Adam & Eats: Carol’s Cafe and Pizzeria
Editor’s note: Adam Brandt is a graduate from the Cobra Kai School of Culinary Callousness, where he received their highest award, the Red Apron of Merciless Eating. Aside from eating and talking about eating, he makes pots, paintings, prints, books, photographs, and generally, a big mess. He has been the studio assistant at Mudpuppy Pottery for almost nine years and is attending a local university in a desperate attempt to earn a biology degree.
This week I was hoping to continue my quest through quaint eateries and my wish was granted when I ate at Carol’s Café and Pizzeria in Van Buren.
Normally, I prefer my restaurants to specialize in one thing and do it well, but with Carol’s I found that a restaurant can serve breakfast all day, pizzas, burgers, and fried okra without falling short on any account.
Located on historic Main Street in Van Buren, right next door to Bob Cole Bail Bonds, is Carol’s Café and Pizzeria. If you think the name is a mouthful, wait until you try to take a bite of one of their burgers, but more on that in a minute.
First let’s talk about the lay of the land a little bit. The place is cozy to say the least. It will remind many of you locals of a kooky Aunt’s house. The walls are decorated with lots of little plaques with southern women colloquialisms. Stuff like “No Man Was Ever Shot While He Was Washing The Dishes” or “When I Said ‘I Do’ I Didn’t Mean The Laundry!” and the like. It felt like Carol Burnett from Mama’s Family decorated the place. I like it.
The location plus the choice of decorations speaks volumes for the place. One of the main things it says is if you are in a big hurry, then you’ve come to the wrong place. They take their time cooking at Carol’s and in doing so they ensure that the meals are made fresh, made correctly, and are piping hot when they reach your table. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to know the waitress. It turns out that this woman named Danielle, who was in an American Lit class with me at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, works there. She is super sweet, but she won’t take any crap off of you. As for the rest of the staff, whose names I don’t know, they are super friendly and helpful as well.
Now, the part you have all been waiting for, the food. Since they went through all of the trouble to put Pizzeria in the name, it would have been shameful for me not to address it. The pizza is good. It is not life changing, but, come on, what pizza in the River Valley is? We have great pizza around these parts, but for the most part, none of it will change your life. Well, at least not in any way except giving you a coronary or possibly constipating you.
But, I digress.
Carol’s pizza is solidly good. The crust is not too dense, the sauce is not too heavy, and the marriage of good mozzarella and sausage ends up giving birth to a delectable pie.
As for the aforementioned burger, I would recommend the Chili Burger. In general I would recommend it to people, but particularly at Carol’s. Although I found the burger patty in need of a little salt, once I managed to get that wonderfully thick burger into my mouth I was very pleased with the overall flavor and I think that you will be as well. The fries are pretty rockin’, too.
Also, if there are more than two of you dining, or if you do not mind taking home leftovers, get the cheesesticks. They are the perfect combination of buttery, cheesy, garlicky goodness.
The combination of kitschy décor, friendly and attentive waitstaff, and consistently good food, makes Carol’s a must for any hungry Main Street shoppers. The only thing you need to worry about is getting enough roughage to pass all of the cheesy goodness that they send your way.
When he’s not beating his eggs, Adam makes time to respond to e-mails that get past his hard-ass spam filter. You can try to reach him at [email protected]
Adam also has this thing called Sandwich Control.