This weekend was glorious. It seemed as though the entire city emerged from the dark depths of winter with smiles, strollers, and ecstatic and out of shape dogs, beckoned by the sunshine permeating through blackout blinds. Despite a wine headache and my brand new linen sheets luring me back to bed, the unavoidable rays forced me up and out at an ambitiously early time.
After a quick trip to beat the lines at Trader Joe’s (yes, we were up that early) we were off to amble around all of my favorite neighborhoods with no purpose or agenda, other than enjoying the beautiful weather. By the time I’d walked off my dinner at Babbo from the night prior and gotten lost in a few corners of the West Village, I had worked up quite an appetite.
At just that moment, we stumbled upon Little Owl, a true gem of a restaurant. After waiting almost three hours for dinner there one Friday, I was bracing myself for a very long brunch wait and was shocked when we were seated immediately. This is pretty unheard of for brunch in general, let alone at one of the city’s famed eateries. After beating both the Trader Joe’s crowd and the West Village foodie crowd in the sunshine of spring, I was feeling truly invincible.
We started with lattes, which were served in an eclectic mix of mugs pulled from hooks scattered around the miniature bar area. I thought they were both pretty clever and couldn’t help but photograph them, despite the lack of latte art.
My sweet tooth is unmanageable, which means it was impossible to avoid the beignets with Nutella and raspberry on the menu. Fancy French doughnuts are hard enough not to order, but throw Nutella in the mix and I’m a goner. I was so impressed with these balls of airy dough, sugar coated exteriors, and sweet sauce; they were cooked to perfection and so soft that I was tricked at first into thinking the beignets were stuffed with a light cream filling. I was trying to save room, but it was impossible not to eat my share and scrape the remaining Nutella raspberry combo from the plate.
My boyfriend PK ordered the chilaquiles with avocado, eggs over easy, and chips after a strong recommendation from our waiter and his enticing mouth-watering description of the sauce. This sounded like an odd order to me and the most out of place on the menu, but PK was up for the challenge. I’m so very glad he was, because these were to die for. PK could barely muster words between bites, other than “awesome” and a muffled “oh my god.” Though we were “sharing,” I came up a bit short after PK was through with a few sad chips left on the plate. I could understand why – the dish had a fun kick and was a true brunch standout; I wish I had that vibrant red sauce to put on more of my meals!
I ordered the poached organic eggs with Fontina biscuits, sausage, greens, and hollandaise. The description sounds straightforward, but the dish was not. The flavors were complex with the decadent hollandaise, the perfectly cooked greens, the soft cheesy biscuit, and the savory sausage. I found it interesting that this entree wasn’t served with any side, but we’d been so gluttonous with the starter and our extra side of bacon that we didn’t need anything more. The dish was solid enough with the hollandaise and other components; I would not have changed a thing.
To complement our brunch selections, we ordered extra crispy bacon, which was cooked to perfection, glistening with a delicious amount of fat (sorry I’m not sorry).
Amidst all of this fantastic eating, I was able to take in the atmosphere. Little Owl maximizes every corner of this valuable real estate, so their waiting area is mostly on benches and seats outside overlooking beautiful historic West Village homes (everyone loves a good excuse to spy on the lucky owners!). The one spot to wait inside is on an elevated bench that looks over all the tables and reminds me of where one might sit for a shoe shine. Their bar seats four or five elbow-to-elbow, max, and their bathroom is miniature-sized, even for petite ‘ole me. Tableware is mismatched, tables are tiny, waitstaff is friendly, and everything is inviting.
The Bitches say: A+. The restaurant is a magical, cozy little place that has secured a special place in my heart; it feels like home, but serves food fit for a Queen. Prepare for a wait worth our rating and enjoy the West Village surroundings while you do so.
The Little Owl
90 Bedford Street
(212) 741 4696
The Little Owl serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.