Bar Tartine was started by the people who own Tartine Bakery, the perennially mobbed gathering point of deliciousness near Dolores Park. (Now that there are places like Craftsmen and Wolves, and Dandelion Chocolate, I'm not sure it's necessary to wait in line here. But that's perhaps a different post.)
Bar Tartine is a proper, table service and sitdown restaurant. In recent years the chef has taken a more Eastern European turn with the menu. The feel of the place is farmhouse/alpine lodge, complete with wood paneling, men with lots of facial hair (okay fine, that's EVERYWHERE in the Mission), and fruit fermenting in jars.
And the lunch menu is simple: Smorrebrod, which is Danish sandwiches, bread with a variety of dips and spreads, soup, and salad.
Possibly even more interesting was the drinks menu. I ended up getting the ginger burns water kefir, a fermented drink like kombucha (which I hate) but tasted a lot better, like a light, refreshing juice spritzer…
And Betsy got the cardamom and bergamot kefir. Which was creamy and of bergamot-y and really unique and delicious.
And then we both got the smorrebrod, which was rye bread topped with a fluffy fresh cheese, oyster mushrooms, and broccolini. The waitress was very nice and let me substitute a cows milk cheese, called Turo, for the goat cheese (which I hate). To be honest, this sounds like something I might throw together out of leftovers when I'm staying home for lunch, not something I pay $12 for.
Except that I've never heard of Turo before. And I have no idea how he made the mushrooms, which were tender and succulent. Or the broccoli which was perfectly seasoned, still firm, and had just a hint of spice. It may have been simple, but the sandwich was exquisite.
We also split the soup, which too sounded deceptively simple: carrot soup.
But again, the complexity and balance of the soup was amazing. I kind of wish we hadn't split it, because I could've sucked the whole thing down. I mean, I make puréed soups pretty often, so I wasn't even going to try it. But it didn't even really taste like carrots… It was creamy and the spice from the cardamom, the freshness from the cilantro… I can't really even describe it properly because I inhaled it so quickly. But I think this is why we spend the money on places like this: to learn how good soup and sandwiches really can be.
And it wasn't cheap. Lunch for the two of us, with two drinks, two sandwiches, and one shared soup came out to $54 including tax and tip. Like I said, I don't do this all the time. But it was a special treat.
Even with that price tag, I have to admit I left and was still a little hungry. It may have been false hunger, based on the fact that I knew I was only a block and a half away from Dandelion Chocolate, my new favorite place in the Mission. But that will be another post.