Thursday, January 8, 2015


Gluten-free?  Who cares.  Franklin Becker's newest opener, Little Beet Table is just plain good, regardless of its dietetic contingencies.  Truthfully, we didn't order a whole lot that would've been hampered by a gluten-restriction, but I'll leave that review to someone who cares about it.  With only 1% of the American population afflicted with the disorder, it is quite The Thing as of late.  So Becker is very savvy to capitalize on the hoopla,  and even if not personally affected by the sensitivity, he was
 adamant about creating a restaurant that celebrates healthful eating.  In fact, there seems not to be gluten-free designation anywhere on the website or menu, which makes me wonder whether that ship was abandoned, or whether he just didn't want to make it the sole focus.  At any rate, it is not why one should go to Little Beet Table (or grab lunch at its baby sister, The Little Beet, a fast casual spot in midtown with the same focus).  Becker's a fantastic chef, and this is what make both Beets winners.

 Despite the curiosity as to what the Union Square Greenmarket could muster up in late December to comprise the Farmer's Market original, we opted for choices from the Vegetables and Sides (not sure what the differentiation is)  section as starters.  Grilled beets featured a slight excess of pumpkin-seed almond granola, but with just a gentle Taylor Swift-caliber shake of that off, the dish came together seamlessly, greek yogurt tangily countering the deep-winter sweetness of the bi-colored beetroot, and the remaining granola
contributing a pleasant nuttiness.  True to its categorization, however, roasted sweet potatoes would've served better as accompaniments, for on their own, they are little one-dimensional-  although their smoked sea salt compounds the oven's char to a very delicious dimension.    Even lighter than the
 vegetables was a special appetizer of the evening, delicate sea scallops just kissed with sizzling hot oil so as to firm them up ever so gently, just shy of fully raw or cooked, and enlivened by bright nubs of citrus.  They melted as readily on the tongue as the grapefruit bits burst in juiciness.

The cheekily titled LBT (BLT or LGBT? Ha. I know; Little Beet Table) Burger is the only dish that hints at a gluten concession, and even it specifies being served on "free" bread, which is either to say that that is presumably the brand name of gluten-free bread they're using, or else a special deal of buy-burger-get-bun-free... or ELSE the menu IS, in fact, so gluten-free that they won't even write the word gluten on the menu.  At any rate, I digress.  We didn't order that, anyways, but I did order up the local sea bass cooked a la plancha, seasoned with fennel and
 served with a scallion pebre, which turns out to be a delectable Chilean condiment of hashed up coriander and
 onion, much like a chimichurri but looser and chunkier here, the chopped scallion tender and pungent.   It's a solid example of Becker's cookery, simple and pure, but expertly executed, each ingredient flavorful in its own right.  That left it to pair well with  any and all of the side
 dishes, of which we chose a chile and lemon flecked mushroom saute, and brussels sprouts with their own dash of chili and sea salt, both simple but flawless.... and ample.  I love a generous side dish.  A salmon entree also played well with these, its own accoutrement of avocado caponata just enough to serve as a condiment, although a savorily-sweet compliment to the buttery fleshed fish.

Dessert was the only indication that I can hope to attribute its weaknesses to lack of gluten, although pot-roasted apples could've been properly cooked with no regard to its leaden topping.   This may be a hallmark of haroseth, a Jewish term that describes the apple-walnut mixture on the menu, but the sandy, pasty crust lay in a slab atop, only salvaged by the rich drizzle of caramel and quick-melting lash of Battenkill cream atop, that encouraged the components to cooperate a little better with each other.   But in terms of cooperation, everything else at The Beet falls in line, gluten-free or full.  It's not a venue that elicits excitement so much as satisfaction, but in terms of the latter, Little Beet Table offers up a worthy seat.


tel.  212-466-3330

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