Back in October I took my first trip to Little Donkey in Central Square in Cambridge, the latest collaboration between Boston super chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette. I went for dinner and I have to admit, I was a little underwhelmed.
This week, when a friend suggested we escape the office and try Little Donkey's lunch menu, I was skeptical. When I visited the website and saw the lunch menu was truly a different set of offerings than dinner, I started to feel optimistic.
We made a reservation for 12:00pm and when we arrived, the dining room was already packed. Chef Jamie was sitting on a stool at the bar. For me, that is a celebrity sighting.
The hostess took us to the last booth in the dining room, so we were steps from the hustle and bustle of the kitchen.
There were so many things we wanted to try, so we decided to share four plates.
The first to arrive was the avocado toast with Mexican pickled carrots, za'atar, crema and feta cheese. We also opted to add an egg on top (always a good idea).
The dish was plated so beautifully. We both loved the crema and feta cheese. My friend commented, "I am obsessed with anything with za'tar spice. I just want to roll in it!" I particularly enjoyed the extra crunch from the carrots. This dish is an excellent choice for breakfast, brunch or lunch.
Next we shared the eggplant torta. This sandwich is way too big for one person, definitely plan to split it.
Look at that delicious, gooey, Oaxaca cheese!
The sandwich is layers of breaded eggplant, cheese, mole aioli, avocado and black beans. My lunch date said, "I really like the taste of the mole, but I wish the cilantro in here was chopped. It's tough to eat with the stems." For me, this dish was a nice departure from the usual preparation of eggplant, which typically involves tomato sauce. Also, a word to the wise, this sandwich is rather messy to eat and is definitely not date food.
On the side, we munched on the patatas bravas with green sriracha aioli. The potatoes were nice and crisp, and the aioli had some serious heat. If you've been having bad allergies the last few weeks, this will clear you right out!
Our fourth and final dish was the buffalo ranch pickles. For some reason we were both picturing this as a fried pickle dish, but it arrived as pickles tossed in a dressing. We were definitely bummed that we'd misinterpreted the menu description.
We were both hoping to have room for dessert, especially since Little Donkey is famous for their cookie dough. Unfortunately, we were just too stuffed.
Overall, I really enjoyed the lunch menu at Little Donkey. My only serious gripe is how long we had to wait for our food. We were seated a few minutes after 12:00pm and our first dish didn't come until 12:50pm. We saw plenty of plates going to other tables, so not sure what the issue was, but at lunch, most people have to get back to their desks after an hour.
I will definitely be returning to Little Donkey for lunch. I still want to try spicy chickpea stew, the Jerusalem bowl and the moon pie for dessert.