Bar Tartine review [San Francisco]
Saturday night we went to Bar Tartine for our anniversary dinner. I really enjoyed it and found the cuisine more interesting and compelling than other similar SF restaurants. The setting is nice and I liked the decor and ambiance of the restaurant. The service was efficient but could perhaps use a little more warmth. The cuisine was rustic bold cal-med fusion but fusing different cuisines than usual in innovative and fresh ways. The night we went we got hints of Scandanavian, Greek, Italian and Japanese cuisine in some of the dishes. The food is flavorful and fresh herbs like mint and tarragon accentuate spices like cumin and coriander. Almost every dish worked for me. The table next to us, a 20 something techie and his visiting parents were befuddled by the cuisine.
We got the friends and family set course menu with beverage pairing. This menu is on the opposite side of the main menu which is affixed to a small board. It's extremely easy to not see the tasting menu the way the menu is presented and the table next to us were disappointed that they didn't see it and only found out after they ordered because that's what we got.
We didn't think the beverage pairing worked as well as it could have. In particular I was not a fan of the sparkling wine and both of us did not care for the overly microbial tasting fermented cider.
The savory courses were all excellent. Here are some of the highlights:
Cured salmon with oyster mushrooms and ramps- supple salmon served in a delicious dashi like broth. Excellent.
Tomatoes with salmatto sauce. A beautifully constructed salad served on top of a thick sauce made of tomato and salmon mashed up together. Excellent
Sprouted lentil croquettes with kafir and coriander. Added up to more than the sum of its parts.
Poached chicken with peppers and skordalia. Again a dish that added up to more than the sum of its parts. Excellent.
Smoked potatoes with black garlic. Excellent, the smokiness was on the verge of being a tad too intense but wasn't.
Kale with tahini sauce. Excellent.
Beef tartare flatbread. We were surprised how much the beef tasted like it could have been tuna. I am generally not the biggest fan of beef tartare but really enjoyed it.
The only miss of the evening for me was one of the desserts a cheese dumpling with blackberry sauce. I am not at all a fan of overly sweet desserts but this dessert was too extreme in the opposite direction. The whole thing was tart and kind of one dimensional. A touch more sweetness would have moderated the tartness and would have greatly improved the dessert.
I soo wanted to love bar tar tine. really. i had been dying to go there forever. i loved that it was husband and wife. i love that somebody. finally. was doing something other than italian. i love the fermentations, and i love tar tine bread. when my wife and i sat at the bar, the bar tender was someone we know from a different time. since we were hungry we ordered a ton, and since we had a friend behind the bar, we got extra attention. the whole experience fell flat for me and i was so sad. one dish tasted like eucalyptus, only. a few other dishes felt unbalanced and/or missing something. loved the chefs food when he was at Nombe. the menu reads awesome. maybe i went on an off night? it was a monday, not very busy and both chefs were present. ima chalk this one up to my shortcomings, but i wish i had the experience i keep hearing about...