After my fabulous meal at Tartinery, it really did make me wonder, how do French girls stay so skinny?? The tartine, a traditional French open-faced sandwich, is taken to new heights here at the Nolita spot. All the breads are from Poilane, a renowned Parisian bakery, and the tartine components are nothing but the best of the French: filet mignon, croque madame/monsieur, shredded crispy duck, nicoise tuna, and foie gras (made in-house no less) among others.
As I sat down and looked around the modern bistro, it dawned on me that Tartinery would be an awesome place for a date. Good thing I brought my best GIRL friend, Alexis. Truth be told, she's the best date I've had in a while. But enough about my sad existence, lets move on to the food. Each tartine comes with a house salad, and we decided to split the butternut squash soup as an appetizer. The house salad was nothing to write home about - iceberg lettuce, some shavings of cheese and dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. The soup, however, was perfect in both taste and consistency. Smooth and creamy, not too hot, with a mild undertone of sweetness; it was light enough that you could eat it in the dead of summer and not feel crazy.
If you have even half a brain, you would know to order a tartine or two (or four, in our case) in a place called Tartinery. When we found out that the foie gras is made in-house, we knew that was at the top of our list to try. Next would be the croque madame and the steak minute – we were trying to keep things traditional. One of the owners, Stephan, came by to check in on us and insisted that the Poulet Roti (roast chicken) was not to be missed and is their most popular tartine. Roast chicken? That's it? It definitely didn't jump out at me on the menu, but why the hell not? And I guess he knows what he is talking about, because the foie gras was probably my favorite, with the roast chicken coming in at a close second. The Foie Gras tartine came with a sweet fig jam that you spread ever so gently across the top of the buttery foie gras, and oh my was it delicious. One of the most fattening things you could eat for sure, but certainly worth it. For those of you who don't know, foie gras is essentially just fat. Duck fat to be exact. Sometimes goose fat. But when it's made right, it can only be described as decadent. The Poulet Roti (roast chicken with shaved fennel, herb mayo and olive oil) was perfectly flavored, and not even the slightest bit dry. The main reason I usually avoid roast chicken is because it just gets dry and bland. There was no such problem here; this even tasted slightly creamy, and the bread soaked up the herby mayo and olive oil. Mmmm..
The Croque Madame tartine was good, but not as perfectly constructed as the chicken or foie gras. The cheese was a little hard, and I think it should have been a little hotter. Small problems, really, but when you can have something like the foie gras or the chicken, why bother with that? The Steak Minute (filet mignon, caramelized onions, grainy mustard) was very good though. Only reason I had a little trouble with it was that it was hard to cut into the bread and the medium rare steak. Actually, if I had to pick a flaw with ANY of the tartines, it's that they give you butter knives to cut through and I'm sorry, but that bread is so crispy and crusty, a butter knife just won't cut it…no pun intended. You can certainly pick up the slices with your hands and take a big ol' bite, but that is not the way they do it in France (I might have stuck up my nose when I said that).
After all that bread and fat, who has room for dessert? We do! Alexis, if you may recall, is one of those odd creatures of the universe who doesn't like chocolate. She got the traditional apple Tarte Tatin, and too bad for her, because I got the Fondant au Chocolat (traditional chocolate souffle cake) AND the chocolate tartine. I salivated thinking about the Fondant au Chocolat just now. It. Was. So. Chocolatey. DIVINE is the only word that comes to mind when eating the rich, silky layers of melted chocolate and fluffy cake. Even Alexis ate some. The chocolate tartine was nothing short of scrumptious either, but in a different way. Not as sweet, it's a thin French bread spread with salted butter and chunks of dark chocolate on top; this was the GOOD dark chocolate too, none of that crap you buy at the supermarket.
If you're looking for something tasty and out of the ordinary, Tartinery would be a great place to try. It's perfect for a date or night out with friends because the portions are large, so naturally, sharing is encouraged. Though if it were me, I'd probably keep the Fondant au Chocolat to myself…