Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal
New restaurants have a tendency to be hit or miss. Fortunately, that's not the case with Capi's, the new eatery that's opened in the spot formerly occupied by Imagine A Restaurant in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center off Cantrell Road. Trio's owners Capi Peck and Brent Peterson have a good track record, so we're looking for a longer-lived restaurant in this spot.
At Capi's, our waitress on our lunch visit informed us, the idea is to tap into tapas: small dishes you can share with friends or keep for yourself.
We're the sharing type. And we're the trying-out type. Small portions call for many orders. And so:
We started lunch with the Tuna Tataki and the Cuban Picadillo. The Tataki ($9) is a work of art, a delicately balanced sculpture of fried wonton skins, fresh avocado and fresh tuna on a tahini-drizzled platter. A couple of chain restaurants in the area serve this dish hot; Capi's serves it cold, which allowed the delicate tuna flavor and texture to star rather than the soy and wasabi seasonings.
The Cuban Picadillo ($8 for a two-person serving) was a complex hot dish that complimented the Tataki. Where the Tataki was cool and refreshing, the picadillo was warm and hearty, a thick casserole of ground sirloin, peppers, onions, apples, raisins, green olives and cheese, served with warmed soft flour tortilla halves — well balanced between comfortable and exciting.
We also tried the chicken kebabs ($6), six skewered buttery-soft medallions and slices of purple onion served over a generous portion of Greek salad dotted with feta cheese, red bell peppers, green and black olives, red onion and a well-balanced vinaigrette.
We couldn't pass up dessert, especially after seeing the four selections pass repeatedly by our table. We chose a terrific raspberry cream cheese torte, a sweet-tart combo on a nutty house-made crust.
Then there are the “After Five” selections, small entree-style offerings and sides.
One of our “After Five” companions went for the Petit Beef Tenderloin Celeste ($12), a 4-ounce portion of filet with a port wine demi-glace. We're not really sure why the tenderloin was served with a knife — the rosemary-laced beef fell apart at the touch of the fork.
Our other dining companion chose the Guacamole a la Capi ($7.50 for a two-person serving) and Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp Remoulade ($10). The guacamole came with blue corn chips and was more avocado than anything else (we were hard-pressed to taste any citrus in it). The shrimp was perfect — not chewy, not rubbery, not underdone. The fried green tomatoes were a delight: crispy and tart and perfect with the slightly sweet remoulade.
We also shared an order of Magical Mushrooms ($5), tender strips of portabellos sauteed with sherry, garlic and asparagus that didn't bear the slime or heft of the average sauteed mushroom dish. We also shared what could be the restaurant's best value, Lorri's Favorite Mac & Cheese ($4 for a two-person order). Orrecchiete pasta tossed with sharp white cheddar and gruyere in a creamy bechamel sauce, the dish was big enough to serve as a meal.
But by far our favorite was the Truffled Vegetable Pot Pie ($10), a tasty combination of butternut squash, fennel, mushrooms, potatoes, toasted hazelnuts and white truffles under a perfect puff pastry lid. An herb bechamel sauce brought this potentially ordinary dish into the extraordinary range.
At our evening meal, we enjoyed three other dessert offerings — a Ginger Spice Cake with slivers of candied ginger throughout, a creme brulee served just lightly caramelized with a couple of shaved chocolate straws, and a pumpkin mousse of epic proportions drizzled with toffee crumbs and whipped cream.
About the service: For a brand new eatery, Capi's staff seemed to have its responsibilities down pat. You won't be disappointed.
Pleasant Ridge Town Center, 11525 Cantrell, Suite 917
Desserts are $5.50 and change daily, depending on what Capi Peck's brother decides to whip up. So far, we have been pleasantly surprised by both the experimentation in the offerings and by the generous portions. Lunch selections also include a variety of designer salads and sandwiches ranging from $6 to $12.50.
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mon. through Thu.; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fri. and Sat.
Credit cards. Full bar. Reservations accepted.