By now, you’ve heard that Little Rock’s iconic Ashley’s (located inside The Capital Hotel) is shutting its doors after brunch service on May 4. The closure is probably for the best. I don’t know a single soul who dines at the restaurant even on a semi-regular basis (although rumor has it these people exist). While the food is top-notch, the stuffy atmosphere and “fine dining only” feel has left the restaurant, in a sense, behind the times.
But fear not, the closure isn’t permanent. Change is coming … and sometimes change is a good thing. After a 2-3 month hiatus, expect a much more modern interior, equipped with beautiful hardwood floors. Pieces of wall art will replace the numerous mirrors. Gold fixtures will be gone. Kitchen will be gutted.
The Ashley’s name? Probably gone as well.
My guess is that super chef Joël Antunes will continue to shine in the kitchen, much like he has before and as he did the other night with our group of bloggers/writers. After hotel staff informed us of the impending physical changes to the interior, the chef came out and delivered an elite tasting menu.
Chef Antunes, a quiet, all-business type fellow, demonstrated superior execution on dishes such as: yellow fin tuna tartare with avocado, asparagus soup, and seared scallops with potato gnocchi, artichokes and sundried tomatoes. His closing act for the evening, a chocolate soufflé, was easily among the best desserts in our town.
Little Rock is not a town that enjoys change, but I for one am quite excited about the activity going on inside one of the city’s most historic structures.
It will be very interesting to see how everything plays out. Don’t you think?