Ants-in-his-pants Bauer jumps the gun and reviews Bar Tartine before its revamp is complete. But his motives become clear once he gives it three stars, declaring he just couldn't wait to review the restaurant after his Top 100 restaurant reveal next month. Bauer has been in love with chef Nicolaus Balla's food through his days at O Izakaya, Nombe and now here with his venture into Eastern European fare. In fact, he calls it his "benchmark" for this kind of food. Impressed by the housemade pickles that start the meal, and the fact that an interesting bread made by yeast master-owner Chad Robertson comes with almost every dish, he goes on:
"It's a restaurant that's so distinctive it deserves attention...Each dish feels as if it was gathered from top Eastern European chefs, but interpreted thorough a keen California eye...You can tell a great chef by how he handles blood sausage ($14), and I've not tasted any better than what Balla produces at Bar Tartine."
Sausages aside, Balla's girlfriend, pastry chef Cortney Burns makes a dessert Bauer will continue to come back for: "farmer's cheese cheesecake with a crust of buckwheat and ginger, a filling made with two-day cultured cheese, and a topping of rhubarb gelee." Bet on hearing more about Bar Tartine when Bauer's Top 100 time comes around in a few weeks.