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The Road to Olde Crow General Store

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My eating adventures across Arkansas often take place in the company of various friends and family. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for these loved ones, and while I generally prefer to share eating adventures with them, sometimes the best time is time spent alone.  This was the case with my recent jaunt to Olde Crow General Store in Benton.

Serenity starts about halfway through the 40-minute drive from Little Rock. That’s when you exit I-30 and say goodbye to the 18-wheelers barreling down the interstate, in favor of the slower-paced, 2-lane, winding road that is Highway 5. It’s so relaxing, especially on a sunny autumn afternoon with falling leaves hitting your windshield every few seconds of the drive. Lakes and ponds and farms are all around, and before you know it, there’s Olde Crow General Store.

To be honest, Olde Crow is not much to look at from the outside. In fact, you better pay attention upon approach or run the risk of zipping past the old white building located where Highway 5 and 9 converge. But once inside the shop, you will be hooked. Why? Because, as the name suggests, Olde Crow General Store really does give off old-timey general store vibes. That includes a wall dedicated to various local food items like honeys, BBQ sauces, seasonings, tomato relishes and jars of pickles. There’s also a chilled case next to the sundries, home to house-made pies. German chocolate, coconut cream, and Almond Joy pies were all tempting on this visit, but I settled on a slice of chocolate pecan for later that night. Another case, filled with chilled items like local eggs and tubs of chicken salad, resided just a few steps away. Maybe some of that chicken salad also made the trip home.

My 3-minute store walk though was fun, but a grumbling stomach provided all the motivation I needed to get my tail to the front counter for a sandwich order. Olde Crow offers up 10 creatively-named handhelds. There are versions of grilled cheese, a Reuben and even a Cuban, but it was The Big O.C. found at the very bottom of the menu that was calling my name. Sandwiches run between $9-$12 and come with a pickle and bag of chips. The Big O.C. falls at the top of Olde Crow’s price spectrum but proved to still be a great value. I am a sucker for fresh, deli-sliced ham, and this sandwich definitely checked that box. But it was the combination of the meat with a subtle, spicy pineapple sauce, along with sauteed red onion, melted mozzarella, thin, crisp bacon, sliced avocado, tomato and garlic aioli, that puts this sandwich over the top. A toasted jalapeno cornbread, while lacking in jalapeno flavor, sealed the deal on The Big O.C.’s greatness.

Not to get too crazy with hyperbole, but this sandwich was one of the better ones that I have come across in my 10 years of traveling around Arkansas in search of good eats. That’s the truth.

And who knows, maybe next time I’ll bring a friend. I have no doubt they’ll love Olde Crow General Store. It’s impossible not to.

Olde Crow General Store
17202 AR-5 (Benton)
Phone: (501) 794-2393
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturday 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Closed Sunday

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Kevin Shalin is a food writer living in Little Rock with his wife, Sara, and two daughters, Natalie (12) and Sydney (7). He started his own blog, The Mighty Rib, seven years ago while living in Houston. Six months later, he began writing for Eating Our Words, a Houston Press food blog. After a year in Boston, he moved to Little Rock, where he’s been for almost five years. During that time, he’s written for Little Rock Soiree, Rock City Eats, Treatsie, and Bourbon and Boots.

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