In case you’re new to the West Coast or have been living the life of an ascetic, you may not know Tartine. An SF Chronicle article entitled “Tartine Bread turns into an American culinary movement,” says, “For those of us who don’t live within a few blocks of 18th Street and Guerrero, buying a loaf of Tartine Bakery’s bread is nothing less than a pilgrimage: Given the cruddy parking and the lines, not to mention the fact that the breads are sold only between 5 p.m. and 5 minutes before you get there, they require tactical planning and, ideally, a phoned-in reservation. And yet, when the pilgrimage reaches its end, crusty loaf warming your hand, the effort always seems worth it.”
Maybe you even know Bar Tartine and have been there. The Tartine Manufactory is couple Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson’s newest endeavor and it’s a fun one. Ken and I have been to Bar Tartine and we thought it was okay, but we really enjoyed Tartine Manufactory.
According to Michael Bauer, “The Manufactory seems like a curious name for a restaurant until you step into the new Tartine production facility and are confronted with several thousand pounds of organic flour stacked on a palette in 50-pound bags. They sit in front of a room enclosed by windows revealing a cadre of white-clad bakers portioning and proofing the celebrated loaves of bread.” The moment you enter, you are hit with the aroma of not-too-yeasty bread. What’s especially interesting about the whole Tartine phenomenon is what I found in this NY Times article, “When Elisabeth Prueitt opened the San Francisco bakery Tartine in 2002 with her husband, Chad Robertson, she was already in on the cosmic joke: Here she was, a brilliant pastry chef who loved her work, married to a bread baker and collaborating on what would become one of America’s great bakeries. And she was gluten intolerant.”
This evening, we were dining with our friends Jill and Steve, and none of us had been here before. We asked the waitress how ordering worked best, and at first, her advice confused us. She basically warned us away from ordering too much. The menu is separated into five sections with two small plates sections, a salad section and a main course section. The fifth section is comprised of the prime rib all by itself. In the end, we went with two entrées including the prime rib, a salad and two small plates and this was perfect. Ken and I also ordered dessert for once, but Steve and Jill showed great restraint and just had a teeny taste.
First to arrive was the avocado, poblano, lime and quicos smørrebrød, which was basically a delicious piece of avocado toast made on wonderful bread. Be warned that this dish consists of one piece of bread, but when cut several ways, it was enough for a really good taste per person.
Next up was the halibut ceviche made with lime, chili, cilantro, and quicos. This ceviche was prepared with big pieces of halibut, and the fish was very tender and flavorful. Are you wondering what quicos are? If so, be sure to keep reading to the bottom of the post.
Ken, Steve and Jill enjoyed the beef tartare with porcini, shallot, shoyu egg and toast. A medium rare steak or burger is about as far as I’ll go with beef, so I am taking their word for it that the dish was good.
The Little gems with spring vegetables, soft herbs, yuzu, pistachios was a perfect summer salad, with a light tangy dressing and very fresh ingredients.
Our first entrée of yellowtail was topped with cherry tomatoes, padron peppers, and a walnut anchoiade. Once again, a perfectly cooked fish is a great fish dish, and this was perfectly cooked.
The 21-day dry-aged wood-roasted prime rib was good, but Jill noticed that the meat was on the salty seat. We think this may have been because the outside of the roast was so heavily salted. Ken and I like more salt than is good for us, so we were okay with it. The horseradish sauce and fried potatoes were perfect accompaniments. These fried potatoes were extra crispy, just the way we like them.
For once, Ken and I ordered dessert. Jill and Steve showed greater restraint, but when I saw the chocolate, I had to try it. We had the devil’s food cake with chocolate ganache, caramel and malt cream. It was so rich and creamy that the cake was almost fudgy. Is it any wonder that a restaurant that started as a bakery would have wonderful desserts?
Tartine Manufactory is a restaurant we will return to. The space was warm and inviting, while still being light and airy, a bit like the Los Angeles restaurants I’ve talked about. We were seated in a booth in the side room, and this was great because we could easily hear each other. I’m not sure if this would be true in the main dining room, so I guess we’ll have to go back soon, just to check.
This week’s vocabulary words:
- quicos: corn nuts, but obviously not the corn nuts we ate as kids (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_nut)
- yuzu: a green or yellow aromatic citrus fruit whose acidic rind and juice are often used in Japanese cuisine (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yuzu)
- anchoiade: a puree of anchovies, crushed garlic, and olive oil that is served with vegetables as a dip or spread on bread (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/anchoiade)
Tartine Manufactory: MANUFACTORY HOURS: Mon-Fri 7:30a-5p & Sat-Sun 8a-5p
(Breakfast until 11:30, Lunch 11:30a-3:30p DAILY). MANUFACTORY DINNER SERVICE: Mon-Sun 5:30p-10p. Dinner reservations available on OpenTable.com.