Tasting Intown: A review of Tiny Lou’s

Tartare and toast points at Tiny Lou’s.

The lovely and astute Karen Head gave a “first look” review of Tiny Lou’s at the recently reopened Hotel Clermont back in August, so be sure to read it at this link. I like having dinner with her because we focus on different things in a meal and she always opens my eyes to an unexpected angle. She handles the cheese plate while I deal with the chocolate. She makes note of the silver while I scrutinize the service. Her husband always gets steak and my wife always gets pork. As far as double dates go, we make a good reviewing team.

In this case, we agree mightily on the merits of a mille crepe—that thirtyish-layer gem of a creamy dessert that Tiny Lou’s refers to as a crepe suzette cake to emphasize its orange flavor over its precise construction. As far as French pastry, the mille crepe’s delicate stack is pretty advanced and Tiny Lou’s version rises to the challenge.

One place where we disagree is the Clermont sauce you can get with the fries. Karen says the classic, skinny cut fries need no accoutrement, whereas I think this sauce appropriately enhances a wide variety of things on the menu. There’s a dash of foie gras in addition to the jus there so it highlights the savory tones in any dish not unlike soy sauce would. Of course, I’m a sucker for a sauce—perhaps because my knowledge of French cuisine derives primarily from living in Louisiana, whereas Karen’s comes from actually spending time in France.

Crudites with green goddess dressing.

Another great sauce on the menu is the green goddess dressing found on the side of the seasonal crudites, which are themselves daringly thrust at odd angles into a pile of shaved ice. It’s a beautiful display well beyond your average carrot and celery stick pile, staying properly chilled while the table picks at it. For those going harder on the appetizers, the beef tartare has exemplary toast points. The protein is bound in a very balanced way, more thyme and capers than mustard seed, so the flavor of the meat is not overpowered.

The one time I did go to France, the thing I loved most was the quality of the butter on every table. Especially if you’re tucking in to Tiny Lou’s because you’ve got quite a long night of merriment ahead, please do get the brioche bread service and set up a delicious base layer before you do damage to your gut with whatever else lies ahead. The flaky crust and fluffy insides are divine. You’ll want to order loaves upon loaves of it, with the salt flakes smartly topping the bread itself rather than melting uselessly into the butter. Even topping it with a lot of good, soft butter, the bread is not too sweet to appear at the beginning of the meal.

For entrees, the burger and the trout are both decent, but the big winner was the pork chop. I hereby declare that all pork chops served in restaurants should be cooked sous-vide. That means it gets cooked in a big plastic bag in a gently steaming water bath. Not an iota of flavor evaporates by this method, and the tenderness of the result is unparalleled. This pork chops comes with an innovative, rolled up version of ratatouille and a corn soufflé that is practically worthy of the dessert menu.

Pork chop

On the actual dessert menu, definitely hit the mille crepe if you’ve never had one before. In the chocolate family, the best of several good options is the Moulin Rouge, so named for its cherry bavarois (think gelatin no-bake mousse) on top of chocolate cake with a bit of lime-sage sorbet on the side to cut all the sweetness. It’s both beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

There were many decent cocktails that were not exactly innovative but that had terrific names like “twigg & carries.” If you’re bracing for a long night with your buddy who is already a bit too wobbly, I recommend subbing in a zero-proof “virgin & tonic” from their mocktail menu—so much juniper in there your buddy may not even realize he’s ginless.

Karen went to dinner at Tiny Lou’s at proper dinnertime on a Tuesday. I went at early bird hour on a Friday, when service is far more likely to be haphazard and crabby—yet it was not at all. Every server was punctual and game for any chattiness. Many will gladly regale you with tales of how haunted the place is. As the lights dimmed and we approached the end of our meal, a huge, rowdy birthday party got seated next to us and our server has no trouble wrangling them without so much as an eye roll. Blessedly, the service at Tiny Lou’s is all Southern and not a bit French.

Tiny Lou’s is located inside the Hotel Clermont, 789 Pone de Leon Ave. in Poncey-Highland. Visit tinylous.com for more information.

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