Great Brunch at Bar Tartine [SF] - Report
Just got back from brunch with a fellow hound at Bar Tartine, and I'm happy to report that it was excellent. We walked in just after 11, with no reservation, and were seated right away. The restaurant was only 1/3 full, though there were several large tables which appeared to be reserved for people coming later.
We shared three items:
Langos with turó cheese, tomato preserves, spinach, parsley. This was outstanding, as was the case the last time I tried the savory langos at brunch here (back in November, when it was fried chicken). On my last visit for dinner in December, the langos was a bit too greasy, but today it was properly fried and nicely crisp, and the topping combination was wonderful.
Yogurt w/ sprouted quinoa, blood orange and pistachio. At $12, this dish was a tad on the expensive side, but very interesting. I enjoyed the sprouted quinoa more than I expected to, and the homemade yogurt is good. The serving wasn't that big.
Smoked potatoes w/ ramp mayonnaise. I had tried these in December for the first time, and they are up there with my favorite potato dish anywhere. I actually considered asking for a meal of these potatoes, plus two poached eggs, which I think would be a fantastic breakfast. But regardless of whether it's for lunch or dinner, ordering these potatoes is a good idea.
With two coffees, total bill was $44 before tip, for plenty of food. A good value overall, since the brunch menu is interesting and dishes are really well prepared. A mediocre brunch elsewhere would probably only be a few bucks less, plus there's no line at Bar Tartine at 11 AM!
I'm glad a last-minute change of plans landed us at Bar Tartine instead of our initial spot. This was my first brunch in San Francisco in 2013, and it's hard to imagine that it can get better than this.
I adored the yogurt, which had a silky texture and perky tang without being too acid. Smoked potatoes: I concur with David. I generally steer away from "smoked" dishes because often the seasoning is too heavy-handed, but this was just right.
Our server, who was lovely, said that the langos was a great every-once-in-a-while dish because of its decadence, and I disagreed strongly! I could have eaten three straightaway. Wonderful.
Overall, I was impressed by the precision of the preparation: smoky potatoes could have been too smoky, langos too fried, yogurt too tangy or loose, but everything was just right.
This is now 100% my favorite brunch in San Francisco. This morning's spread included house-cured Mangalitsa with melon and gooseberries, house-made yogurt with shaved pear and a sprinkle of granola, and the gravlax/onion quark smorrebrod on a thin plank of house-made bread.
Everything was both exceptional in taste and plate appeal. I'm surprised by how much I like that yogurt; it's more aggressively tart than I remember, but I adored it. Just as earlier this year, it wasn't a huge portion, but the flavors are so sparky that a smaller portion feels satisfying. The mangalitsa was almost elastic to the tooth, edged with lard and just a touch sweet; it was sort of like eating a meat fruit roll-up. Delicious.
Often the focus of brunch is comfort, lunch is speed and value, and dinner is where I expect creativity and elegance, but Bar Tartine ups the ante before noon. In the end, I'm not all that interested in pancakes or scrambled eggs that I feel like I could make as well (sometimes better) at home, so I love that this place takes brunch as seriously as an evening meal, from curing the pig to plating the yogurt just so.