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I know exactly how hard is it to score a table at the Little Owl, the tiny, adorable Greenwich Village restaurant that has set off the current craze for small, personal, comforty food restaurants that includes Shorty's 32, Smith's, Dell'anima, not to mention the Owl's sister restaurant, Market Table (here's how you can tell if a restaurant is in the club - it has an outstanding crispy-skinned chicken on the menu). Ever since the New York Times's Frank Bruni two-starred the Owl and it's pork chops 18 months ago, it's been impossible to get through the door. I did make it to a table the other night where I figured out a few things. First, Little Owl is worth the crazy wait—it's one of the few restaurants where every single thing you eat is awesome, from a cispy artichoke in addictive Parmesan broth and grilled scallops with toasted bread crumbs to that pork chop and succulent lamb t-bones with goat cheese gnocchi. Second, I realized that I could eat there a lot more often if I started dining at 10 pm (Little Owl is open until 11 pm for the first half of the week; until midnight Thursday-Saturday). How did I learn this? By watching Charlie Rose sail through the door at 9.45 when he sat right down (but even Mr. Rose knows it's not a sure thing—he kept his car and driver waiting outside until he got the okay from the hostess).
I also hear that Saturday is a much less crowded brunch there than Sunday.