[UPDATE November 2019: Little Eater’s Clintonville and North Market spaces have closed.]
It’s always fun to watch small food businesses grow and prosper, so it was a special step when Little Eater, which began as a stall in the North Market, grew into its first stand-alone restaurant. The cafe is smack dab in a stretch of some of the hottest Columbus food brands: Jeni’s, Hot Chicken Takeover, Fusian, Northstar Cafe. And I think Little Eater fits in the well.
We’ve always enjoyed the work of chef and owner Cara Mangini and her team, and I’m obviously an even bigger fan now they started serving breakfast at 8 a.m. So I was eager to explore it on assignment for the Columbus Dispatch. You can read my review here.
When you enter the front doors, you’re greeted with a small market space featuring local goods. This hints at Little Eater’s focus on using seasonal and local ingredients, from coffee to breads, cheese to honey, yogurt to fruits and veggies.
Past the market stand is a long counter where you place your order. They’ll have you order on one end, then walk down to the other to pay. It’s a little awkward, but you can figure it out. In between the two stations are the displays of the day’s baked goods.
We ordered a collection of biscuits, quiche, toasts, and a frittata.
And in case you missed it: Little Eater is all vegetarian. But I can speak, as a dedicated carnivore, that regardless of your preference, you’ll find a lot to love.
The avocado toast offers a towering bite – you’ll almost certainly need a knife and fork for it. The Lucky Cat bread is piled high with avocado, toasted seeds, sea salt, and greens. Overall, very substantial – we would have loved a touch more salt.
We were split on the ricotta toast. It comes out as three little slices of dense Matija Bread ciabatta, slathered with ricotta and bites of honeycomb. I think the dish is well composed – just keep in mind that the flavor profile is more nutty and earthy than sweet.
Probably our favorite bite of the meal was the mushroom and shallot quiche. Seriously, we’ll take anything with great mushrooms like these. Wonderful texture and consistency, very nicely seasoned.
The spaghetti squash and tomato frittata hits many of the similar notes as the mushroom quiche, although with a little looser texture and a brighter acidity. Props to the nicely dressed side salad.
We also enjoyed a little bonus round of some baked goods like scones and coffee cakes. The bakery offerings rotate daily and seasonally.
The top of our list is the cream scone. It’s a little dense, but buttery and dusted with sugar, and served on a cutting board with cups of lemon curd and jam.
Despite its size, the cafe feels nice and homey, and offers a lot of space plus a front patio. I think it’s a very worthy breakfast spot, especially for those looking for something a little lighter (but still filling) and more veggie-focused.
Disclaimer: this meal was paid for as part of a Columbus Dispatch review. Opinions and photos here are my own.