I finally made it to Little Big’s this past Friday night after an evening spent at West Alabama Ice House with some friends. After having our fill of Shiners and bikers, nothing sounded better on a cool night than to relax on the patio with some hot sliders.
As expected, the place was a madhouse when we arrived at about 8:30. Parking wasn’t an issue — surprisingly — but the barely-contained chaos inside was. It was difficult to tell who was in line, who was waiting for their food, who was just milling about drunkenly…but we managed to get our orders in without too much difficulty (although with a lot of yelling; it’s extremely noisy inside the small space). My three sliders — one beef, one chicken and one mushroom — and butterscotch milkshake came to $10.25. A bit much for three twee burgers and a shake, but these are supposed to be top-shelf sliders after all.
We took our seats on the patio and began the wait. The patio itself is every bit as relaxing as anticipated, the smell of freshly-cut wood under the sprawling oak trees, the breeze rustling through the leaves, the hypnotic sights of red-lighted traffic and wild pedestrians wandering up and down Montrose — I could have sat there all night. Good thing, too, because that’s about how long it will take to get your order out.
Forty-five minutes later, the first name was called. By this time, we’d run through a sickly sweet frozen sangria and a bland frozen White Russian. Both were deemed barely drinkable by the group, but we continued to suck on them for lack of anything else to eat or drink. My butterscotch milkshake was still nowhere to be seen. When I finally heard my name called, I anxiously ran in to grab my sliders — only to see someone else pick them up from the unattended counter and abscond quickly with them. Bastard!
The counter attendant came back and I said, “I think someone just ran off with my sliders.” He looked at me like I was an escaped mental patient — they’re just sliders, lady, take your meds and get the fuck out of my face, read his expression — and went back to handing out the baskets of sliders that came up. I stood there awkwardly, unsure of what to do next.
“You called my name…” I trailed off.
“What’s your name?” Gruff and irritated.
“No, we didn’t.”
I looked back at my friends for confirmation that I wasn’t crazy. “Yeah, you called her name,” one of them piped up.
I continued to stand there nonplussed as he called out the names of all my friends who’d ordered after me, and handed out their baskets of sliders.
“No, seriously. You called my name. Can I just get the next basket that comes up?” He ignores me completely. In the back, the crew is working feverishly to get sliders off the grill and into the baskets. I start to feel like an asshole, watching them work so hard as I complain. But it’s been forty-five minutes. And I’m really hungry.
The next basket comes up on the counter. It has one of each slider: my exact order. The attendant has his back turned to me. So I do what any red-blooded American would do. I took it and left. Screw you, counter attendant. You aren’t doing your job and you’re acting like a prick. AND I’M REALLY HUNGRY.
Steeled by my freshly-acquired sliders, I go to the register to try and resolve my missing shake issue, only to have my head want to explode when the girl behind the counter snottily tells me: “We called your name for, like, ten minutes.” I looked back at my friends in disbelief; they’re equally as adamant as I am: “NO, YOU DIDN’T.” Which is it, Little Big’s? Calling names and not having food ready? Or not calling names and having food ready? Choose a crappy customer service style and stick with it.
The girl throws the shake together quickly and thrusts it over the counter to me. We are equally irritated with each other by this point. But at least I have my food.
Outside, the chowdown begins. Group assessment is that the chicken slider is surprisingly good, maybe even the best of the bunch. The chicken is tender and juicy, lightly battered and perfectly offset by the sweet yeast roll and sour bite of pickle. The beef slider is underwhelming. The beef seems to be overcooked and chewy, with only a few wispy onions as an accompaniment. The spicy remoulade sauce that I picked up from the condiment bar helps, but I end up not finishing it. The mushroom slider is good, but the molten cheese inside is undersalted and bland. Fortunately, the French fries and yeast rolls are out of this world.
The butterscotch shake, on the other hand, is abominable. It tastes as if someone melted down a batch of Werther’s Originals into a tub of Blue Bunny vanilla ice cream (for those of you who don’t know, Blue Bunny is just about the nastiest ice cream on the market). It is vile and appalling. My friends all agree. It’s undrinkable, as well as the third drink of the night to be deemed horrible. Clearly, Little Big’s strength does not lie in their drink-making abilities.
I’m reluctant to go back on another Friday night (or Saturday night, for that matter). I think I’ll go again on a weeknight, when it’s a bit calmer, and give the sliders another shot. Those cooks were stretched to their limits on Friday, and I think the sliders suffered as a result. Hopefully it will net a better experience this time around, as I seem to be the only person so far who isn’t blown away by their efforts. Wish me luck!