Little Giant: Giant Flavor
From the moment I stepped in the door I had high expectations for this snug spot on the Lower East Side. Tantalizing smells wafted from the open kitchen, bottles clinked softly behind the bar, and benches cushioned with eclectic colorful pillows lined the windowed walls. Warm and cozy, Little Giant reminded me of a bohemian mother’s kitchen.
The corner restaurant must be flooded with light during the day, as 2 of the 4 walls are floor-to-ceiling windows (perfect for people-watching). The decor is simple, eclectic, comfortable, and decidedly bohemian in spirit. Low lighting, funky pillows, sturdy wooden tables, and flickering candles set the mood for good hearty food.
In the fashion of a sommelier, the bartender approached our table first – asking for only our drink order. Friendly and very wry, she explained some of the creative concoctions on the menu and took our order. The seasonally-inspired cocktails are made from fresh and unusual ingredients. I gave the Orchard a whirl, and it packed quite an interesting punch with apricot liqueur, bourbon, and agave nectar.
Long after the bartender brought us our drinks, our server finally came to take our food order. If I have one complaint about Little Giant, it is the bizarrely pretentious and pretty terrible service from the waitstaff. Our waitress was brusque, snooty, and unhelpful. She never checked on our meal, once it was served, took forever to bring anything, and was just downright neglectful. I also noticed that she forgot to bring side dishes to our neighboring table. If the food and general ambiance weren’t so damn wonderful, I’d write this little spot off immediately.
And yes, the food was wonderful. Self-described as ‘seasonal American’ guaranteed to serve ‘belly-filling goodness’ and ‘refined comfort food,’ Little Giant, like so many hip and young downtown restaurants, focuses on locally-sourced market-fresh ingredients. My foodie-ful group immediately insisted on orders of the ‘city famous’ buttermilk-chive biscuits with honey butter as well as the taleggio polenta, seasonal pasta with fresh vegetables and mushrooms, and the kobe beef bavette. The biscuits were pretty tasty, although definitely not the best I’ve ever had (in fact, JoeDoe‘s were fluffier by far). They were flaky with a tough crust and soft crumbly interior. The honey butter was truly delightful. The kobe beef was generously portioned for $24 and cooked a perfect medium-rare. It was a melt-in-your-mouth piece of beef on top of fresh creamed spinach (mmm!) and strangely sweet root vegetables that looked potatoes yet could not possibly have been. The spaghetti was remarkably light and refreshing, despite being served in a mountainous heap. If you’re looking for a lighter dish in this comfort-food oriented spot, definitely opt for the pasta.
Little Giant is a tasty, warm, and cozy foodie den in an up-and-coming neighborhood. The young ownership does very well in sourcing the very best local ingredients available, and that shows in the hearty delicious grub. The corner window spot (definitely the best table in the house) is the ideal backdrop for a romantic date or for a cheerful gathering of friends. The friendly little bar is perfect for a nightcap on your way home. Check it out when seeking a laidback foodie-fit comfort food haven with kickass cocktails and a sweet warm vibe.