Big night, big dinner, big tab

The half charcuterie board, top, shrimp and grits, left, and New York Strip at Allsopp & Chapple Restaurant in downtown Little Rock. (Jeremy Peppas photos)

A big event needs a big dinner, so that’s what found us at Allsopp & Chapple Restaurant in downtown Little Rock for an anniversary meal out.

An easy walk from the Capital Hotel, the restaurant is located at 311 Main St., and has a full menu of  American fare dished up by Executive Chef Bonner Cameron.

  • Read about our one-night stay at the Capital Hotel by clicking here.

Online reservations are easy peasy through OpenTable.com, and a quick scan of the menu in advance showed some solid looking dishes in a historic, brick-exposed building.

On a Friday night, the restaurant was half full at 6:30 p.m. but the crowd kept growing with a bit of a wait for a table. Since we walked, we didn’t take advantage of the valet parking that was available out front.

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Seated quickly, we passed on what looked to be some extraordinary cocktails. The restaurant is, after all, also billed as a “Bar.”

As always, a proper review takes multiple visits to get a sense of the service and menu. This is just a snapshot of one couple’s recent experiences.

Up first was the half charcuterie board. It came in at $20 and was loaded down with very jumbo, grilled shrimp and lamb chop lollipops along with a mix of sausage, cured meats, cheeses and fruit.

The lollipop, where the bone is frenched to make a handle for the chop, was an impressively good bite. The shrimp were also very good.

The problem was we waited a bit on the board to arrive, then while still sorting through the bounty, out came our entrees.

I had ordered a New York Strip ($44), while my wife and forever dining companion had the shrimp and grits ($25). Our server apologized for the error in timing, and offered to take the entrees back, but we declined.

The medium-rare steak was cooked right and well seasoned. It came with mashed potatoes and vegetable skewers that had been grilled. It was all very good.

The shrimp and grits had been promised as not being spicy by our server, though that wasn’t the case. The sauce had quite a bit of kick from red pepper that didn’t overpower the dish, but it was enough to make the nose run. The texture of both the creamy grits and the plump shrimp was perfect.

We passed on dessert. 

The food was good to great, and the vibe was pleasant though loud.

The tab, with tax and tip, was a splurge for us at over $100, but anniversaries are only once a year. We would eat there again, but the cost makes it a special-occasion restaurant and not a regular dining spot.