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Manhattan

Little Owl and Ditch Plains Reviewed

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Restaurants & Bars

Little Owl and Ditch Plains Reviewed

(mp) | Jun 19, 2006 01:26 PM

I was excited to try Little Owl for dinner yesterday. The food has been buzzed about and it seemed appropriately cozy for a Sunday night. Unfortunately, although the room is nice and the restaurant is trying very hard, the food was formulaic and lackluster.

None of the entrees sounded particularly appetizing, so my dining companion and I decided to order 4 appetizers and a side dish.

Our first dish, the hamachi, was truly disastrous. Although it appeared that the dish was intended to be seared, it was cooked almost fully through and had only a narrow band of warm, somewhat raw fish in the center. The fish itself lacked any discernable seasoning and was served atop a bed of mayonnaise-heavy coleslaw.

Up next was the cavatelli. I enjoyed this dish -- it was punctuated with well-cooked beans and topped with ricotta -- but it was not particularly special.

We moved on to the meatball sliders. They, too, were acceptable but did little to update the now increasingly ubiquitous slider phenomenon that is making its rounds in new American cuisine.

Last was the soft shell crab. The crab was well cooked but suffered from a complete lack of seasoning. The asparagus that came with it was similarly bland.

Our side dish, listed as sauteed greens, was broccoli rabe. It is difficult to argue with greens, olive oil and garlic. It is also difficult to see why this dish belongs on little owl's menu.

We were led to an Austrian white by the host/sommelier. Like the rest of our meal, it sounded interesting when described, but proved unremarkable.

Dispirited, we decided to wander the west village in search of a cheese plate to make up for our disappointing meal. We wound up at Ditch Plains where we supplemented the American Cheese Plate with a damn fine rendition of the lobster roll. The cheese plate was good: sharp tangy cheddar, humboldt fog, camembert and an aggressive blue. The lobster roll was excellent. The focus was on the lobster meat and it was very lightly dressed. The service was sincere and warm and we managed to have an excellent Riesling while we were at it -- our night was rescued!

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