Visited the Detroit Institute of Art today, then went to Small Plates for a late lunch.
The restaurant's pretty small but the room was nice - lots of good rich colors and high ceilings. We got a seat near the windows for good light and people watching.
The menu featured about 10 small plates, 5 brick oven pizzas, 5 salads and a handful of sandwiches. My companion was vegetarian, so that cut our options by 3/4's, but there were a few things to choose from. We started with two small plates, and ended up adding a sandwich as well. The wine list is had about 15-20 options, all available by the glass. I got a glass of one of my favorite whites, the 2001 Geisen Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
The first of our two small plates were the "vegetarian spring rolls with a trio of dipping sauces." The presentation on this one was stunning - two of the sauces were painted on the plate, one a spicy asian mustard that looked great on the plate. And then the spring rolls diagonally and arraned vertically on the plate - very nice. The third sauce was in a little dipping bowl on the side. The sauces were pretty good - the mustard was mostly just hot and pungent, but in a good way. The other sauce painted on the plate was stunning - but I have no idea what it was. The sauce in the bowl was fruit based, maybe a plum sauce of some sort, and was pretty eh. The spring roll itself was probably the weakest part of the dish - pretty nondescript.
We also got the "Empanadas with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper," which was about what you'd expect. They were filled with goat cheese - how bad could the possibly be? But really, these were quite good. Also nicely presented, with two sauces, one of roasted red peppers and the other creme fraiche.
The portion sizes were pretty small (as you'd expect from the name), so we had room to try one more dish. We settled on a baguette sandwich of grilled eggplant and buffalo mozzarella (with tomatoes, roasted red peppers and lettuce, plus some balsamic vinegar). I'm not a big fan of eggplant, but my companion is, and I'm trying to eliminate as many of my food prejudices as possible (I've only recently learned to love mustard, for example), so I was okay with choosing it as our last bite. She found it quite tasty, and even this non-eggplant liker enjoyed it. My half of the baguette seemed a little short on cheese, but her half was better, apparently. The baguette itself was nice and warm and crunchy on the outside, and the grilled eggplant was very thinly sliced. This was served with a cone of very nice french fries - fresh, with the skins still on, crisp but no crunchy, very nicely cooked. My dad would be proud. The fries were served with a side of a fairly sweet and innocuous barbeque sauce.
The desserts sounded moderately interesting, but we were pretty full by this point.
Overall, it was a very nice meal. Service was good - it took our waiter a little while to get to us after we were seated, but he was very friendly and informative and helpful. I'd definitely like to go back some time with meat eaters to try some of their other options - they had a couple of shrimp choices that sounded quite tasty.