Bar Tartine has evolved with different chefs over time.
Do you like obscure European sandwiches as much as I do? Find out at Bar Tartine, the multifaceted restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission from Tartine bread meisters Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson. The couple tasked executive chef Nicolaus Balla, formerly of neighborhood fave Nombe, with serving diverse sandwiches at during casual lunch service, to good effect.
Customers order from a counter framed by pickle jars that aren’t just decorative.
Smørrebrød (3 for $15) open-faced Danish sandwiches on dark rye, supported combinations like smoked sturgeon with potato and dill sauce (skordalia), and horseradish; smoked eggplant with roasted tomato, earthy white bean puree and tangy olive; and creamy goat cheese with broccoli, sweet onion jam, and chile.
Chopped Salad ($13) was a surprising standout. The somewhat overdressed melange was still fairly satisfying, complete with paprika, salami, tomato, cucumber, button mushrooms, scallions, peppers and pepperoncini, served with soft wheat.
Lango is another open-faced sandwich that isn’t exactly a household name in the States, but in Hungary, people practically trip over them. My choice top the supple fried bread involved thin-sliced, roasted lamb ($13) subtly spicy horseradish cream, shaved summer squash (and their blossoms), sliced tomato and sharp cheese shavings.
Sandwiches ($12) on smoked potato pan bread more or less amounted to grilled cheese. A seemingly innocuous combination of smoked chicken, charred peppers and onions, and melted cheese, was hearty and flavorful.
Racsos Csololades ($5) was my meal’s only misfire, a dry Hungarian chocolate tart crafted with almond, rye, and apricot, dusted with confectioner’s sugar and plated on glass.
Fermented melon soda ($4) was a fun and funky seasonal selection that required stirring.
Bar Tartine probably won’t be able to franchise a lango or Smørrebrød concept anytime soon, but I do appreciate how the restaurant’s chef and owners were willing to stray from accepted sandwich conventions to create a unique San Francisco lunch option.