Last weekend, the hand model and I finally decided to break away from the coast and explore downtown Santa Ana. I'd been wanting to go to Little Sparrow Cafe for a while, and since it was participating in Orange County Restaurant Week we thought, why not.
Located a block from Santa Ana's Artists Village, the cafe transports you to an era of finer things in the same way a Parisian cafe does. On the outside hangs black & white awnings, while the interior showcases mix-matched intricate mirrors and different colored tufted low-back chairs.
Chef Eric Samaniego – formally of my favorite, Comme Ca, in West Hollywood – serves up a French inspired menu with everything from Frisee Aux Lardon to Crispy Sweetbreads.
And the handcrafted cocktails "take time to make right" – as politely noted on their website. To give you an idea how serious they are about mixology, bartenders Seth Marquez & Caitlin Pfeiffer sourced 20+ bitters, bronze cocktail shakers, and vintage British crystal pitchers from The OC Mix at SOCO's new shop, The Mixing Glass.
I started the evening, as per usual, with the spiciest freshly-juiced Ginger cocktail. Their separate brocade bar at the back looked so enticing, we actually decided to fore-go the OC Restaurant Week menu in order to save room – and calories – for dessert cocktails.
You'll be pleased to know that Little Sparrow is participating in OC Cocktail Week too with a special appetizer and cocktail for $20.14
- just what the doctor ordered, smokey & spicy, sweeps you away to a Mexican playa, Penicillin #2 with Mezcal, Ginger, Honey, Lemon & Fernet Vallet Mist $12.
- so divine it should be entree-sized, hearty thick gravy, creamy cornmeal, and a touch of Microgreens to lighten it up, Braised Oxtail with Polenta & Grilled Toast $7
- plump grains, chicken & leek broth base, wish there was more Spinach and that the Egg was poached to add moisture, Farro Salad with Roasted Mushrooms and 5:10 Egg $9
- melt-in-your-mouth, wanted to drink the Veal-Leek Broth, but wish the Gnocchi was larger, Roasted Black Cod with Tuscan Kale, Chorizo & Ricotta Gnocchi $29
- Rum is fragrant and shines, Light & Stormy with Light Rum & House-made Ginger Beer $12
- fruity 'n tangy, El Diable with Tequila, Lime Creme de Cassis & House-made Ginger Beer $12
I was so surprised to find such sophistication in Santa Ana. Everyone at Little Sparrow was warm & inviting from the host to the waitress and bartender. I just wish the food expeditor told us a description of our dish before serving it.
Bon Appetit & A La Votre!
300 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701. 714- 265-7640.