Little Donkey

Mr. E and I went to Little Donkey shortly after its opening on July 18th (happy 1 month anniversary guys!). The small plate and raw bar restaurant was opened by James Beard Award winners and overall Boston heavy hitters Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, who finally made their move across the bridge to Central Square.

We arrived at 5:15 for an early meal with no reservation and managed to grab a table on the promise that we’d be out of there by 6:00.

At the start of our meal, I ordered a Baronesse Spritz, which put me back $11.  It delivered on its namesake and was an unsurprisingly refreshing spritz. Our server suggested 2-3 small plates per person, which felt about right given our experiences at Toro and Coppa.

Here’s what we landed on:

+ Oysters Standish Shore (Plymouth, MA) Norumbega (Pemaquid, ME) and the Fin de la Baie (New Brunswick, Canada).  I was totally digging the raw bar and couldn’t pass on trying a sample of their oysters.  I’m a stickler for briny and crisp oysters, so I stayed in the northeast. These were all super delicious and didn’t need anything more than a nice light squeeze of lemon.

+ Tuna Poke gochujang, pickled bean sprouts. This was quite possibly the best thing I ate.  The warmth of the sesame and the spice of the pepper sauce were perflectly balanced with the pickled sprouts.  Everything sung out in harmony on this one.  I’d go back to eat 2-3 plates of this.

Black Pepper Popovers wagyu steak tartare. The popever was light as a feather, but the seasoning of the steak tartare wasn’t quite there.  Overall, this dish was a little on the bland side, which was a terrible let down after I convinced myself it would be heaven. High hurdle, I know.

+ BLT Lettuce Wraps lamb bacon, pimento cheese, tomato jam, pickled red onion. I was only able to try one of these make your own lettuce wraps because Mr. E gobbled them down so quickly.  This was his favorite dish of the meal.  I had to admit, the lamb bacon was seriously addictive and the tomato jam was a nice concentrated version of the good ol’ tomato we all know and love in a BLT.

+ Foie Gras plum jam, bee pollen, nepitella. Another one of Mr. E’s now you see it, now you don’t tricks.  While I didn’t get to try it, I was promised this was very good. I trust Mr. E’s judgment on that since he’s become something of a foie gras connoisseur recently.

Matzo Ball Ramen chicken broth, burnt onion, schmaltz tare, corn, spicy chicken. While it’s easy to get swept up in the kitsch of it all, it just wasn’t good. Oddly enough, with all the bells and whistles going on, it was flat. The broth was a far cry from the full bodied ramen broths I’d expect. And I don’t think the classic matzoh ball soup fans out there are going to get behind this one either.  Skip this one.

+ Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough milk espuma, cocoa nibs. Mr. E got this to go as our check came at 6 on the dot.  I’m not sure if because we were being rushed out a bit that they forgot to add the milk espuma. The to go box only included a large wad of cookie dough, which Mr. E had no complaints about. I, on the other hand, couldn’t pass up a micro scoop from Toscanini’s which was so dangerously close.

One disappointment that I could not overlook was the promise of nachos.  There were no nachos.  However, I’ll give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt since all new restaurants have some kinks to work out. I’m excited to try this place again in a few weeks to see what tweaks they’ve made.

Little Donkey
505 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 945-1008

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