Lara also is founder and editor of Grits in the City
Recently I went with some girlfriends to tryTartinery, a restaurant I had been curious about since sampling their tartines at the Shecky’s Toasts and Tastings event a few weeks prior. They were also featured recently on Blackboard Eats, so it seemed like a perfect time to try them out. The upstairs area is bar seating, and it is not until you go downstairs that you see the main seating area, situated below the bar. This would be a perfect place to snuggle into for a bit once the inevitable winter chill arrives since you’re not hit by the never-ending breeze from the door opening.
We decided to start with an order of their gazpacho soup, made with tomato, red pepper, and onion. Their rendition had a bit of a bite to it, which I liked. I explained to my friends it made me think of gazpacho from my study abroad experience in Madrid. When my host mother first made it (and she would make a big pot of it), the onions were present, but subtle. As the week wore on though, the flavor became stronger, until it got to the point of being downright spicy. I’d say Tartinery’s falls into a midweek range for onion strength, which I like. Most restaurants make it too mild, and this was a refreshing change. It was, of course, paired with slices of their fresh bread. We would learn there wasn’t anything that their fresh bread couldn’t do!
We felt we had to try one of the tartines to see what we thought, so we went with what we decided was the most classic one on the menu – the “Mozza”, which was fresh mozzarella, vine tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, and sea salt. There was plenty in the serving to share between two (especially since we split other selections from the menu). The ratio of cheese to tomatoes was just perfect, and the tomatoes were extremely fresh. It sounds odd to say, but the sea salt was a nice accent to this, adding a bit of bite to jazz up the softer flavor of the mozzarella. Highly recommend.
For a main course, we had the Risotto Aux Crevettes, which was a prawn risotto seasoned with white wine and fresh lemon. The dish was just the right amount of creamy and the simplicity of the sauce made it a refreshing change from the bread dishes, the lemon adding just the right amount of zing to its composition. From the taste of the dish, it had to have some sort of cheese in with it – something on the sharper side, akin to a sharp white cheddar, though I’m not certain exactly what the unamed ingredient would be. The risotto was $19.50 and was a nice-sized portion for one or perfect for spliting, if you are starting with other selections. Other options for mains included chicken paillard, filet mignon, and steak tartare.
For dessert, we could not resist trying the Nutella Banane, which was a tartine topped with a thick schmear of Nutella and crowned with sliced bananas. It seemed appropriate to end with a tartine as well, and this one did not disappoint. We also had to try theFondant Au Chocolat, even though we were warned on the menu that it would take seven minutes for the dessert to be prepared. Some might find this a deterrent but I know what this means… a dessert guaranteed to come with a fresh hot gooey chocolate center. And that? Always worth waiting for. The dessert was paired with vanilla ice cream and dusted with powdered sugar. If I had to choose between the two again and only go with one, I’m not sure I could do it. Really enjoyed Tartinery. I’d like to go back, and would also recommend it as a great spot for a date or catching up with friends. Not too big and not too loud. Just right.
(Just as a warning, our server was very French. May have had to tip extra upfront for a sense of humor to come along with your food…)
Tartinery – 209 Mulberry Street (at Spring St) – 212.300.7138