On a typical night at San Francisco’s Bar Tartine, you won’t see the phrase “house-made” on the menu. None of the dishes make a big deal about themselves (green chili cheese dip with rye bread, roasted carrots with yoghurt and sunflower tahini) aside from listing some ingredients you don’t see every day, like kefir.
That’s because the flavors speak for themselves. Those flavors — acidic, funky, fatty, bright — are the result of the project kitchen, the subject of the first half of the restaurant’s self-titled cookbook. It’s where Chefs Nick Balla and Cortney Burns process everything they can, dehydrating peppers to make paprika and fermenting beets for their famous pickles. Just about every spice in the restaurant is homemade.
The implications of working this way are massive for a restaurant’s operations, requiring time, labor and an organized system that ensures every ingredient and product is used efficiently. We asked Nick all about how it works, from farm to larder to table.