Bigger Is Not Better? A Look at Small Plates, High Prices Slideshow
August 31, 2012
Blue Hill, New York City: Heirloom Tomato Salad Appetizer, $20
Bite-sized balls of colorful tomatoes promenade around grilled melon and cucumber with perfectly shaped basil leaves balancing every so nimbly atop. It’s very pretty — and very pricey. Broken down: two vegetables, a fruit, and an herb. Dressed up: a colorful painting for your palate. Who says you can’t devour your art collection?
Vedge, Philadelphia: Braciole, $13
This Philly vegetarian restaurant offers a sheet of thin eggplant rolled around a cauliflower stuffing, sitting in a pea green salsa verde. While the menu has a "Small Bites" section, this dish makes it to the "Plates" in print. For a meatless take on a traditional dish, should the price tag teeter as well?
Miller Union, Atlanta: Farm Egg Baked in Celery Cream, $9
In a shallow disk of a bowl swims this soup-like celery cream. Floating solo along the surface is an egg, its soft yellow center and surrounding white mimicking the circular dish. Vegetable and dairy: not the priciest thing from the "farm." Though it should be noted that this dish does come with a side of bread.
Wynwood Kitchen, Miami: Fried Oysters, $10
Imagine the size of an oyster out of its shell. Then imagine that breaded and fried. Then imagine seeing double. That’s what you get with this hot dish with the (conciliatory?) addition of avocado purée and an herb salad. As "pearls" of the ocean, oysters can flaunt their fancy to get away with just about anything. Do you buy it?
Street, Los Angeles: Kaya Toast, $12
Offering street food for sit-down consumption, this restaurant’s popular "toast" really is just that. A few squares of grilled bread serve as dippers for the singular runny egg yolk in a bath of soy sauce. How many bills would you drop for bread and eggs?
LuLu & Po, Brooklyn, N.Y.: Bone Marrow Tacos, $12
One bisected bone provides nothing more than a quarter-sized scoop of marrow, the meager portion further punctuated by the evidently excessive three tortillas provided. A parsley-cilantro-caper salad takes up a bit of space on the plate à la a stocking-stuffer. Bone marrow may be a delicacy, but should you have to handle it so delicately?
The Cook's House, Traverse City, Mich.: Whitefish with Spinach, $22
Boldly placed in the "Entrée" category of the menu, this stacked fish mold dons a few baby spinach tendrils. Nondescript "whitefish" does not carry the expensive taste of say, rare Chinese tiger fish or Japanese bluefin tuna. Decorated with slivered radishes, it does look ravishing, no? There is just no promise you won’t be famished when it's gone.
Red Farm, New York City: 'Pac Man' Shrimp Dumplings, $12.50
For four Chinese dumplings, hopefully the Farm is pulling out all the stops. The color-coated, doughy "ghost heads" filled with shrimp are fun to look at — and they will look right back at you with dotted eyes. Perhaps they are pleading that you will save them from the crispy fried Pac Man, in a ready-to-chomp position. Too bad for them, you have the same idea.
The Bazaar at SLS, Los Angeles: Baby Japanese Peaches with Burrata, $18
The inclusion of the word "baby" does not do much to convince you to pay the price for this "modern" tapas dish. But the eclectic menu may do the trick. Here, baby peaches (in baby quantity) pair with burrata cheese pillows, toasted bread crouton cubes, and... well, that’s about it. Oh and maybe a few arugula leaves and even fewer hazelnuts, if you’re lucky enough to nab one.
Cork, Chandler, Ariz.: Pan-Seared Foie Gras, $26
As if foie gras needed to get any fancier, its seasonal preparation takes on many forms depending on when you visit this restaurant. Their most recent summer menu pairs it with a steel-cut oat "risotto," Rainier cherries, macadamia nuts, and brown sugar. And this goose liver, is locally sourced, they report. Farm-fresh foie gras, anyone?
Topolobampo, Chicago: Barbacoa de Chivo, $39
Yes, it takes ages to slow-cook a baby goat. But you just wish the young'un had more meat on the bone to go around. The barbacoa, along with the roasted pork belly, shares space with creamy rice and wild purslane diligently prepared two ways. This time-consuming process for a few bites does warrant the credit, but does it warrant your credit card?