Downtown Lunch: Little Lad's Basket Turns Daniel Vegan
Midtown workers shouldn’t have all the fun, so to even the score, I’ve brought on Daniel Krieger as an official Downtown Lunch Correspondent to write up some of the tasty stuff you can get in the lower half of Manhattan. He’s a great photographer (insuring good food porn), but more importantly he is a lover of cheap, unique and delicious eats (or as I like to call it- Midtown Lunch’ish food.)
Little Lad’s Basket was definitely a change of pace from my usual greasy meat laden lunches, but I have to say I really enjoyed it. There’s no storefront or sign outside this Vegan restaurant, but if you enter through 120 Broadway and make a left at the first staircase you’ll see it at the bottom of the stairs. The restaurant was quite huge and a bit daunting at first. I couldn’t figure out how to order so I asked someone. You just take a tray and then you can fill up one bowl and one plate for $4.98!
Seeing how cheap that was I was a bit hesitant about what the food was going to taste like. I kept walking around the hot and cold buffets thinking that maybe some chicken curry would appear magically for some reason because, well… I’m an idiot. It’s VEGAN yes I know I know.
So I decided to try some millet which reminded me of the word mullet, so it couldn’t be bad right? (In fact it’s a grain and it was pretty awesome). I cleaned my plate of the mac-n-cheese, corn, broccoli, millet and finished the bowl of split pea soup I got.
Everything was really great except the carrots with parsley, which were kinda gross, but maybe that’s cause when I saw them I thought they looked like candied yams, and got all excited.
I was actually quite stuffed after the two plates but still contemplated dessert. I first tasted the home made maple walnut “NICE Cream” made with soy, which was frigging outstanding. As good as any regular ice cream I’ve had in awhile. I ended up though having a peppermint Need Em ($1) which was sorta like a cookie made with carob, coconut and mint. That was also totally delicious.
I was there during the tail end of the lunch hour but the main dining room still had a good crowd going. I decided however to go into the back dining room because I saw there was something on tv and wanted to check it out. On the tube there was some vegan video about the ills of eating meat and how great being vegan is for you. I was turned off by this because they already got me there, I don’t need that piping in the background while I’m eating. It felt almost cultish, as did signs such as “Bring a friend to lunch with you.” Isn’t that the first lesson in Culting 101, to bring your friend to the next meeting?
I let these things pass, in addition to the the fact that they have Jesus literature on the way out even though its also a completely Kosher restaurant, because well, the food was super cheap and good. I realize they’re just excited about making people healthy as evidenced by the website tagline, “Little Lad’s Cafe is Solving America’s Health Problems — One Customer at a Time”
The proprietor of the place is a really sweet man who greets every customer on their way out, which is when you pay — on the honor system. You just tell him what you ate and he charges you for it. He asks everyone “how did you enjoy your lunch”. I said it was really impressive, as did all the others (except some guy who actually just muttered a quick, “good”. I felt like nudging him in the back with my elbow but I let it go).
If you stay long enough and listen the video you too might end up drinking from the Kool Aid- as I did, thinking “maybe I can eat like this everyday, or at least a few times a week” because hell yeah, you do feel better after lunch.
Someone online said she had the burger so I struck up conversation with her.
Me – When was the last time you had a real burger.
Her – 19 Years.
Me – Me too. Well not 19 years. 19 hours actually.
Her – Well that’s a good start!
I don’t think she got my joke, but maybe that’s cause it wasn’t very funny. I would absolutely go back there… I heard the pizza is great- but HOWWWW can it be great with no real cheese?! I’m willing to try though.
Little Lad’s Basket, 120 Broadway (btw. Cedar & Pine), 212-227-5744
Photos and post by Daniel Krieger