Little Eater opening in North Market

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

Come January, the North Market will officially be at full capacity. That's when vegetable-focused concept Little Eater will open in the market's last remaining stall.

"We're just excited about it," says Little Eater chef-owner Cara Mangini. "I certainly respect the heritage and tradition of the North Market. I think we're going to be a great addition."

You may recognize Mangini from her Little Eatery pop-up restaurant at The Hills market (first in Worthington, then Downtown), or her fresh grab-and-go salads in prepared foods cases around town, including The Greener Grocer at the North Market. She was also a Crave Tastemaker in 2013, recognized for her panace for coaxing bright and fresh flavors from all kinds of veggies.

"My goal is to create convenient produce-inspired dishes for people," Mangini says. "So we're doing different locally sourced salads by the scoop and you can mix and match or pair with a sandwich crostini, frittata or quiches. It's very similar to our pop-up menu [at the Hills] but our first official menu will be expanded slightly."

Expect five salads that will change with the season, plus two specials that will rotate out weekly or daily. Sandwiches and soups will always be seasonal, too. And, Mangini hopes to add pickup catering, too. (See below for a sneak peek of the opening menu-including the ever-popular buttermilk cheddar biscuits).

North Market executive director Rick Harrison Wolfe had commented the remaining open merchant space would be filled by a new concept (not an existing restaurant as the last few additions have been, including Stauf's and Katzinger's), and that it would offer something not yet available. Little Eater will be the only prepared food merchant with a focus on vegetable-based dishes.

Little Eater will take up the 483-sqaure-foot space between Firdous Express and North Market Cookware. The stark white space is by design. "The goal is to show off the beauty and the color of all the produce," she says. "It's got a modern butcher shop feel." Mangini comes from a line of butchers; she used a photo of her great grandfather's butcher shop as a reference to design the space.

"I certainly have goals of expanding my business into other locations, cities and states. Those are my big goals," Mangini adds. "And so it seems like the market is a really great place for me to work out the operations of my business before I invest into a larger operation."

Little Eater will be open Tuesday through Sunday.

WINTER MENU HIGHLIGHTS

Little Eater Salads by the Scoop

Quinoa with Squash, Kale and Pumpkin Seeds

Kale and Spelt Berries with Cranberries, Walnuts and Lemon Dressing

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Succotash with Cayenne and Lime

Apple and Fennel Slaw with Pecans and Raisins with Yogurt Curry Dressing

Pearl Cous Cous with Roasted Rutabaga, Currants, Almonds and Herbs

Shredded Carrots with Sweet Tahini Dressing

Roasted Beets with Orange Vinaigrette and Lake Erie Creamery Feta

Sandwiches served with 1 scoop

Butternut Squash Steaks and Kale with Apple-Onion Jam and Walnut Butter

Roasted Beets and Avocado with Pickled Onions, Herbs and Chèvre

Crostini served with 1 or 2 scoops:Apples, Ricotta and Honey with Thyme and Crushed Pecans

Farm-Egg Frittatas and Quiches served with 1 or 2 scoops:

Roasted Vegetable Frittata with Ricotta

Kale, Caramelized Onion and Pepper Quiche with Cheddar and Thyme

Green Salads: Beets, Butternut Squash, and Avocado with Pecans

Soup:Carrot Ginger with Crème Fraîche, Black Bean Chili with Shredded Cheddar, Cilantro and Lime

Baked:Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits and Honey Butter, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Carrot-Coconut Cupcakes with Burnt-Butter Frosting, Apple Cale Cake

Breakfast (served until 11 a.m.):Assorted baked goods, frittata and quiche, Little Eater classic granola made with Ohiomaple-based granola and Spiced Sweet Potato granola with Snowville Creamery yogurts

photos courtesy Cara Mangini and Little Eater