While walking into a restaurant with outside food is usually frowned upon, walking in with dirty dishes is just plain weird – but that’s what I did at Little Giant. Let me explain; I had cooked a dish as part of my final presentation for my Food and Culture class (you’ve got to love the Food Studies Masters) and was still carrying the large pyrex with some lingering food left on the bottom when I headed to dinner. I know, it was totally weird of me, but I couldn’t throw it away, could I? After odd looks from fellow patrons and a few jokes courtesy of the cooks in the open kitchen, one of the cooks offered to clean it for me. Maybe he wanted me to stop feeling so awkward or just didn’t know what to make of me, but the gesture was appreciated. Little Giant isn’t the type of restaurant that is going to judge you for being weird or a little quirky; they are a friendly, neighborhood spot that will make you feel comfortable and at home once you walk through the door – and even more so when you eat their food.
Bringing you “seasonal American” fare, Little Giant is similar to the little owl with its two-sided glass walls and its corner location on the Lower East Side’s Orchard and Broome, but it has character of its own. The owners stripped the interior and ceiling to reveal the original framework of the late 19th century tenement building. On the ground level, cushioned seating lines the periphery of the windows, allowing those seated across the table perfect people-watching opportunities. Warm, cozy, and intimate, it fulfills the failed promises of Market Table.
But, before I begin my accolades, I need to warn you of something.
After I recommended the restaurant to someone, he told me that when he looked up reviews on Menupages a lot of people commented that the service was horrible. Well, they’re right. It’s not fantastic service. You will most likely be forgotten about, and have to wait a little longer than you wanted to place your wine order, or your food order – but once you’ve side-stepped those hurtles, you are in for some serious TLC.
Starting with the vibrant and spicy herb goat cheese stuffed peppadew peppers or the steamed cockles bathing in a spicy tomato broth and swimming with tiny cuts of andouille sausage, your mind and stomach will begin to relax and prepare for the meal ahead. Though the menu is small, there is always a vegetarian option and a “swine of the week” that the owners vow will never be chicken. When it’s the apple cider braised Berkshire pork butt, make sure to order and devour it. The meat pulls apart with a gentle tug of your fork, leaving a few strands clinging on as the rest slowly falls into the sweet comforting arms of the quince-applesauce – and then into your all-too-eager mouth. The molasses braised short ribs presents itself as a darker and more intense-looking dish, but it’s one that will cause dish-envy even from a pork butt beholder. You would be hard pressed to find someone leaving anything behind or untouched – I would have licked the sauce off of my plate if it were socially acceptable to do so.
Issuing one last warning, I will say that the fish options are less than ideal. But the dessert is fantastic. With sticky toffee pudding (think caramelized bananas, toffee sauce, and vanilla gelato) and a thin mint sundae on the menu, how could you go wrong?When dining at the Little Giant, go hungry, be patient, and order some meat. Maybe even bring your dirty dishes.