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‘Little’ menu, big community: Restaurant has quality and flavor

New to the Fort Collins restaurant scene, Little sits comfortably on the corner of Mountain Avenue and Shields Street, looking out on all who pass by.

The restaurant was recently opened by partners Brent Jackson and Dan Smalheiser, who both share a great love of food. With many friends, families and couples clinking wine glasses together on the restaurant’s patio, it would seem Little cultivates a feeling of love as well.

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When one first approaches Little, they can see neatly-positioned tables along the patio and lawn of the property. A kind server greeted me immediately and allowed me to choose my own spot at one of their picnic tables that have been placed along the grass lining Shields Street in an attempt to help social distancing.

“Whether you are being seated, feeling thirsty or asking questions about the menu, every team member responds with great enthusiasm and knowledge.”

As a student, I was concerned that I may not be treated with the same respect as an adult, but the server made me feel that, despite the usual contents of my wallet, I, too, was allowed to have a nice night out.

Little is a rather small place and could almost be mistaken for another residential location if it weren’t for its more modern brick and complementary black awnings. In order to serve such quality dishes and employ excellent servers, Jackson, who doubles as partner and chef, and Smalheiser felt that a smaller location would be most efficient.

When inside, one has an excellent view of the kitchen and bar-style countertops, which would usually be in use if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. Silver pots line the tops of the stoves, and fine glassware sits in corners, waiting to be placed outside for guests.

plate with bread and peaches
“Tartine” appetizer from restaurant Little with peaches, burrata, basil and soba. (Bella Johnson | The Collegian)

Local artist Kaley Alie lent a hand in the production of some of Little’s beautiful plates. While she mainly focuses on Colorado landscapes, she was pleased at the opportunity to help some of her friends. The restaurant brings a splash of class to Fort Collins with the charm of beautiful dishware as each piece has its own character that compliments your meal. 

The menu at Little, while resembling the restaurant’s name, is committed to quality above all else. The “Tartine” was an excellent starter with delicious peaches, burrata, saba and bread. Likewise, the “Chitarra,” — pronounced kha-tara or chi-tara — pasta dish with its grilled tomatoes, basil and chevre cheese was an excellent vegetarian option.

The menu also contains a variety of options containing meat that Smalheiser said are often flown in from places like Massachusetts, California and Maine to ensure freshness. Depending on the season, dishes with pork and eggs may be sourced from local spot Jodar Farms, and some vegetables are sourced from the community favorite Native Hill Farm

With such attention to quality, Little’s meals are a bit higher in price than other local eateries; however, this quality shows in the delicious handcrafted noodles — which are later used in rotating dishes like the “Chitarra” — Jackson makes every morning.

plate with dish of white creamy food and red topping
Summer dessert at restaurant Little of whipped cream, strawberry compote and meringue. (Bella Johnson | The Collegian)

Although I didn’t have time to taste the breakfast, pastries made by an in-house baker lined the inside of the kitchen area in glass containers. With a newborn at home, baking offers the chef some needed peace in the mornings, and she finds this a great way to start her day.

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It seems that Little thrives on incorporating local and hardworking chefs into its kitchen. 

But the food is not the only important aspect of this restaurant. The community within the restaurant also makes this spot unique. Little takes pride in employing an excellent staff. Whether you are being seated, feeling thirsty or asking questions about the menu, every team member responds with great enthusiasm and knowledge.

Little has certainly found a place within the Fort Collins community, and I look forward to the next opportunity I have to stop by. Next time, breakfast!

Bella Johnson can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or Twitter @bellakj20.

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