Looking for the taste of the French countryside with a touch of Parisian Bohemian style? If you can’t travel abroad, travel to Nolita where Tartinery will make you feel like you have crossed an ocean. The star offering is the tartine, a meal in itself baked onto Polaine, thin rustic bread, flown in daily from Paris and not available anywhere else in the city. Whether you visit for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you are guaranteed a French experience like no other.
Located on Mulberry Street in Nolita, Tartinery is the creation of three French friends— Stephan Jauslin, Nicolas Dutko and Maxime Paul—who met while attending École Hotelière in Lausanne, Switzerland. With the help of partner Alicia Rountree, chef consultant Jean Louis Dumonet, and co-owner Patrick Derderian, the group is bringing something quite French and quite wonderful to the city.
From outside, Tartinery appears to be a trendy café where hipsters and businessmen alike might go for a drink or a quick bite to eat. Once inside, diners quickly understand that looks can be deceiving. The double height ceiling, floor to ceiling windows and exposed brick walls give the place an open and airy feeling while the black metal grid brings a modern touch to an otherwise natural palette. During the day, the bar area provides a comfortable place for solo dining.
The upstairs dining room serves as a cafe, where people can sample one of Tartinery’s made to order juices. Try the Vita Splash (kiwi, apple, and pineapple juice) or the Citrus Squeeze (orange, grapefruit and lemon). Each juice is produced on the spot—fresh and frothy—using the freshest produce.
The more private downstairs dining area is more popular during the evening. Here, diners may enjoy the centerpiece of the restaurant, the large Fichus tree growing through the center of an eight-seat square table. In the wintertime, a fireplace helps to add a warm glow to the attractive downstairs space.
The restaurant has a “back to basics” feel, apparent not only in the food but the décor as well. The majority of the wood used in the restaurant was obtained from an old building going through reconstruction in Tribeca and the original exposed brick gives customers a peek into the history of the building.
The restaurant’s specialty and namesake is the tartine, an open-faced sandwich, which could be shared tapas style by groups. Tartine’s can be ordered on either toasted organic multigrain bread, delivered from Bread Alone Bakery, or the more traditional Poilane bread, famous in Paris.
For brunch, Tartinery offers diners their choice of eggs with bacon, mushrooms and a number of other toppings on the same Poilane bread. The restaurant also has an assortment of croissants, baguettes with butter, and the robust La Colombe coffee. For lunch the offerings include petit tartines with the fresh soup of the day—anything from gazpacho to bouillon de poulet.
One of the more popular items on the menu is the butternut soup, which has been the cause for many repeat customers. This squash soup is made with pepper, onions, and nutmeg, with all four ingredients marrying well, enhancing the natural flavor of the squash. The flavor coupled with the smooth texture makes for the perfect starter to any meal.
Tartinery also carries a few salads like a traditional nicoise and the chevre chaud, with warm goat cheese on Poilane toast, also bestsellers, according to co-owner Stephan Jauslin.
Of the more than ten tartines, all accompanied by a house salad in the evening, I sampled as a guest of the restaurant, four and found that each had its own unique blend of flavors. “We like to limit ourselves to four or five ingredients and really bring out the flavors,” explained Jauslin.
The Crotin tartine (goat cheese, frizée, fresh thyme, honey, olive oil) was very satisfying; the goat cheese was beautifully aged and sharp. The Poulet Roti (roast farm chicken, homemade herbed mayo, shaved fennel, olive oil) is statistically the most popular tartine at Tartinery. The combination of their herb mayo with the juicy chicken and shaved fennel was delicious, something that is worth ordering a second time.
My favorite tartine had to be the Foie Gras tartine, which consists of Tartinery’s homemade duck foie gras with a touch of salt and fig jam. This tartine was the perfect combination of salty and sweet; the foie gras was smooth and flavorful.
Coming in as a close second was the tartare tartine (steak tartare, onions, capers, French Dijon, worcestershire, egg yolk, topped with four potato crisps), the tartare was slightly spicy, you could definitely taste all of the different flavors but none were too overwhelming.
The Rose, a 2008 cotes de provence, was one of the two wines imported from co-owner Maxime Paul’s family vineyard in France. The wine, very aromatic, light and fresh, made for a great dinner wine, enhancing the flavor of the tartare tartine.
To end the meal I ordered their Wild Juice and the Fondant Au Chocolat dessert. The Wild Juice, one of the many made to order juices offered at Tartinery, consisted of apple, strawberry, and banana.
The Fondant Au Chocolat was beautifully presented with a light dusting of powdered sugar and a single scoop of vanilla ice cream (the ice cream being one of the few items not made on site). The moment you cut into the ten-minute cake and see the warm chocolate come pouring out you will fall in love.
The staff, the majority French-speaking, were friendly and attentive. Co-owner Stephan Jauslin was very hands-on, taking orders and serving drinks. He was proud to share his knowledge of the restaurant’s menu, including details about individual ingredients.
Tartinery is certainly a romantic restaurant for that special date, but it can also serve as a great meeting place for light drinks with friends. The restaurant can even accommodate families, as it is equipped with highchairs and a helpful staff who is more then willing to aid in carrying your double stroller down the renovated wooden staircase.
Dining at Tartinery provides diners with a new view of the French dining experience, and this Nolita restaurant is now one of our favorites in Manhattan.
209 Mulberry Street in the heart of Nolita
Daily from noon to midnight
Tartinery is also available for private functions and parties
For reservations, please call 212-300-5838.