Bar Tartine has me humming a new tune. After a year of construction and eating out of necessity, I was inspired again by the wine and food at Bar Tartine. If you are in San Francisco or visiting soon, put it at the top of your dining destinations. The wine and the food are incredibly put together at reasonable prices. When our group sat down, I wanted to order one of everything off both menus. Seriously. Everything looked so interesting and well thought out.
Alex Fox is the general manager and sommelier for the restaurant. This gentleman has a handle on pairings, great producers, great prices and interesting varietals. The average person may view the list and not recognize one producer’s name but his easy manner and well-trained staff are there to help you through to the path of enjoyment and enlightenment. The chef, Nicolaus Balla, takes inspiration from Hungary and Eastern Europe. All his dishes have a modern twist and fills a void in SF culinary scene.
Our table started out the night with a selection of house-made pickles; langos (fried potato bread, garlic, onion & sour cream) and blistered Padron peppers and goat cheese and whey—all paired nicely with a 2009 Müller Thurgau from Abbazia di Novacella, Alto Adige, Italy. The next wave of shared plates were duck paté; romano beans, fingerling potatoes, corn, basil flower buds and fried chicken livers, aioli, lemon, chopped endive, washed down with a 2010 Massican, Tocai/Ribolla Gialla Blend from Napa. I still can’t believe that wine was from Napa such restraint and minerality with a strong acid backbone. The next course (we did finally order one of the entrées) was the chicken paprikas and the kohlrabi salad. With this course Alex recommend the 2009 Diochon “Moulin-à-Vent”, Cru Beaujolais. Perfect companion.
Even though we all agreed we couldn’t eat one more bite nor drink another drop, we ordered the Turo cheese tart, buckwheat, strawberry & caraway honey and the fried peach pierogies. Alex selected one glass of the 2008 Roccolo Grassi, La Broi, Recioto di Soave.
All of our palates were in heaven, humming a lovely tune. I can’t wait for my next visit to to Bar Tartine and dive into Alex’s wine menu and Chef Balla’s unique cuisine. One trip will nourish you in more ways than one.
Angela Camacho, a certified sommelier and author of a best selling wine tool, The Wine Wheel®, shares her obsession with wine and food.