I am going out on a limb and pronouncing Tartine Bakery the finest bakery in the Western world. I freely admit that I base this opinion on only a few sampled items and on two visits that were separated by one year. I understand that Tartine only opened in 2002, lacks charm and comfortable seating and has long lines of insufferable San Franciscans. But I am also basing this opinion on visits to such celebrated establishments as Maison Kayser and the ever precious Gérard Mulot, as well as the inferior quality of bakeries in
I became hooked on Tartine in 2006 when its lusty croque monsieur ended a painful hangover. Not surprisingly, Tartine served its croque as a tartine, i.e., open faced. The bread was thick and crusty, the ham smoked, and the béchamel and gruyere in perfect, if slightly indulgent, proportions with thyme and pepper. Tartine’s accomplishment was that it made a sandwich that clearly benefited from its originators’ technique, experience and access to impeccable ingredients, but would not be out of place at a Philly cheesesteak tasting or on a taco tour of central
In our recent trip to
We ended with the finest chocolate chip cookie this side of my mother’s. The thin and tasty cookie and had an undertone of saltiness and masterfully worked the classic salty/sweet combination. The cookie was like a cohesive, well-practiced quartet: the chocolate had the freedom to solo, but used its discretion to collaborate smartly with the dough’s tight rhythm section.
The upshot of eating before Zuni is that we were forced to order their venerable roasted chicken and bread salad and wait the hour, a period for which I otherwise would not had patience.