On Monday night I ate more food than I had for the entire weekend. Bar Tartine’s kitchen collaborated on a prix fixe menu with Christian Puglisi, chef/owner of two Michelin-starred restaurants and alumni of Noma in Copenhagen, the best restaurant in the world (literally, it’s won that title the last three years in a row). Christian and Tartine’s Chad Robertson became friends after Chad's many trips to Copenhagen researching bread and grains. This is an example, a sold-out, stand-out example, of Bar Tartine’s new Monday dinners which will be in line with their past Curiosities series and will likely feature a lot of guest chef collaborations.
Nirvana is the soundtrack as our first round of small plates roll out – pickled albacore, cucumber and lovage, broccoli with hazelnut, pickled carrots and Icelandic sol, and rustic beef tartare.
We plow through the first round of small dishes, come up for air, and look around to see some notable chefs have arrived. Tartine’s former chef Chris Kronner, along with chefs Ravi Kapur and Daniel Patterson (no big deal), are all getting down on Nordic small plates; I also heard that later in the evening Danny Bowien came to revisit his old stomping grounds and that David Chang flew out from NY for the meal.
Round two appears looking a little scary – namely the tartine with raw lamb. I pull the thin slab of red meat back to diagnose the flavor medley in my mouth and find dried shrimp, onions, and dill hiding underneath the flesh. It makes for an intense bite, but I finish one and a half of them. Other cold dishes, like the salad of salted courgettes and fennel with almonds, are delicious in their simplicity. Throughout the dishes, Christian’s signature use of pickling and lemon is obvious.
We get a taste of kamut, an experimental loaf Chad’s working with, served with the liquid goat cheese and parsley dish. Liquid. Goat cheese. It looks like white tempera paint and tastes like happiness. Round three features Tartine’s beloved langos topped with anchovies, white turnips, and chicken liver.
I’m at the point of being full where even sipping my wine hurts a bit and I imagine a growing balloon where my stomach used to be. But dessert shows up and breadcrumbs never tasted better than on top of sweet white corn ice cream with marjoram.
Everytime I glimpse Christian, he seems right at home and almost whispering to the cooks. No yelling. “Everyone has learned so much from his humility and earnestness,” Tartine’s General Manager, Vinny Eng, tells me.
The evening's meal was one of my favorite San Francisco dining experiences, even though it was by way of Copenhagen. It'll be hard to top, but I'm looking forward to more Monday nights at Tartine.
All photos by Summer Sewell