Two Little Rock chefs are semi-finalists for a James Beard award, the highest culinary honor in the industry. James Hale, the chef and owner of Acadia Restaurant, and Lee Richardson, the executive chef at Ashley's in the Capital, are both semi-finalists in the “Best Chef: South (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi)” category. Ashley's is also a nominee for Best New Restaurant. The James Beard Foundation receives some 10,000 nominations and then makes the first cut to 20 semi-finalists in 19 categories. On March 24, the foundation will announce the five finalists for each category.
Restaurateur Scott Simmons has opened Wrought Iron Grill and Pub on 614 President Clinton Ave. Adjacent to the Clinton Museum Store, the restaurant is on the ground floor of the two-story building, below the pier that stretches from the sidewalk of President Clinton Avenue. The fare includes typical American pub food, with lunch specials and daily vegetables. Simmons says he hopes to soon add dinner specials. The restaurant and its patios are non-smoking. Wrought Iron's hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Saturday.