Is The Little Beet Just One More Overpriced Healthy Salad Bar?
There are so many reasons why we probably shouldn’t write about The Little Beet on this site. First and foremost, the restaurant is named after a vegetable! Also, most things on the menu are quite a few dollars above the $10 ML price point. And on first glance, it looks like this is just a glorified (and more expensive) Dig Inn or Chop’t.
Yet this bright and lively storefront on West 50th Street recently opened to a lot of hype and the lines are already out the door. Not to mention the chef, Franklin Becker, is both well-respected (from Abe & Arthur) and well-recognized from television (Top Chef Masters). So if anybody could make healthy food taste good, this would be the guy, right? We figured it was worth checking out.
The long line looked more daunting then it was and it moved along at a steady clip. It looks like online orders are also encouraged and much quicker. The concept is not much different than a lot of new “healthy” fast food joints throwing around words like “local,” “seasonal,” and “natural.” You can choose from plates, salads, sandwiches, and sides.
Here the proteins are chicken breast, skirt steak, salmon, and tofu. A platter runs you $14 but comes with 2 sides of your choice, including soba noodles with pickled ginger, charred broccoli with chili pepper, and lentils with avocado. The four sandwiches, including Roasted Turkey with apple butter and brie or Prosciutto with Smoked Chicken and Mozzarella are considerably cheaper maxing out at $9.50. And they come with a choice of beet or sweet potato chips (kale chips are extra).
I was craving steak and felt like splurging on this hot new opening, so I went with a platter. As I moved down the assembly line, I got to check out all the side options. They even allowed me to sample some of the sides and one of the soups (carrot ginger, which was potent with a spicy sweetness) before settling on my order.
Upstairs there is a cozy (and not crowded) seating area. That’s where I opened up my container and almost laughed at the dearth of food. If I’m paying $14 for vegetables, I don’t want to see the bottom of the container. The plate consisted of only three (albeit large) wedges of sweet potatoes, a few slices of skirt steak, and a heap of toasted buckwheat (that was for the best since the grain is the most filling component of the meal).
I’m a sucker for sweet potatoes, but I found these rather disappointing. I enjoyed the sprinkling of pecorino cheese, but the cold spears didn’t have any caramelization or spice. They were actually a bit flavorless. The skirt steak had much more flavor, with nice seasonings and a wonderfully browned char. But it was a little too rare for my tastes. I definitely prefer undercooked to overcooked, but the redness made the meat a little chewy and cold in the center.
My favorite thing on the plate was that toasted buckwheat which had a deep earthy and salty flavor accentuated by mushrooms and green onions while hazelnuts gave it a pleasant sweet crunch.
I can’t say this particular plate was worth the $14 or made me feel extra healthy. But I haven’t completely written off The Little Beet yet. I think there could still be potential Midtown lunches here, if you order correctly and maybe take a few extra dollars out of the piggy bank. Has anybody tried any of their sandwiches yet? Leave comments below.
The Little Beet, 135 West 50th Street (btw 6th and 7th Ave), (212) 459-2338