When I travel to San Francisco, there are three activities I try to cram in: a gluttonous stroll through the Ferry Building, a guilt-fueled run along the Embarcadero, and a morning trip to Tartine Bakery. The wait is never less than a half-hour, and that never bothers me since I know there will be warm morning buns and other bread-y treasures along my path to the register. When I read co-owners Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson were opening a full-service restaurant named Bar Tartine, I booked a reservation for the first week. That I live in Los Angeles was a minor detail.
There’s no sign to identify the restaurant, an approach Ms. Prueitt claims “hasn’t seemed to hurt Tartine Bakery.”
A number of colorful paintings line the walls, and a “found” antler chandelier hangs near the front window, visible from the sidewalk. Bar Tartine’s chef is Andy Kitko, a young find of the owners.
To drink, we each ordered a glass of organic French white wine, which our waitress said earns that designation by excluding sulfites. The two glasses were Alexis Sauvion and Terres Dorees ($7 apiece). I don’t think the lack of sulfites hurt the flavor of either wine.
Our waitress started us with crusty sliced Tartine Bakery bread and a pat of soft butter. The bread alone is good enough to warrant a trip to the parking-unfriendly Mission District.
Ahi tuna came 3 ways for $14. The plate held a deconstructed Nicoise salad: haricot verts, Nicoise olives, a dab of Nicoise sauce, thin-sliced celery, a white anchovy-wrapped pepperoncini, and pink sheets of tuna, topped with a razor-thin lemon slice. There was also a carpaccio and a confit of belly with tonnato sauce. This combo was realized on the plate as tuna tartare with guacamole base, topped with sour cream and chunks of tuna belly. All of the tuna was impeccable; there wasn’t even a fraction of an inch of fibrous fish.
Although there were five intriguing cheese selections ($6 apiece, $16 for a sample of each) served with dates, honeycomb and Tartine Bakery bread, we opted for more site-specific desserts.
We left Bar Tartine happy with our selections and disappointed our stomachs weren’t large enough to accommodate all the other intriguing dishes. Although the restaurant had only been open one week, it was already one of the better restaurants I’d eaten at in San Francisco, very high quality food at affordable prices. Chef Kitko and the owners are clearly on to something.
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