By JACK WEATHERLY
Okay, I get it that an old guy might not get something new and hip.
But when it’s not really new, I, an old guy, don’t totally get that.
That is the Sophomore Spanish Club, which is a hip in a way.
The décor of the latest restaurant in the District at Eastover has these ‘90s cultural highlights, references to sitcoms, such as “Saved by the Bell,” “Friends,” and Urkel of “Family Matters.” I really don’t get that the ‘90s are nostalgic.
Wasn’t that yesterday?
But I guess they are nostalgic, which is why the restaurant is so loud.
Our party of four arrived at about the peak evening hour.
And, brother, it was loud.
It was like a school cafeteria.
And that’s even with the open, airy décor, which plays on the patio and green space outside, which combine to act like a dish on the Tex-Mex menu.
The loudest restaurant I’ve ever encountered was the Red Door in Little Rock. The Spanish Club didn’t achieve that decibel level – I almost checked my ears for bleeding at the Red Door, wondering if that was where the name came from – but owner Ray-Scott Miller might want to consider baffles.
We were there in the middle of the hard-opening week, so the slow service was to be expected, I suppose.
But I guess you could say we were saved by the queso.
It’s called “Don’t Call it Cheese Dip.” Okay, call it Very Good Cheese Dip. The four of us agreed it was primo.
The small basket for the extra-thin, just-right tortilla chips played into the hands of the slow service. Too many refill porfavor requests.
But the cocktails arrived, and helped to settle our nerves and stoke our need to continue stuffing our pie holes (cuts down on the noise).
I ordered the chile relleno, which was plump and as big as a man’s outstretched palm. With refried beans and spanish rice as sides, it was a satisfying entree.
Two of my three companions ordered shrimp fajitas, the third, chicken fajitas. All fajitas are charcoaled.
The ratings were, correspondingly, good, okay and average.
Two ordered frozen margaritas. One ordered a second one, so that speaks for itself. The other just one, but said it was good. He finished with an IPA. My constant companion ordered a single chardonnay as usual.
I had the Our Favorite margarita (same ingrediants as frozen version) and a Pacifico beer chaser.
The Spanish Club comes after another Tex-Mex, the Cantina Laredo, closed in the space in February. The first Cantina Laredo we encountered was, again, in Little Rock, where we lived for about 12 years, our second time to reside there.
We were taken by the upscale, pricey restaurant. But District at Eastover developers Breck Hines and Ted Duckworth weren’t. So they parted ways with the Dallas-based chain restaurant in less than two years.
Hines said at the time the departure of Cantina Laredo was announced that “we’ve come to understand that independent, local restaurant concepts are better for this market and more closely aligned with our vision for The District at Eastover.”
Miller’s apparently successful Fine & Dandy across the green space is.
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