New Yorkers are better than anyone at cramming a lot of style into a tiny room, and Tides is an excellent case in point. In the minuscule confines of the Lower East Side spot, 120,000 bamboo sticks hang from the ceiling, forming a dramatic overhead seascape that matches the binding of the menus (also crafted from bamboo). Two angular wooden booths consume almost half the dining room, making a few diners feel extra special; others sit along a banquette, where tea lights shine from recessed nooks in the tables. The chef, Judy Seto, spent four years at Mary’s Fish Camp and, yes, the woman knows how to make a lobster roll. Her version is chock-full of buttery lobster meat, slathered with just enough punchy mayo and piled onto a not-too-bready hot dog bun. Grilled baby octopus skewers were cooked to just the right doneness. Seto definitely has the chops to keep neighbors coming back for more, despite a few minor disappointments. Soft-shell crabs were a bit greasy coming out of the kitchen, and a lemon tart was topped with delicious curd, but the pastry was bricklike. But some quirks can even lead to a pleasant surprise: We ordered a side dish of corn-bread pudding (the love child of bread pudding and cornbread), without being told that it would also come as a side to our scallop entrée. So we ended up with two sweet, creamy, good-as-dessert servings. And we ate them both.
102 Norfolk St
|Cross street:||at Delancey St|
|Opening hours:||Tue–Thu noon–3pm, 5:30–11pm; Fri, Sat 5:30–11:30pm; Sun 5:30–10pm|
|Transport:||Subway: F to Delancey St; J, M, Z to Delancey–Essex Sts|
|Price:||Average main course: $22. AmEx, MC, V|