Emily and I celebrated our fifth anniversary last week, so we treated ourselves to a nice dinner. Since it falls so close to the holidays, we choose not to purchase each other gifts, but we still splurged a bit for a nice meal. After much deliberation, we settled on Bar Tartine in the mission, on Valencia between 16th and 17th. The “bar” is more of a restaurant that happens to have bar seating; this trait usually lends itself to a cozy and intimate dining experience, and Bar Tartine is no exception. Because of this, I would now like to apologize in advance for the lack of photos; the tables are fairly close together and the lighting from the antler chandelier was not exactly photo friendly. As well as being cozy, the space feels calm and the creative touches are interesting. Bar Tartine kind of sums up what the food and people are like in this part of the mission; it shares this with its sister eatery: Tartine bakery. There’s another thing it shares with Tartine Bakery: the quality of the food.
We decided to neglect the traditional dining progression and instead shared the four things on the menu that looked best. First was a frisée salad with prosciutto and a soft boiled egg ($9). The greens were fresh and dressed very well, the egg was cooked perfectly, and the cooked prosciutto added a satisfying crispy component. This was a good salad, but a bit forgettable. Also, I’m not a huge fan of prosciutto prepared in this way; I think you lose most its the subtlety as well as the delicacy of the fat which melts on your tongue. For this salad, I think bacon would have been a better choice. Next was the big one: bone marrow ($15). Three bones with a garlicky, herby, crusty top filled with what can only be described as butter of the gods. Imagine the most meaty, perfectly salty, creamy, deliciousness and spread it on toasted Tartine bread (which is also wonderful). We’ve had bone marrow other places and it’s almost always great, but this is something special. For a main course, we shared the boudin noir ($24). Blood sausage is one of my favorite treats; I fell in love with it at a parrilla in Uruguay and indulge in this porky, creamy sausage whenever I can. It may sound gross, but trust me, it’s not. Bar Tartine put forth a good effort resulting in probably the second best I’ve had, defeated only by my first love from Uruguay, but that was an emotional day for me (soooo much good food). Okay, I’ll stop reminiscing and get back to the meal. The boudin was served with braised cabbage and sweet potatoes, both of which complimented the sausage very well. To accompany our main dish Emily and I indulged in yet more of Tartine’s lovely bread; this time it came in the form of a savory bread pudding with leeks and plenty of pepper ($6). It was super crispy on top, and creamy and hearty in the middle. This final course was loaded with flavor and we were ready to move onto something sweet. Everything that comes out of the bakery is perfect, so we had to get something from Bar Tartine’s dessert menu. While the menu looked interesting, the night we were there they had run out of a couple things, so we settled on the Passion Fruit Lime Bavarian ($7.5). The cake was very nice and the passion fruit and lime filling was fantastic (by the way, passion fruit is like the bacon of the dessert realm, so we MUST eat it when it’s available; it’s compulsive and not our fault), the only downside was that this cake is also served at Tartine Bakery so it didn’t seem as special or unique.
Conclusions: The meal was great and although we didn’t follow the traditional dining format it allowed us to try all the things we wanted without spending too much or eating an obscene amount. If I had to sum up Bar Tartine in one sentence, I would say: it’s good, simple food with the flavor dial turned up to 11. This is definitely the place to go for uncomplicated food executed wonderfully.