BAR TARTINE IN THE MISSION...PART ONE..YES AGAIN I ATE A LOT
Bar Tartine is one of those places that seemed to hit the ground running, garnering favorable notices from the get go. Originally an offshoot of Tartine, it broke away and has become it's own creation with unique dishes of Eastern European flare, made from local products. I had seen it's rise in popularity, but for whatever myriad of reasons, had never really made my way over to try them out. I'm not a restaurant bandwagon jumper-oner and was just kind of eh, someday. I usually like things to settle down and have places get in the groove with all the kinks worked out. Plus, if they can last 5 or so years like they have, then they might stick around a bit and be worth trying. I met up with Ms. O and her BF and we journeyed to hipster land (The Mission) to see if all the fuss lived up to all the hype.
It's a pretty huge space with, surprise, lots of wood and a marble bar, it's amazing how that industrial look has just hung around. But since I'm not about aesthetics, I'm just gonna dive into the food. They have a price menu that can run close to $80 a person, but since the dinner dishes listed were of the sharing kind, we decided to cherry pick our way through the options. First up is an order of bread (yes made at Tartine bakery) and then three sides to go with it.
Bread $4 (you get refills too), Kefir butter in buttermilk, dill brined pickles and a mushroom cheese dip. Really, who doesn't like butter? And honestly, I couldn't tell a difference with the addition of the fermented milk or the buttermilk, I just enjoyed it. It was served soft and spreadable with a sprinkle of salt. Two things that automatically make me give it a thumbs up. It was $3, but we also got a refill on this too. The pickles turned out to be sort of sweet and sour with notes of dill. I was pleasantly surprised by this as I was expecting the sour kind. These were perfectly crunchy and sweetish and I think we could have eaten a few more than what we got. The white chunks I believe, were turnips, something that is not my fave, regardless of how they are served, so I'll just pretend I never had them. For $6 and the amount you get, I'm gonna say that is just on the high side. The mushroom cheese dip we ended up liking a lot and it was one of the reasons we needed more bread to spread it on. I'm not gonna say it was anything more fancy than diced shrooms in cream cheese with chives on top. But it was smooth, creamy and earthy and reminded me of those French onion dips people made for parties in the 70's. This isn't a knock, but more of a pleasant memory of simple flavors tasting good together. At $8 a pop though, I think it should have come with it's own cracker or something to spread on.
Here we have gem lettuce, radicchio, crumbled rye, anchovy and feta cheese with just a light vinaigrette. As far as $15 salads go, it was a rather large portion and more than enough for the 3 of us to share. Again this the simple ingredients going well together. My only drawback is I'm personally not a fan of anchovy in flavor and taste, it's just too salty fishy for me. And while it wasn't done here with a heavy hand, I could still taste notes of it throughout. I'd say if you are not an anchovy fan then just skip. But speaking from Ms. O and the BF's perspective, they liked it and were more than happy to finish it without me. So there.
Next up was beef tartare on toast with dried beef and micro greens on top. I must say, in this past year or so, anyone who has read my posts has seen I've had my fare share of tartare from beef to reindeer and such. Used to be I couldn't bring myself to eat the raw meat with that whole soft, mushy and sticky texture thing going on. And while some of the dishes haven't been all that grand, I will say this was better than I thought it'd be. Yes, there are the raw diced meat chunks on here but in a twist they are mixed with dried pieces of beef. Kind of like jerky, but sliced much thinner and not as chewy. It really added some great saltiness and helped me personally get over any texture issues. I think this was a great way to served tartare. It could help folks who may be skittish about eating raw meat by mixing it with a dried and cured meat, sort of a yin and yang beef. We were able to cut 6 relatively even, though small slices of this to have. Yet, at $21, I found the price more challenging than the texture.
This is red snapper with squash, bean sprouts and basil for $19. What we have here is basically sashimi--raw fish cut into small slivers, then mixed up with some veggies. While I've let my issue with tartare slide by the wayside, it still lingers there for raw fish. I...just...can't. Ms. O and the BF are the big fish fans, raw or otherwise, thus I left this all up to them. "Delicate, fresh and only small notes of the basil made it taste like a light refreshing summer dish. Very nicely done." That works for me. It's too bad the snapper was served raw because it is a fish I really enjoy. As a kid when we went to the coast we would fish for snapper and at the end of the day we'd take our haul back to the beach house and grill them up with lemon and (lots of) butter. That's a fond childhood memory for ya'. While I'd have eaten it up cooked, they ate it up raw and enjoyed it, that works for me and hopefully it does for you too.
Okay, 5 dishes (if you count the bread and I do) down and still 5 more to go. See, I told you we got a lot and putting it all in one review would be over stuffing, and nobody likes that over ate feeling no matter how good it may have been.