Boston chefs Ken Oringer’s and Jamie Bissonnette’s new venture Little Donkey brings a much needed change of pace to the Central Square dining scene.
Disclaimer: all opinions are my own. I was not invited or compensated by Little Donkey for this review.
I’m a sucker for small plate-style dining. Why get a large portion of just one food when you can try out tastes of (nearly) the whole menu? I’ve already expressed my love for Oleana on the blog, but Little Donkey has kicked its way into my heart with small plates that blend together various world cuisines to create truly flavorful bites.
But before we get to the food, let’s start with the atmosphere. Trendy would be the word I’d use to describe the décor: minimalist with dark wood tabletops and bar. While there are booths and individual tables around the perimeter of the restaurant, the center is filled with hightop tables, each able to fit 2-3 dining groups. While at first I wasn’t so sure about having to share a table, the seats were spaced out just enough that I actually forgot there was another party sitting next to us. Volume-wise this place is energetic, so if you’re looking for a quiet date-spot this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for somewhere fun to enjoy beautifully crafted cocktails and some good food, then get online and make a reservation now (but seriously, make a reservation, this place gets packed, even during the week!).
Speaking of cocktails, my mom and I both loved our drinks (and we are pretty picky when it comes to cocktails). I went with a classic mojito, which had the perfect balance of lime, mint, and simple syrup. My mom was more adventurous and tried their Autumn in Oahu: Old Monk, Allspice, lime, pineapple. It was as tasty as it is pretty to look at! Not too sweet, but tasty enough that you could easily forget there is alcohol in it.
As mentioned before, the menu is set up for ordering small plates to share with the table. Our waiter recommended 3 plates per person, but we found ourselves full with 6 plates for four people – plus, you’ll want to save room for dessert. . .trust me ;). However, I noticed the couple sitting next to us split a small plate then each got their own entrees. So if you aren’t a fan of sharing your food, no need to sweat, you too can be happy eating here. . .but you’ll be missing out on some delicious items.
Also, I apologize for the quality of the pictures, the lighting was quite dim, and I didn’t want to be that obnoxious person taking a picture with my flash on every few minutes.
From the Charcuterie Section:
Parker House Rolls: yellow chives and Chinese sausage – These lived up to everything a Parker House Roll should be: light, fluffy bread with a buttery outside. While I would have liked a bit more of the Chinese sausage filling, the rolls are delicious enough on their own to still make this dish worth getting.
BLT Lettuce Wraps: lamb bacon, pimento cheese, tomato jam, pickled red onion – one of my favorites of the night. The lamb bacon was tender and juicy, and I enjoyed being able to construct my own lettuce wrap.
From the Hors D’Oeuvres Section:
Black Pepper Popovers: Wagyu steak tartar – for me, this dish is tied with the hummus as my favorite bite of the night. The popovers had a nice black pepper hint without being overly peppery and went great with the tender Wagyu steak tartar. Even after we had eaten the popovers, I happily ate spoonfuls of the tartar until it was gone. I highly recommend getting this plate to start!
BBQ Scallop: Romesco butter – for me this was the least memorable of the dishes. It is quite small, so split between four people you really will just be getting a bite. While the scallop was cooked well, I don’t think I’d get this one again.
From the Raw Bar:
Tuna Tartar with Shrimp Chips – I think I would have liked this one more if it was the first dish we tried; however after having the Wagyu Steak Tartar the tuna was a little less flavorful and didn’t have that umami sensation that the beef did. However, it is still a delicious, slightly spicy dish.
From the Vegetables and Salads Section
Organic Hummus: beets, tahini, barbari bread – another must-get! The hummus is so creamy and savory, and the barbari bread is wonderfully pillow-soft. My favorite part, though, was the chunks of roasted beets, which added a nice sweetness in contrast with the savory flavor of the hummus.
There’s also a Pasta & Grains section and a Meat & Fish section, but we got too full to venture into those, guess we’ll just have to go back 😉
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough with milk espuma and cocoa nibs – what’s not to love about safe-to-eat raw cookie dough served from a beater with a side of milk-flavored thermo whip? Seriously, it will bring you back to your childhood days of sneaking bites of cookie dough (or college days of eating cookie dough straight out of the package. . .). All four of us were extremely satisfied with this dessert. Plus, it was the perfect amount for four already-quite-full adults.