Cheap Eats - TINY Bistro
The Westside gets a new lunch optionTuesday May 26, 2009 09:00 am EDT
TINY Bistro (1039 Marietta St., 404-745-9561, www.figsandhoneycatering.com) is one of the latest restaurants to open its doors on the booming Westside. The little lunch spot, owned by Karen and Robert Haan, is tucked away behind Octane Coffee. While it’s minimally decorated, flourishes like the ironically capitalized "TINY" sign, faux silver flatware, the vibrant pink floral dining room and the infectiously cheery staff make it exceedingly warm (and kind of precious). In a weird way, the bistro feels like it’s been around forever; this is undoubtedly due to its eight-year history as a catering company (in this same location) whose name recently changed to Figs & Honey Catering.
Most of the wall space in the front room is occupied by the daily menu, which is written in multicolored letters on an expansive chalkboard. Sandwiches dominate the menu and most are made with hand-stretched Cajun “pistolette” bread from a New Orleans bakery that’s been in business for more than 100 years; the croissants and marble rye come from Masada Bakery. Those mourning the recent closings of Kool Korners and Havana will delight in the news that TINY offers a worthy Cuban contender for your consideration. The fillings are standard — all natural ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and a few hand-sliced pickles — but the homemade slow-roasted guava mojo-marinated pork makes all the difference. Each bite into the super-compacted sandwich is crackly, meaty, gooey, and rings with the tang of the dill pickles and mustard.
The turkey meatloaf tastes like the Haans took everything that’s warm and loving about your mother’s cooking and stuffed it into a hand-held meal. The combination of mashed potatoes, thick slabs of bacon, cheddar cheese and a substantial hunk of tender turkey meatloaf is easy to eat, thanks to its turn on the sandwich press. The Reuben doesn’t mess around with pre-cooked corned beef. Instead, Robert makes his own pickling spice and slow-cooks the corned beef until it’s fork-tender. He hand-slices the beef, tops it with kraut, his hybrid of Thousand Island and Russian dressing and Swiss cheese before pressing it to a crisp between two slices of marble rye.
Gorgeous croissants may not be incredibly crusty, but their softness is an ideal vessel for any of the “salad” sandwiches. The bright yellow free-range egg salad layered with bacon is tasty but sloppy. Opt for the perfectly creamy chicken salad, combining Springer Mountain chicken, chewy dried fruit, fresh sage, toasted pecans and mayo.
The bistro also sells a handful of prepared roasted meats — such as bone-in jerk chicken coated in a smoky rub, guava pork and roast beef — that are good for lunch or reheated for a lazy dinner. As for sides, the pasta salad can be too dry and the mac-n-cheese too salty. But the potato salad slathered with sour cream, mayo and a copious amount of fresh dill is perfection.
When asked about his cooking philosophy, Robert says he “simply cooks with common sense” and only uses ingredients that “look, smell and taste good.” The food may be simple, but it tastes as if it was prepared with care by a seasoned chef who understands what makes people happy. And it’s evident by the increasingly steady business that TINY Bistro is doing just that.