Tiny Lounge, Lincoln Square

she said:

Truffle.  Cheese.  Fries.  Combine these ingredients and what do you have?  Heaven?  Bliss?  A divine trifecta?  You’d think so, right?  Not so much.  The Truffle Cheese Fries at Tiny Lounge were a waste of calories.  They needed salt and without the help of tamarind ketchup (which does not come with the fries, but which is available if you ask), they were as bland as melba toast dipped in milk, and almost as limp.

Next came the Pizzetta Margerita, a crispy thin-crust pizza (topped with mozzarella, basil and tomato) served on a wood cutting board.  Sound like a winner?  Yeah?  Wrong again, sucka.  It, too, was rather light in the flavor loafers.  Instead of tomato sauce, the pizza is coated in herb-infused oil which just made it greasy.

Normally, I’d never order fries and pizza in one meal, but I had no choice.  They were the only vegetarian options.  Wait.  That’s not true.  There was another version of the fries, this one served with garlic mayo and the tamarind ketchup, and there was another pizza.  A truffle cheese pizza.  You can see my dilemma.

So, I must really hate Tiny Lounge, right?  Wrong.

The lounge is cozy and candlelit, with a modern vibe and very nice staff.  The drink menu offers dozens of classic and original cocktails, an extensive beer list and quality wines.  Clearly, drinks are their specialty.  If approached as a cocktail lounge, rather than a restaurant, Tiny Lounge is the cat’s pajamas.  It’s nice that they have a menu, rather than bags of old peanuts.  Plus, it’s not their fault that I’m a vegetarian.

I’ll definitely be back.  My prediction:  after a couple of their specialty Hemingway cocktails (flor de cana aged rum, turbinado sugar, fresh lime juice), those fries will look (and taste) pretty damn good.

he said:

Here’s the thing about Tiny Lounge: we entered under false pretenses. We were going just for dinner. We’d made some…questionable choices the night before and didn’t really feel like drinking it up. Had we known that this was a bar with a gourmet grub menu, we might have saved our Groupon.

We had a hard time using up our $40 deal without ordering from their expensive drink menu. A Dark and Stormy, a classic mixed drink in the Florida rum-bum tradition, was the extent of our alcohol bill. Nice and tasty, though at $9, it’s a bit pricy for your typical Floridian rum-bum.

Salt-licked

My beautiful wife loves her salt.  A whole lot. So when she complains that the fries weren’t salty, that’s not saying much. I thought the fries were great. They had a different flavor profile than the McDonald’s variety – - more rich, more interesting, more layered. They were superior BECAUSE they weren’t salty. Salt would have taken away from all the savory stuff that was going on there.

Slide-Slipping

For dinner, I had the Tiny Burgers, which are sliders.  These little guys are definitely the star of the menu, as I saw them on almost every table in the joint. And they are exactly what I’d want to eat at the end of a long night of Hemingways and Dark & Stormys (Stormies?).

The burgers come on a great pretzel bun, with good angus beef, smoked bacon and delicious cheddar.  The accompanying tamarind ketchup and garlic mayo came together in a weird melange that tasted like barbecue sauce, which has no place on a burger if you ask me. And it could have used something to crsip it up, like onions or a pickle.

I’d head back to Tiny Lounge, but I’m not going to make a point of it. I feel like I’ve already sampled half of their menu, and there was nothing to fall in love with.

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One Response to “Tiny Lounge, Lincoln Square”

  1. Patrick Sarubbi says:

    Not only is Chicago known for its deep dish pizza it is also the place for one of the best burgers. The Tiny Lounge in Lincoln Park has a great atmoshere. YOu are not rushed out the door after you eat. People keep saying that New York City has some of the best restaurants. I have not had the opportunity to get to NY but it is going to be tough competition with this place.

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