THE LITTLE OWL: A hyped-up pork chop, and then some.
This small, square-room restaurant in the West Village has a very local neighborhood feel to it. It is dark and cozy, lively and noisy, but without that crowded, cramped feeling.
The meatball sliders appetizer, with tomato sauce on a sliced cheese bun, was good, but not overly special. More than anything else, it was a comforting starter after walking in from a slightly breezy and chilly night.
Our other appetizer, the crab cake, tasted too fishy and did not impress. I'd love to be able to sample this when crabs are in season. Nonetheless, the accompanying vinaigrette-dressed endive and watercress salad were crunchy fresh and tasted very good.
Contrary to recent restaurant experiences we've been having, it's the entrees here that generated the most excitement from us.
The Crispy Chicken dish was delicious. Cooked well, juicy and tasty. The sides included something called a bacon torta - a delicious fried wedged-shaped mixture of eggs, vegetables and bacon. Overall, this dish was nicely executed.
And about that pork chop. The thickest that I've had, anywhere, it was tender, very moist on the inside and just very slightly pink in the middle but tasted cooked all the way through, and has that nicely-browned flavorful thin layer of fat on the sides. The sauce was delicious. These guys know how to do their accompanying sides, very well. The soft beans with parmesan and slight hint of vinegar was very good and complementary. This dish is well worth the buzz that it seems to have been getting.
We shared a small cheese plate, but it was the 4 raspberry-filled beignets with a large dollop of nutella on the side that made a terrific ending to a good meal. It was a very simple-looking dessert that drove home the solid and very satisfying comfort food theme that this restaurant amply delivered.
I'll be calling in for our next reservation very soon.
the pork was great, however when i went the service was so aloof that we were shocked at 2stars? After arriving on a sunday around 8:30(w/no res)we were hurried in.....there were many open tables? Then the server pounced on us numerous times, I counted three in the first ten min! Can't I look at the menu? Oh, they were out of 2 of 6 dishes at 8:30? She then got upset that we weren't ready and ignored us for almost 15min....I got up to get her when she refused to come to the table. That would be the last interaction with the server all night, until she dropped the check.
The food started with boring, sloppy reditions of classic apps, like the "fishy" crabcake with the whatever is on the line salad. The prices? Why are the apps so expensive, almost as much as the entrees? The desserts were the most aweful excuses for pastry work. We sat near the kitchen and the romance of the dining room is killed by the brightest set of cheap flourescents blairing out from within the kitcen.
I am lost on the slider craze. aren't there places that do the same quality as these fancy imposters at prices most closely related to street food?! Looking into the kitchen is not impressive every night.....there was no sign of a chef or even a chef type, just "cooks"(sloppy looking ones at best).
Frank bruni needs to reevaluate what he was thinking and little owl needs to return to substance in dining and eliminate the elightest attitude they are quickly developing.
yup, i'm sure. We had a $17 duck (all apps) and the crabcake was $14 or $15....the gnocchi was priced ok at $10, but was close to beef a roni flavor? Don't get me wrong i like beef a roni, just not at a two star rest. Sliders, what the !!!! So gimmicky, and are not as good as people have been told they think they are, you know what I mean? NYC is a shame, PR is a monster and buzz is worse. Maybe the owl was great food and service, just wish they didn't go on auto-pilot.
Is the thrill of the pork chop just the quality of the meat or is it something the restaurant does (other than cook it correctly) -- e.g. the brining or marinating, or the sauce and presentation. I ask for this reason: the best pork chop I've ever had I get from a store in Tulsa (where I currently am) It is cut over two inches thick and weighs well over a pound. It has rich, incredible flavor. So if the Little Owl chop is good because of something the restaurant does, I will go there at 5 PM as soon as I'm in NYC, sit at the bar and order it. But if it's just the meat, I will still go to Little Owl... but I'll skip the pork and order the chicken.
About that Tulsa store: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/313245
re: Brian S
Even I feel that my own home prepared pork chop cannot be beaten by any of the restaurant ones that I've had. But , so far, the LO pork chop had been better than any I've had in restaurants here in NYC.
It was tasty and juicy - afaic, that is a sign of the brining or marinating and, more important, the cooking. The sauce was very good, too. I'm also sure that this one is over 2 inches thick, but I wasn't able to weigh it.
As far as the poster who stated that "NYC is a a shame ... Blah, blah blah ...", I've never relied on PR -otherwise, I would have blindly followed tha Blue Hill at Stone Barns, A Voce and L'Attelier craze, which has their detractors here and elsewhere. We simply liked what we had at LO.
IMHO, the pork chop is definitiely worth the positive things that I've heard about, plus it's a good value at $20.