Restaurant Review: BarTartine

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Dining in Sud a couple of weeks ago, a beautiful place across the courtyard caught my eye. BarTartine as I soon discovered, was an elegant little restaurant with a beautiful bakery to boot. I wondered if dining there would prove more satisfying than Sud (which was quite uneven), and promptly convinced my fellow eating-mates to give it a shot.

Reserving a table at Bar Tartine is already a much more pleasant affair than doing so at Sud. I insist on reserving myself and arm myself with a few witty comebacks in case the hostess insists on babbling in French. Thankfully the kind lady is wise enough to respond in Arabic, and BarTartine is already off to a head-start. I apologize in advance Sud, but since both of you are in such close proximity of one other, these comparisons are going to be inevitable.

We order a number of appetizers. The Seated Tuna Wasabi is utterly magnificent. Full of flavor and extremely fresh, it’s a crisp delight in every sense of the word. The spinach artichoke dip however, is disappointing. It’s a treat to look at it with its spectacular gooeyness, but it’s surprisingly tasteless which is a pity. We also order the Majestic Margherita Pizza and it royally lands on our table on an elevated wooden board. Unfortunately, it’s also nothing to brag about taste-wise. Bland seems to be the running theme tonight.

As for the main course, I opt for the Lean and Mean burger. Sadly for the first time in my life, I barely have two bites of my burger before deciding not to continue my meal.  It’s my fault as I hadn’t noticed the cheese was Camembert (which I detest). If you are a fan of the cheese, you might think it’s the best thing on earth so I’ll refrain from really judging this one. I will however point out that we still ended up paying for the burger. I didn’t expect them to remove it – because that’s so very rarely the case in Lebanon unless you’re experiencing Roadster‘s masterful customer service – but it would have been a very commendable gesture on their part.

I sample my friends’ main courses as well (naturally). The Millstone Chicken isn’t memorable in the slightest. Topped with marinara sauce, it tastes like a piece of chicken slabbed over with a bunch of tomato paste. On the bright side, the Chicken Salad Tartine is a winner, bursting with fresh ingredients (although it’s drenched in a bit too much mayo/garlic).

With the Camembert taste still in my mouth (even the crunchy golden fries couldn’t do away with it), we decide not to indulge in dessert. Interestingly enough, I’m left with a positive impression of the place although it turned out to be just as uneven as Sud. Perhaps it’s the excellent waitress who was polite and helpful at all times? Truly great service of course makes an enormous difference.

Price: Around 50$ per person. No alcohol, so it’s a bit on the expensive side.
Service: Superb. Props to our fantastic waitress.
Presentation: Wonderful. The tuna and the pizza in particular.
Ambiance: I like the courtyard idea, but The Gathering still does it better.
Must try: The Seared Wasabi Tuna. Outstanding.
Go with: A casual dinner with friends. Be prepared to see-and-be-seen though. This is Lebanon after all and BarTartine is the latest “hotspot.”

Conclusion
An enjoyable albeit uneven meal. Hopefully they’ll iron out the kinks as a few of the dishes still need some tinkering with. The potential is definitely there though, and I’d consider dropping by again.

Nad Rating
B

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