Bar Tartine - San Francisco

561 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Chef Jason Fox

Tartine Bakery is our favorite bakery in all of California and beyond. When we heard that Tartine Bakery had opened up a restaurant, this place quickly shot up our list of places to eat in San Francisco. Like Tartine Bakery, Bar Tartine is equally if not even more difficult to find. With no signage and dark green colored paint, driving by you would think it was a dive bar, but fortunate are the ones who know what happens inside these doors.

The bread at Tartine is considered to be the best in all of San Francisco. The exterior is crispy and has an excellent crunch while the innards of the bread are moist and of perfect consistency. The bread here is worth the carb intake. Gorgonzola stuffed Medjool dates (6)

We decided to start our date with some dates. The combination of the dates, gorgonzola, and balsamic vinegar was too sweet for our liking. We felt that it needed something else to balance the overpowering sweetness of the dish...like bacon. Our favorite date dish to date is A.O.C.'s version with roasted dates, parmesan, and bacon - a perfect combination of sweet and salty.

Sonoma foie gras mousse, brioche cannoli, quince, frisee, huckleberry, Tasmanian pepper gastrique (15)
We love to eat foie gras whenever we have the opportunity to, which isn't very often because it is usually way too expensive. When I saw that they had it on the menu, I was immediately intrigued by it. I should have suspected something when the price of the starter was only $15 but had to order it anyways. This dish was actually not bad if they didn't call it a foie gras mousse! The foie gras was barely present in this dish; we could barely taste that livery goodness. The mousse was well executed, however; it being extremely light and airy. The quince and gastrique added a nice sweetness that went well with the slight bitterness of the frisee.

Marin Sun Farms marrow, grilled bread, arugula, persillade (13)
We recently read Service Included, by Phoebe Damrosch, a foodie book about a waitress' life while working at Per Se, a Thomas Keller restaurant. In one section of the book, Damrosch writes about her quest to find the best bone marrow in all of New York City. This inspired us led to order the dish when we saw it on the menu. When we received our marrow and scooped that gelatinous fatty marrow out, I was surprised at the pinkish color, since my memory of pictures I've seen showed a more brownish color. I am not sure if I enjoyed my first experience with the bone marrow. I didn't hate it nor did I love it. To me, it is akin to spreading fat on bread with salt and herbs, but I'll have to give it another shot.

Grimaud Farm guinea hen, artichokes, corona beans, cipollinis, marcona almond-chocolate emulsion (26)

A Guinea hen is not a sleazy, slimeball hen from Italy. Nor is it a cross breed of a guinea pig and a hen (That would be weird). It is actually a bird that is similar to a pheasant or a turkey. I have no idea as to what part we were eating that night, but we enjoyed whatever it was. The meat was tender and juicy without a hint of any dryness. The meat was a tad on the salty side, but just a tad. I enjoyed the artichokes and the cipollini onions, which were nicely cooked. Nothing against the beans on this particular dish, but I am just not a bean lover with the exception of BBQ beans. As for the marcona almond-chocolate emulsion, I don't recall it being very marcona almondy or chocolatey. Overall, we enjoyed this dish.

Honey-roasted pears, thyme ice cream, semolina financier, maple walnuts (8) Isn't everything honey-roasted delicious? The pears were roasted down to a perfectly soft yet not mushy consistency. But the real star of this dessert was the thyme ice cream. The presence of thyme was definitely there but not overwhelmingly so. The slight tartness of the pear was fantastically paired with the thyme ice cream. The semolina financier (which tasted similar to cornbread) coupled with the mapled walnuts added a nice textural contrast for the dessert. This dessert was a two thumbs up.

Our dinner at Bar Tartine started off a bit shaky with the gorgonzola stuffed dates and the non-foie gras mousse dish. We neither disliked or liked the bone marrow dish. But the meal finished off on a happy note with the guinea hen and the honey-roasted pear and thyme ice cream dessert. The waiter was efficient, courteous, and knowledgeable. We ordered a glass of wine that we weren't too fond of, and the waiter happily replaced it with another that pleased our palates. The menu and the ambiance of Bar Tartine are both intriguing enough to warrant a return visit to try other items on the menu.

No comments: