When Franklin Becker opened the Little Beet in midtown, he told the Voice that “I decided to create this fast-casual environment here that would still serve the best ingredients I could get but for a reasonable price point. I wanted to make sure that people coming to the Little Beet leave here feeling good, feeling energized, feeling healthy, and wanting to come back again and again.”
Come back again and again they did, and they clamored for something more upscale where they could get similarly pure food in a non-fast-casual environment. And so last week, Becker gave them The Little Beet Table (333 Park Avenue South, 212-466-3330).
“This was born out of constant requests from regulars at Little Beet for something a little more upscale they could go to,” says Becker. “A number of people we serve are watching their weight or food intake. And they kept saying, ‘It’d be great to have this food in a sit-down restaurant.’ And we said, ‘You know what? Yeah. Let’s do it.’ ”
Becker also points out that his background is mostly in upscale restaurants — he steered kitchens at Local and Capitale, and he worked under fine-dining chefs like Charlie Palmer and Bobby Flay.
The team built out a Flatiron address with white oak accents and a living wall. From that stage, Becker is serving a menu of dishes that are similar to those at his fast-casual eatery, though upgraded for this setting. Sometimes that just means changing an ingredient — the kale salad at Little Beet Table, for instance, is nearly identical, except that Becker’s using pine nuts in the upscale version, which are more expensive than the pumpkin seeds that go into the fast-casual rendition. Other times, it’s building on a dish: Little Beet’s millet salad forms a platform for tuna tataki at Little Beet Table.
But many of the dishes on the menu at Little Beet Table are brand-new, although they follow the ethos established at the restaurant’s uptown sibling. “We bring as much purity and freshness into the food as possible,” says the chef. The menu is also 100 percent gluten-free.
Becker cites a crudité culled from greenmarket vegetables, which are served cooked, raw, and dehydrated. He’s serving a roasted chicken with “herbs of Scarborough Fair” (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, if you’re not a Simon and Garfunkel fan). An arroz con pollo incorporates flavors from northern Africa via a date chutney, Chile via a scallion pebre (or salsa), and Moorish Spain and Portugal via seasonings.
And he’s also turning out a slow-cooked salmon that was on the cover of Good Fat Cooking, the cookbook he just released — the dish incorporates avocados, pistachios, and olive oil; he says the idea was to get all good fats into one dish.
As for drinks, look for a French- and Italian-skewed wine list, a gluten-free beer list, a seasonal cider list, and cocktails made from fresh-pressed juices.
Even as he gets up and running here, Becker is not shy about sharing the next stage of his plans, which includes major expansion. “If anything, this accelerated that — we’re opening several Little Beets,” he says. “And as we open Little Beets, if we have a major metropolitan area doing well with Little Beet, we’ll take a Little Beet Table and put it in a part of that market.”
The Little Beet Table is open for dinner Monday through Saturday.