Nola Chic in Chicago: Big & little’s Restaurant Review

As you all know I have been craving New Orleans cuisine, well let’s just say I been wanting some good food with lots of flavors here in Chicago. My sister and I decided to go into the city for an early dinner and in a Google search, we found an urban restaurant with Nola inspired offerings, Big & little’s located in what was the Cabrini Green project neighborhood, home of Candyman and gangsters. I was excited to find Groupon deal ($20 for $12) and to hear that guy fiery featured the restaurant on Diners. Not only would I save money, but get my seafood fix and see the sites of South River.

The mouth-watering menu was filled with many fun and delicious items such as foie gras fries, truffle fries, Ahi Tuna Poke crunch wrap and soft-shelled crab. I knew I wanted the soft-shelled crab before we made it there. The restaurant is located on the corner of the door on the street is closed and you have to enter through a side parking lot. Go through the blue doors into the classic “hole in the wall” restaurant. 

I ordered a soft-shelled crab “poboy” (fried soft shell crab, lettuce, special sauce, lime juice) it’s a hoagie, not poboy and the samurai special (fried whitefish, pickled jalapeños, lettuce, special sauce, samurai sauce, lime juice, sesame seeds). Before I go on let me say, I wish restaurants outside of New Orleans would stop tarnishing New Orleans food for the sake of attracting customers to their restaurants. If anything calls it a New Orleans style or inspired. Please stop calling a hoagie a poboy especially if you do not have the correct French bread or serve it dressed.

The softshell crab was tasty, but very small and should not have been served on this type of bread. A smaller bun would have justified the size of the crab which was no bigger than the palm of your hand. I ate the body in three bites and only ate the larger flavorless legs.

The cook recommended the samurai taco stating Guy ordered it and loved it. When it was handed to me I had to fish for the fish, it was literally covered in lettuce, sauce jalapenos. The fish was, flaky and soft on the inside but was completely lacking in the crunch. What I did enjoy was the truffle fries but they weren’t crispy. The bread was good, toasted on the griddle, but I refused to waste calories and room in my belly on it. The same for the tortilla because it was heavily plastered with special sauce and samurai sauce.

My sister ordered the shrimp po’boy six nice size shrimp fried‎ shrimp fried in the same batter as the crab, so they look larger and crispy. Like a New Orleans po’boy, it was ”dressed” with lettuce and tomatoes, as well as special sauce, cocktail sauce, and lime juice. I all for innovation, but cocktail sauce… The soft tempura batter separated from the shrimp as she bit into her opened faced sandwich. She felt it was too much bread as well, but she said the shrimp taste fresh.

My niece had a bacon cheeseburger with Cajun fries; french fries sprinkled with cajun seasoning. Now had I known how good the burgers were I would have ordered one for myself. My niece damn near screamed when I pulled in for another nibble. But the cheeseburger was really good and the juicy beef hung off the soft bun and it was covered thick slices of crispy bacon. Now that’s eating.

I’m sorry to say that the food was below expectations, but the staff made up for the flavor I was in need of. The guy who cooked my order was very friendly and gave us the rundown of the restaurant and the menu. I’m unsure if the potions, ratios to bread to meat and food quality has changed since Diner, Drive In’s and Dives aired or if my Groupon deal affected my food but I love the menu offerings and I can see why one would be excited to patronize but my Nola palate was not wowed, to say the least.

Overall, the food was good, but I am a New Orleanian and my food expectations are very high. Let’s just say our culture has me spoiled, but the vibe and urban style of the restaurant and the neighborhood which looks fun and inviting.

I’m a NOLA foodie 😋⚜️🙌🏾

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