To say that Agasi 7, the new rooftop bar and restaurant atop the Downtown Hilton Garden Inn, is the most anticipated opening of the year is an understatement. We track new announcements heavily and it is the most talked about this year, and third most since we started Rock City Eats. They finally opened their doors last Friday, does the reality live up to the hype?
In most ways, the answer is yes. Especially considering the hype has mostly been directed at the view, and it is quite simply second to none in Little Rock. Facing west off the main rooftop section and dining room you have unobstructed view of downtown, and partial views of the River Market area. The seating layout is positioned in a way that draws you into the view wherever you are sitting in the main areas.
The back rooftop section is a little more subdued with views toward the south of downtown. There is a ton of housing construction going on in the area, so it should improve over time, but it will be a while before that has the same urban landscape of the other direction. Still though this view is completely unobstructed and offers a nice quiet getaway when visiting.
Things have changed a bit (to say the least) since our initial announcement. The fire pits are a welcome touch with lounge style seating around. They decided to forgo the full roof coverings until spring, so rainy weather is a no-go outside. Thankful the combination of fire pits and portable heaters should keep the area fairly warm as winter approaches. Seating is going to fill up fast outside, but there are plenty of surfaces to put a drink down while standing up.
Inside all the attention is directed out at the windows, with the partially open kitchen design framing the back wall. There is a good mix of bar, pub, and lounge seating throughout. Color changing LEDs dominate the entrance wall and bar giving it a very hip lounge feel that will attract younger crowds.
The only real questionable design element here is the glass cooler they opted for that was originally intended to showcase the beer kegs on hand. Kegs are sort of ugly in case you haven’t noticed, something the staff clearly did and they have placed boxes from their bottled beer in front to hide things. It stands out from the otherwise chic look of the place.
Now for the big unknown going in, food and drinks. To start there is a strong craft beer list, using many local brews. The wine list is limited and toward the low to mid-range variety with a handful of whites, reds, and a single prosecco. Wine is not going to be the big feature here, but it is enough to get by, with decent wine spots around like Dizzy’s, Cooper Grill, and Zin Wine Bar there are plenty of places in the area to fill that need.
The cocktail side of things fits everything else. A good list of traditional cocktails that you would expect most places to be able to pull off. The big draw here is going to be the wood smoked cocktails, which are usually spirit heavy cocktails that includes smoke captured in the glass from torching a wood plank before pouring the cocktail. When done well it imparts some different flavor elements to the cocktail.
The only problem on the cocktail side is a lack of some higher end spirits. Don’t expect a nice bourbon, scotch, mezcal or rum for sipping. things top out around Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, and the like. As a rum guy don’t get me started on the rum list. However for mostly $8 cocktails it is hard to complain, what they have is good for the space and your tab at the end of the night will thank you. If you want a high end whiskey Dugan’s across the street carries one of the best bar selections in town for that.
Food wise they are utilizing their pizza oven for almost every dish. They have a strong selection of pizzas, a few great oven items like cedar plank salmon and a ribeye, and a surprisingly great lineup of sharables that will no doubt be the most ordered items. I didn’t get a chance to grab a bite in my visit, but a friend who did said the food was solid all around. I am especially interested in trying the pizza, considering they keep their oven at a lower temp than most other places in town. It is something they say is remedied by a heating element underneath the bottom stone that keeps things nice and hot.
Overall Agasi 7 is exactly what you would expect. The absolute best view in a Little Rock restaurant with a chic design to go with it. It is hard not to get lost in the atmosphere of the place. The drinks all around are solid, but nothing that will blow you away. The food shows good promise and should continue to improve as they spend more time playing with the oven.
It is a great place to stop off with some friends, in fact I would recommend visiting with friends. It is going to be a fantastic place to stop for pre or post dinner drinks, before a concert, or just a nice night out with a few close friends. It fills a very needed spot in the Little Rock landscape and continues the downtown revitalization that is going on. It will be interesting to see long term if it becomes more of a local hangout, or if the out of town River Market crowd starts to bleed into the area.