The Little Lion opened in January 2016 to bring American comfort food with a Southern twist to Old City. The dramatic 6,500 square foot restaurant is decorated in modern black and white with red tables and chairs housed in a former 1847 bank building. The restaurant gets it name from the father of the American bank- Alexander Hamilton, nicknamed the ‘little lion.’ The restaurant has three floors, 25 foot ceilings, restored eight-foot original window panes, a grand staircase, balcony, interactive chef’s counter and five unique dining spaces. Look for hints of revolutionary inspiration throughout.
Owners Chris Younge and Jason Dills both history fans, hand-picked the location for its historic charms and architectural details. The Little Lion is a proud part of Old City District’s renaissance – that now includes the new Museum of the American Revolution right across the street.
In the kitchen, passionate chefs fire up small plates, house-made cheeses, charcuterie boards, salads, sandwiches and signature entrees (including vegetarian fare). At the bars you’ll find 16 draft lines pouring craft beer, cider, cold-pressed coffee and house-made draft sangria. Specialty cocktail menus rotate by the season and feature house-made shrubs.
We dubbed the Blood Orange Paloma the most beautiful cocktail, as well as being delicious made with Silver Tequila, homemade blood orange shrub, and lime. For the warm weather a Ginger Snap made with ginger liqueur, homemade lemon shrub, and ginger beer is very refreshing. A unique drink is the Lions Tea with bourbon, African Nectar Tea, and brown sugar. And the Blue Rose is made with gin, homemade blueberry shrub, and ginger beer.
We stopped by to try out the lunch menu and enjoyed the Shrimp Po’Boy with butter lettuce, pickled green tomato, remoulade, and onion on French baguette. The Fried Chicken Sandwich was very satisfying with Country Fried Chicken, house-made pimento cheese, lettuce, heirloom tomato, and a side of buttermilk ranch. The Ribeye Cheesesteak is available for both lunch and dinner. Then The Lion Burger is available for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Topped with sharp cheddar, house-smoked bacon, pickled red onion, house-made pimento cheese, butter lettuce, heirloom tomato, and house-made pickles it is easy to see why its so popular. This was a very juicy burger, cooked exactly as ordered. Try it with a side of house-cut french fries or garden salad if you’re raring up for bikini season.
For a lighter option the menu offers a section titled “Ruffage” with salads and vegetables. We like adding grilled chicken to the Kale Caesar or Butter Lettuce, Apple & Pear Salad with Endive, toasted pecans, tilton, fig, candied Bacon, Maple-Cranberry Vinaigrette. We also loved the Roasted Heritage Carrots with frisee, fennel, goat cheese croquettes, and Sorghum Molasses Vinaigrette. And of course, the Charred Brussel Sprouts served in a cast iron skillet with bacon lardon, sherry vinegar, and shallots.
Another crowd favorite is the Buttermilk Fried Chicken is a half bird fried crispy over a savory hot cake, with drizzle of honey. We couldn’t imagine a pancake with fried chicken when we saw it on the menu, but after trying it with the chicken, we loved the savory and sweet flavors together. This was a big plate, but with a little help, we finished it.
For dessert, you can simply sip something sweet if you are very full. We absolutely loved the S’mores Hot Cocoa topped with whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, chocolate bar, honey graham, and toasted marshmallows this drink is picture perfect! The Maple Butter Hoecake Latte with whipped cream, maple syrup drizzle, maple butter, brown sugar syrup, mini corn hoecake, cinnamon and nutmeg was also delightful.
We couldn’t help ourselves so we also tried the NY Chocolate Cheesecake and the Mud Pie which was so dense and richly chocolate, layered with crushed cookies and homemade chocolate mousse. We also loved the Espresso Creme Brûlée– be sure to save some room for these desserts! Make your reservations today for The Little Lion via OpenTable.com.
They also serve weekend brunch features with lots of sweet and savory features, including four varieties of Eggs Benedict, Buffalo Chicken & Biscuits, Red Velvet French Toast, Cornbread “Hoecakes”, Short Rib Hash, Smoked Ham & Cheddar Quiche, and more. Pair breakfast with coffee from Peddler Coffee Roasters, Brown Sugar Chai Latte, or Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Latte.
Beginning Monday, April 17, The Little Lion will host weekday breakfast service Monday- Friday, from 8 – 11 am that will include an a la carte menu, continental breakfast buffet and a coffee bar menu. On weekends the restaurant will now open at 8 am with their weekend brunch and cocktail menu.
The buffet items will include classic favorites like scrambled eggs, house-cured bacon, sausage, turkey sausage, a toaster station, fresh fruit, seasoned breakfast potatoes and yogurt with honey. Signature dishes on the breakfast buffet will include Kale Salad, Lion’s Salad, mini Hoecakes, house-baked Peanut Butter Granola, plus a special dish of the day (think Red Velvet Cheesecake French Toast, Eggs Benedict, Buffalo Chicken Gravy and Biscuits, and more). Mini-omelettes will be made to order. For the sweet tooth, look for mini house-made pastries, including espresso creme brûlée, berry bread pudding, cookies and other baked goods.
The Little Lion in Old City District celebrates the opening of the Museum of the American Revolution with free mini corn hoecakes for ticket holders, and 15% off food/drink with Museum membership.
“What an exciting time to be in Old City District,” said co-owner Chris Younge. “We picked this location because we wanted to be front and center in celebrating our country’s past – but also being part of the Historic District’s exciting future. The corner of 3rd and Chestnut has gone through a complete transformation and we are thrilled to be part of that transformation. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome our new neighbor, the Museum of the American Revolution.”
The Little Lion will also support the Museum by firing up a special dish on the Museum’s opening day – with 100% of proceeds being donated to the Museum. The Hamilton Steak is one of several dishes inspired by the American Revolution being offered by an Old City restaurant during the Museum launch. Heading to The Little Lion also just got easier with the addition of a brand new Phlash stop at 3rd and Chestnut, right outside Little Lion’s doors.