Here’s what we can’t understand: How is it possible for someone to invest god knows how much money into opening a restaurant in New York - probably at least a million dollars - plus endless amounts of time and energy and emotional strife...only to end up staffing the place with a bunch of people who are f*cking baffled by the concept of serving food to humans?
This was a difficult review to write because we really wanted to love this place. Little Prince is a restaurant in Soho with so much promise, but every time we’ve wanted it to deliver, it’s let us down a little bit. Kind of like your really smart cousin who just can’t kick the weed and sleeps in his car every once in a while. You know he has greatness in him, but he just keeps disappointing you. And it always comes down to discipline. Our meals at Little Prince have been good examples of both those analogies.
On our first visit, we showed up for dinner on a Thursday night and had a really nice time eating some classic French bistro food, though we admittedly ordered very simple things and chalked up some of the small inconsistencies to a busy evening and early stage kinks. But then we returned a few weeks later on a quiet weekday night, and some of the true problems with this place shined through. Big problems. First of all, if there is one thing you can’t afford to screw up when you operate a French restaurant, it’s technique. You cannot serve a classic Lyonnaise-style frisée salad with so much vinaigrette that it could also sort of be a soup. Your simple roast chicken can’t be over-salted to the point that it almost tastes like jerky. And, most importantly, you can’t hire a bunch of waiters because they look cool, even though you could very easily convince them that “poulet” is the French word for swimming pool. That sh*t doesn’t work. Especially not in New York, and especially not with Balthazaar a few blocks away making you look bad. Don’t get us wrong - everyone at Little Prince is very, very nice. But you’d have to think they could find a few people that know not to fill a glass of wine to the very top like it’s the last one on earth. We like to drink and all, but we’d prefer not to need a straw.
I suppose what we’re getting at is that Little Prince would benefit greatly from a little bit (a lot) of fine tuning. This place has to figure out how to be a consistently good restaurant - from the kitchen to the wait staff -before it becomes a Soho go-to. There are too many other places nearby that offer the same experience, only better. See you at Raoul’s.
Tartare de bœuf
A nice steak tartare with a quail egg on top. We like the grind and the flavor on this, and the buttery grilled bread is pretty damn good too.
Frisée Aux Lardons
This, on the other hand, is a perfect example of how the food here can take a left turn. Our frisée salad at Little Prince was so overdressed that the only way to describe it is “wet.” It wouldn’t pass the sniff test in a middle school Home Ec. class, let alone a true French restaurant. Skip it.
Foie Gras McMuffin
Jesus. So this is an “off the menu,” “only if you’re in the know” special at Little Prince, except that they tell absolutely everyone about it - even Thrillist. Which is pretty much the same as having a secret handshake with your mom. Don’t get us wrong - it’s an awesome little sandwich, and it photographs real nice. But it’s more of a gimmick than anything else. And it sure as hell ain’t the Cronut.
A really nice beet salad with some chèvre and grapefruit. This is a failproof order here.
French Onion Soup Burger
A very good little burger on an English muffin with Emmental cheese and some caramelized onions. I’m not sure it tastes exactly like French onion soup, but it doesn’t need to. It just tastes good.
Culotte Steak Frites
You can’t really run a place like this and not do a great steak frites, and Little Prince gets it done in that department. This one comes in a Burgundy reduction sauce, and it’s really nice. Get it.
Canard a L’orange
After the frisée salad incident, we were a little scared to see what they’d do with duck. It seems the more classic French this place gets, the less successful it is. Luckily, this duck was a really nice surprise. Ours was cooked perfectly, and it was simple enough to please anyone. Even people who tend to avoid duck.
A pan roasted half-chicken that’s way too salty. This thing is so over-seasoned that it seems like they were afraid that you might taste the chicken. Be confident in your bird and let it be.
On one of our visits, these little lamb chops were a special, and they were awesome. It was a simple preparation of lamb with some kind of reduction sauce on the side. You should order this if you can.
Cookies de Jacques Torres
Ok, I’m sorry but you can’t fcking put a chocolate cookie that you bought from Jaques Torres on top of a glass of milk with some rum in it, and high five yourself for serving dessert. That’d be like me trying out for Top Chef with by showing off my talents for adding sliced avocado to a Chipotle burrito. D- for effort.