Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Quality Restaurant – Arrested Development?

When we traveled from East Tennessee to NW Arkansas, on our first night we stayed in Conway Arkansas.  That left us with an easy drive for the next morning…

Of course, the next question was “Where should we go for dinner?”

We asked the clerk at the desk at our Hampton Inn what she would suggest.  She told us that a local favorite was a place called the Marketplace Grill.  It was only a short distance away…the next exit down…so off we went.  As you can see, this restaurant has a nice curb appeal.

The interior of the Marketplace Grill was very open, a bit industrial  but still classy, warm and friendly.  The center service area is reminicent of the arrangement at Macaroni Grill.

The grill/kitchen is open to view, something that is fairly common these days and I find it to be a bit comforting…like I’m in someone’s home.  Décor in the restaurant is tasteful but simple, perhaps even a bit understated.   

Now…to what’s really important…the menu and the food!

We started out with an order of Jalapeno Cheese Fritters. ($4.99) Not only do they photograph well, they were also excellent, with just the right ‘pop’ of flavor.

Other available appetizers range from Fresh Salsa and Chips, ($2.99) on up to Tostada Florentine, ($6.99), and Lettuce Wraps. ($7.99)

Laurie ordered an individual Margherita Pizza, (with sausage and pepperoni), for her dinner. ($8.99)  She added a Dinner Salad for another $2.99.  Everything was very good!  The Marketplace Grill prides itself for it’s use of fresh ingredients…

Other entrée options include Pasta and Stir Fry, ($11.99 - $15.99); Chicken, Beef and Pork, ($9.99 to $17.99); Steaks and Prime Rib, ($13.99 to $21.99); Seafood and Fish, ($13.99 to $19.99).  There are also a selection of burgers, sandwiches and wraps available from open to close. ($7.99 to $9.99)
I was interested to see the variety that was available...ranging from a Turkey Filet Mignon dinner, ($11.99), to Ultimate Jambalaya Pasta, ($15.99), and on to Blueberry Salmon ($16.99)

As usual, I went with something ‘light’… In this case I did order some nice healthy broccoli to go with my Chicken Fried Steak, ($11.99), and mashed potatoes and gravy.  The Chicken, Beef and Pork Dinners come with a choice of two sides and hot bread.  Looking at my receipt, I think that I was charged an extra $.50 for extra gravy for my mashed potatoes… Curious to say the least.

In any case, this was a very nice slab of chicken fried steak!  I’ve decided that although I like garlic, it’s just a bit much in mashed potatoes.  I should have gone with either the Parmesan Spinach or the Sweet Greet Beans as my second side.
OK…Why did I include “Arrested Development?” in my title for this blog?  We liked this place well enough to inquire about expansion plans…maybe in an eastward direction toward east Tennessee!  According to our server, the owners have tried to expand beyond the 3 Marketplace Grills and 2 Marketplace Express locations.  According to her, one major deterrent seems to be the owner’s religious beliefs related to the sale of alcoholic beverages.  In most markets, it’s hard to compete if you can’t pick up that extra margin that comes from the sale of adult beverages.  Apparently, at least one attempt to expand had already failed… 

In any case, we liked this group of restaurants enough that when we arrived in NW Arkansas at lunchtime and we spotted our 2nd Marketplace location, this time a Marketplace Express, we went for it a second time!

Again there is the emphasis on fresh ingredients.  This version of Marketplace calls for the customers to place their order at the register…find a table and then the food is delivered to your table when its ready. 

I took another shot at my version of ‘more’ healthy dining… This time I ordered the American Burger and for my side, I chose the fresh fruit. ($6.99) The bun was toasted, the burger was flavorful and juicy plus the fruit was actually ripe and very fresh!

Laurie went one better on me…ordering a healthy Thai Crunch Salad. ($6.99) She really liked it with her Cilantro-Lime dressing.  The textures and ingredients were first class…

We enjoyed both of our dining experiences with the Marketplace restaurants.  Service was pleasant and the restaurants were very clean.  Just a word to the owners of the Marketplace group… There are lots of folks here in East Tennessee that don’t drink or approve of it…and there are others, like Laurie and I, that would be happy to forgo an adult beverage in exchange for a quality meal!
The Marketplace Grill in Conway Arkansas is located at 600 Skyline Drive.  Phone: 501-336-0070.   The Marketplace Express in Rogers Arkansas is at 3000 Pinnacle Hills Parkway.  Phone: 479-273-9110.  For more information on the Marketplace group of restaurants, just go to www.MarketPlaceGrill.com. 
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. They have a pretty extensive menu but it's not cheap - I assume they can't be without the alcohol income. If they can survive on food revenue alone, I'd have to believe it's good eats.

  2. wow too many great choices--my husband would never be able to order--love it :)

  3. Dear Dave, It sounds like the food is good, or you would not have gone for a second time around.
    The fresh salad Laurie had sounds real good. Also, I like a hint of garlic in my mashed potatoes too.
    I hope you both have a great day. Blessings, Catherine

  4. That chicken fried steak looks and sounds marvelous, and I love garlic mashed potatoes. Rarely see chicken fried steak unless we go south. And the prices sound typical. Interesting with the alcohol issue. Down in Louisville last week, I devoured more than my share of hush puppies. It's a good thing they aren't here in any restaurant!!!!

  5. you give retirement a good name.

  6. Dave I love all the food and the Restaurant look awesome but I love the Pizza Margarita Laurie order look delicious:) I love all this cheese!
    Im hungry! lol