Regina Schrambling's Almond-Cranberry Cookies
Andrea Nguyen's Tom Kho

Little Giant


Do you know what that is? That, dear readers, is a pickle plate. A plateful of freshly pickled vegetables (beans! carrots! jicama! watermelon peel! red beets! yellow beets! and two kinds of onions!) that a group of us ordered last night to share at what may very well be my new favorite restaurant in New York: Little Giant. Something about that pickle plate sums up the loveliness of this place: simple but interesting, delicious but unpretentious, well-presented but unfussy.

A small, warm little storefront on the Lower East Side with just a smattering of tables, the restaurant is cozy and warm (though the staff seemed uniformly glum), not too loud (I've grown sensitive in my old age), and not uncomfortably full. Along with our plate of tangy pickles (with varying degrees of spice and sourness) to start, we nibbled on rosemary and orange-scented olives (picholine, I think?) and had sweet little quartinos of wine.

Our meal was delicious: the plates of arctic char with brussels sprouts and parsnip puree that some girls ordered were licked clean, and the short ribs with bourbon-molasses glaze, wild mushrooms, polenta and arugula were so big and flavorful that I actually took home leftovers for lunch today. A Kansas City native at the table said the short ribs weren't as moist as they could have been, but being an ignoramus of such details, I thought they were tasty as could be.

I loved that we could get a reservation without a hassle, that the room was well-lit and didn't smell unpleasantly of stale food, that the food was well-made with thought and care, that we didn't have to pay through the nose, that they brought us the bill with tiny rolls of Smarties, and that the attention to detail didn't overshadow the delicious food.

Oh, you'll probably want to know about dessert. We shared chocolate bread pudding with wee little cherries and a dollop of plain whipped cream, but I didn't need more than a spoonful or two, as the icing on the cake, to be convinced: I love this place and I can't wait to go back again. Especially since it'll mean more pickles. And what could be better than that?