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Jan 17, 2009 09:04 AM

Little Owl, Hearth or Country? Help Me Decide!

NY Hounds, I am coming up from Philly to your fair city for Valentine's Day and need help deciding where to eat before a show at the Jazz Standard (but closeness to that venue is not really of importance). I KNOW there are people who hate hate hate when somone makes multiple reservation but alas, that is what I've done. I plan on canceling two of them ASAP after your input.

My reservation at Little Owl was made after dialing for 30 minutes straight at 10 am one month in advance and all they had left was 5:15 and 10:00! (I took the former). They'll be doing a $75 multicourse dinner as well as their regular menu (a nice option I think). Hearth and Country have not decided what they'll be doing for that evening. So my question is, which restaurant should I take my wife to? I am leaning toward Little Owl, followed by Hearth, but Country looks very pretty. Give me your opinions please and thank you!

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  1. With regard to Country, if you are thinking of the formal dining room, forget it because it is closed. Now being used only for private functions. So, that leaves the Cafe, and I cannot recommend it. When we were there for dinner two years ago, there were major problems with the food and service. A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a manager who used to work there but left. He told me that Chef Geoffrey Zakarian is no longer associated with the restaurants, and that the entire operation is one big disaster area.

    3 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Wow! Thanks RGR. The person I spoke to on the phone didn't mention that (maybe she assumed I knew that). No wonder the cafe menu comes up when you click on "Dining Room Menu". Well that leaves two then, Little Owl or Hearth?

      1. re: Schpsychman

        Totally different price points and atmosphere between LO and Hearth. We loved our meals at both. It depends on the night you are looking to have outside the good food.

        1. re: Schpsychman

          I had a feeling no mention was made of the facts when you reserved. After having that conversation with the former manager, I purposely checked the website, and that's when I saw the same menu for both the dining room and the Cafe. Frankly, I think it's a hoax since there should be no menu for the dining room. Certainly gives meaning to the warning, "Caveat emptor!"

      2. Little Owl is very romantic. The neighborhood, the room. You won't be disappointed.

        1. I had Christmas Eve dinner at Little Owl, and it was a very nice experience. The food is very good, if a little uneven. The scallop appetizer was terrific; the arctic char main was well-executed but ordinary. My SO had the tasting menu, which was more interesting, generally. Hearth is also fine, but Little Owl is a much prettier room.

          Like you, I made a reservation for 5:15, the only time available (probably because people make three reservations for the same night - hello!). I asked to be notified if anything later opened up, which it did - 5:45. Once we got to the restaurant, our table wasn't ready, so we were seated near the bar & had drinks. We ended up eating around 6:45, which was fine by me.

          2 Replies
          1. re: small h

            Thank you all! I obviously want more romantic for Valentine's Day and LO looks very romantic to me. Sounds like it is a very safe bet so I think I will cancel at Country (that IS deceptive what they are doing) and Hearth (doesn't look that romantic to me) and request to be notified if anything later opens up at LO.

            Little Owl for dinner followed by Esperanza Spalding at the Jazz Standard, some dancing after that, and then returning to the Hotel Chandler for some fun and then finally sleep. Sounds like a really good evening to me! Thanks again, and did I mention that there is no other place like Manhattan in any season of the year?

            1. re: Schpsychman

              We haven't been to Little Owl, though I'm familiar with the tiny space from when it was the home an excellent French bistro. Even with different decor, I imagine it remains cozy and romantic.

              We have been to Hearth. We were seated at a two-top in the very large front room, which includes the bar area on one end. I would describe the decor as "early warehouse." The thing that saved it and gave it decent ambiance was the lighting. Still, all groups larger than four are seated there, and the noise level was fairly high. Could be on Valentine's Day, there will only be couples, so that would probably make a difference in the noise level. Also, there is a smaller back room where, I was told by our server, tables accommodate only 2 to 4 people, so it's bound to be quieter. Perhaps, with the appropriate lighting, even romantic.

          2. I don't think you can go wrong w/either Little Owl or Hearth. Little Owl is smaller and more romantic. The food also is heartier than Hearth. Hearth is a larger space and the food is a little more subtle and interesting in flavoring than Little Owl. I haven't been to Country but from what I've read, it's a shell of its former self these days.

            1. i was genuinely disappointed with Hearth. Unless I just ordered the wrong things, I found it mediocre at best. Go with your early res at Little Owl. The place is cozy (aka tiny) and the food is fantastic, I think. Everything I've had there has been delicious. It's not that inventive, just plain good. Great execution of their dishes.

              1 Reply