as our meal and been completely full.
Even though the coffee was excellent and the burgers huge and delicious, none of those things were the best thing we had at Big Orange. That distinction goes to the Truffle-Garlic-Herb Fries – hand cut fries fried up crisp and topped with mixed herbs and black truffle oil and served with a delicately flavored aioli for dipping. There may be a better order of fries in Little Rock, but I couldn’t tell you where that might be, because these fries were pretty much ideal. The potatoes had an almost sweet flavor to them, and the earthiness of the truffle oil and the garlicky aioli were perfect companions to the crisp-outside, mealy-inside fries. These fries alone make it worth my while to drive all the way out to West Little Rock to eat – I can’t really say enough about how good they were. We ate them down to the last crumbs and both declared it was one of the best things we’d ever eaten.
Big Orange is located at 17809 Chenal Parkway in the Promenade shopping center. They’re open Sunday-Thursday 10:30am – 10:00pm and Friday-Saturday 10:30am-10:30pm (with the bar staying open until midnight). Enjoy!