Four Corners Kitchen Fayetteville’s Best Kept Secret

Fayetteville's Four Corners Restaurant

Anyone entering the shopping precinct off of N. Garland Ave in Fayetteville, Arkansas would be hard pressed to find Four Corners Kitchen. The light tan colored building, with its sparse decorations sits where the Hogs Breath Inn used to do business, squeezed in between a laundromat and a Dollar Store.

When one enters the premises, a sign informs the prospective customer that they should wait to be seated but at around 4:30 pm, a bustling blonde server tells me “you can set where you want.” There is a couple already being served and moments after being seated an elderly gentleman enters and picks out his own table.

The interior is warm and inviting, but almost as spartan in appearance as the outside. Brown oak chairs and booths with faux leather backs and seats make up the seating arrangements. After a complementary glass of water and a brief discussion of the menu, I order my meal (the chicken sandwich) and enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee while I wait.

After a respectable amount of time, in other words not too long a wait, my server brings out a gargantuan chicken sandwich which takes up a decent amount of space on the plate. The home fries, which look more like English chips than American french fires take up another large part of the plate.

The chips (fries) are cooked with the skins on and that, along with the slight coating of sea salt, makes them a delicious treat. There are the usual accompaniments to the sandwich, lettuce, tomato and red onions on the side along with three large pickles. (These looked suspiciously like “bread and butter” pickles and they, like the rest of the meal were very tasty.

Chicken Sandwich, Heaven on a plate

The food arrived at the table fresh and hot from the kitchen and it was made from “local” produce. The furthest ingredient on the menu, according to the staff, comes from Springfield, Missouri. The choices on offer run the gamut; with appetizers that include fresh pork rinds, with a choice of sauces, to a variety of soups and salads that includes a creamy crawfish stew that will have me returning in short order.

While not having sampled the other offerings in the burger arena, a “house” burger, a cheeseburger and a “red eye braised pork shoulder” sandwich, the chicken burger was a behemoth sized repast that could have fed two. (I’m embarrassed to admit that I polished off the sandwich and all but four of the fries. I did, however, refrain from sampling their homemade ice cream, or even the homemade sorbet. Next time, perhaps…)

The food delivered with a smile to my booth was juicy, flavorful and, as its pièce de résistance, came topped with perfectly cooked crispy bacon. Coffee came freshly brewed and in a “bottomless” cup and the service was spot on, so much so that I zealously overtipped.

Four Corners Kitchen is spotless and well lit. The establishment, and its chef, Wesley Douglas,  will be celebrating their three year anniversary in roughly one week’s time. (As mentioned earlier, the place is where the old Hogs Breath Eatery used to be and as a nod to the other, 30 year old establishment’s giant baked potato specialties, offer a “Hogs Breath” baked potato.)

Even the beers on offer are “local” craft beers, although my server did admit that they might have had Budweiser on offer up until recently. Their drinks menu is impressive with a number of different cocktails to chose from as well. Their coffee is excellent; strong and not the least bit bitter. A good choice for those who have no wish to drink and drive.

After two bites of my enormous burger, which was an actual chicken breast rather than a rehashed chicken patty made from the usual inedible bits of the chicken, I declared to the server that this was, in my humble opinion, “heaven on a plate.”

Bacon and Chicken Burger

Four Corners Kitchen is at 1214 N. Garland Ave. The eatery does not appear to have a website but they can be found on Facebook and their menu can be perused here. This is an establishment that “gets” food. Their offering today was mouthwatering to look at and it was sheer perfection to eat.

If you have not discovered this eatery yet, head on over and try them out. You may see me there tucking into some Creamy Crawfish Stew or some other culinary treat from their small but oh so satisfying menu.

Bon Appétit!

Healthy Heart Tip: Change Your Eating Habits

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As part of my daily exercise regimen, I walk around my neighbourhood. Generally I walk to my local shop and have a browse in the Charity shop next to it. Now I’ve been getting faster and faster at these walks and my back is slowly but surely getting used to them.

Today, however, my walk did not go quite the way I envisioned it.

I’ll explain.

For years now, I have not eaten breakfast when I wake up in the morning. I don’t as a rule eat “brunch” either if I’ve overslept. As I am not a cheerful early riser nor am I what could be called a “morning person” I cannot stand the idea of eating after I’ve just awakened from a deep sleep.

Which means that I usually subsist on two meals a day and the odd snack. This has always suited me right down to the ground.

Until after the heart attack.

Because my body is still “healing” itself, it’s obviously using a lot of energy to do so. This extra calorie burn is great, I’m actually thinner than I’ve been in years.  But because of this “constant” energy usage by my bodies self-generation of cells and so on, my energy level is lower than what I’ve always assumed was normal.

*And yes, I do know the saying about assume, thank you.*

This morning when I got up, after a fascinating dream about meeting Ernest Borgnine in Hot Springs Arkansas, I had my usual two cups of coffee with milk and sugar. I then did pretty much what I do every morning; I read my mail, checked my e-mail and because it’s Friday today, I did my Twitter shout-outs.

English: Ernest Borgnine at the Creative Arts ...

I then decided to have my walk early today. I threw on my “outside” clothes, got my boots and hat and went striding out the door at a fairly moderate pace.

I felt great until I reached my local shop. I had detoured by the Charity Shop (and still felt fine) and then went in to get a few things. By this time I started feeling a bit shaky. My energy level dropped below basement level and it was a struggle to collect, purchase, and bag my few items.

As i walked shakily out of the shop, I realised that I’d not had anything to eat. Obviously, the two coffees I’d gulped down earlier were not sufficient to keep me going. With a sigh of defeat, I took the bus back to my house.

After having a lovely repast of two granary rolls with ham, cucumber and coleslaw (light coleslaw I might add) and a multivitamin, my energy level began to climb back up.

While cleaning up my dishes, I realised that I was going to have to change the eating habit of a lifetime and start having three meals a day. Earlier in the week, I’d been having two crumpets in the morning and then two other small meals later in the day. At no time during the first days of the week did I feel week or shaky.

I’d already changed my diet after leaving the hospital. Cutting way back on my meat consumption, cutting out most saturated fats, eating  foods high in antioxidants, et al. But I did not change the number of times during the day that I stoke up the old energy engine.

As I’ve always managed to cope quite well with the amount of meals I’d eaten most of my adult life, I saw no need to change this particular habit. But obviously I should have.

Sitting here writing this post out, I’m still a bit tired and will probably take a short nap to allow my body to re-charge itself after my quick energy draining walk this morning.

It’s hard to remember to play by the “new” rules after you’ve had a “life changing” event. But I like to think I’m smart enough to learn from my mistakes. At least I hope I am.

I’m sure that most of you out there are smart enough to not be so “unaware” of what you need to do to keep your self healthy and well, but just in case you are, like me, a bit slow on the uptake, remember to change not just what you eat, but when and how much.

It might not make you live any longer, but it may save you the internal embarrassment of having to take the bus back on your healthy heart walk.

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energy (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

By the Power of Quorn

I kind of feel like He-Man at the moment; not super strong with a magic sword or a giant tiger dressed in armour to ride around, but I do feel pretty damn powerful. Like the cartoon’s opening, I can envisage myself raising a packet of some Quorn product over my head and yelling, “By the power of Quorn!”

I cannot envisage any of the rest of the opening montage applying here, but what the heck, the first part is good enough. Because I feel like I owe a lot to my present state of health to this “fake” meat product that has become a part of my everyday diet. It’s allowed me to eat healthily and to avoid fats; fats that would have been counteracting all that surgery and would have been like pouring salt on a wound.

I am lighter than I’ve been in years. My weight at the moment wringing wet is under 165 pounds or 11 stone 7 pounds. My average weight for the last ten years hovered around the 14 stone mark (or 196 pounds) considering that I’m not tall (I’m roughly 5’9 ½”) I was a hefty fellow. My waist has dropped from 34 inches (plus) down to around 32. I am not exercising too much at the moment; to be honest I’m slightly afraid to push myself too much until my second visit with my surgeon.

But everyday my energy level is rising and I can now scamper to the Metro and back and rather than trundle up the stairs, I can trot. My back has improved quite a lot, although I still have to take the pain medication that I am no doubt rapidly becoming immune to. In a nutshell though, my physical health is great!

I feel good! *cue James Brown music here*

Besides I can always tell when I am feeling better or getting more energy. The signs are apparently the same whether it’s recovering from a standard illness, like the flu for example, or recovering from ass-kicking surgery and a heart attack. The minute I start feeling more like the “old” me, I get fidgety. I start to whittle (another word for fidgety but more on the verbal and mental side of things) and think of a million physical things that I should be doing.

For example; I will fret and whittle if I have not gone for at least one longish walk throughout the day. My eager and energetic mind will start to worry and an inner dialogue will start:

“How do you expect to keep getting better if you don’t exercise every day? You should have walked through the cold and the snow down to the Metro and back…at least twice. The weather’s not going to hurt you, ya big baby.”

“Well, I did go shopping to the big Tesco and I walked all over it very quickly and I trotted up and down the stairs at least twice.”

“Not good enough! If you want to keep improving you need to stretch yourself. You know that! Now quit looking longingly at your bed and run up and down the stairs a few times…NOW!

When I’m feeling better after an illness I have this drill sergeant appear in my head who harangues me until I start doing more than I am willing to. I do listen to him, a little, because I know that deep down I am doing better. The knowledge that I could walk through the snow and cold down to the Metro and back, twice makes me feel more powerful and fitter than I felt the last week. I can even envisage myself jogging once spring decides to show up.

But until that time, I’ll listen to my drill sergeant alter-ego or subconscious or whatever you want to call it, with a grain of salt. Because I feel like He-Man and “by the power of Quorn” I’ll continue to eat and lose weight healthily and I’ll dance down the road of further recovery.

Now if you will all excuse me, it’s time for my nap.

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To Quorn or not to Quorn…

Well, so far in our experimental voyage into Quorn territory we have made a few discoveries. Firstly we’ve found that Quorn make really good fake chicken and fake hamburger (mince). The jury is out on their pork products as the bacon was not really a full “fail” but damned close. We haven’t tried their ersatz sausages yet. The sausages might be great thus increasing their score on the fake pork front.

Delicious and nutritious tasks just like chicken…

For the record we’ve enjoyed everything that was chicken or mince related. We had the coujons the other night and they were a run-a-way success.

Although we got robbed of one coujon. Our packet only had seven. I can only assume that someone on the assembly line got hungry. We tried the chilli again last night and it too was just as tasty and satisfying as the last time we cooked it.

Tonight we are trying the chicken style and leek pies with rice and vegetables.

So far so healthy.

We’ve got two more Quorn products in the freezer patiently waiting for their culinary debut. Hamburger patties and “pork style” sausages. Those will be eaten later in the week and I’ll report on whether or not they passed the taste test.

In terms of cooking I know that the kitchen doesn’t smell of grease and when I do the washing up — by hand of course, we must be the only house in Suffolk that doesn’t have a dishwasher — there is no greasy residue left in the wash bowl. Another by-product of our new diet is the absence of that, “I’m so full I can’t move,” feeling. You know the one, where you have to let your meal settle before you can even think of moving around.

And apart from the beans in the chilli having their usual effect, indigestion has vanished from the Smith household. In the stakes of cutting down our meat consumption and increasing our vegetable intake we are definitely winning. But just the sight of the word stake, makes my mouth water for a medium rare steak.

Quorn Road
Quorn Road (Photo credit: Mykal Shaw)

As we continue our trial and error attempts at eating healthily via the Quorn route I’ll continue to pass on any new recipes and products that we try and like or don’t like.

Whether Quorn turns out to be our main non-meat product is open for debate. I had at least one suggestion by a reader about trying some of Linda McCartney‘s non-meat products. So far I have resisted the urge to try the late Linda’s fare. I do have my reasons.

I have noticed over time that whenever a product has a celebrity’s name on its packaging, the price rises accordingly. That’s not to say that the McCartney products aren’t worth it, but I know that most of their “vegetarian” substitutes for meat are made up of glutens and other cereal products. Not to mention good old soybean.

To be honest if I wanted to eat soybean, I’d just cook everything with tofu in it. At the risk of sounding facetious, I’m not changing my diet because I cannot bear the thought of “poor innocent animals” dying so I can eat. In my opinion that’s what animals are here for (some of them anyway) and I like meat, damn it.

But for health reasons I’m forced to change my dietary habits of a lifetime. Anything that at least tastes like meat and looks like meat is going to come up trumps in my search for a sinewy substitute. But I don’t want to chow down on a plate full of glutens and cereal and soybean. Not unless I have to.

Besides I am not cutting out meat entirely. I still plan on having the odd rump steak sans fat, of course. I want my arteries to stay as open as possible but I don’t want to eat like a monk to get them that way. I’ve given up some of my favourite things, sour cream being at the top of the list.

Luckily I have always liked most vegetables, with the exception of eggplant or aubergine if you have a university degree, so increasing my consumption will not be too difficult. Just as cutting down on the richer deserts will not pose too much of a problem. I do have a sweet tooth, but not a “sickly sweet” one.

I’d love to go on about my inner thoughts on Quorn and whether or not it’s the answer to my culinary quest for heart healthy repasts, but I’ve got Quorn pies in the oven and must keep an eye on them.

Bon Appetit!

Chicken Style and Leek Pies….Yum!

Quorn, Pasta, Mushroom, Pepper and Cheese Treat

So last night we decided to try a variation on an old favorite. When Meg was sharing a house with a young lady named Emily, she was introduced to one of the tastiest and easiest meals in the world.

Dead simple to make and extremely tasty.

It doesn’t have a name although you could call it Emily’s Pasta Dish. The main ingredients for the original dish are bacon, flat mushrooms, green and red pepper, pasta and cheese.

Now just in case you didn’t notice the bacon –which I helpfully highlighted in italics and bold print– I’ll point it out again. This lovely delicious treat has artery hardening, cholesterol raising, heart attack inducing bacon in it.

We decided to substitute the real bacon with Quorn bacon.

Now I don’t know if you remember or not, but I did say in another post that my first introduction to Quorn was not a roaring success. The texture was wrong and it didn’t taste quite right. Interestingly enough it was ham, another pork product, and I had a similar problem with the ersatz Quorn bacon. Meg noticed immediately that it looked more like bacon shaped baloney. I hasten to add it was shaped like English bacon. I had to agree.

Further more, to me at any rate, it tasted like baloney. I consider myself a bit of an expert as I used to dearly love fried baloney sandwiches. I know, you are sitting there thinking, “And this man is surprised that he had a heart attack?” But if you notice the operative part of the sentence is the phrase, ‘used to.’

Now the more crunchy portions of the Quorn bacon did taste a bit like bacon, but the less crispy bits did not. The dish was still enjoyable in many ways, it just did not taste as good as the rest of the Quorn dishes we’ve tried.

I guess there really is no perfect substitute for good old greasy, crisp bacon.

The recipe is as follows –if you are still interested:

4 slices of bacon (real or substitute)

3 – 4 flat mushrooms (by all means use organic ones if you wish)

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

2 – 4 bowls of cooked pasta (we use the twist aka Fusilli pasta, again you can use whole wheat or any variation)

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

grated light cheese for topping.

If you use American style “streaky bacon” you won’t need to add any oil to your frying pan.

First start slowly frying your bacon in a pan big enough to hold your bacon, mushrooms and peppers.

Start boiling your water for your pasta

While you’re boiling and frying, cut your flat mushrooms into medium-sized pieces and then do the same to your peppers. (I’m sure everyone knows this already but, don’t forget to get rid of the seeds)

Once your bacon is cooked to your level of satisfaction (crispy or not) add the cut mushrooms and peppers.

Continue to cook the bacon with the mushrooms and peppers until done.

Once your pasta is al dente enough drain the water from the pan.

Now drain the excess liquid from the frying pan.

*If you time it right, the pasta and the other ingredients will all be ready at the same time.*

Add your bacon, mushrooms and peppers to the cooked pasta and stir.

Once you’ve plated up the dish, add the grated cheese to taste.

This is a great recipe for students or someone who doesn’t want to spend a long time preparing a delicious meal.

With real bacon or fake bacon and lovely dish.

Please excuse the blurriness of the photo, I was starving and had a hard time holding my phone still!

There is one thing I need to mention. The Quorn bacon might not have tasted like real bacon but, the dish was a lot “cleaner” with it. Making the dish with real bacon is “yummier” but “greasier.” It’s really up to you whether or not you use real Porky Pig bacon or not.

If you try it out, let me know what you think of it. Is it better with real bacon or did you prefer the imitation bacon.