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Restaurant Review: Clintonville’s Little Eater

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Clintonville’s Little EaterPhotos by Lauren Sega.
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Little Eater is enough to turn anyone into a salad person. In fact, it’s enough to inspire serious consideration of a meatless lifestyle.

For decades, the vegetarian scene was dominated by beany, bready, starchy things. While that’s certainly fine for some palates, it’s not for everyone. In its latest project in Clintonville, Little Eater is fully committed to diversity in the veggie salad scene. Every day, it concocts combos of vegetables that are original, varied and sublime. It’s like a big taste adventure that strays far, far from old-fashioned beany-bready combos.

In fact, the only downside to Little Eater’s creativity is that it frequently changes its menu, which means that just as you get attached to a salad, the kitchen might very well yank it from the menu, effectively yanking it away from your plate.

But there’s consolation in the new items. One just released is the Kimchi Salad. It’s kimchi, based on the traditional ingredients, albeit with a lightness, finesse, and crunch you don’t find from jarred versions.

The favorite salad so far, though, is the Cauliflower Tomato Couscous, it boasts the ingredients in its name, plus bits of olive, pine nuts and pecorino cheese. The cheese gives it a defined heft, and the textures of the cauliflower and couscous compliment each other in a seamless fashion.

Apple & Fennel Slaw introduces some sweetness to the palette (and palate). With plump raisins, pecans and a curry accent courtesy of its dressing, it’s a light, sweet and crunchy combo. And there’s one more on the test-drive list: Potato & Leek: this combo is a chic cousin to a German potato salad with caraway (which provide a rye accent) and mustard seeds, plus dill too.

Not that this is all the salads they make. There are more. There are lots to try, but then again, there are lots of other things to try on the menu too. If salad’s your bag, you can order anything from one scoop of salad for $3.75, to six salad samples for $15.

Or you could try the Mushroom Quiche ($8.25). (pictured up top) It’s an okay quiche, with mushrooms gliding throughout its silky egg foundation. You won’t recognize the specialness of Little Eater with a quiche though. The salads have more WOW factor.

Little Eater’s adept ways with plant-based combos are also displayed in the Butternut Squash & Kale Sandwich ($9.25). With cloverton cheese and apple-onion jam, slices of heavy “sun-flax multi-grain” bread hold this masterpiece of color and flavor together.

For savories, the Cheddar Biscuits ($2) are the best pick with the house honey butter. The Corn Bread ($3) is also an option. It comes in mini loaves with a dreamy texture, and bits of corn, but it’s sprinkled with thyme, and the herb’s piney-ness undermines the comforting elements of cornbread and honey butter.

The original Little Eater made its debut at the North Market back in 2015. The Clintonville project is its first stand alone with seating. Both feature counter-casual service, so you can eyeball many of your choices (salads) before making a selection. You can find the new one at 4215 N. High St.

For more information, visit littleeater.com

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