A “hidden gem” is the phrase which best describes Little Owl.
Stepping into this cozy restaurant located in the west village, there is evidently a welcoming ambiance and too many delicious options to choose from on the menu. Living in uptown Manhattan, I don’t make the trip here often, but I actually procrastinated writing this review simply because I didn’t want to spread the word about their magical cuisine. However, given the line of people waiting to devour Little Owl’s brunch (and even dinner on occasion); I fear that I am too late.
Indeed, Little Owl is fully blind food critic approved:
90 Bedford St. (at Grove St.)
4.5 stars out of 5 stars
Despite the outstanding technology available in the 21st century, I am constantly amazed by good old-fashioned word of mouth. (The following story has a point to it, I promise you.)
In 2010, the now closed Rub BBQ offered something very special: an excellent hamburger only prepared on Monday nights. On one such occasion, I was fortunate enough to meet a food critic who I had read quite a bit about online: the hamburger expert
We ended up having a very intriguing conversation about New York City hamburgers. He recommended Little Owl, and I have happily dined their several times since then.
Zagat’s restaurant guide categorizes Little Owl’s food as Mediterranean. However, while dining there for lunch or brunch, I am constantly confronted with this question: should I order the hamburger or something new?
Trust me: the burger is that good; it is in fact… wait for it…
my FAVORITE HAMBURGER in New York City!
Here are the reasons why:
- The patty: A Pat Lafrieda creation (of course); featuring a blend of brisket and short rib. It is just the right size both for my appetite and to fit the bun. The beef is high quality and the combination of seasonings really brings out its natural flavor.
- The bun: It’s homemade! Yes, Little Owl makes their own hamburger buns, with just a hint of sweetness. Game over.
- The toppings: Each hamburger is topped with maple cured bacon and aged cheddar cheese. Yes, I’m a Jew who really likes bacon and this combination represents perfection.
- The fries: They are twice cooked and seasoned with a unique blend of spices. (You can tell them to leave the seasoning off if you like.)
Beyond the hamburger:
The entire menu at Little Owl is excellent, ranging far beyond the burger.
During my last meal here, I started with a mind blowing spring onion soup. Being a fan of the concept of French onion soup in general, I was both surprised and impressed with the array of flavors found in this version, as well as the combination of Parmesan, gruyere, and fontina cheeses on top.
For an entree, I decided to order an appetizer that I have been craving for years but which I have never ordered: meatball sliders. I was presented with a platter of three of these cute creations: veal, beef, and pork meatballs topped with pecorino cheese and “Italian gravy” on slider buns. As my description hopefully indicates, these were excellent and everything that I hoped they would be. The gravy is akin to a complex tomato sauce, there is a slight garlic aroma and taste to the buns, and the proportion of meatball to bun was perfect.
Finally, I tried the brandied cherry and apple strudel. (This was supposed to be served with vanilla gelato, but I changed my flavor to dark chocolate and was quite pleased.) My dessert was yet another winner: the hot and flaky strudel paired well with the tart cherries and cold ice cream.
This was quite a memorable meal, and I have yet to try their famous crispy chicken or renowned pork chop.
Please allow me to state this once again: the hamburger is great, but keep in mind that you have other outstanding options at Little Owl. As always, I appreciate the time you took to read this, now stay tuned for my video review below.