It is rare that I head down to TriBeCa to investigate new or notable restaurants, but Little Park seemed intriguing...
Nathan was finishing up a course at General Assembly and I thought it would be fun to go a to celebrate the end of his class. While I was thinking about where to go, I was simultaneously scrolling through my Twitter feed. At that exact moment (if this were a made for TV Disney movie, there would be lighting outside as my iPad light up and my hair got frizzy), Grubstreet's tweet popped up in my feed about a "farm-to-table knockout" and that it was Andrew Carmellini's version of ABC Kitchen. I called immediately and easily got a reservation for 2 people for the next week. I excitedly texted Nathan and told him to keep the following Wednesday free for a surprise.
You've probably heard of The Dutch, Lafayette, and Bar Primi, which are all also part of Anderw Carmellini's empire. Bar Primi is good, and I love Lafayette (mostly for brunch!), so I figured Little Park had some great potential.
Nathan tried to guess where I might be taking him, and for some reason believed I was taking him to the new location of Mission Chinese. Nope (okay, also a very probable choice if it had been open). The Monday before our reservation, Little Park was a nominee for the category of "So Hot Right Now" for the 2014 NY Eater awards. Nathan sent me the link to the article, "I've never heard of Little Park! How have we never heard of Little Park?". I sunk into my chair and smiled mischievously behind the glare of my smart phone. Ha, foiled! I responded "Oh, I have no idea, we should look into getting a reservation!"
Little Park is in the Smyth Hotel, just off Chambers Street. Just across the lobby is another Carmellini newbie, the Evening Bar, where we started the night out with some exceptional cocktails.
I was in a winter cocktail mood, and the Boston Marriage was perfect - all I saw was "maple syrup" and "cranberry reduction" and didn't need any further prodding!
Little Park has a seasonal menu, and the dishes are meant to be shared. I noticed that the cocktail I had at the Evening Bar was not available at the restaurant, but some drinks did overlap. I ordered the Brown Derby once we were seated at our booth.
We started off scallops and oysters, I think the scallops were much tastier. Also, they kind of look like Ariel's bikini top, right?
Off the "Autumn Vegetables" section, we ordered the artichoke stuffed with lamb. I had read about this dish, and I would say it was "good" not "OMGIWANTMOREOFTHIS". I liked the cucumber ribbons on top individually, but I don't know if it meshed well with this dish. The tomato sauce underneath was bursting with flavor, but I guess the dish didn't come together as a whole.
We also ordered the crispy brussels sprouts. Okay, this dish was very "OMGIWANTMOREOFTHISNOW". The dish was prepared with smoked parsnip and apples, and I am hoping to recreate this for Thanksgiving this year. This was outstanding, and I think I would trek all the way back to TriBeCA just to have it again.
We ordered the dry-aged duck and kebab and the spiced shellfish ragu. I'm not sure what was going on with the ragu, it wasn't notable in any capacity.
The dry-aged duck, and especially the kebab, were delicious! The quinoa and other stuff on the bottom were unnecessary, the meat and sauce itself were a great showcase of flavors!
We ordered two desserts, the milk chocolate tart, and the cinnamon toast ice cream. So, the tart itself was very tasty, and I loved the chocolate graham cracker crust, but, the pears on top were not meshing together.
The cinnamon toast ice cream is a must order! Remember cinnamon toast crunch from our childhood days? This is basically that, in a creamier, adult form. Look at this beauty!
Overall: The cocktails were whimsical, and certain dishes were quite remarkable, while others just didn't come together for me, so quality and taste was hit or miss. This was dubbed as Carmellini's answer to ABC Kitchen, and I don't think it comes close to my beloved ABC Kitchen. I would come back in the spring to try new offerings and see how it has evolved since it is still fairly new and probably working out menu kinks. Ok, I would also come down here tonight or at any given point in time to eat multiple orders of the Crispy Brussels Sprouts and the Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream.
85 West Broadway (at Chambers)
New York, New York 10007
Call for reservations. Little Park is open for breakfast Monday - Friday, 7am-11am, and dinner, Monday - Saturday, 5:30pm - 11pm. It may be hard to get a reservation now, as just a few days back, NY Eater named Little Park as one of the finalists for the "So Hot Right Now" category.