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Review: Tiny Lou's at Hotel Clermont

Lauren Finney | August 21, 2018 | Food & Drink National

There’s nothing diminutive about Tiny Lou’s, now open on the lower level of Hotel Clermont.

103_Tinylous.jpgThe dining room pays homage to strong women in its photography.

It’s hard to believe, but the derelict building that once was the Clermont Motor Hotel has been completely transformed into the hip, happening Hotel Clermont. Named after an Austrian dancer in the then-named Gypsy Room (aka the Clermont Lounge) who, legend has it, refused to dance for Hitler, the restaurant—and the entire hotel—hits the right notes of femininity, strength and chutzpuh.

The design of Tiny Lou’s looks like a Wes Anderson set, if Wes Anderson was a woman. It’s playful, feminine and light without being frothy (the basement location and dark lighting might help keep it from being twee). Framed images of strong females dot the dining room and the bathrooms, and the requisite Millennial Pink is seen throughout the dining room without being overbearing; the neon sign beckoning patrons in is fun and not gimmicky. Imaginative, sexy floral arrangements from Faith Flowers complete the look.

The menu, led by executive chef Jeb Aldrich, is a modern interpretation of classic French cuisine. Start with the yeasty, slightly overbuttered brioche bread service. It’s the perfect pace-setter and metaphor for Tiny Lou’s—indulgent, but still light. From there, the menu has quite a few standout items divvied up into Hors d’Oeuvres, La Mer, L’Abattoir and even Des Legumes for vegetarians. The 11 items listed as starters are bountiful in color, depth, texture and flavor. The duck consommé is a must-order; it has everything: salty, fatty, sweet and fresh, and that’s before you add in the showstopping, silky tableside pour. The beef tartare is unctuous, thanks to the addition of whipped marrow and mustard oil; and the Burgundy snails are a thing of wonder thanks to a parsley pistou, caper cappelletti and pickled Champagne grape that adds a burst of acidity to cut through the richness.

The Burgundy snails with parsley pistou, caper cappelletti and pickled Champagne grapes

The L’Abattoir, or meat selections, are good: The grilled lamb chops are particularly pretty on the plate, and the steak frites are cooked perfectly (that’s fatty, indulgent foie gras you’re tasting in the sauce du Clermont). The fish options include a whole-roasted loup de mer with global influences ranging from eggplant cari to shishito to harissa beurre monté, and a light, innovative take on trout almondine. Served with classic haricots verts, capers, cipollini onions and toasted almond, it allows for dessert, which is one of the most important courses at Tiny Lou’s.

Pastry chef Claudia Martinez, formerly of Atlas and Restaurant Eugene, is a rock star when it comes to classic French patisserie. Her creme de fraises (strawberry mousse, black pepper crumble, basil-lime sorbet and strawberry consommé) is almost too pretty to eat, while the crêpes Suzette cake is a delicious take on a classic mille crêpe. Heed the siren call of the dessert cart, and you’ll be rewarded with less sweet, albeit still delicious options: A lemon bar covered with marshmallowy meringue and glitter, and a shockingly delicious gluten-free brownie were on offer recently.

040_TinyLous_0871.jpgClaudia Martinez’s creme de fraises

It’s worth noting that The Indigo Road Restaurant Group has an uncanny way of producing just what Atlanta needs: well-designed spaces; inventive, sustainable food; and, to put it in Tiny Lou’s modern French terms, that je ne sais quoi needed these days for a full dining experience. Service, usually the first bump in the road for a new resto, was impeccable, and our server was knowledgeable about everything from the dessert ingredients to the unfamiliar aperitifs used in the cocktails. On a recent night, management mentioned that many patrons of Tiny Lou’s walk to dinner, and it’s a hodgepodge of clientele: families, mature couples and only a small smattering of millennials. Yes, it might seem impossible that this infamous hotel of Atlanta past is now a luminous, lively and vibrant place, but it is. And Tiny Lou’s brings refinement, provocation and intimacy to the mix.

079_TinyLous_1017.jpgThe Pimm’s Coupe

093_TinyLous_1064.jpgAn alluring neon sign beckons from the lobby

789 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, 470.485.0085
Cocktails, $17; small plates, $7-$24; large plates, $22-$80
Sun.-Thu., 5-10pm; Fri.-Sat., 5-11pm


Photography by: Heather Fulbright