Greenwich Village | 253 W 11th St (@W 4th St) | NYC, NY | 212-229-2611
Subway 1 (Christopher Street)
Menu check out menupages.com. It will give you a good idea, but it doesn't list everything.
I love the July 4th weekend in NYC. Why? Because everyone is gone! As I wandered around the city this weekend it was obvious the normal residents have departed for places less congested and the city has been taken over by the French, British and other tourists set to get a piece of the Big Apple. The best part of this long holiday weekend is restaurants that are normally fully packed and booked have no wait, no reservation necessary. One place I took particular note of was Tartine in The Village, it's always been unapproachable but when I walked by on a Friday night (July 1), there was no wait with available tables. I made note to come back with friends on Saturday hoping that the regulars would not show up.
[big mobs = good food... right?]
I always wanted to try Tartine. I've walked by this place a million times but the crowds waiting on the sidewalk were always a big turn-off. In New York City mobs on the sidewalk usually mean good food. This place has to be especially good because the crowds are always there in the freezing rain, blistering sun and bone chilling cold. I hate elongated waits so I always passed on Tartine.
When we arrived there were about 2 or 3 tables open and we snagged one outside on the sidewalk. It was a unusually cool July evening so sitting outside was a definite ++. The atmosphere her is simple. I don't remember a lot about the interior except for that they pack in as many table as they can on this small storefront corner location.
The menu here seems pretty basic but I don't think the descriptions do the food justice. What's a tartine anyway? I think it's a type of open face sandwich. Think of meats, veggies and cheese piled on top of crusty bread. Oddly enough, I didn't remember seeing any tartine's on the menu. The menu includes some American, French dishes such as "Beef Mignonette Aux Poivres", "Croque- Monsieur", grilled salmon with vegetables and a few chicken dishes. There is really something for everyone. In addition to the everyday menu, Tartine also offers a good list of daily specials.
[can we eat now?]
To start we order 2 appetizers to share. The first was a special of roast figs stuffed with goat cheese. It's fig season so the figs are soft, sweet and tender. The stuffed goat cheese is a tangy compliment to the sweet fig.
Our second appetizer was a pissalidiere which was topped with onion, tomato, goat cheese and anchovies. Hmmmm anchovies. One of my friend loves anchovies, otherwise I would have asked them not to put them on the pissalidiere. She picks one off and exclaims how delicious it is and that it's "not really that fishy" so I decide to try a piece. I have never tasted an anchovy so this is a first, AND A LAST! Not too fishy? I should have taken a clue when she said "not too...". It was gross and I don't think I will ever eat an anchovy again. Gag. Regardless the pissalidiere was tasty but I thought the crust was a bit chalky. Both starters cost around $8-9 and considering the amount of greens that came with them, they were a good deal. In some places the greens alone would have cost that much.
Now its time for our entrees. The three entrees we ordered were the "Spicy Chicken", an entree salad with mushrooms and marinated chicken and one of the specials which was a cod fish with vegetables. I ordered the spicy chicken ($13.95) which I saw recommended on a post on Chowhound. I don't usually order chicken in a restaurant because it is often dry. I also eat chicken all the time at home so I usually like to get something different when I go out. The spicy chicken was a really flavorful dish. The spice was pungent but not hot, it was just tolerable. The chicken was chunks of white breast meat which was stir fried in the spicy sauce. The chicken was a bit dry, but not too bad. It was served with a side of guacamole and french fries. I really didn't think the "guc" was a good pair with the chicken but the fries were really memorable. They were sort of thin, deeply browned and crisp.
One of my friends wasn't very hungry so sheeeee just ordered a salad. I never have much to say about entree salads. This one was a warm spinach salad with marinated chicken & mushrooms ($10.95). It looked good and she said the mushrooms were excellent (what kind were they anyway?) but the chicken was a bit dry.
The real star of the meal was the cod fish special. First, it looked amazing. It was sort of a stacked dish starting with a layer of "pomme de terre" (potato), topped with all sorts of roast veggies including fennel and asparagus. On the plate there is an amazing flavorful sauce which seems to have a hint of cilantro and is dotted with red peppercorns. This is surround with sections of orange, grapefruit and lime. The biggest and best part was the huge chunk of roast cod which was topped with tomiko. Is that what you call it? It's those little fish eggs that they use at sushi restaurants. Other than the fact the tomiko added a hot spot of color I didn't really see the purpose of the little fish eggs on this dish. This was an amazing dish and I think David almost had to fight us off otherwise we would have ate the whole thing on him. It was really an ingenious blend of flavor and color. What an intense dish!
I heard that the desserts at Tartine were great. Frankly, I was disappointed. I felt a bit like they were "bakery" quality. we ordered 2 desserts. One was a chocolate macaroon with vanilla ice cream and the other was some sort of a light cake with a chocolate mouse. The macaroon was not great in my opinion. I love these things and always get them when I am in Paris and think I am an ***expert***. The macaroon was a bit crispy and not chewy enough. The ice cream tasted real cheap too. The chocolate dessert would be good for people who like this sort of thing. It was kind of light and had a light chocolate taste, nothing overwhelming. In all it wasn't so bad and at $6-7 each it was a good deal anyway. We also had coffee with our desserts, not bad!
[now the big ooops!]
Tartine is a cash only business and guess what? When we opened our wallets moths flew out. Luckily they trusted us to run to a nearby ATM and didn't send us to the kitchen to do dishes.
[in my opinion...]
Tartine is a great choice for lunch or dinner but I still don't think I would wait on the sidewalk for hours. If I come back (and I will), I'll plan to arrive early. The food is excellent and very well prepared. Service is good but I didn't think it was very fast. OK, so who said we needed to rush? They didn't care so why did I? I figured they would want to turn the tables a bit faster, but we enjoyed hanging out in our cafe seats on the sidewalk anyway.
I am giving Tartine a 4 heart rating for the dishes that were a hit. There were some things I didn;'t think were so great but overall the good stuff outweighted the average. Another reason for a high rating was for excellent price value. Dinner for three was $95 which included 2 appetizers, 3 entrees, 2 desserts and 2 coffees.
One nice thing about Tartine is that it's a BYOB which I love since you can drink what you like, not what they like. It seemed like everyone had a bottle in hand. Even the patrons waiting on the sidewalk had opened a bottle for a drink. I stopped at a wine store on the way and bought 2 small 1/4 bottles of Australian Shiraz for $1.99 each. I wasn't too bad!
Try Tartine, I think you'll like it!