First off, I’d like to say that it’s so nice to see a restaurant that’s totally deserving of all the hype it’s received.
Second, I feel like I’m the last foodie in the Bay Area to go to Bar Tartine. Regardless, this is now my favorite brunch place in San Francisco, despite it’s location in one of the most hated parking neighborhoods in town. Fortunately, there’s a parking lot on Hoff and 16th Street that you can take advantage of, or just arrive before 11am and park on Dolores. You’ll do just fine.
With places like Delfina, Bi-Rite Creamery, Delfina Pizzeria, Farina, Luna Park, and Andalu all within a four-block radius of both Tartine Bakery and Bar, it’s no wonder this part of the Mission/Valencia is swamped with cars.
It started with the welcoming and gracious host. He was so welcoming it felt like we’d just come to his house for brunch. Even our waiter, once we were seated, was genuinely and surprisingly friendly.
We debated for a while and then finally decided on the French Toast with Marinated Apples and Walnuts, the House Cured Bacon Tartine (like a panini) with Roasted Potatoes, and the Eggs Benedict on Brioche with Arugula and Ham.
Awesome. Just awesome.
When a place is this famous for its bread products, it’s really the cornerstone of all their dishes. Fortunately, it’s also what makes them phenomenal.
And the elements on the plate were deliciously simple, fresh and perfectly prepared. Nothing was overcooked even a smidge, undercooked even a second, carelessly plated even an inch. And what was truly amazing was that this was true from the service to the food.
But what’s even better is that it’s all served up casually, effortlessly, and without pretension. It feels like your neighborhood cafe, but the food, the ingredients and the styling all taste like they came out of a 4-star kitchen.
The poached eggs on my Eggs Benedict were wonderfully runny and a bright yellow, the arugula superior in freshness and the brioche was soft, fluffy and subtly sweet. It was prettiest, simplest and far and away, the best version of this dish I’ve ever had (and I order it A LOT).
I also got to try some of the French Toast, which was amazingly light and only subtly sweet, letting the excellent bread shine through. The accompanying apples were still firm, not mushy. A great way to highlight the beauty of the fruit.
And the Bacon Tartine was the perfect blend of smoky meatiness. I loved how it wasn’t too salty, which is how 80% of the bacon I’ve ever eaten tends to be. And a less than crispy, crunchy panini is always a disappointment. No problem here. And a little ripe avocado added the perfect creamy textural contrast and freshness.
And the dessert was literally the icing on the cake for our dining experience. I was almost afraid it wouldn’t live up to the rest of the meal. I also appreciated how honest our waiter was, telling us the sorbet with prosecco was a little on the sweeter side for a brunch dessert. We promptly decided on the Lemon Pudding Cake with Huckleberry Compote and Hazelnut Biscotti. Again, just divine. The texture of that cake was a cross between the creamiest cheesecake and a moist lemon cake. I don’t know why or how they do it, but it was “just” tart enough, “just” sweet enough, and “just” the right portion.
It was simply the best brunch I’ve had in years. Period.