'small plates' on Serious Eats

Center Bar in the Time Warner Center: Michael Lomonaco Does Small Plates

Center Bar, a small plates cocktail lounge—complete with a piano player—on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center screams, "Don't go there. It's meant for exhausted shoppers and tourists, not serious eaters."

But that assumption would be wrong. Way wrong. In fact, Center Bar turns out to serve a limited menu of some of the finest small plates I've had in a long time. They're certainly not cheap, the menu is certainly not consistent, and the overpriced cocktails don't help. But the kitchen, under the watchful eye of Porter House New York's Michael Lomonaco, is turning out food that at its best (about half the time) could easily be served at the front room at Gramercy Tavern. It's not Le Bernardin Lounge good, but it's also not Le Bernardin Lounge expensive. And if you skip the decent but mostly overpriced cocktails you can have three excellent courses (if you choose wisely) for about $40 before tax and tip.


Bar Eats: Bourgeois Pig Brooklyn

Bar impresario Ravi DeRossi (Death and Company, Mayahuel) comes to Carroll Gardens with Bourgeois Pig Brooklyn, the second outpost of the East Village original. The bordello chic trappings—think gilded ceilings and velvet throne chairs—complement an Old World-style drink menu inspired by spirits from Western Europe. More

In The Midnight Hour: Alta

That more New Yorkers don't know the name Harrison Mosher, executive chef of Alta in the West Village, is a crying shame, though you wouldn't guess there was a dearth of press trying to push your way through the long, crowded bar and foyer on your way to the main dining area. More

Bar Eats: Mulberry Project

The early coverage of Mulberry Project, a speakeasy-style bar in Little Italy that opened in frigid January by Matty Gee (formerly Milk & Honey and Boom Boom Room), revolved around the unique cocktails, mixed on the fly in a collaboration between imbiber and bartender. Now that the weather is warmer, Mulberry's cozy back patio has become one of the best places in the city for an early evening drink and bite, when the atmosphere is noticeably more relaxed and subdued. More

Danji: Modern Korean We Can Get Behind

"Asian Fusion" and "small plates" were the "locally sourced" and "house-butchered" of a few years back—restaurant trends that turned into buzzwords that devolved into cliché. So it's hard not to feel a little doubt when we hear about a place like the new modern-Korean Danji, serving small plates of "Korean flavors prepared with classical French techniques." We'll spare you the skepticism: the food you'll find at Danji ranges from good to fantastic. More

Bar Eats: Ladylike Bites from Beauty & Essex

At Beauty & Essex, the younger and sexier sister to Lower East Side bar Stanton Social, dressed-up cocktails require equally fashionable bar bites. Owner and chef Chris Santos reprises his global small plates cuisine here, whimsically intermingling world influences --Asian, European, Latin American, New American--into delicate nibbles perfect for a ladies night out or a special date night. More

Apps Only: 'inoteca

Editor's note: In "Apps Only," Ben Fishner will be eating his way through New York's appetizer, bar, and lounge menus as your guide to fine dining on a budget. He blogs at Ben Cooks Everything. Polpette from 'inoteca. [Photos:... More

Poll: Do You Like Small Plates?

While meals were once neatly divided into appetizers, entrees, and desserts, an increasing number of restaurants (in New York and elsewhere) now structure their menus around small plates—little dishes, generally meant for sharing, that can be ordered free-form. Some diners love the experience of trying more dishes at a given meal, but others prefer the traditional format, seeing small plates menus as difficult to make sense of, and often more expensive. What do you think? More

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