Based on the sheer awesomeness of their cocktail bar Portland Hunt and Alpine Club, I knew the new restaurant by Andrew and Briana Volk – ABV seems like an appropriate shortening of their names – was a must try. The Little Giant website touted Continental European cuisine and an award winning bar program, the latter of which I expected. We made dinner reservations for the Danforth St. eatery which put us there on the second Saturday they were open.
The interior of the place was inviting and warm, nicely laid out with some retro table settings. We were seated immediately and water and menus made their way to us. I anxiously picked up The Little Book of Drinks to determine what suited my fancy. I was in for one of their cocktails, but there was also a suitable beer list and an extensive wine selection.
It was the Knife Fight – bourbon, lemon, pineapple, ginger – that first caught my eye, but I don’t love ginger in drinks, so I moved on. I then spied the Chuparosa – tequila, lime, grenadine, chile – noted as subtle and enticing, like a desert flower. That sounded more my speed. I ordered that and Mrs. Portlandeater went with the Flyby Spritz – sparkling wine, aperol, orange curacao – which was accompanied by a quote from Top Gun.
Next was a look at the The Giant Book of Eats. The menu wasn’t overly large, focusing on a selection of snacks, starters, entrees, and giants, the later of which were made for three or more. We weren’t starving, so I was unsure about an app, but decided that a small snack would be appropriate. When our drinks came with some complimentary olives, I requested the Cheeseball with Crackers – made with blue cheese, aged cheddar, dried blueberries, and toasted pecans.
My wife sipped her drink first and was pleasantly surprised by it. I took a swig of mine and was more than pleased. It had a rare balance that blended the liquor, citrus, sweetness, and spice just perfectly. Only a few sips in, our snack came around and we ordered our entrees. I chose the LG Burger and Jojos – American Cheese, pickled grilled red onion, iceberg lettuce, bbq mayo. My beautiful sidekick went for the Mushroom Agnolotti – sweet corn, ricotta, chanterelles, brown butter, bread crumbs.
Accompanied by eight butterfly crackers and a pile of pickled onions, I was ready to sample the ball. I’m always a bit nervous eating blue cheese. Though I’ve grown to enjoy it as a flavor enhancer, I worry about it overpowering my food. I tried a slice with that in mind and was thrilled. The blue was mild, only adding to the cheddar while the sweet blueberries and crunchy pecans made the cheese simply magnificent. I added a couple onions to the next cracker and made it even better.
Our ball was a clear winner and I envisioned a hungrier version of myself ordering at least two the next time I was there. At only $5 each, a duo would have been superb if I had the space for them. We finished the entire plate, leaving nary a crumb. Shortly thereafter, our meals arrived.
My burger was ample, not huge, and came with a small pile of wedges or jojos and a cup of ketchup. I went right for the cow patty and took a bite. Nothing crazy was happening, just a tight sandwich. Juicy to perfection, not drippy, the toppings added the right amount of flavor that made each bite slide down the hatch smoothly. I particularly enjoyed the barbeque mayo which was simple but delicious.
In the middle of consuming my sandwich, I ate some taters which were well-fried and tasty. I then asked my wife for a forkful of her meal. One of her pasta squares revealed deep, rich mushroom flavor. The cheese, butter, and corn all made it a dish to die for. As a lover of shrooms, I felt the fungus was beautifully prominent.
We closed out our plates, finishing it all and passing on dessert. Our meals came to about $60 prior to tip. ABVs new venture won me over. We didn’t order lots of food, but what we had was excellent. Their drinks were top notch, cheese ball ab fab, and the burger and pasta both killer. I agree with their coasters that say “If you like good food and nice people, you’ll love Little Giant.” Head there now so I can say “I told you so.”
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