Saturday, March 19, 2011

Little Lads, a vegan find in the basement

I am still amazed when I come across something new that has been around a long time.  Apparently a lot of people know of this vegan restaurant in downtown Manhattan, tucked away in the basement of 120 Broadway.  I find my jaw just hanging open more and more.

In the building lobby there is no storefront but if you have keen eyes, (I didn't), you see the Lower Arcade, (where are pinball machines?  Is there more on some upper arcade?  SkeeBall?)
I got yelled at for taking this picture.  They should have saved their voices.  I can't remember everything on the sign but "Boot Black" was one and Little Lads was the other. It is the Wall Street subway stop.  I don't remember what it said, vegan or veggie or what the last word was.  There is no other sign or advertisement.  Nada.  Thank you Vegout!
 Down the stairs and you end up in a sterile office building basement.  Keep going, it's worth it.

This is certainly a "fooled you" entrance.  So sterile and marble-y.  
Once you see the signs you know two things.  The place isn't slick but has an owners personal influence and you're also in the right place if you're philosophy aligns with mine.

I like the education board to the left.  I couldn't agree more.  Pricing is in the middle and I didn't realize but they have a regular menu also.

The pricing will be clearer the second time you eat here.  Well, perhaps the third.
Basically, lunch for 2 with a bottle of water was about $12.  It's not all you can eat but I saw some people pile up their plates like they were in a stomach stretching contest.

Lot's of vegan health related items.  To the right of the freezer is a TV playing tapes of MacDougall, Robins, and others.  I saw a clip of plaque being pulled out of a coronary artery.  Never saw that before.  Makes you think even more about why people eat animals.  And there is the little lad who was doing a fine job of cashiering and making you feel welcome.
As you enter for the first time there is so much to catch your attention.  Theres the fruit, there's the tv, clothing, DVDs, cake and cookies.  A cash register.  Two actually as there was a young lad, (really), learning about money, math and customer service.

This blew me away.  The largest, prettiest, most welcoming fresh fruit display I've seen in a restaurant.
It's like a maze and fun to see what's around the next corner.  We took trays, plates, plastic silverware and made our way around.  I didn't see anything I didn't want to try.  I sent off an email to inquire about how many items are vegan and the reply was,

Little Lad's uses no animal products or by-products in anything that we make.  No cheese, eggs, dairy, meat of any type.  Totally plant based.  Honey is used in only 2 items - Marinated Bean Salad and Sesame Honey cookies.  Thanks.
Maria @ Little Lad's."

I'm not sure if the bean salad was marked as containing honey but I also didn't have any cold bean salad. I'll update the post when it's clarified.

The dining room was almost empty when we got here but it was a bit before lunch hour.  Soups were to the left, a hot table with 6 items and a cold table to the right and right center.
There is no lack of choices at Little Lads including hot dishes, cold salads, fruit, starches, veggies and soups.
One soup was the Jamaican Bean Soup with a mild flavor and a hint of coconut.  I should have put more in the bowl!  The other soup was a Corn Chowder which looked delicious too.

Jamaican Black Bean Soup.

The hot table had 6 items.  I loved loved loved the Chop Suey although I'm not sure it was anything like the dish but reminded me of Chef Boy R D Beef a roni.  A delicious mouth feel and flavor and I could have shoveled that dish in all afternoon.  The carrot and regular slaw was crisp and bright.  The beans and rice were a nice combination but the dish which I thought would more than likely be so-so was surprisingly outstanding.  It was the mixed vegetables, the unsung hero.  Who'd have thought but I should have had 2 big spoons of that!

The Harvard Beets were not to my liking and the Butternut Squash, which I love, had a taste I didn't care for.  You can't like everything but I think this was a successful meal.  
From front clockwise: Harvard Beets, Chop Suey, Cole Slaw, Beans over brown rice, mixed veggies, orange slices, and butternut squash with some carrot slaw in the middle.
I worry when I see a place that I like that doesn't have a lot of business but by the time we left the dining room was more than half full.  We also got there a bit before lunch hour started.  That and the fact that this place has been here for years makes me think it will be around for a long long time.
One of the two dining rooms.  It was about half full when we left.

I'm looking forward to many more return visits.

Little Lad's Basket on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

I've wanted to try this restaurant, but I don't work downtown and I think it's not opened during the weekend? I heard the videos they show on TV can be a little intimidating, but I'm glad there's a healthy vegan spot for working people to grab lunch.

Jenn said...

Yet another thing I never went to when I worked downtown. I'll have to check it out some other time!
I knew it was there somewhere, but never got clear directions.

abe c. said...

Glad you were able to try Little Lads. The buffet menu changes (slightly) from day-to-day.
For those who do not wish to watch the videos, there is an adjacant dining room.
Unfortunately, as of this week, I no longer work downtown and cannot frequent LL's as often.

btw, Little Lads is certified kosher and carries an ethical kosher seal as well.