After a soft opening over the weekend, Little Donkey officially arrives in Central Square tonight with a dinner menu that jumps all over the globe, from farro kimchi fried rice to Istanbul-inspired meat ravioli. "We can finally cook food without any rules," co-owner Ken Oringer previously told Eater, noting the need to stay within "Italian-esque" bounds at Coppa and Spanish at Toro. But here, the food can be "simply anything," whether that means Parker House rolls stuffed with yellow chives and Chinese sausage or a dessert of mango curd sandwiched between Ritz crackers. (Hint: Try pairing the latter with the Morphos pét-nat, a lightly fizzy and funky wine.)
Little Donkey is only serving dinner to start, but keep an eye out for expanded hours in the future — there will eventually be breakfast and lunch as well. "Part of our goal [in serving] breakfast, lunch, and dinner — we want the food to be approachable and fun and interesting," co-owner Jamie Bissonnette said previously. "So people can come four or five times a week. Maybe someone from the neighborhood comes every morning and reads the newspaper on their computer, sitting at the bar and having coffee or a breakfast sandwich. We just want it to be a utility restaurant for people in the area to come in any time they want and to have fun."
The menu, which is smaller than the menus at Oringer and Bissonnette's other venues, is designed for frequent changes. Stay tuned for nachos, for example, which Bissonnette previously promised would be "bold," with each topping appearing on every single chip. (Meanwhile, chip lovers can find jalapeño chips atop the burger, which is made with dry-aged beef and also topped with Buffalo pickles, onion soup mayo, and foie gras.)
Like real-life donkeys, Little Donkey's cocktails have a kick. Try the Ode to Pablo, made with Sombra mezcal, Gran Clasico, spicy ginger shrub, and lime. You may recognize the handiwork of Sarma and Island Creek Oyster Bar alum Vikram Hegde in the cocktail menu; he's lead bartender.
Located in a former office space, the Cambridge restaurant, designed by the Boston-based Niemitz Design Group (Park, State Street Provisions, Clio, and more), seats 90 in the dining room and at the bar. Later in the summer, a 45-seat patio will debut behind the restaurant. Up at the front of the restaurant, diners at several tables can enjoy almost-outdoor dining thanks to the bi-folding storefront, which opens right up onto the sidewalk when weather permits.
Head to OpenTable to snag a dinner reservation, or just walk in and try for a first-come, first-served seat at the bar, to see what happens when Oringer and Bissonnette don't follow any rules.