21 Jun Rooster Cafe
by Don Bingham
Mike Kemp photos
The logo for the Rooster Café reads “Cock-A-Doodle-Doo, No Other Food Will Doo.” The non-assuming little red barn café, located at 5 Highway 36 near Vilonia and close to the 8 Mile Store, is a perfect place for “good, down-home atmosphere and dining.”
The young owner is Marc Doty; he has a twin brother named Matthew. When asked if the names represented a Biblical influence, Marc responded, “Yes, sir, and we had a cat named L.J. — named after Luke and John!”
My first visit to the Rooster Café was for breakfast. The home-spun décor was country, with tributes on every wall to Hog Country, bead board walls, small tables for four and the atmosphere of a family-owned and operated food favorite. The little barn had all the elements to produce a perfect “comfort food” dining experience. However, the owner and operator is 28 years old (a former oil field welder) and a new proprietor to the restaurant industry, a very bright and conscientious young man who loves to cook and enjoys people!
Marc sponsors the local sports team, has volunteered and supplied food for recent tornado victims and is obviously a “people person,” taking the time to stop at each table and visit the guests in the dining room.
“Most of our pie recipes come from the local ladies; they bring me their recipes and show us how to do them — straight from the older ladies in our community.” You may order the pies by the slice or a whole pie with a little notice ahead of time. The pies are a regular feature on the Rooster Café menu, and so is the Rooster Gourmet Burger, consisting of hand-formed beef with bacon, pepper jack cheese, sautéed onions, chopped jalapenos, onion rings and bathed in the Rooster special sauce.
Marc considers the café a “mom and pop” tradition, offering breakfast with all the usual options and biscuits hot from the kitchen with your choice of white, sausage or chocolate gravy. Old-fashioned omelets, pancakes, grits, French toast, hash browns and breakfast sandwiches are just a few of the basics from which one can choose.
The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday. Wednesday features meatloaf for lunch; Thursday features steak and gravy; Friday is the standard catfish day. And the Café is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. “The restaurant is full on Saturdays and Sundays,” Marc said. “The church crowd always enjoys the ‘special’ of the day for Sunday lunch.”
The phone number for the Rooster Café is 501.796.0114 for more information. I was met with “come on in” by the head waitress, who was sweeping the leaves from the front screen door.
The Rooster Café is a great place to visit for the backbone of country living and hospitality just a few miles from the hustle of city life!
Marc offered the following recipe for your cooking enjoyment.
1 1/2 quarts vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal
1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (7-ounce) can diced jalapenos, drained, or 3/4 cup fresh jalapenos
1 (15-ounce) can cream-style corn
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
In a 1 quart mixing bowl, stir the cornmeal, flour, onion, jalapenos, corn and eggs until blended. Let sit for five minutes. Drop the batter by teaspoonful into the hot oil, leaving room for them to turn. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Recognized throughout the state as an accomplished chef, Don Bingham has authored cookbooks, presented television programs and previously served as the executive chef at the Governor’s Mansion. He is now the director of special events at the University of Central Arkansas.