Friday, July 29, 2011

Little Lad's Vegan Restaurant- Go Before They Close!

Despite my unnatural affinity for their extraordinary packaged items- including, but not limited to, Herbal Corn, cookiesvarious dessert goodies, and other popcorn flavors- I'd thus far never been to Little Lad's Vegan Restaurant for a meal. When I explained this to the cashier, he told me that he was glad I'd come because it's good to enjoy a seated meal, rather than eating on the go.  It was a genuine commendation and he was right.

Little Lad's only serves breakfast and lunch; one recent summer Friday, I joined two friends for lunch.

basement lower arcade, 120 Broadway

An unassuming but informative entrance, I barely paused to read the signs before running inside.  But do note the "A".

that freezer inside under the sign is full of Nice Cream

A whole rack of popcorn!  There was actually another, significantly larger rack across from this one but I couldn't get a clear shot- another customer was antagonisticly obliviously blocking my photographic intentions.

the hallway on the left leads to the dining rooms

This rack is full of all kinds of other goodies: granola, crackers, cookies.  There are even Little Lad's t-shirts, sweatshirts and totebags for the true loyalists.

Always nice to see a spread of the most accessible vegan food of all: snacks that come in their own, natural wrapper.  I'm more interested in dessert, of course; but, always nice.

And, finally, into (one of ) the dining rooms for the buffet.  For a mind-boggling $5.98 you may have one dinner plate and one bowlful of the rotating food selections of your choosing from the hot and cold buffets, as well as the fruit bar; refills are $1.00.  If you'd prefer, there is also a menu that you may order from instead.  I've heard good things about the menu items (burgers, nachos, pizza), but I wanted the real Lad's experience.

This is one quarter of one of the (seemingly Holland-inspired) dining rooms in a rare moment later in the afternoon when it wasn't filled to capacity.  Earlier, both rooms were so crowded that strangers were sharing tables.

Onto the grub.  The atmosphere at Little Lad's is on the quiet side and I felt it would have been too disrespectful to the regular patrons to have photographically documented the buffet.  Suffice it to say, it's your standard buffet set-up: nothing at all fancy.  The presentation is predominantly stainless steel and the signage mostly hand-written. 

Plate #1 (clockwise from top) corn pone, sweet potato with onions, beans, cole slaw, chick peas, kale, mixed veggies, guacamole in the center.

photo courtesy of My Vegan Gut
Plate #2: I won't even try to decipher the individual contents of this masterfully assembled platter; suffice it to say, it was more of the same.  Do admire our assorted colored trays.

photo courtesy of alz
 Plate #3 (mine):
  • The sliced sweet potato didn't look like anything special, but it was actually deliciously roasted with a nice amount of flavorful onion slices.
  • I had no idea what corn pone was, but it looked intriguing.  It turned out to be a casserole consisting of a layer of Mexi-style vegetable protein and seasoned beans topped with corn bread.  So good!
  • The guacamole was a little smooth and watery for my taste, but perhaps that's why they serve it with the salads rather than offering chips.
  • The chilled carrot salad was not my cup of tea, although I can't pinpoint exactly why; my tablemate enjoyed.
  • I was always a potato or macaroni salad type of girl, but this cole slaw looked so deli-realistic that I had to give it a try.  It was great and could pass for the "real" thing any day.
  • The sauteed kale didn't seem to be seasoned at all and was unfortunately so overcooked that we joked that it was devoid of any of its original nutrients.
  • But it was very good mixed with the unassuming but tasty chilled chick pea salad.

There was absolutely no reason for me to eat any more, but I had to check out the fruit salad bar.  Normally I would have bypassed the creamy topping, but one of my dining companions- a Lad's regular- gave it the thumbs up.  The pink-tinge (strawberry?) made it considerably more appealing than I expected and I drizzled it liberally over my fresh fruit, housemade granola, and toasted coconut shavings.  It was all delicious- especially the cream topping.  This bowl of yumminess was worth the $5.98 alone.

We skipped all of the larger desserts: ice cream, pie, etc., but on the way out I finally got my hands on a dessert that Lad's calls a need 'em.  These are small, chilled, chocolate-covered orbs of...sweetness.  My friend usually gets the original, which he believes is coconut (next time!).  I chose the almond, and there was also mint.  Although small, it was sweet (dates?), rich, and satisfying after the carb-heavy meal.  Not sure exactly what it's made of, but you definitely do need 'em.

Little Lad's offers a basket, I offer a need 'em. (photo courtesy of alz)

Little Lad's is a bit of a mystery, but it's good, honest, fairly priced food that has been a staple downtown for five years and draws quite a crowd of people I can only assume are not all vegan.  Good food = vegan activism!

Unfortunately, according to their website,

"We regret to announce that Little Lad's at 120 Broadway will be closing it's doors as of August 5th.  This building has some new partners who have other plans for this space. Feel free to call Silverstein Properties and join us in thanking them for allowing us to serve you here for over 5 years. Silverstein Properties is showing us other restaurant options in this area. Keep in touch with us regarding a reopening of Little Lad's in NYC. Any Ideas? Send us an email at:"

This is very disappointing; I hope to hear that they've found a new location soon.  If you have yet to visit Little Lad's, I strongly urge you to do so; there is no place else like it.  Okay, except for their location in Portland Maine, which I can only assume is at least similar.  Go!  [UPDATE 8/2/11: A reliable source tells me that Lad's is expected to stay open through 8/12/11].

1 comment:

  1. Abby,

    I love Little Lads, and I'm so happy you were able to go.

    It's really sad to see them go. I hope they pop up again soon.

    Great post!


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