It’s Saturday afternoon at The Capital’s Seafood House and the lunch crowd has died down. Light pours in the big windows that face Third Street. Servers take the opportunity to tidy tables and check their phones. A young family strolls in as Prince Williams, chef and general manager, enters the dining room from the kitchen’s swinging doors.
“Third time this week!” Williams shouts as the family settles in to a corner booth. “Yep, third time,” the young man says as hands are shaken and menus are placed on the table.
Williams hopes his bar and seafood shack will earn a reputation for solid food and keep people coming back. “It was a little slow at first, you know, but once people come in, we have a lot of repeat customers,” he says. “I want this to be the seafood capital of Arkansas. That’s why we’re right by the Capitol.”
Williams is an ex-football player and he looks the part. A former wide receiver and safety (for the University of Central Arkansas and the Arkansas Twisters), he takes up some space in the kitchen. After his football career ended, he decided to make a go of cooking after working with his brother at The House of Philly, formerly located on 12th Street in Little Rock. “I thought, this is something I could really do, so I got my culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Dallas.”
Originally from Seattle, Williams says seafood has always been a part of his life and it shows in the cooking. Start with the Baby Shrimp ($7). The shrimp, despite their moniker, are big, plump and juicy. They’re dusted with the right amount of batter and served with cocktail sauce.
The gumbo is good for a starter or a meal. There are three different types on offer: chicken, shrimp or duck. Each starts with a sausage gumbo base and the different toppings are added in. We can’t turn down duck anywhere, especially in a gumbo. Our cup ($6) boasted a beautiful, dark brown roux. It was well-seasoned and tasty. The pieces of duck breast were thrown on the griddle, and for the perfect amount of time, too. Each piece was nicely seared: slightly crispy, tender and juicy. It will be difficult not to order this on each return visit.
The “Signature” dishes make for a great lunch. This is probably one of the only places in Little Rock to get a lobster roll ($15), and it’s one we’ll come back for. The lobster comes tossed lightly in mayo. There’s a bit of seasoning and celery for crunch. The chunks of lobster are that lovely shade of bright red, buttery and delicious.
The Seafood Burger and Fries ($17) is another winner, and great if you’re in the mood for something rich. Think of a crab cake, then add lobster and shrimp to the mix. The “patty” is breaded and fried. Topped with lettuce and tomato, it’s a hearty sandwich, and will make you feel like you’re in Florida or south Louisiana. We’d be remiss for failing to give a special mention to the fries, which fall somewhere in between you’re usual skinny strips and steak fries. They’re fat. Crispy on the outside, and melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside.
The menu is huge. Williams offers burgers, boiled seafood (including snow crab, lobster tail, mussels and shrimp), lobster macaroni, fried catfish and shrimp and grits. Our server spoke highly of the seafood pasta. But you can’t go wrong with a po’ boy. Our Fried Oyster po’ boy ($9) came out stacked with oysters and dressed with fresh lettuce and tomato. The oysters were done right, not overcooked, and fried to a nice golden brown.
If you’re in the mood for drinks, the House of Seafood does drink specials at night. Williams is hoping to cultivate a great spot to hang out, eat good food and have a good time.
“We got a good bar crowd at night,” Williams says. “We have happy hour after nine. It’s a good crowd and I like that.
“We want to be a bar, seafood spot, like a real seafood shack. I think we’re hitting our groove now. Mostly I just want people to leave here happy.”
The Capital’s Seafood House
1706 W. Third St.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tue.-Thu., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun.