Brunch at Bar Tartine - Report
I had brunch with pane today at Bar Tartine. This was my first visit, and I thought it was very good. They don't open for brunch until 11, which is excellent if you are planning to meet for brunch at 11, since there was no wait at all for a table.
La Quercia organic cured ham with poached eggs and grilled country bread. This was very good - the cured ham was a lot like prosciutto and the serving was generous - eggs were poached perfectly and the bread was good too. The overall serving wasn't too big, but was large enough.
Sandwich of softshell crab, avocado, cucumber, lettuce and aioli on brioche. I thought this sandwich was fantastic. A whole fried soft shell crab was balanced between the two pieces of bread, and each component added to the balanced combination of flavors - especially the cucumber and avocado. It reminded me of a grown-up and fancy lobster roll (but with crab instead of lobster). Not cheap at 16 dollars, but really good.
Sheep's milk vanilla yogurt with granola, berries and apricot. This yogurt was creamy and delicious, fruit and granola weren't anything too special IMO.
We were served some excellent Tartine bread w/ butter w/ our meal. I had an iced coffee, pane had an iced latte. Both were good, though the only form of sugar on the table was brown sugar cubes, which didn't melt too well in the cold beverages.
Space is really nice, service was good, menu is interesting, and having no wait at 11 AM was awesome. My main complaint is the lack of sweet things on the menu - we could have ordered a main dish of french toast, but aside from that, there was the yogurt and some desserts (cake, ice cream) but nothing else sweet. I think they would benefit from having a few side orders of breakfast pastries available to accompany savory meals - doesn't seem like this would be too much of a problem, since after all, it *is* Tartine.
Total bill was a bit more than my normal brunch budget, but the crab and the yogurt made it pricier than normal, and for many meals, it wouldn't be much more expensive than other far-worse brunches in the area (including ones with lines out the door).
As far as upscale brunches in our neighborhood, I favor Bar Tartine as best-in-class. For me, the menu's a bit more distinctive and interesting than Foreign Cinema, which is also very good (and you can get a reservation to avoid ridiculous brunch lines).
Dave MP pretty much covered it all. I was the one with a sweet fang this morning, but the french toast dish had a lavender caramel we were reluctant to order (because lavender tastes like cleaning product to both of us). The menu's great if your dining companions are into savory options, and we were both happy with what we ordered.
My favorite was the crab sandwich, which was both delicious and lovely. That little crunch of cucumber reminded me of a Vietnamese sandwich. Definitely very rich with the whole fried crab tucked into brioche toast, but not quite as heart attack-worthy as the pork belly egg salad sandwich (which is also great).
Pretty sure that was Bellwether farms yogurt, which I eat at home, so it wasn't special enough for me to want to order it again.
I read your brunch post before going this morning, so I saw that you found the portion of french toast small.
Like I said, I didn't think the portions were very large, but they were appropriate. For example, the eggs and ham had two pieces of toast, two eggs and several slices of ham.
My wife and I live in the area and have been to Bar Tartine for brunch a few times. We've always enjoyed the french toast and have never felt that the portion was too small. It's certainly not a cheap brunch, but as Dave MP noted, I think you could do worse in the area for less tasty food. We also like Universal Cafe's brunch, especially for savory items, but we prefer the french toast at Bar Tartine.