Thursday, November 6, 2008

Little Giant

One of the best things about New York is that you are constantly discovering old friends throughout the city. Just as some of your best friends move away, you realize that many of your oldest friends have been living here all along. You have probably been going to the same bars, restaurants, and parties as them for years and may have never even realized it. Through friend of friends, I recently realized that two of my first nursery school friends have been living in NYC for several years now. Having moved to the south at the age of 5, I had definitely lost touch with them, but was excited to reconnect. It can be overwhelming picking out a restaurant for a group, but even more so when it's for group of people you may not even recognize when meeting up. While food is always top priority, I was also on a mission to choose a spot with character, in a fun part of town, and with a setting where we could actually hear each other. Little Giant ended up being a great place for our reunion.

I have always known that any friend of mine loves food - and it was so nice to see that was the case with even my childhood friends - I could even pick them out at age 3. Every one was up for sharing and trying as many things as possible on the menu. But, in the end, it came down to two words - short ribs. They were absolutely amazing. This was the winner of the night and a definite must. The bourbon molasses braised short ribs were served with rockland plantation stone ground grits and roasted tuscan kale with pine nuts, raisins, and grana padano cheese. Not only was the meat perfectly tender bringing out the hints of molasses and bourbon, but the kale was slightly charred adding great flavor and texture to the dish.

But, I should probably back up to the start of the meal, since we had previously consumed many other great dishes that led up to this glorious one. Little Giant serves organic, farm-fresh fare down on Orchard Street in the Lower Eastside. The chefs bike to greenmarkets and local farm stands to hand pick the freshest and most seasonal ingredients, allowing the chefs to constantly change up the menu. We began the meal with warm spinach dip served with thinly sliced toast, and, unlike the typical version of this dish, you could actually taste the fresh greens. The spicy okra and the buttermilk-chive biscuits served with honey butter were also great accompaniments. While they were of course familiar with biscuits, I was able to introduce my old northern friends to one of my favorite southern veggies - their spicy tomato based preparation did the okra great justice. Another popular main course were the dayboat scallops on top of a butternut squash puree, toasted hazelnuts, and mache salad - all reflecting the bold flavors of the season.

While Facebook had already caught us up on the past few years, we had about about 15 more to catch up on throughout the meal. Over the course of the evening, we were never rushed and never without some form of food or drink in front of us - a great way to cover all grounds. It soon became clear how interesting and different all of our lives had become since our last pre-k gathering. Little Giant had brought together four old friends, making us realize how easy it is to reunite, catch up, and enjoy great food. I already look forward to our next gathering or even run in since we now know what each other look like. And since it's been awhile since I mentioned them - I want to leave you with the final thought - short ribs. I just hope that even as the menu changes, short ribs will always be in season.

Little Giant
85 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002-4564
Phone: (212) 226-5047

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