By Paolo Bicchieri
Tartine Bakery recently opened a new location in the Inner Sunset, near Ninth Avenue and Irving Street.
The San Francisco-founded, James Beard award-winning eatery began 17 years ago in the Mission District as a place for bakers to “bring bread with an old soul into the lives of our friends in California,” according to the shop’s website.
Bon Apetit magazine described the institution as “America’s most influential bakery.”
Tartine’s website goes on to explain the origins of the bakery.
“In 2002, Elisabeth Pruiett and Chad Robertson came into San Francisco for dinner from their home and small bakery in Point Reyes,” according to the website. “On the corner of 18th and Guerrero they spotted a baker sitting outside. He was ready to retire, but didn’t want the neighborhood to lose a corner bakery. It felt like fate. Using a wood-fired brick oven, Robertson baked bread and Prueitt created rustic, elegant pastries using many of the techniques they had learned abroad.”
The Inner Sunset location reflects elements of its new neighborhood, which is close to Golden Gate Park. It has outdoor seating in an alcove between the sidewalk and the interior of the shop. After crossing the patio, the space has beaming skylights and lush plant life. Wood walls that resembles a mud room lead into long tables underneath framed punk rock-inspired graphic art.
Susanna Ok, the executive chef at Tartine, says the space is an homage to Golden Gate Park, while pointing out a tree at the end of the counter with a big smile. The former chef and noodle cook at Hapa Ramen also says her running the new shop is a happy reunion.
“I had previous experience with Bar Tartine when I first got to San Francisco, so I sort of knew the legacy of the Tartine name,” Ok said. “I was kind of already in it before I realized I was in it.”
Other key players at the Tartine on Ninth are Scott Mosier and Jeffrey Hayden. Hayden is the commissary chef and comes from Tosco and Kronner Burger. Mosier is general manager, coming off of a progression through the ranks of Tartine Manufactory, also in the Mission District.
As folks enter the space they will find on their left stacks of shelves with that day’s fresh artisan breads and dozens of just-baked pastries, like croissants, muffins and bread pudding. Customers will be able to order all sorts of coffee drinks from the shop’s two La Marzoco machines, pastel colored cups atop each.
The building was founded as the Standard Roofing Company, run by a survivor of Auschwitz who emigrated to America. He owned the space for decades.
“Tartine only moves into spaces that have some kind of history or story to it,” Ok said. “There are people who walk by and say they worked here 20 years ago.”
To join in the neighborhood community, Ok and her team have been tabling at the farmer’s market just a block away. They have handed out samples of their jam bars, filled with fruit from local farmers.
Tartine is receiving mixed reactions to its moving into an area witnessing growth and popularity. Some are skeptical of the attention on their hidden gem of a neighborhood.
Ok is optimistic locals will come to Tartine for studying or a to-go item for their commute. The location has plans to innovate Tartine’s dinner options with items like leavened flatbread, richly seasoned hummus and gourmet pizzas.
“People ask if we are Arizmendi’s direct competitor,” Ok said, referring to the popular bakery across Irving on Ninth. “But people don’t come here to see if we’re better. They come here because we’re Tartine.”
Some local businesses were not even aware of the new neighbor. The busy folks at Art’s Café, a 30-year-old Korean-owned breakfast spot on Irving near Ninth, said they had no idea Tartine was opening. The man dealing eggs at Café Rain Tree, on the corner of Eighth and Irving, said he had “never heard of them (Tartine), but variety is good.”
Tartine has three shops in Korea, a new Los Angeles location and one in the International Terminal at the San Francisco International Airport.
Tartine Bakery is located at 1226 Ninth Ave. For more information, visit www.tartinebakery.com.