Posts Tagged Capital Bar and Grill

Q to the A: We’ll Always Have Bossa Nova

A little love for B-More!

A little love for B-More!

Ever wonder what other foodies are thinking? Me too. Special thanks to Ashli Ahrens for her answers!

1. How many years have you lived in Little Rock? I’ve lived in Arkansas most of my life but in the Little Rock area for about six in all.

2. Where’s the best place to eat in North Little Rock? I’ll be honest, I don’t stray too far away from the downtown area for dining out, so I can’t help but zero in on Argenta (downtown North Little Rock) for my choice here. The Starving Artist Café is my favorite NLR spot for lunch or dinner. I love the food, I love the art. Their house-made soups are the bomb. Plus the Tales from the South series recorded there is something Arkansans should really be proud of.

3. What is your favorite place to go for a great cocktail? I sincerely appreciate the creativity, style and savvy that house-made cocktails involve, and I love reading the descriptions in the menus. But I’m a white-wine gal, so I love a place with a great wine selection. For that I love Zin (Urban Wine and Beer Bar) in the River Market district and Crush in Argenta. If I were going to take friends out for great cocktail options, my top pick is Capital Bar and Grill. But honestly, South on Main and Big Orange Midtown are doing really great things too.

4. What are a few of your guilty food pleasure items? Uh oh. This could be a long list. Probably at the top is Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. I could honestly eat a sleeve of them a day if I could justify ordering enough to last me a whole year. Also on the list a package of Oreo’s as long as I have plenty of milk. Also semi-chocolate chips straight from the bag which I keep in the freezer. I can also chow down on the spaghetti carbonara from the former Lulav (now Cellar 220). I’ll stop at four just to keep from embarrassing myself. Oh wait, Little Debbie’s peanut butter crunch bars straight from the freezer. Okay, that’s it.

5. What word would you use to describe the Little Rock dining scene? Wow. One word. I suppose that word would be “exceptional.” I read this a while back and I honestly believe it’s true; the greater Little Rock area has more restaurants per capita than most cities our size. As long as you’re not looking for the latest in Ethiopian cuisine or something really far afield, we’ve got high-quality and interesting dining choices here in Little Rock. And I don’t mean chains.

6. What Arkansas celebrity (past or present) would you want to have dinner with? Hands down Bill Clinton and honestly Hillary, too. (I know she’s not FROM Arkansas but we claimed her for quite a while.) Bill Clinton put Arkansas on the national and global map, and he continues to positively impact our state. My husband and his family know Bill well. I’d just like to have them all around the table and chat the night away.

Ashli was the first person to tell me about this Bossa Nova dish.

Ashli was the first person to tell me about the Salpicao from Bossa Nova.

7. You have to put together a 3-course meal (app, entree, and dessert) from three different Little Rock restaurants. What would be your choices to create this perfect meal? Appetizer: Bang Bang shrimp from Bonefish (note: the only chain restaurant I’ve mentioned). Sweet, spicy and fabulous. That’s why all of Little Rock shows up on the night they offer $2 off. Entrée: Salpicao from Café Bossa Nova. Dessert: banana pudding from Capital Bar and Grill (they make their own vanilla wafers for heaven’s sake!)

8. If you could jump in a plane this very second…where would you go and what would you eat? This year I visited Baltimore, Maryland, for the first time. My husband had been there last year and brought back the incredible lump crab cakes from Faidley’s there. My main mission, aside from attending a work conference, was to bring home another batch of those KILLER crab cakes. So, I would hop a plane anytime and go to Baltimore for more of those insanely perfect crab cakes. No remoulade or tartar sauce needed. No sides either.

9. What restaurant do you typically go to for a celebratory occasion? Ashley’s at the Capital, Brave New Restaurant (always get the fish of the day) or The Pantry. I can’t choose.

10. What is one Little Rock restaurant you’ve never eaten at that may surprise people? I’ve never been to Pizza D’Action in Stift’s Station. It’s true, oddly enough, given my affection for that part of town. Runners-up for this question would be Lassis Inn, Chuy’s and Mellow Mushroom (though I’ve been to one in Tennessee and loved it).

Addendum:
I owe my appreciation for fine food and plain ol’ GOOD food to my mother. From the beginning she encouraged me to try new foods, taught me to cook and showed me the magic of entertaining at home. I remember her asking me where I wanted to go out to eat for a milestone birthday (maybe it was my 16th). Without batting an eye I answered La Petite Roche. That was the restaurant in the then Excelsior Hotel. It sounded swanky, French and I wanted to go. I’m pretty sure my parents took me there, and later to Ashley’s upon request. I haven’t looked back.

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Q to the A: More Love for Natchez…and Danny DeVito

The Southern Comfortable from Capital Bar & Grill

The Southern Comfortable from Capital Bar and Grill

Ever wonder what other foodies are thinking? Me too. Special thanks to Dan R. for his answers!

1. How many years have you lived in Little Rock? I’ve been in Arkansas five years now. My wife (a native) and I split time between Little Rock and Lake Village, deep in the Delta. One of my favorite things about Little Rock is our restaurant scene, and one of my favorite things about the Delta is that all the best food is served in someone’s home. Food-wise, I get the best of both worlds.

2. What is the first Little Rock restaurant you often recommend to out-of-town guests? As I often have friends and family visit from out-of-town, I have more than one answer to this question. My mainstay recommendation has been the Capital Bar and Grill — sometimes spotty service aside, they are putting out very creative stuff. I’ve liked the slow changes to the menu since Joel took over, and I’m watching the new drink menu roll-out (via their Facebook page) with anticipation. CBG is also my top spot for a power lunch, or really any time I want to impress somebody. For a fancier dinner, I recommend So. And, if I want to send someone somewhere where they can experience some of that down home Arkansas flavor, I send them to Cock of the Walk (out in Maumelle) for catfish, fried chicken, cornbread, and “all the fixins” (as they say). If Maumelle is too far out of the way, Flying Fish is a solid choice too.

3. Do you enjoy cooking at home? If so, what’s your favorite dish to prepare? I love to cook, but I’m still working on my chops. A great dish that is within my skill level is grilled flank steak. I marinate it overnight in a mix of canned green enchilada sauce, teriyaki marinade, and pureed fresh pineapple and cilantro. Cook for a few minutes per side, on a HOT grill. Meanwhile, reduce what’s left of the marinade in a saucepan over high heat, and use that as a sauce on the side. Let the steak sit a few minutes after cooking, and slice it with a serrated knife, against the grain.

4. What are a few of your guilty food pleasure items? A stuffy-crust “Hog” with pesto cream sauce from Damgood Pies. It’s an expensive pizza and probably contains a million calories, but I guess that’s what makes it a guilty pleasure.

5. Where is your favorite local beer? I don’t know anything about our local beer scene other than the fact that I live near the Diamond Bear Brewery and I can even buy cases there on Sundays, which is cool. I know our local beer scene is improving, but I personally have much to learn. Instead, I’ll give you a beer local to my original home of Northeast PA — Yuengling Lager. Some day, Yuengling will be distributed in Arkansas. Some day.

Natchez Continues to Get Recognized

Natchez Continues to Get Recognized

6. What one word would you use to describe the Little Rock food scene? Surprising! For a city this size, our dining scene is surprisingly impressive, and getting better all the time!

7. You have to put together a 3-course meal (app, entree, and dessert) from three different Little Rock restaurants. What would be your choices to create this perfect meal? Awesome question. Let’s see…. Appetizer: Fried Basil Leaves from Capeo. Entree: the amazing Gnocci, Chicken Livers, and Creamed Kale from Natchez. Dessert: Creme Brulee from The Pantry.

8. If you could jump in a plane this very second…where would you go and what would you eat? I’d fly right to NYC, head to one of David Chang’s places (i.e. Momofuku Noodle Bar), and I’d eat whatever they bring me.

9. What is the top place to dine in downtown Little Rock? Right now, I have to give this one to Natchez. I just can’t get enough of this place!

10. What food celebrity would you like to have dinner with? I’ll take Danny DeVito, we’ll go to Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia, and we’ll see how many courses we can make it through before we’re asked to leave.

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Around Town: Capital Bar and Grill’s Service Comes Up Short

The Southern Comfortable

The Southern Comfortable

Ups and downs at one of Little Rock’s finest.

Here’s one for you…did you know last Friday night was my first time at Capital Bar and Grill? Crazy, right? I’ve lived in Little Rock for more than a year and have just now dined at one of our city’s most iconic restaurants.

Sometimes, it just works out like that.

And sometimes, even some of the top restaurants like CBG, have off nights.

Friday was an off night.

I’ll set the scene for you: 10-top table, 7 p.m., restaurant bustling. Members of our group arrived at various times, but the accommodating CBG staff immediately sat the first arrivals. This was a nice gesture on their part.

I ordered a Southern Comfortable, one of CBG’s famous cocktails, and one of the better drinks I’ve had in quite some time. Several other members of our party also ordered cocktails. Unfortunately, our first cocktail was also our last, as not one person was asked by our waiter if he or she wanted to order another drink. And we all did. That was at least $100 in drinks the restaurant flushed down the toilet.

A litany of errors ensued—disappearance of wait staff, lack of napkins/silverware, no drink refills, food not coming out at the same time—you name it. Heck, even the restaurant’s nice gesture of splitting the bill (which is not CBG’s policy for large groups), took more than 15 minutes.

I’ve never seen a silent, cross-armed Daniel Walker of Eat Arkansas so pissed. I thought a blood vessel in his forehead was going to burst as he waited and waited on the arrival of his pimento sandwich.

And I bet you’re wondering about the food. Mine was absolutely perfect. I had a pimento grilled cheese sandwich (which arrived way before Dan’s) with a wedge salad. I hate pimento cheese, but was told about the amazing-ness of CBG’s version, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t live up to the hype.

Others at my table weren’t quite as fortunate. I heard the Cobb salad was a complete failure and the steak was just ok.

In the end, CBG has to do better…a lot better. It’s our most famous bar in our most famous hotel, and this type of service just won’t cut it. There has to be consistency between the service and the quality of food and drinks.

Maybe next time.

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