I know: Small plates are supposed to be dead, right? A fad. Last year's news. And yet one of the most notable new restaurants in the city (Beatrice & Woodsley, reviewed this week) is doing small plates. And one of the best expansions of the year — Delite, which Dylan Moore built to handle the overflow from his excellent Deluxe — is doing small plates right next door. And they're both doing them very, very well.
Moore recently went to B&W to see what chef Pete List was up to and was told there was a wait — even for the bar. And when I went to Delite last week, List was peeking in the windows at the early happy-hour crowd. Which included me.
Where B&W's decor is over-the-top strange, Delite is comfortable and open, with a grungy aesthetic (brick, metal, old signage, roll-up garage-door front window) set off by clean lines and large booths, dim lights and club music thumping from ceiling-hung speakers. The bar is the focus here, but the menu (an offshoot of the Deluxe board and dosed with the same vaguely Californian sensibility), though short, is surprisingly satisfying. Green eggs and ham? Brilliant: deviled eggs with bacon and pesto. Chinese barbecued pork buns revisioned as American sliders? I had to order two plates (they come two to an order, topped with tiny jungles of scallion) because they were so good. And now, just thinking about them, I want two more.
I also had the trademark oyster shooters that made Deluxe such a hit in the first place, and found them just as good as they were the first time: single oysters, fried, topped with a chipotle rémoulade and served over a spicy salsa in a pho spoon. Moore makes the best fried oysters in town, no doubt. And while the potato skins with smoked salmon and caviar were not my favorite and his Delite nachos were too complicated and messy with their competing ingredients, there's nothing wrong with Delite's happy-hour deal: Everything on the bar menu and all drinks are half price. Which meant that I got small plates with big flavor for two, four, six bucks tops.