With its trendy menu of small and large plates, clean modern décor, and softly glowing globe lights, cozy Little Dishes is a welcome addition to the South Slope dining scene. It isn’t as kid-friendly as its neighbor, Anthony’s Pizzeria, but it caters to the same crowd and fills up on weekend evenings when local couples can score a babysitter.
The menu isn’t overly descriptive, and when we visited, neither was our server. We explained that we wanted to share a bunch of small plates and asked him to tell us about some of his favorites, but while he was a very friendly, smiling fellow, he seemed limited to one-word explanations. The Pork Butt with Navy Beans ($9), which he described as “tender,” was indeed — but it was also braised in a spicy barbecue-like sauce, which both he and the menu failed to mention. It was a pleasant surprise. “Rich” was a good word to describe the Duck Confit ($14), a generously large “little dish” with meat that melted off the bone. And he was right about the Warm Mushrooms ($11), too. Topped with shavings of Piave cheese, they were “a good choice.”
Our server didn’t have a solid idea of what Black Olive Spaetzle ($7) was, but the tiny, densely flavorful noodles were a hit. We wanted to try one of the seafood dishes, too, but the only one our waiter had sampled was the sardines, and he liked them. We should have taken his word for it, but we opted for the Charred Octopus on a Bed of Fennel ($10), which was a bit too chewy to enjoy. When we asked for a wine to wash it all down, he looked perplexed. We opted for one of the cheaper bottles, the delicately spicy Heron Pinot Noir ($28). Poached Pears and a mild Ginger Cake with caramel topping ($6) made for a mellow dessert.
All in all, our soft-spoken server’s concise descriptions were pretty spot on, and our only complaint was that Little Dishes was a little expensive. My table of three split a bottle of wine, five small plates (none of which involved oysters, which start at $2 a pop), and one dessert, and ended up dropping $40 per person. We left feeling satisfied, but also thankful for the cheap pints at Bar 4, just down the street.