Bar Tartine is our current favorite restaurant in San Francisco. Is it the best restaurant in the City? No.
Is every dish mind-bogglingly delicious? If your buddy wants a plate of pasta or a juicy burger, should you go? What about dinner with the parents? Or a first date? Can we guarantee the service will be friendly or attentive?
So what the hell are we talking about? It comes down to effort. Risk. Authenticity. These guys are trying. Bar Tartine may not be the Beatles, but it could be Neil Young.
Who decides they’re going to turn a beloved Mission joint into a Hungarian restaurant? Pickles and goulash—that’ll bring the crowds in, right? Eastern European flavors amped up with obscure Japanese fermentations aren’t exactly in the standard playbook.
But they should be...
And that’s before we get to the bread, served by day. At most restaurants it's an afterthought. We thought we had a pretty good handle on the highs and lows the Western World's staple can reach. Should have known better.
The Tartine guys are famous for their bread. The phenomenon started at Tartine Bakery, which notoriously has a line of huddled bun/croissant/croque-hungry masses halfway around the block by 9 a.m. on Sunday. But Bar Tartine takes it to another level and integrates the world-class bread into even better dishes.
Bread temple by day. Hungarian/Japanese fermentation lab by night. It ain’t figs on a plate.
Three slices of daily fresh bread selections with a healthy dollop of salted butter. Possibly the world's most perfect simple dish. If you have ever in your life said, "this bread is good," this dish will melt your mind. We’ve had about 12 different types of Tartine bread at this point – flat, chewy, yeasty, triangular, smoky, salty, wheaty, rye-y?, oat-ey? – and...this is f*cking ridiculous.
They went all-in on the Scandinavian spelling here, but these are just open-faced rye sandwiches. As in, there’s bread underneath. You know by now that that part is going to be great. So let us wax poetic on toppings. Lamb tartare, beef, “lox,” and mushroom-based ones are all awesome. There’s a chocolate and hazelnut butter option that we’re planning to knock down in anticipation of a coronary bypass.
Honey. Lemon. Moist (yeah, we said it), soft pound cake. Laughably good.
You get a beautifully sliced half avocado (welcome to California!), a fried egg, and a badass bun with killer seasoning. Just running up the score at this point.
You can get these, and they’re great, but it’s like ordering sushi at a steakhouse or letting Tarantino act. It can be done, but why not just go with what they’re best at (bread)?
As with most of the dishes, the fruit toppings rotate seasonally, and they tend to be brilliant. The sour cream…not so much.
God’s gift to hangovers. We’ve had this potato flatbread with other toppings at lunch and dinner, and this was the best.
Crazy Japanese fermentation meets raw, delicious #meeeeeats. A damned good dinner open-face sandwich.
A ridiculously large portion of sushi-grade salmon with some delicious Scandinavian vegetables/sauces. World-beating.
If you can bear some offal, hit this. It brings the funk in the best way.
The best dinner dish. Pretty sure these potatoes have been infused with charcoal at a genetic level ('sup, Monsanto), and the world is better for it. The aioli/mayo they come with…my god. Wish we had a stash of this to put on our sandwiches in middle school. We would have been way more popular.
Spicy green seafood soup. Well done.
Gonna be real, the desserts test the weird borderline between sweet and savory. A more charitable person might call them “challenging…”
…but we’re going to straight-up call them not delicious. Bar Tartine, we are trying so hard to sell you to the world. Throw down some more crowd-pleasing desserts. Get the brunch crew on the case.