Friday, September 4, 2015


Not the chef, but a well-respected New York wine expert guided me here, although that recommendation came awhile back.  Still, Tiny's has been on my radar for quite some time, and for whatever reason it popped back into my consciousness last week, and a glimpse at the menu inspired a prompt reservation.  Tiny's isn't tiny by any stretch of a New York imagination.  Few and far between are family-owned, town-housed, two story restaurants in this city.  Chef Paul Warthen works a homey, modern American menu influenced with Southern and French touches into the rustic, barn-y setting near the base of Tribeca.

It describes itself as a neighborhood restaurant, with which I wholly concur, and hereby proclaim that if a place describes itself as "neighborhoody" and it's NOT in my neighborhood, I better have a specific motivation for the visit.  Now, this isn't to berate Tiny's at all- had it been local I most certainly would've been swayed by its charms.  It's just pretty far down the scape of the city, so the commute exacerbated some of its weaker attributes.  The attractive waitstaff, however, was very welcoming, easy-going and relaxed so as to make you feel just the same.  One of the things that attracted me on the online menu was the indication of daily specials: "more to come (and it will be tasty)" for the starters, and additional
 entrees were promised to be "coming soon: something special and wildly delicious".  There were no special entrees, however, and but a single "tasty" appetizer addition.  Thus, we stuck to the menu, arm-wrestling for the arugula salad (I won) with its array of seasonal goodies: plump local blueberries and rosy sweet beets nestled under ribbons of thinly sliced zucchini, softened slightly.  Puffing up brown rice that clumped into little hillocks made for the world's greatest nut substitute.  It would've been quite a perfect salad had it not been overdressed in its viscous strawberry vinaigrette.  In fact, the salad as a whole was on the skimpy side, so simply doubling the
amount of arugula (it was listed as an arugula salad, after all, although that was the scantiest
ingredient) would have so easily solved every problem, and made it look less meager in comparison with the other salad on the menu, a Waldorf-y kale.  This one seemed entirely bereft of dressing, which was disappointing because maple-mustard atop kale would've made stellar bedfellows.  It did, however, have enough flavorful shreds of gouda, along with chunky walnuts, celery and local apples to result in a tasty whole.

Even if there had been "special and wildly delicious" additions to the entrees, I still may have selected the Bream Barigoule, fresh off such a magnificent barigoule at Aviary in Portland.  Unfortunately, even had I not that impeccable one to compare, this one suffered for its simplicity.  An overly acid broth leached all the meaty earthiness out of a gorgeous halved artichoke, leaving it not much better than those from a can.  The skin-on filets were fresh, but slightly overcooked, which might've gone unnoticed had the wan broth offered any oomph to mask the shortfall.  It had all the complexity of canned broth with an abundance boiled vegetable cubes thrown in- a disappointment, even to someone who can overlook many inadequacies 
if placated with enough vegetables.  In fact, aside from the arugula salad, portion generosity is nary an issue here.  A behemoth pork chop shared a plate with bacony green beans, a mound of nubby, immaculate Castle Mill Valley polenta and a big, crumbly jalapeno cornbread muffin, piled high on the plate.  There was barely room for the chunky, sweet-tart pickled pear salsa, a novel deviation from the pork-chops-and-apple sauce rut.  Plus, it paired well with the jalapeno aspect of the muffin; tame as though it was, the dense muffin was marvelously corny, and served
us both , since there was no bread readily available throughout the course or the meal.  The chop was remarkably juicy, and heavy with a pungent smokiness.  We also went for a side of ratatouille, which arrived with more of that thick polenta: this eight dollar side could've made a small but hearty vegetarian meal.  Normally, I want my side to be veg, but these were some great grits, creamy and heartily textured underneath a saucy classic ratatouille.

I hate saying the best part of the meal was dessert... it seems so obvious and pedestrian (I mean, "yum... butter and sugar.")  But here it definitely was, and that's not to say that the dinner part of the repast was so unimpressive so much as that they served up one fine peach crumble.  It was crumbly-rich, its streusel brown sugared and buttery, with a warm, gentle nudge of cinnamon.  But the peaches were the elements de resistence.  Obviously juicy-ripe beauties to begin with, they were cooked down until all those juices concentrated, the fruit intensified to glorious levels. The only thing that could've improved this dish would've been a scoop of ice cream instead of creamy fresh whipped cream... but that is a flimsy and opinion-driven criticism.   Tiny's does a good job at exactly what it wants to be: a warm a welcoming neighborhood treasure.  A couple of kinks shouldn't dissuade from a visit.... if you're in the 'hood.

             tel. (212) 374-1135


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