Add: 600 Guerrero St, San Francisco
Great for: Breakfast, brunch, baked goods, quiches, hot-pressed sandwiches, morning buns
If you ask the average person about what he/she remembers most about their visit to San Francisco, I am pretty sure the answer would revolve around the city’s iconic attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf and the trams that have been in operation since the 1870s.
My most distinct memory about San Francisco however, would definitely have to be Tartine Bakery-a nondescript bakery cafe at 600 Guerrero St, just before you enter the main city itself (northwards) .If not for the queue snaking out of the door during peak hours, no one would have given this bakery a 2nd look when driving by. There wasn’t even a signboard when I was there. During my first visit, I had to peer through the glass windows and read the faded out newspaper reviews pasted in the front before arriving at the conclusion that we were in fact standing @ the entrance of Tartine.
My first visit there was with Sel for a brunch date one weekday afternoon. We were lucky enough to get a table after a few minutes of waiting within the cramp quarters of Tartine. Though the place has minimal decor and was a little run-down, it was certainly full of character with customers congregating around unpolished wooden tables sipping on their teas & coffees, initiating conversations with complete strangers sitting next to them. The chatter that reverberated throughout the cafe + the smell of croissants/quiche/pies & coffee wafting through the air makes Tartine the place to be on a nice morning in San Francisco.
The most famous pastry being sold at this 8 yr old bakery would have to be the Morning Buns. Do check out an interesting attempt of it by Christie from Pardon My Crumbs ( the recipe is in there too)
Sadly, I stuck to the familiar (quiche, eclairs, bread pudding..) both times i was there (looks like i m pretty conservative in my choice of breakfast food. haha) and neglected the reknowned Morning Buns altogether. So silly of me!
Sel & I did the Quiche (choices of quiche changes daily), Chocolate Eclair & a cup of Bread Pudding.
Quiches of all sorts
The Quiche with Ham was huge..and baked really well with a consistent creamy texture throughout (thanks to the creme fraiche) & a good proportion of Niman’s smoked ham. The Chocolate Eclair tasted heavenly too with the vanilla custard and Valrhona (French) chocolate glaze . They definitely took pains to bake with the finest ingredients on the face of this planet!
Eclair with vanilla custard and Valrhona choc glazing
Last but not least, the bread pudding (one of my favourite food in the world!) was presented in an interesting manner – scooped into a tea cup. Also, what makes this bread pudding special was that the fruits (soaked with caramel)were not actually embedded within the whole mish-mesh of a pudding like what we are used to eating. Apparently, Tartine bakes their bread pudding plain using broiches and poke holes into it when they take the pans out of the oven so that it could be soaked with the prepared caramel sauce + seasonal fruits when served. Many thanks to Alexandra from Alexandracooks.com for unlocking the mystery=)
Sel and our bread pudding order
Whats great about Tartine (and most other Bay area eateries) is their emphasis on using organic local produce. For example, their dairy product come from the Straus Family Creamery in Marin County (just a little north of San Fran) and their meats are from Niman Ranch, whose mission is to “raise livestock traditionally, humanely and sustainably to deliver the finest tasting meat in the world.”
The line started to form after we placed our order. Phew!
Read more about the chef/owner couple: Elisabeth & Chad here & the awesome array of yummy pastries they have created here.
Note-to-self: remember to try the Morning Buns if fate brings me back to SF!