The anticipation for Small Plates Detroit to fill the Walton Street location in Downtown Syracuse was an anticipated one. When PJ’s Pub and Grill’s closed, everyone was wondering what was eventually going to fill the space. It was a decent place for a club, and that genre of venue is where PJ’s failed. My main concern, as a consumer, were the tap lines and if they were going to be thoroughly (I cannot stress thoroughly enough) cleaned. A change would probably be necessary; I cannot ever recall getting a clean tasting beer or water.
The new design that Small Plates produced is a sleek industrial look. With the open floor plan, the front doors are arms that open wide and welcome you to a revamped venue… a revamped clean venue. A massive mural coats the interior wall, which is located to the right when you walk in. The bar is rightfully stocked with a good variety of drafts on tap, and the menu boasts bottles of beer as well, varieties of wine, and specialty drinks.
The menu lives up to what Small Plates boasts: American eclectic. The concept of tapas is an excellent idea, which seems to be a new trend in Syracuse, following Laci’s Tapas Bar in the historic Hawley Green area and Gilda’s in Skaneateles. I will not be surprised if more restaurants like this pop up soon.
The staff line up is filled with Syracuse familiar faces, and the great majority of the staff and management have significant experience in the food/hospitality industry. This place is going to thrive with this backbone of staff.
This Small Plates is a safe bet. Welcome to Syracuse!
However, I do not want to speak too soon. Upon arriving, despite the Facebook/website saying that it’s important for reservations to be made (“but walk-ins are welcome”), the new restaurant was unusualy empty to stress such a statement. I went with a couple friends of mine, and we waited a few minutes for the hostess to pay us attention. We walked over to ask for assistance. This is poor wording in my opinion. If you want more people to visit your restaurant, reverse the words. Walk-ins should be welcome, but reservations are preferred.
Small plates is far from being a part of the elite of Syracuse, which includes: Gentile’s, The Sherwood, Pascale’s, or any other exquisite restaurant in the Central New York area.
We were seated in the middle of the dining area, surrounded by empty tables. However, our waiter–another Syracusan and elite waiter (I have had this waiter before at a particular restaurant in the downtown area, and he is excellent when it comes to service)–passed us several times before even welcoming us and offering to get us a drink. We waited 10 minutes, and had everything we wanted to share and eat in our minds. My friend walked up to the service kiosk, to ask if where our server was–she may have came across snarky, but no one should wait that long for a greeting… especially in an empty restaurant… especially in a new restaurant that wants to stake a claim as part of the Downtown Syracuse scene.
On her way back to the table, my friend heard the girl behind the counter say (more or less announce) that my friend was “being a bitch,” and that it was in the best interest of our server/waiter to get over and help us. He complied, scurrying over to talk to us like we were children and in a rushed manner. “This is not like [name excluded] to act rude like that,” I told my company after he left. Despite knowing that the plates were to come out separately and how they came out, we didn’t know how long the food would even get to us.
We walked out, and our feet took us to Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub, where we were promptly seated with a smile, our waitress introduced herself, and we were immediately taken care of. Michael Heagerty, was bouncing around as usual, visiting tables and offering them champagne left over from a wedding weekend (not his wedding, of course). My mashed potatoes were late due to the staff having to start a new batch, and it was asked if I preferred to switch. With all of the purposeful irony in the world, I stated: “That’s fine. I’m a patient person.”
The cozy atmosphere and tasty pub food of Kitty Hoynes proved that a staple with a European decadence can triumph over a newbie venue trying to hastily create an image for itself, designating itself as one of “the elite” in its early stages when it is far from it. I am not one to go against a local venue, although the place did not originate here; it’s (fortunately) the only one in the area.
As the saying goes: You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Will I be returning to Small Plates? Maybe. Well, this is more or less of a possibly. If it is any time soon, it will simply be to do so, to say I actually ate there.