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Mark Bittman's review of Tartine

In today's New York Times Travel section Mark Bittman states that Tartine is his "favorite bakery in the United States." His glowing review describes the exceptional scones, croissants (best he's had on the West Coast), and sandwiches. He also mentions that the sweets are right up there with the croissants and scones. Can't wait to see the lines in the coming weeks/months!

http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/...

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  1. We went for the first time last week (found a time in the afternoon on a Tuesday when the line was reasonable). We had the pecorino & almond sandwich and the idiazabal & membrillo, both flavorful and unique (especially the pecorino and almond - the almonds are crushed with lemon, olive oil and sage) - a little too big, but we brought them home for leftovers.

    Also tried a couple of the pastries: the friand, the shortbread and the frangipane tart. I can't say that any of the pastries blew our socks off, but they were good. I bought some Elephant Heart Plum jam as a souvenir, and I'm enjoying that.

    I found the request to bus our own tables a little bizarre - we were not given a tray to put our food on, and when we tried to bring all of our various plates, glasses, cutlery, water bottles, etc. inside, we found no bus station, so we ended up leaving them on a counter.

    We'll definitely go back, but not when the line is halfway down the block. It's not THAT good.

    1. it's really not that great. They do a few things really well, the rest is ok.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Lori SF

        Can you go into any more detail? I've never heard anything negative about it, besides the long lines. What did you eat and how did it come up short? What's your favorite bakery that you would send people to before Tartine?

        1. re: Earl Grey

          I don't know Lori's experience but in my opinion, Bittman's rave about their scones is more of an indicator of the crappiness of commerical scones than about the quality of Tartine's scones. Scones are incrediably easy to make and there's so few ingredients its absurd that most places cut corners. Those super-sized sugar bombs with stabilizers at Starbucks are a prime example of a bad scone.

          In my view, Tartine's scones are are no better than any properly made scone.

          And their croissants are certainly good but, in my view, no better than Bay Bread's.

          Certainly, Tartine is a serious bakery that gets it right and they should be applauded for their work. But they don't walk on water and at this point the blind adoration and groveling at their feet is really too, too much. Especially since the atmosphere is so crappy and the service leaves a lot to be desired.

          1. re: larochelle

            Would you mind elaborating on what is wrong with the service at
            Tartine? I know several people who feel this way ... and the next
            time I hear it, I plan to ask them too ... but it's never been clear to me
            what the staff should be doing differently.

            Let's go into a few potential things:
            --lines are long: this could be a problem with resource level and that is
            a management problem, not a staff problem ... it's not like they run out
            of clean dishes because the staff is chatting instead of washing. also it's
            a small physical space, so it may not be as simple as "just hire another
            counter person". frankly i think a lot of the slow lines are due to customer
            dithering. i do agree the layout is not optimal at all ... when the line backsup
            along the display counter, people who dont know the product line, cant
            order efficiently ... but i think a lot of the customers spend time yammering
            inside their party rather than knowing what to order. yes, tartine is not the
            "croissant nazi".

            --it would be nice if the staff did "garbage collections" to free() up tables more
            frequently. however, this is a little tricky because when they are busy, a table
            is empty for about a nanosecond. it is much more "computationally expensive"
            to tell an occupied table needs to be cleaned, than an empty table with with a
            stack of dishes. while the staff could do better here, i primarily blame freeriding
            customers.

            --are you saying the service is surly? in say 50 visits to tartine, nothing dramatically
            obnoxious sticks in my mind

            --are you saying the staff is ignorant about the product line? i dont ask
            questions about say the provenance of the pepper in the gougere, but i havent
            had any real problems in that arena.

            --somebody above expressed surprise at being ask to self-bus. maybe they did call
            in mckinsey and were correctly told that was the "efficient" solution [see above
            comment about it being expensive for the staff to constantly poll what needs to
            be garbage collected] . also mentioned being bewildered about where to put the
            stuff ... well maybe the the cafe was less crowded when i first went there, but it
            didnt seem *that* hard to figure out ... i mean it's not a large space.

            --ok, on reflection, they have been out of half-and-half or sugar or whatever
            "coffee personalization ingredients" but again it's not clear to me they are
            worse in this area than another busy cafe ... and this isnt brunch at the Ritz.

            anyway, i'll leave it at that for now. in summary:
            yes, there is are some victim-of-their-own-success issues, they probably could use
            a "management consultant", and there are a number of problems realating to the
            physical space but those are hard-to-solve and are management/owner issues.
            i think a certain fraction of the customer base is generally much more responsible
            for the problems with tartine [as i say to friends: tartine is an example of the
            failure of communism].

            in spite of all the tartine apologist comments, i thought the bittman review was a
            little over the top too. when it comes to sweets, i may give the edge to bay bread.

            1. re: psb

              Wow! That is a lot of apologist remarks and questions.

              I have not had any particular problem with staff. I was categorizing complete lack of crowd management and lack of "floor staff" as a service issue (you considered them "management" issues).

              I find Tartine poorly designed and their crowd management a joke - see your comments above, you seem to have hit all the major points that I and others have made. Its just that I don't find those excuses acceptable, they've been in business long enough and had the same problems, many of which are solvable, the whole time.

              Since their food isn't that special to me, its a deal-breaker. But they're hardly missing my business and ultimately, I'd rather hordes continue to overwhelm Tartine since it means my places aren't.

              1. re: psb

                Agree on the management consultant. Garbage, inside and out, constantly in need of attention. Tables, inside and outside, in need of bussing. Graffiti on exterior in need of repair.

                When the bakery first opened, food quality and aesthetics were flawless. Both have lapsed.

              2. re: larochelle

                I agree with you completely. The scones at Starbucks are a joke. I call them "Stones".

              3. re: Earl Grey

                Earl Grey my reply below. I think Boulange de Cole Valley (this one is near my house) has better croissants, croque monsieur, breads and pastries in general and sandwiches.

            2. larochelle I could of not said it better. Bingo!

              I use to go there often and I have tried almost everything. I find their pastries to be ok, not great and too expensive for not being great. I have had better croissants theirs are too doughy on the inside and I just don't get the scone thing, why is it hard to find a really good one?

              Their pressed sandwiches tend to be greasy IMO. I do not care for their custard filling and the cakes are not as good as other places, theirs tend to be too sweet and on the dry side. They cannot make a proper eclair, the dough was bad and the custard was not good at all, over powered with chocolate.

              I do like the bread pudding and banana cream pie and few other items have been very good over the years. I think you need to know what to order go as early as possible.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Lori SF

                I am a fan of Tartine but I am NOT impressed by their scones. Mission pie on 25th street has a perfect cranberry scone. It's not a baked on site but still worth trying. Nobody really mentioned Tartine's ham and cheese croissants.The hearty niman ranch ham with gruyere is surrounded by flakey and chewy texture. The key is getting pastries fresh out of the oven when there is less of a crowd (I don't know if that is possible anymore).

                1. re: finchycocoa

                  The scones and muffins at Mission Pie are made at Destination Baking, and you can get the same scones and muffins there. I really wish the slices of pie were available at Destination (where they're baked) as well, because I'd rather hang out there (a more social and convivial atmosphere).

              2. It's good to see so many people realizing that Tartine is way overrated (finally).
                You can indeed find much better croissants in the city (Arlequin, Boulange or Bay Bread). Tartine's croissants are actually quite bad, burned on the outside, undercooked inside, too big, too expensive, tasteless... The rest is just as forgettable, usually heavy and bland. Did I mention expensive? As for the staff, they are way too slow, hence the line outside not because of traffic. They do have descent coffee when you can get someone to make it.
                The book is just as bad.

                9 Replies
                1. re: ngardet

                  Tartine's bread is the best in the Bay Area.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    All their bread is the best or one specific kind?

                    We are blessed with so many good bread bakeries in the Bay Area, I only vaguely remember their bread being nice but the last time I got their bread was probably a year ago.

                    Personally, I love Acme's pain epi and Bay Bread's walnut bread & baguettes but don't have any particular favorites for other styles/loaves. If Tartine has something extraordinary, perhaps I can get my husband to go on a recon mission.

                    1. re: larochelle

                      They make only one kind of bread, a large, crusty, white loaf with a moist crumb. Of Acme's breads, it's closest in style to the levain.

                      http://www.forkandbottle.com/wyndhavy...

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        They make more than one bread, although I believe they're all based on the country French. The walnut is also wonderful. Not fond of the olive or date. Not sure if they're still making the sesame.

                        I love Acme levain and several of the Arizmendi breads, and find it preposterous to wait in line at Tartine for bread--but I do it anyway. They make a number of great items (anything with cream) as well as a number that are less exciting.

                        1. re: Windy

                          I dont know if it is out of date or not, but there is a BREAD section
                          at the bottom of:
                          http://www.tartinebakery.com/menu.htm

                          1. re: Windy

                            Those are all minor variations of the one bread.

                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I agree. I particularly love the walnut. I've not had a problem with lines when I've picked up bread. I call in my order the morning I plan to pick up my loaf and then drop by at about 5:30 to buy it. Usually there isn't much of a line that late, and I have fresh from the oven bread for dinner.

                        1. re: ngardet

                          I completely agree about the croissants. The ones at Bay Bread are amazing - my favorite in the city.

                          But I did nibble on an amazing tart from Tartine. Someone brought it for a birthday party and I found myself going back for seconds.

                        2. The pastries we tried were fine, but not better than what a careful home baker using top ingredients can do. The coconut cake looked great, but tasted more of lemon syrup than coconut. The banana tart was just a single layer of banana slices covered by whipped cream. We spent about $45 there one morning, and everything looked great but tasted just okay. It certainly is better than most bakeries, but not worth the hype.

                          1. To swich from scholasticism to chocolate for a moment, does anybody have a
                            sense of how often tartine offers up the chocolate souffle cake by the slice?

                            i think it is abosolutely one of the best things they have ... certainly better
                            than the other chocolate cake, but except for one time, i've never seen it
                            offered by the slice. you have to either buy the small $20something cake
                            or the large $40something ... which is usually not an option [and even the
                            small one take some work to get through!].

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: psb

                              Tartine's regular chocolate cake suffers from too dense a crumb. The crumb sprinkled on the outside of the cake makes it even drier. Not the best by a longshot, but it will do in a pinch. The best chocolate cake I've had in SF is Arizmendi -- 9th near Irving. It is nearly perfect in my eyes. I think I'm remembering correctly that the other branches don't make chocolate cake.

                              As recently noted in another thread, the passion fruit/coconut cake at Tartine is fantastic.

                            2. Looked at their website--good heavens. $3.25 on an almond croissant? No thanks!

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: heidipie

                                You don't want the almond croissant at Tartine. But the ham and cheese one is an overstuffed bargain at the same price.

                                1. re: heidipie

                                  the tartine almond croissant seems to me to have an insane amount
                                  of almond. it's not a croissant with almond flakes/slivers on the outside.

                                  is that a normal almond croissant? does anybody like almond that
                                  much? ... it was 3-4 servings for me, the one time i got one.

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                      When's the last time you had one? All three that I have had spaced over a 3 year period were not runny, and had a thoroughly toasted outside that indicated either a different initial baking process or that they were twice-baked.

                                      That said, I don't think this is a balanced pastry. The outside has too much loose almond and powdered sugar for my taste (added after the baking because the extra dusting of powdered sugar is not scorched), and the nature of the filling means it must be eaten soon after purchase. They go to the trouble to bake their pastries multiple times a day because they intend things to be eaten fresh.

                                      I'll consult the cookbook tonight and see what they say about using day old or fresh croissants for the frangipane croissant.

                                      1. re: SteveG

                                        It's been over a year since I tried Tartine's almond croissant. The almond filling wasn't set and seemed like it had just been squirted in. In the versions that I like, the almond filling is set by the twice-baking process and you hope for some of it to seep out around the edges where it becomes toasty/chewy like a macaron in its second pass through the oven.

                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                          I understand the twice-baked concept, etc. I've been going to Tartine for about 2.5 years now and have never experienced a leaky almond croissant. They're probably what I've ordered in the morning most often. I never get their muesli, bread pudding, or morning bun. It's pretty much always the frangipane/almond croissant.

                                        2. re: SteveG

                                          The Tartine cookbook does indeed include a second baking in the recipe for frangipane croissants. It also suggests brushing the halved croissant with a brandy syrup to moisten it, so perhaps your runny croissant was an accident where someone over applied the syrup.

                                        3. re: Melanie Wong

                                          If you're stating that the almond croissant at Tartine is runny, that just isn't the case! There is no "runny" or liquidy aspect to it at all.

                                          I notice I did describe Tartine's croissants as "too big and messy" in a different thread. By messy I meant too many almond shards and too much pastry shattering and flying everywhere (because the croissant is too damn big to eat in a dainty way).

                                        4. re: psb

                                          Yes, it's nearly as big as your head. Ounce-for-ounce, $3.25 is not out of line for the basic decent (buttery, flaky) quality of their croissants. Go to Bernal and try Liberty Bakery's craptacular output (that people LOVE!) and you'd probably pay $2.50 for a subpar, hamfisted attempt at flaky pastry. (Liberty is a beautiful bakery cursed with truly terrible recipes.) Tartine calls the almond one "frangipane." Uh-huh. There's a lot of almond sliver stuck to the outside and much throat-scratching almond goo inside. Too much almond skin. That said, I have ordered it to enjoy over a couple of days' time. Can't eat a whole one in a sitting.

                                          I can't say what my favorite bakery in the US is because I haven't been to all of them (yet), but the best I know of is Cafe Besalu in Seattle. Not the same range of goods as Tartine, but genius baked goods. Dahlia Bakery in Seattle is great too, and I think on par with Tartine. Their bread is phenomenal.

                                      2. i've always found the pastries at Tartine to be overrated. And, in my experience, the servive is what i call "hipper than though" - indifference to people w/o tatoos, piercings, or random thrift shop tshirts (kind of like Ritul Roast). I personally think the pastries, and breads are far better at Destination Bakery on Chenery in Glen Park, where you also happen to get service with a warm, authentic smile.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: sfoperalover

                                          Hipper than THOW. Tartine's counter staff used to annoy me at times, but I've had no unsatisfactory experiences with them for quite a while. Quite the opposite. Adding in the extremely pleasant people who work at the Bi-Rite grocery store and the ice cream store, going to 18th St. is a very nice experience for me.

                                          I've been to Ritual a ton lately. I am unhip to the degree that I shouldn't even be allowed to cruise Valencia St., and everyone has been nothing but downright personable.

                                          1. re: Atomica

                                            Speaking personally, there's a point where you reach such a level of unhippness that the hip people start being nice to you ... no longer viewed as part of the competition.

                                            Listen ... as far as Tartine and Bittman ...

                                            We ALL went as gah-gah as Bittman over Tartine when it first opened. We still recommend it to visitors on this board. It is a good bakery. I don't go there often anymore because ... frankly I've tried most everything (except the bread & quiche) and the lines are just too off-putting. As much as I enjoyed everything I tried, there's nothing there that I crave. I don't really know why that is.

                                            Maybe if I could look over the pastries without having to make instant decisions. That being said, even during the honeymoon period I don't think I'd ever rate this the best bakery in the country. I don't think there is a best bakery. Every bakery has its specialties. There is no one stop fits all.

                                            The other thing is that I've been spoiled by the East Bay bakeries which from my experience are far superior to anything in SF ... Delassio is the only one in competition. Bay Bread is now in Marin, so good enough for me. Counts as in my territory.

                                            As far as SF ... we'll see about the upcoming Patisserie Phillipe.

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              Just out of curiosity, what are your favorite EB bakeries?

                                                1. re: chemchef

                                                  For baked goods, while it is take-out food/bakery ... nothing does it as much for me as Lola's baked goods. It is the place I will buy sweets most often. Classic American baked goods with stellar ingrediants.

                                                  I love the Lamingtons at Bakesale Betty's and everything else I would have to look up. Cookies and scones are a little sweet for my taste.

                                                  For old-style American - FatApples. Great pies and unusual seasonal treats. I like Virginia for the hot cross buns & Irish soda bread. I like Hopkins for the hot cross buns but haven't tried much else there. At Neldhams (ok technically not American) love the strawberry shortcake and butter cookies and a few christmas items the names of which I would have to look up.

                                                  If I want French-style, I'm more likely to go to Masse's than La Farine. I can remember a lot of what I tried at Masses without looking things up on Chowhound that I wrote. I do like the cupcakes at La Farine though which are a tie for me, with FatApples.

                                                  Crixa I love for the Eastern European sweet rolls, cookies and bundt cakes like the ginger. I actually would award this place as the best Eastern European bakery in the country. They take those baked goods and elevate them to a level I haven't seen elsewhere.

                                                  I've like things at Sweet Adeline, but I don't get down that way often enough. I keep meaning too. Ditto with Katherine Rozelle. I'd like to try more, but just not in my migration path.

                                                  I had an exquisite fig cake at Sketch, but they only do a few baked goods and again ... not in my migration path.

                                                  I like so much at Cheeseboard ... starting with those cheese rolls ... the scones ... some of the muffins and that fruitcake at Christmas is a must buy each year.

                                                  Casa Latina is my favorite panadria.

                                                  The place in ... uh ... San Pablo is my favorite Philipino bakery.

                                                  For bread of course, Acme and I love their apple turnovers while I think the cheese rolls on this side of the bay are vile.

                                                  I like the Bread Garden for good old fashioned style bread.

                                                  I also think no matter what anyone says that House of Bread has some good breads and I love their white.

                                                  Like I said, not one spot fits all.

                                          2. Tartine's croissants, especially the chocolate and the ham and cheese (with Niman Ranch ham!) are to die for. I find them as good as and sometimes better than what I remember having in Paris.

                                            On the other hand, I've had a cake from there which was absolutely horrid. Some sort of white cake with coconut. Looked beautiful, but was serverely lacking.

                                            1. It seems like a bakeries quality is really one of the most subjective things around here. Miette stirs up passion on both sides.

                                              I have to say I don't wait in line for much and I won't wait at Tartine, but I think it's an excellent bakery.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Earl Grey

                                                IMO or what I have seen there is not one bakery that does everything well. Each have one or two + things that are good or great and not all are apples to apple in their approach as to what they do or how they do it. Overall, I hand it to Tartine for doing what they do as bakery that has made them unique. Although, Bay Bread places are similar and did it before Tartine, that is why I see them as a more skilled bakery and more French in many ways.

                                              2. You can't compare Tartine with a French bakery. Had Tartine been located in Paris, they would have gone out of business a long time ago. Tartine is doing well in SF because there is very little competition and overall the quality level and choice are poor.

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: ngardet

                                                  If you want a French bakery, go to one of the Bay Bread places. Tartine is a very Bay Area bakery with some French influence.

                                                  Actually, I think a place like Tartine might do well in Paris. A lot of the desserts would be fairly exotic there.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    They certainly aren't hidebound. I don't get the sense many traditional bakeries in France would coat the bottom of a bannana cream tart with chocolate to keep the pastry from absorbing moisture from the caramel that provides the next layer.

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      There is/was an American bakery in Firenze that did a bang up business. Most popular items? Brownies, muffins, and cookies such as chocolate chip, oatmeal, etc. They were a novelty for the nationals and a touch of home for American students abroad. I would assume you have more American students in Paris than Florence but I could be wrong.

                                                      I believe such a bakery would do great business in Paris. Just not at croissants...It never ceased to amaze me just how popular muffins (and waffles) were among my Italian visitors.

                                                    2. re: ngardet

                                                      I was not comparing Tartine to a Freinch bakery, my goodness that would be pathetic. I said Bay Bread places are a more skilled bakery and more french meaning they have some of the basics that I feel Tartine lacks. However, there is no bakery that does it all.

                                                      I But I could see how you read that!

                                                      1. re: ngardet

                                                        You know what? There are TONS of mediocre bakeries with soggy croissants in Paris these days. I think we are very lucky in SF to have Tartine as well as Bay Bread (not to mention Acme!)

                                                        1. re: mrs bacon

                                                          True but that's not the point. The point is there are not enough bakeries in SF to stimulate competition and lift the quality up. Unlike Paris...

                                                          1. re: ngardet

                                                            Actually, I think it's that there isn't the customer base. A lot of people actually like what I consider crappy croissants. I remember once meeting with a group of people at a cafe, and being given a bag with a couple of delicious DeLessio croissants (some of the best in the City). When I offered to share them, one woman took a small bite and then said she preferred her puffy, pale croissant from the cafe. I think, in particular, that really buttery pastry doesn't appeal to many Asians, who have a somewhat different aesthetic when it comes to baked goods, nor, of course, to many health-conscious types. In other words, a pretty large percentage of the population of the area.

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              Add Latino to that demographic. While Roberto loves the upscale real-deal croissants ... he is just as happy with the soft and less buttery versions at panadrias ... or worse ... FoodMax ... look honey, 2000 croissants for a $1 ... yum.

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                I have actually had awesome "French" pastries and cakes in Tokyo. But is Japan really reflecting Asian taste? I doubt it.

                                                        2. I have a couple of favorite items. The croque-monsieur is generally delicious and there really is nothing better on a rare hot mission day than digging into the bechamel with a glass of Bandol Rose in hand. Their morning bun is another favorite.

                                                          I do think the quality is uneven; I've had to get a replacement dessert for a grainy chocolate pudding. And as the lines get longer, I go less and less. I wonder if Tartine will go the way of Slanted Door -- a fond memory of when it was the best place in the city, in my very own neighborhood, with no reservation needed.

                                                          1. Reading the review and the debate above, it made me wonder why I've never been to Tartine so this past weekend I ended up going for the first time. I have to say, it was weird seeing a line outside like some rock concert in that tiny spot. Because of recommendations I read on this board, I got the passion fruit lime bavarian cake and it was really good. It was very moist and had this interesting tart filling blending with the cake. I also got the almond lemon pond cake because I had to justify standing in line for so long. That was also very good and I was surprised at how it felt light eating it despite it being a pond cake.

                                                            I'm going to try and attach a photo (my first doing it here, so hopefully it works, if not, see more at http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200...

                                                            )

                                                            Oh, and I wanted to add that I didn't feel the service was hipper than thow. It was pleasant and friendly, and when I asked about whether I needed to refrigerate my items because I was taken them home over the bridge, they were very helpful in explaining how items should be served and gave me a little takeaway cheat sheet. Overall I had a nice experience. It was a beautiful day so I didn't mind being outside. But would I do this every week? No, because I try not to eat baked goods that often. But I'd go back and bear the line now and then.

                                                             
                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: singleguychef

                                                              To comment on your blog post, Carl's was the long-time bakery that was in that location for years before Tartine. Carl's was a great place to go for old-time cakes.

                                                            2. Wow, quite the firestorm of backlash & anti-backlash (forelash?)! A crucial point for folks who haven't been to Tartine and wonder what to make of this debate is that Tartine is really two operations under one roof: the bread-baking, handled by Chad Robertson, and the pastries/cakes/everything else, handled by Elizabeth Pruitt. (I'm no insider; there may be some overlap in that division of labor.) Folks here obviously disagree strongly re pastries and cakes, and much of that disagreement seems to stem from differences in personal taste/stylistic preference, and I doubt that adding another opinion will accomplish much. But as for the bread, I have never had any better and rarely had any that's even in the same league . . . and can't remember any in the same league in the Bay Area (though I could well be forgetting some, have very little experience in the East Bay, and stand ready to be edified). No one above seems to criticize the bread, and I'd be truly shocked if someone did (except, sfoperalover, while criticizing Tartine's service/attitude, you unfavorably compared it to Destination Bakery and said that you think the latter's pastries "and breads" are "far better"; I assume that that was a hasty bit of hyperbole driven by your views about server attitude, and that you wouldn't consideredly assert that D.B.'s bread is objectively better than Tartine's ...?).
                                                              So setting aside the raging pastries/cakes/service debates, here's my point: if you haven't been to Tartine, or have only tried the desserts, and are wondering what the fuss is about, for G-d's sake go get a loaf or half-loaf of their bread when it comes out of the oven on Wed-Sun circa 5pm. Or get a tartine (2 slices of bread toasted w/jam & butter on the side--I recommend very lightly toasted). If you aren't blown away, then you'll have a shocking news item to post. (N.B. Raving praise only applies to bread eaten day of baking; it loses the magic overnight (so don't order a tartine before 5pm, i.e., made w/yesterday's bread)).

                                                              p.s. If you've eaten at Delfina in recent years (and on a Wed-Sun), you've likely had Tartine's bread; D. serves it alongside Acme bread (subjecting the latter to an impossibly, cruelly unfair head-to-head comparison, but that's life in the big (foodie) city!).

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: readingstand

                                                                I'm kind of with you on the bread thing. However, the quality of the breakfast pastries at Destination is EASILY as high as Tartine's. However, it's basically apples-and-oranges, or perhaps morning buns-and-bear claws. Both places make croissants. Destination also makes danishes, bear claws, sticky buns, scones and muffins. Tartine, to my recollection, makes none of those things. (Okay, maybe scones, yes?) Destination makes a bread pudding, but it bears little resemblance to that gloopy slop that Tartine makes, and they don't serve muesli. Destination also totally excels in the pie department. The two bakeries are completely different animals. Tartine is highfalutin' and Destination is homespun. But I have to strongly, strongly disagree that the quality of Destination's output is inferior.

                                                                They make quite decent sandwiches at the Cheese Boutique in Glen Park, and the baguettes they are served on are made at Destination.

                                                              2. Tartine is apparently famous for its scones....according to the Bittman video on the NYT site. In his video he doesn't say Tartine is the best bakery in the world or US or whatever, he says the scones are the best.

                                                                1. Went to Tartine because I love bread pudding and must try all things bread pudding. After reading rave reviews of Tartine's bread pudding, I knew I had to try it.

                                                                  The claims of giant portions is true. I got the bread pudding to go and my little box was so heavy! Unfortunately, the bread pudding was not quite tasty enough for me to relish the ginourmous slice I had been given. My problem with the bread pudding was simply that there was not enough custard and the flavor was too bland. Just kinda sweet with no real eggy-ness or apple-ness. Just a blah-ness.

                                                                  However, their Passion Fruit Lime Bavarian cake was really good. The passion fruit filling in the cake was so flavorful and tasty I ate out most of the middle before my SO could take more than a bite or two. :D The cake was moist and soft. The coconut shavings on the outside were a little hard and bland, but you just ignore that part.

                                                                  Croissants were OK. Not the best on the West Coast... but it was flaky on the outside and nice and chewy on the inside. Flavor was normal.

                                                                  Still prefer the croissants from La Maison du Pain in Los Angeles!

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                                                                  1. re: AlwayzHungry

                                                                    I went to Tartine one Friday afternoon after hearing the rave reviews about their frangipane croissant and bread pudding too, and I was disappointed with both. The croissant was too big and just not as spectacular as my favorite almond croissant from Bay Bread.

                                                                    The bread pudding was okay but not mind-blowing tasty either. The chunks of bread just didn't absorb much of the custardy goodness, and the small custard bits were a bit too eggy for me. It was also a bit watery at the bottom. Well, I guess the bread pudding wasn't as disappointing as the one I had at Gregoire though. I got the lemon one with chocolate sauce ... turned out that it wasn't a bread pudding at all! It was more like a lemon poppyseed cake. Taste-wise it was ok, but what I wanted was a REAL bread pudding.

                                                                    Anyway, the rochers w/ cocoa nibs and latte I got were quite nice, and the staff were actually pretty friendly too. I still wanna try their lemon bars and morning buns (which they didn't have the day I went) and perhaps a fresh loaf of bread before deciding whether Tartine is indeed a no-no for me. :P