Skinny really is back in. As tabloids started noticing Lindsay Lohan’s diminutive frame, Secretes opened its doors, taking a page from Miller Lite’s “great taste, less filling” campaign.
Secretes offers experimental tapas-style small plates, ostensibly the product of chef Jordy Lavanderos’s Spanish influences. The interior is erotic, playing heavy black tables off red candles and napkins. This raw quality extends into tribal-looking symbols on a menu packed with wild combinations. My suspicion is that Secretes really longed for a Clinton Street address competing with Wylie Dufresne instead of Benny’s Burritos.
Staggeringly beautiful and shockingly small plates of food arrived that, for the most part, don’t taste that bizarre. The cucumber spaghetti is an exhausting display of pasta made out of cucumber, but tastes like fruit salad for $7. Similarly, while the white aluvias soup ($8) looks like Fear Factor brew with its frothy spinach topping, it really tastes rather bland. But clam chowder might taste freaky if someone told you to sip it from a small cup. The meal-y plates fare better, though they are actually large plates in miniature (unlike typical meat and seafood tapas plates) and hard to share. The salmon spirals ($12) are fresh and delightfully complemented with small edamame, and the stuffed squid ($8), while exotic, is packed with a creamy and familiar porcini risotto. The ostrich ($15) is a sublime steak framed with purple potatoes and a pomegranate reduction. I kept wishing I could have had six more bites of each.
The desserts are undoubtedly the most fun, boasting fruity explosions in mango ravioli and (surprise!) miniature tartlets. The tartlets are like a fun Jelly Belly experiment, in a “wow, that does taste like dulce de leche and popcorn” kind of way.
I hesitate to be harsh with Secretes because the food was wonderfully concocted and beautiful, but the place would be better suited as a stellar wine bar that happened to offer funky small plates instead of a 6th Street restaurant that tantalizes hungry people with the idea of a meal. Our waitress was lackluster and didn’t explain the dishes and the whole time I felt like Tori Spelling’s uncouth date to some fancy restaurant on 90210, wondering where the real food was when presented with three beautiful shrimp and a cinnamon stick. As much fun as my friends and I had pairing goat cheese and Oreo, after an $80 meal we all looked at each other and went, “Crif Dogs?”