If rock stars have groupies, then certain foods in SF have a similarly fanatical following: Tartine Bakery’s bread pudding, for instance. It’s one of those things that people get irrational about. (Case in point: My mother. Last time she came in the city to help me clear out my basement of junk, she threatened to reneg if I didn’t have the bread pudding waiting for her upon arrival.)
Last week, I went to Tartine with my boyfriend. When it’s not busy, I love sitting in there on a weekday morning. It feels very civilized and European.
It did, that is, until he ordered the bread pudding for himself. A bowl, which costs $5 and comes topped with seasonal fruit, is strangely enormous—pounds worth of bread, eggs and butter. Like if you ate the whole thing by yourself, you would surely perish. (I had to think the annoying author of French Women Don’t Get Fat would be fanning herself.) Joe made it about a third of the way through before he gave up.
It would be one thing if Tartine were the Cheesecake Factory, but in my mind, Tartine is an arbiter of taste. I started looking around the room though, and had an Alice in Wonderland moment. I realized that Tartine’s portions, in general, are big: Big morning buns, big croissants, big slices of bread, big cookies (except for my favorite tiny chocolate chip ones).
In Tartine’s defense though, it’s safe to say that they would get some slack if they made things much smaller (especially at their prices and the hours you have to wait to get a croissant). The European portion size is a tough sell, I’d venture to say—even in worldly San Francisco.
The upswing? With our current economy, Tartine’s bread pudding might just be the best deal out there. I'd say order one bowl and bring a friend—or two for that matter.