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[Photo: SFGate]

Amongst all the yummy food and drink I enjoyed on my trip to San Francisco in August, one meal stood out that I’ve been wanting to write about: dinner at Bar Tartine. Owned by the couple behind Tartine bakery (where the croissants really are as good as you’ve heard) and with a new chef on board, Bar Tartine serves Eastern European-influenced food with a California twist for a far more exciting meal than its name belies.

Spectacular croissant from Tartine Bakery

Spectacular croissant from Tartine Bakery. Morning bun was also awesome. You can’t go wrong here.

Okay, back to dinner. We started with chilled sour cherry soup with fennel, dill, and yogurt. It was a tart, bracing twist to the traditional comforting borscht. (Although the soup was gorgeous, my blurry photos weren’t.)

Potato flat bread was another surprise: a puffy fried crust resembling an Indian bhatura, topped with garlic, dill, and sour cream. It’s indulgent, and worth every calorie.

Potato flatbread

Potato flatbread

Steamed sunchoke custard with a side of sunflower greens alternated
earthy and pleasantly bitter flavors, the custard more starchy than creamy and the greens smugly fresh enough to be picked from some sunny Bay Area backyard.

Sunchoke custard

Sunchoke custard

Farmer’s cheese dumplings in broth was the only item that wasn’t quite perfect. The broth was excellent, more deeply flavored and complex than any I’ve tried. The problem was with the dumplings, which were too big and too dense to properly soak up the broth. The dish didn’t meld, but the components were still pretty tasty.

Cheese dumplings

Cheese dumplings

With successes and surprises at every turn, there was no excuse to skip dessert. Unfortunately, the menu that day just wasn’t doing it for us. Carob mousse? Rye porridge? Cucumber sorbet? We passed, but looking back from across the country, I’d say with a little regret that we should have taken the jump.

San Francisco is full of great restaurants with vegan and vegetarian food, from fine dining to streetside tacos. We’re dying to get back and then write more reviews, but in the mean time keep Bakery and Bar Tartine on your list.

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St
(415) 487-2600

Bar Tartine
561 Valencia St
(415) 487-1600

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