Little Beet Table (healthy but good)

I, like most people, have always wanted a surprise birthday party.

Unfortunately, I also happen to be a big micromanager and the two don’t really go hand-in-hand. It’s pretty hard for someone to plan a party for you when you’re simultaneously coordinating every detail.

But recently I got to plan a surprise birthday dinner for my roommate. This allowed me to obsessively manage all the details while vicariously living through her surprise and delight…even when she tried to outdo us by planning her own birthday drinks for the same night and inviting all the same people. #winning

Anyway, I put myself in charge of finding a restaurant. Since she’s one of the healthiest people I know, the criteria were a) Food that’s semi-good for you and b) Cocktails for the rest of us.

Little Beet Table in Gramercy seemed like the perfect solution. It’s entirely gluten free, has a menu that’s healthy but surprising, and really exciting cocktails that we may have had just a few too many of. (Wait, us? Never!)

Shout out to the host for helping me coordinate the surprise, our waitress for fitting a candle in a tiny puddle of chocolate mousse, and the bartender for keeping the watermelon margaritas coming.

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(Oh – and to that girl who accidentally set her hair on fire in a votive candle, I hope you’re doing ok and I’m sorry we all laughed at you.)

The place. Down-to-earth bordering on casual. They do the communal table thing well so you don’t feel like you’re on top of the strangers sitting next to you, but they have individual tables too. It’s on a weird stretch of Park Ave where you would never expect to find a cute sit-down restaurant but they make the most of it.

The food. Everything sounds interesting so it’s hard to choose. Here’s a helpful hint: get the sweet pea guacamole and cauliflower hummus. They taste almost like regular guacamole and hummus but with a delicious twist.

From there, there are a million directions to go. The salads all sound great and at a place like this you think they’re what you’re supposed to order, but you’d be wrong. I had the grilled chicken salad and even though the ginger dressing was delicious, it really wasn’t anything special. You’re better off getting a large plate like the slow cooked salmon. (Or the burger – everything is healthy here remember?)

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For a killer combo, try a small plate and a vegetable. One of our friends got the tender shrimp and what looked like a whole head of broccoli charred and covered in spicy carrot remoulade and I’m pretty sure she won the whole meal.

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The drinks. Cocktails are the way to go. Unfortunately, we drank all of the spicy watermelon margaritas so you probably won’t be able to have one. This is a shame because the ancho chili salt they rim the glasses with is the best thing I’ve ever tasted. We also tried the matcha mojito – it tastes like the healthiest smoothie you’ve ever had but I have a suspicion there’s some rum in there somewhere.

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Next time you’re planning a girl’s dinner two days before a trip to the beach, this is your move. Just don’t lean in too close to a votive candle. Trust me on that one.

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