Last Sunday Sara and I had the opportunity to experience Little Saint, the newest offering from the owner of Max’s on Broad, Tarrant’s Café, and Tarrant’s West. This past week was Little Saint’s soft opening (and proceeds went to support VCU Massey Cancer Center; you know we had to give that plug). We’re so glad we made it in, because this place is going to be hopping once they fling open their doors.
Little Saint is a deliberate departure from the upscale aesthetic of the Max’s and Tarrant’s family, and it’s reflected both in the setting and the pricing. Think lots of sunlight, hanging plants, and sun tea basking in the windows. This restaurant promises to be the new mecca of social media influencers. Just look at my own Instagram from this past week.
Named after the owner’s family name (Frances Santarella is the owner, and Santarella = “Little Saint”), it’s taken over the old Deco restaurant. Which is sorta good because I went to Deco once for my birthday and waited two and a half hours to eat three courses (it was Restaurant Week, and more like three plus hours) and I wasn’t dying to go back. But I am dying to go back to Little Saint.
Four of us found ourselves at Little Saint on Sunday. We opted for indoor seating because, even though it’s September, it feels like July most days. We won’t comment too much on the menu because it was a work-in-progress for the soft opening (items were scratched off and others had handwritten addendums, which made it seem even trendier), but we will guesstimate the prices from what was written.
For appetizers, we ordered the pimento cheese plate ($6) and avocado toast ($5 I think). The pimento comes with eight crackers (perfect for splitting among four people!), homemade pickles, and a glass tub of pimento that I wanted to steal, but I’m better than that, most days. It’s delicious, and I highly recommend.
The avocado toast was also a hit. This was actually the first time Sara or I had ordered avocado toasts, which is super surprising since we’re 26 and what else are we doing in our millennial lives? Sara can even afford a home and some avocado toast. Little Saint spruced up this toast with figs and bacon bits, which I appreciated, but the toast was pretty small to split for two people, let alone four. (Our waiter did tell us that Little Saint’s supplying bakery hadn’t gotten them their usual order, so in the future the toast would be a different bread and a larger portion.)
The entrees are more exciting, anyway. Sara ordered a jalapeno and gouda waffle ($10). Yes, you read that right. And oh, yeah, it’s a sandwich. The bottom of the waffle was smothered in a savory yogurt, topped with leaf lettuce, pickled onions and crispy pork. To say it tastes as good as it looks is an understatement. It was incredible, and I especially appreciate how they take a typical brunch meal and make it genuienly unique.
This waffle (jalapeno and gouda included!) is also available in other dishes on their menu including the chicken and waffles (surprise!) – where Twin Oaks Tofu Chorizo can be substituted if you ain’t about that meat.
Our friend, Katherine, ordered the breakfast sandwich ($7) with the salad. It looked great (see photo), and she said she’d get again. I’d get it, but with some fries, because I saw the fries on another diner’s plate and wanted to ask for one.
Finally, our other friend and I ordered the grits bowl ($12). And oh. My. Saint! These are Byrd Mill cheesy grits (though I’ve never seen another brand of grits offered at an RVA restaurant; have you?) topped with kalettes (which is small kale if I’m not mistaken), a runny egg, and either pulled pork or Twin Oaks Tofu Chorizo. I got the pulled pork. My friend got the tofu. Both were “I’ll have what she’s having” good. I also topped mine with chicken (protein!), and my friend opted for mushrooms (+$5 for both).
Again, I cannot emphasize the savoriness of this bowl. My friend even took home half of hers for a second brunch (you can never brunch too much), so it’s well worth the price.
We also ordered mimosas, but there’s not much to say. A mimosa is a mimosa is a mimosa. They’re just prerequisite for brunching. Sara got the bloody Mary, and it was the first time she ever had okra not fried. Plus, it wasn't too salty, which can sometimes be a gripe she has with bloody Mary's.
For dessert, all four of us split a s’mores pop tart. I thought the crust was the best part, and my friend didn’t want to finish hers so I got extra crust. Which this is a very “crusty” pop tart. It reminded me of phyllo dough, and I didn’t detect any marshmallows, but it was soft and scrumptious. Sara really enjoyed the filling, and if she **had** to pick a single tiny room-for-improvement to ensure you know this is a real Little Saint review, it would be more filling in the pop tart.
I also spotted Funfetti birthday cake at another brunch party’s table. I will be back for that, I promise you.
All in all, Little Saint was—dare I say it—saintly and has easily climbed into my top five brunch places in Richmond. And it only just opened!