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Restaurants & Bars

Bar Tartine report (long)

Absonot | Feb 17, 200601:10 AM

Just got back from a nice dinner here.

We were seated immediately for our 7:30 reservations, and I was suprised to find a few empty tables and a nearly empty bar (on a Thursday night). The place stayed only partially full the rest of the time we were there.

Dining room is lovely - beautiful art, cozy lighting, fabulous floral display on the white marble bar. The menu is sizeable (12 or so first courses, 4 or 5 entrees) and very seasonal - we ordered green garlic soup, citrus radish salad, the sauteed skate, and shrimp and lemon risotto.

The soup was barely warm - but it was good enough not to send back. Garnished with a tiny mushroom whose name escapes me, it was fantastically fragrant and extremely subtle. It bordered on the bland, but it was a nice start.

My bite of citrus salad (sections of various citrus fruits with green spanish olives, almonds, watermelon radish and frisse) was interesting, although I noticed the overall portion was on the small side.

The skate was fantastic - prepared perfectly, served with pan roasted brussels sprouts and salsify. Fairly large portion, too. The lemon risotto looked wonderful, and had great bright lemon flavor that didn't shy away from the bitter side of that lovely fruit. According to my dining companion, the shrimp were prepared perfectly.

My only complaint was that entrees took about twenty minutes to arrive after our first course plates were cleared.

When the dessert menu arrived, I realized I'd made a big mistake not saving room. Highlights included a sticky date pudding with toffee sauce, Shaker lemon tart, and a caramel pot de creme. We ended up splitting a lovely light dish of house made bergamot sorbet served in a cut glass cocktail glass with a splash of Moscato D'Asti on top and shortbread on the side. It was precious, fragrant, and unforgettably refreshing. A wonderful ending.

The wine list is extensive but not overwhelming, with a lot of interesting choices at fair price points. Wished they had more half bottle selections, but they have tons of by the glass.

Overall impression? I will be back. Contrary to some reports I've read about this place, I found the vibe extremely relaxing and friendly (they don't play any music, so the noise level is strictly determined by the crowd around you). The menu is interesting and the room is inviting. Plus, I live within walking distance, so that helps. Not sure if it's a cross-town destination.

I'd like to add that this place has a great bathroom situation - the unisex room isn't anything to write home about, but it has a door with an "occupied/vacant" lock. Every restaurant should immediately install one. It saves on pulling at a door, hoping the occupant remembered to lock it, and lets you see at a glance if it's free. They also have lovely hand soap, btw.

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