What do you do when there are more pictures of food than of people on your camera roll? You make a foodstagram, of course. By now you know that The Trio has been reviewing Boston’s best brunches for a while, but did you also know that we’re the faces behind @bitchinbrunch? Well if you didn’t, now is your chance to go and give us a follow! We post daily pictures of some of the best brunch plates in Boston, and lucky for us, Little Donkey in Central Square, Cambridge asked us to be one of the first to check out their new breakfast menu.
Little Donkey is the pride and joy of James Beard award-winning chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette. The dynamic duo also own two other successful restaurants in Boston, Coppa Enoteca and Toro. It’s only been open for about 3 months, but Little Donkey has already made a big splash in Boston’s culinary scene. The general manager told us that this is basically Oringer and Bissonette’s “dream restaurant.” The eclectic menu was inspired by their travels, which is why you’ll find a diverse range of dishes, like Cap N' Crunch with cold milk and freeze-dried strawberries and Toad in the Hole with miso banana bread, egg, habanero sausage, and creamed spinach. In the eyes of Oringer and Bissonnette, breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day.
All three of their restaurants share a similar approach: small plates are for sharing. The food was served family style, and The Trio definitely felt like we were surrounded by our kin- we were joined by a bunch of Boston foodstagrammers. Basically, there were no annoyed sighs when we pulled out our cameras or passive aggressive jokes about bad restaurant lighting; everyone we were with understood the value of waiting to eat until you got the perfect pic. We found our people.
The restaurant gives off a fresh and open vibe. The front showcases a glass wall, letting in an abundance of natural light and brightening up the entire space. But, when the sun goes down, the industrial light fixtures take over and illuminate the room in a warm white hue. With a combination of bar chairs, high tops, booths, and tables, the plethora of seating choices make up the majority of the modern industrial decor. The feature that stood out the most was the Little Donkey logo, spray-painted on the white washed brick wall. The clean and simplistic design allows for the food to take the spotlight.
When Amanda dies and goes to heaven, she hopes to walk in the pearly gates and see a huge counter full of freshly baked pastries. This was the sight that greeted The Trio as we walked into the Little Donkey for breakfast. It was a feast for our eyes as well as our tastebuds, as our meal started with Apple Galette and Chocolate Almond Croissants. Amanda is a big fan of all things fall and therefore a big fan of all things apple. The use of this seasonal ingredient was just perfect- the pastry was flaky and the apple filling was moist. The Chocolate Almond Croissants were equally as lovely; the chocolate was melted to gooey perfection and the almonds provided a nice, contrasting crunch.
Self-appointed Bagel Queen Jordan was ecstatic to see that bagels & shmear were on the menu that morning. An everything bagel from Better Bagels Boston, was slathered in a healthy helping of yuzu koshu cream cheese. A lox fan from the start (inevitable when growing up with a Jewish mother), Jordan was pleasantly surprised to see the classic bagel topper be replaced with salmon roe and scallions. The chewiness from the bagel, smooth texture from the shmear, and the pop of flavor from the roe created an insanely unique bite.
Our third course presented a healthier take on a sweet classic: Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes. The stack was delicately topped with maple syrup, coconut cream, and a dollop of sorghum butter (but there was fruit, so they were healthy, right?) What stood out most about these pancakes was that they had just the right amount of sweetness. Both Marisa, who never orders pancakes, and Amanda, who always orders pancakes, agreed they could have easily eaten the entire plate.
Last, but certainly not least, came the Jerusalem Bowl. This dish was an artful assortment of ingredients- farro, lentils, feta cheese, tomatillo salsa, and a poached egg- all of which were highlighted by Middle Eastern spices. It took some time to get a little bit of everything onto our spoons to fully appreciate all of the warm, savory flavors, but once we got the hang of it, appreciate them we did.
Julia Child said “people who love to eat are always the best people.” Though the Trio went into Little Donkey expecting good food, what we didn’t expect was to walk out with new friends. There’s nothing like finding people who share your interests, people who can rhapsodize about the value of good lighting or wax poetic about a proper stack of pancakes. The old cliché rings true: food brings people together.
**Our meal was provided courtesy of Little Donkey, but this article only contains the honest and true opinions of The Trio.**
505 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139