If you happen to live in San Francisco and love your bread, there is only one place to do your shopping and that’s Tartine. Established in 2002 by a husband and wife team in the trendy Mission district, this tiny bakery had foodies queuing round the block for its artisan loaves and perfect pastries, pretty much as soon as it opened. Today they’ve got an outlet in Seoul, another opening in LA, and a much larger HQ in Mission called Tartine Manufactory, a light-flooded warehouse space big enough to house a bakery, a 100-cover restaurant – and a bar.
Now I don’t know about you, but a glass of wine and some really good buttered bread is my idea of heaven, so when I was last in the Bay Area I wasted no time in heading straight for Tartine Manufactory. The bar here isn’t really a bar; it’s more of a side return. But the drinks list is the real deal, chosen with the same meticulous care that goes into everything Tartine does, from sourcing the many types of grain it uses to choosing the dozens of glowing Isamu Noguchi lamps that hang about the ceiling.
Wine director Vinny Eng has cast his net wide with the wine list, which is very international. But I was interested in the Californian selection, which majors in smaller producers known for fresher, lower-alcohol, more terroir-driven wines: Pinot Noir terroiristes Hirsch, Ted Lemon’s acclaimed winery Littorai, Arnot-Roberts, maker of Chablis-style Chardonnay, as well as hotly tipped newcomers Jaimee Motley (also assistant winemaker at Wind Gap) and Jolie Laide, the Sonoma winery behind one of the most exuberant rosés I’ve tasted this year. If you’re still suffering with PTSD from drinking the jammy Napa Cabs and oaky Chardonnays of yore, this list will come as a refreshing antidote.
Perched on a stool at the narrow window counter, I sipped a zippy Chenin Blanc by Jaimee Motley, ate buttered sourdough and looked on as leather-aproned bartenders busied themselves preparing aperitivo-style cocktails with vermouth, sparkling wines and cordials made with fruits, flowers and fig leaves. I didn’t get a chance to try Tartine’s famous coffee, the turmeric keffir sodas, the mimosas or the cassis and lime kombucha. You could come back here three times a day for a week and never drink the same thing twice.
The whole place felt fresh, optimistic and modern. I’d arrived at Tartine Manufactory a bit raddled from a sweltering 40-minute walk across town – but by the time I left, loaf under my arm, I was full of West Coast good vibes. I don’t know if Tartine’s founders have more plans for expansion, but if you’re reading this, my Cali friends, you’re welcome in London any time.