Thursday, August 31, 2006

HFF Quickie: Bar Tartine

Found myself in the Mission with two lovely ladies hell-bent on dinner. We roamed the 16th-ish area wanting to try Limon (hour wait) and instead stumbled our way into the easy-to-miss Bar Tartine. There was a minimal wait for three at the bar and we were greeted (a bit belatedly) by the hurried staff. They've got a nice, if scattered, wine list of mostly French and Californian wines--with a bunch of bottles under $35. We opted for a solid if light-bodied 2004 Macon-Villages.

We weren't uber-hungry so we munched on a few small plates (saving room for the much-touted desserts). First up were dates stuffed with gorgonzola in balsamic. The perfectly sweet dates were filled with pungent gorognzola--all of which blended nicely with thevinegar's sharp acidity. Next, gruyere gourgeres (a sort of cheesy choucroute pastry puff) were okay--a little bland. More herbs or salt or cheese was needed to punch them up. A salad of grilled radicchio, grilled plums, and walnut fromage blanc toasts was excellent--bitter, tart, and sweet all at once. We finished up with a grilled sweet corn risotto with Greek basil. It was deliciously creamy and sweet, though the rice was a touch underdone.

As a side note, the bread that Bar Tartine served was phenomenal. Slightly doughy with a thin flaky crust. It made Acme levain taste like dirty boots. Very dirty boots.

Bar Tartine's bakery/patisserie pedigree shown through on a list of innovative seasonal desserts. A muscat poached nectarine was served with a think disc of almond sponge cake and a creamy, sweet, and savory basil ice cream. The only flaw here was the somewhat underdone nectarine. Our other dessert, a malt creme brulee topped with pluots and candied white corn was one of the best desserts I've had--definitely the best creme brulee. The creme was not too sweet, the extra sweetness added instead by the unexpectedly funky (in a good way) candied white corn and the pluots.

So Bar Tartine is pretty damn good. Fun and innovative small plates embracing seasonality while still doing some pretty wild stuff. Rounded out with a solid wine list and a big selection of wines by the glass and Bar Tartine is a solid neighborhood haunt that'll bring me back.

Bar Tartine
561 Valencia Street
San Francisco, Ca 94110
Total Cost for Three (4 plates, 2 desserts, 1 bottle of wine, 2 coffees, tax, tip): $108

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