When I tell you that I’ve had more than a handful of morning meditations about my breakfast at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, take note. As shocked as you may be to read this, it needs to be written: Most mornings, when I wake up, food is the farthest thing from my mind. I’m not much of a breakfast guy and I usually have more stressful matters captive in my thought corral.
Be that as it may, Tartine has rocked that reality like Stockton dropped dimes – that is – with emphatic style. To put it in less esoteric terms: Tartine Bakery delivered the best croissant I’ve ever had, bar none. Granted, I’ve never stepped foot in France, but I suspect there are quite a number of folks in this country (and perhaps that one as well) who would agree with these sentiments.
Baking and Marriage
I doubt this revelation (that Tartine is reason enough to visit SF’s Mission District) is news to anyone. In its 10-years of existence, Tartine has been a static model of perfection. Owners Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson (who double as a married couple) have done it so right that even on a random, non-descript weekday morning in September, the place held as much energy as any newly opened trend setting restaurant.
Prueitt heads the pastry production while Robertson is responsible for making sure the bread comes out good (and boy does it ever). Pedestrians pack the line and squeeze by tables on their way to the lengthy glass protected lineup of all things baked. It’s like food porn for the addict and countless folks with capable camera skills have done their best to photograph what Tartine has to offer.
So get in line and prepare your order ahead of time. As you approach the counter your senses will do their best to destroy any pre-planned form of attack. Focus and be strong, don’t let your initial desires get overlooked, but if you decide to expand your order after looking at the treasure chest … I will not fault you. Quit the contrary, I’d encourage it.
Pain Au Jambon: Nuf Said
Having put a life changing muffin in my belly a few minutes earlier, and knowing that Mission Chinese was literally and figuratively around the corner, I decided to do my best imitation of a pachyderm by way of Tartine’s pain au jambon. Known as a ham and cheese croissant to we non-Francophiles, it’s a game changer (as are many of the items at Tartine).
After working my way through the queue, I pushed over my $10 bill and got my $5.25 back. A few bucks into the tip jar and I turned to find a seat. Disaster happened … I collided with a woman and watched my bread turn projectile. Thankfully, that nice employee behind the register was happy to replace my order gratis. (If you’re thinking this should compromise the integrity of this post – I dare you to try what I’m about to describe).
I was much more careful with my second child. It glistened in the sun. I walked it carefully around until a seat opened. Once seated, I spent a good couple of minutes primping it for pictures, smelling it, turning it, and just … well … thinking of the naughty naughty things I could do with it in the presence of a fine woman. Seriously, this is the type of thing you want have handy should wake up only to wrap yourself around someone and spend hours wasting the day away.
Each individual element was fawcking goooood. The Gruyère struck me as youthful. There was a sweetness to it, and yet as it had been melted during the assembly, it produced a creamy balance for the richness of the other ingredients. The Niman Ranch smoked ham took care of the salt and I know it because the corners of my smile began to twist upwards as I pulled off a bite for sampling. The bread just slugged me in the face. Butter declared victory and the flakes gave way to an airy and anything but mundane bite of bread. I tore through it regretting each previous encounter with Tartine.
While Tartine’s stuff had found its way to me during prior visits to San Francisco, there’s clearly nothing better than an onsite assault on this tube of good goo.
Tartine Bakery: A Visitor’s Take
My visit to Tartine was not absent of frustrations. Lines are long, space is at a premium, and finding a seat requires catlike reflexes and eyes like a hawk. See someone even nudge towards the door and you had best move in for the kill. I guess that’s to be expected from a James Beard Award winning bakery.
There’s nothing I can say about this
crack house baked goods purveyor that hasn’t been said elsewhere. Not surprising for a place that has not one, but two cookbooks in print (buy them both). Too much has been written on this establishment by too many other people for me to sit here and get really in depth.
It may not be a place you can host a breakfast meeting at, and I wouldn’t show up if you’re crumbled for time, but I would go out of my way to return. I’m not a baked goods guy, but if I lived near Tartine, I would be.
Tartine Bakery Address & Information