With an interior fashioned around the whimsical style of the Belle Époque era, a “golden age” of relative peace, innovation and prosperity in France, Tartine is a recent addition to the casual French dining scene in Hong Kong. The first food and beverage venture by lifestyle group Art de Vivre, Tartine focuses on the humble, classic French open-faced sandwich. Michelin-starred Philippe Orrico of On Dining and Upper Modern Bistro adds a dash of star quality to the menu, which is packed with delicious combinations to layer over thick slices of crusty sourdough. The two-storied restaurant hosts a dining room with a bar and terrace upstairs, making it an ideal venue for the office crowd during happy hour.
Our tasting commenced with classic French staples, ranging from pork rillettes du Mans ($68), to warmed buttered toasts sprinkled with fragrant black truffles ($138). Le Mans is renowned for its pork rillettes, and as a frequent visitor to the city, thanks to it being the hometown of the in-laws, I was pleased by the authenticity of the creamy spread. Each buttery dollop had just the right ratio of tender strands of meat to creamy fat, making it dangerously addictive and devastatingly flavourful. If I just closed my eyes, I can almost imagine myself back at the family table in Le Mans sipping a sweet noble rot while indulging in thick smears of rillettes before the official start of dinner.
The tuna carpaccio ($98) with crispy crostini, ponzu cream and white truffle oil was a refreshing palate cleanser following the rich, overly greasy truffled toast.
Moving on to the main event, we sampled a trio of signature tartines, starting from the decadent lobster and béchamel with lobster bisque ($138). The bisque was served on the side in order to preserve the crunchiness of the bread, although I felt that adding the soup to the tartine infused it with even more umami flavours. On its own, the lobster tartine was a bit too sweet, and the savoury bisque acted as a counterbalance.
The goat cheese with roasted figs and Parma ham, drizzled in balsamic and honey ($98) was a delicious blend of sweet and savoury elements, with a bit of earthiness thrown in thanks to the cheese.
Lastly, the crab and lemon aioli with artichoke, sundried tomatoes, and quail eggs ($108) had just the right amount of tartness against the sweetness of the crab, with the welcome addition of creaminess from the eggs.
By this point, we were pretty stuffed on bread. However, each of the desserts also arrived on slices of bread! Although beautiful and delicious, the berries and mascarpone ($68) was too delicate to serve over crusty sourdough. The result was a lot of hard chewing that detracted from the lightness of the toppings. We had to scrape most of the topping off to enjoy on its own, as the bread was just too dense for the pairing to work.
The Nutella over brioche with sprinkles and marshmallows ($58) sounded scrumptious, but was rather disappointing. It’s hard to fault anything smeared in Nutella, but the dessert arrived looking like an amateur attempt by a child to cook dessert at a kids’ cooking class. The brioche was on the dry side, and the whole dessert was heaped with processed sugar and food colouring. We would suggest giving this one a miss.
Four words - a lot of bread. The concept of casual small bites over bread is alluring, and this would work well for either breakfast, lunch or happy hour. However, this may not be substantial enough for the dinner crowd. We enjoyed the overall flavour pairings, but felt that the meal consisted too much of chewy sourdough. After all that chewing, we left with pretty sore jaws!
Website or Tel: 2808 0752
2-3/F, 38 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central