Monday, May 20, 2013

Food Bloggers Meetup at Bar Tartine

We had dinner with the S.F. Food Bloggers Meetup group at Bar Tartine. Very unusual (but tasty!) food. The limited menu was different from what was listed online, and Tea Time is sad we didn't get to try the chilled apricot soup. Sounds like a recipe opportunity, we guess.... J.K. and Angela were "early"/on time again, so we waited a bit before the next two members arrived. Angela ordered the Sparkling Beet cocktail, which was delightful. The pink tinted drink was light and almost fruity at first and became more earthy/beety as the sparkling wine warmed and the flavors layered on the tongue. While we waited we caught up and tried to wrap our minds around the different menu options. (Lots of Sauerkraut, in fact the whole menu seemed to have a Russian influence this visit.)

Sparkling Beet Cocktail.
Le Menu

J.K. and Angela have been Meetup members for a while, but there are so many groups you can join that while we've been co-hosting chocolate events for a couple years, we just joined the bloggers group and this was our first event. As we talked with the host/organizer and another blogger we learned a lot! (If you see an ad on this blog anytime soon, it will be the fault of this group.) This was exactly what we wanted, information and feedback about food blogging from people with more experience. Tea Time had also been a bit nervous about the check, sometimes you don't know what kind of people will turn up at these events (order something Expensive then insist on "splitting" the bill equally, for example). However, as we four sat and chatted, we realized it would be advantageous to share the small plates and worry about the bill when it came. (Spoiler: it was easy as pie to split the food bill 5 ways and add your drink to that total, yay.)

We ended up ordering 4 items just before our fifth diner dashed in from her other event. She ordered a glass of wine and we chatted more while we waited for our plates to arrive. Tea Time ordered the Russian Salad which featured golden beets (this is the second time we've been surprised with golden beets at a restaurant, when will they show up at the farmers market?), which are slightly sweeter and a bit less earthy than their red/purple cousins. The dressing was creamy and paired well with the fennel, avocado and greens.

Russian Salad
Our tablemates went for the Beef Tartare. Angela kept asking J.K. if she wanted to get it (she loves the raw beef), but she insisted no, as she usually finds it drowned in olive oil and such. However Tea Time was very glad to taste this dish as it was light and not "drowned" in anything, letting the meaty taste shine. The crusty bread was the perfect vehicle to scoop it up and into a waiting mouth.

Beef tartare
While we were talking about the menu, we came around to tripe. Angela hasn't eaten it, not really avoiding it, but never seeking it out either. J.K. has eaten it a couple times. Tea Time wasn't super excited about this dish, but of course we had to taste it when our more adventurous tablemates made their choice. They had both tasted tripe prepared many ways by many cultures and wanted to add another experience to their belts. Angela was entranced by the rich broth of the soup, which was layered with flavors. The tripe was a bit chewy, the texture bringing to mind short ribs (specifically L & L lunch plate style), which made the tripe feel like an old food friend, not something exotic.

Grilled tripe soup
Just call J.K. the cheese stealer. We looked away for a second and she had a green lump on her plate. Angela made her give back the disguised goat cheese (granted it is a romantically lit--um, dark--resto) and made her share with the group. The bread was, again, perfectly cripy and paired well with the cheese and seaweed sprinkled on top. Delish.

Goat cheese with grilled bread
Umami kelp sprinkled on top, yum.

Our table agreed we were all happy with the portion sizes. This is not a place where you go to eat dinner, then feel like you need to go out and get a burrito after you're done. We did ask the waiter specifically about the cheese dumplings dish, so we were a bit surprised that what he called an 'entree' was about the same portion as our appetizers. (Perhaps the colors on the plate count as food? No one licked them so we can't be sure.) However, the tastes on the plate were consistent with the rest of our meal, with rich cheesy dumplings we split between the 5 of us. Plus the mashed butternut squash was a seasonal treat with the creamy sauce.

Cheese dumplings with butternut squash.
There were just 4 dessert choices and our table took a bit to consider each one before unanimously voting the lava cake as winner. This came with an ice cream on the side sitting in a puddle of berry jam. We all got out our spoons and after a group photo, we dug in. The cake was rich and chocolatey. (How many times have I written those words in this blog? Let me know, you'll win a prize!) A very good dessert overall. It was a great dinner and we had wonderful conversation as well. Thanks to our dinner partners @lifeislikefood, @nutritionize and @gnaihc we hope to dine with you again, perhaps $1 oyster happy hour?? (As a reminder, blog readers can follow us on Twitter @teatimeadventur and you'll get previews of future posts, plus more ideas of what we like and want to share.)

Tea Time would be happy to come try the Bar Tartine lunch menu, or come back again to dinner for a special occasion. Since the menu here is always changing it would be great to add more challenge foods to our list of been there, done that edibles. Do you have a favorite restaurant with a seasonal menu? Or are you the type of person who orders the same dish every time? Tweet you later, man.