Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bar Tartine lowers the bar

Bubbly to start
On my last visit, I had dined at Tartine Bakery for lunch and had eaten a moolicious grilled cheese sandwich with grilled sourdough bread and a beautiful melange of melted cheese. Their lemon cream pie was tart, without being too tart, topped with an ample amour of whip cream and surrounded by a crispy pastry shell. On this visit, I opted to try their sit down restaurant, Bar Tartine, located just around the corner from Tartine Bakery

Chanterelle Mushrooms and Bottarga
Served on Rye Bread
We arrived just as they opened for the evening and were told that their menu items were designed for sharing. Although there were many items that piqued our interest - my eyes are definitely bigger than my stomach - the humans and I decided to stick with just four items. Beginning with chanterelle mushrooms and bottarga served on rye bread, the strong, earthy mushroom taste would have overwhelmed by many other breads, luckily the rye taste was quite strong, allowing it to stand up to the strong chanterelles. However, the bread was heavily buttered, making the dish almost salty, although given the dryness of the bread, I suspect it was to make it more moist.

Feeb Tartare on Potato Flatbread
with Green Horseradish
Next up a feeb tartare on potato flatbread with green horseradish the humans wanted to try out. The tartare was completely covered with green horseradish and it was obviously that the tartare to bread to sauce ratio was skewed. Normally when the humans order feeb tartare, there is far more tartare than bread or chips utilized to eat the tartare with. In this case, there was far more sauce and flatbread than tartare. This made it difficult for the humans to even taste the tartare, given the delicate flavour of feeb tartare, it was completely masked by the over abundant and unnecessarily strong green horseradish sauce. They even resorted to scraping the sauce off, but mostly tasted potato flatbread. A very underwhelming dish.

Barley Dumplings with Bacon and Creamed Spinach
When the humans informed the restaurant that this was the one dish they really didn’t like and the reasons why, the server disappeared into the kitchen to let the chef know. He returned to tell us that the amount of horseradish in the sauce tended to overwhelm and surprise people when they were not expecting the heat and that was why we didn’t like the dish….  The humans were a bit shocked at this turn of events, usually when we express our dissatisfaction with the dish, restaurants normally give a simple apology or just pass the message onto the kitchen. Only once before, at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, had we been told that it was the diners’ inexperience and lack of knowledge that was to blame for disliking a dish. The humans once again reiterated that they didn’t have a problem with the heat, only the excessive amount of sauce on the underwhelming amount of feeb tartare. Least to say, we were all disappointed that the server and the kitchen had the gull to tell us why we did or did not like a dish, when they were informed of the real reason and chose not to listen.

Charred Salmon with Pardon Peppers, Corn,
and Mushrooms
The barely dumplings with bacon and creamed spinach were not we were expecting, as we thought dumplings would be more like perigees or Japanese gyoza. These were more like irregularly shaped meatballs made with barely. The barely taste was very strong, while the accompany sauce looked like it was creamy, but was in reality very watery and flavourless. The cream spinach however did help lesson the overly strong barley taste. The charred salmon with pardon peppers, corn and mushrooms was thankfully delightful, with chunks of tender, melt in your mouth, fatty salmon.

Overall, the dinner was the most disappointing meal we had in San Francisco, as was the service. Although a casual dining restaurant, we were not expecting to be done eating and paid the bill in well under an hour, and it was more expensive then we thought it would be given the type of food and portion sizes. We left feeling hungry, and wound up going to Ghirardelli for a hot fudge sundae to brighten up our evening. Although their sister establishment, Tartine Bakery, bakes up bread, sandwiches, and other goodies that are enjoyable, Bar Tartine was anything but. I recommend skipping Bar Tartine and heading over to Tartine Bakery for a quick soup, sandwich and slice of pie instead.

561 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103
Twitter: @BarTartine

Bar Tartine on Urbanspoon

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