209 Mulberry Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 300-5838

There are three Tartinerys in the city and Myna and I found ourselves at the Nolita/Soho one for dinner one recent balmy evening. The interior is a cold, stone gray with warm, wood accents and the occasional tree. There's a relaxed chicness to the restaurant that was very inviting and pleasant. Indeed, there are a precious few restaurants in which I might choose to eat alone without fear of appearing like that guy you feel sad for with the book at his table.

Myna and I both enjoyed the atmosphere but were less enamored by the service. It not very crowded, even at 8pm, but flagging down a waiter was difficult all the same. From a price perspective, it's in the middle. Entrees are in the $17-23 range and the tartines that they serve, which are sort of like open faced sandwiches, average $15.

We started with four mini-tartines, half sized versions of the full-priced ones I just talked about. All four were good, and I would stick to the tartine menu should you choose to go, because, frankly, we didn't care for the rest of the meal.

The first one that I bit into was the Saumon Fume, made with smoked salmon and creme fraiche with a little lemon juice and dill. It was very good. Cool and summery. Joining it on the plate was the Asperges Avocat a tartiner of avocado, asparagus, arugula, pumpkin seed, parmesan, and lemon juice. It was essentially a salad on a piece of toast. Also, a pleasant light dish that was quite enjoyable. I would solidly recommend both of these. The second plate contained the Poulet Roti: roast chicken on an herbal mayo with fennel and olive oil, and the Labne, a more-Mediterranean-than-French tartine with yogurt, cucumber, and za'atar (mixed Mediterranean spices. The poulet roti was phenomenal. It was sweet and savory and tender and I would consider returning to Tartinery for this dish alone. Maybe I'd go back and get two of them. The Labne was very bland, however. If you want something that has a middle eastern aura about it, then by all means give the Labne a chance, but in my opinion it felt like it was on the wrong menu.

Okay, so the entrees. We were impressed with neither. Recalling how amazing the duck breast at Burke & Wills was, my taste buds all but forced me to order the Seared Duck Breast, served with roasted peaches. I requested it made medium rare. I then requested a steak knife because it arrived well done and trying to cut into it with the available table knife was an exercise in futility. It coulda-been shoulda-been great. The peaches were very good and thick, rich, sweet sauce was also delicious, but the meat itself was dry and tough. Speaking of dry and tough, Myna's Poulet Fermier, a pan seared chicken leg and thigh, with a side of what I think was kale but what the menu said was mizuna, was right up there alongside my duck. The moisture had been sapped from the meat almost completely. Wherever the moisture went, it wasn't into the greens, because they too were dry and almost brittle. "I don't even think that they seasoned anything" she said as we ate. Along with our, we ordered a side of Mixed Vegetables, gratin-style zucchini over a layer of diced tomato. It was nothing to write home about.

For dessert, we chose the Tarte Tatin, an inside-out apple pie type dish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Myna enjoyed it more than I did. I had a few nibbles, thought a few wistful thoughts about Mrs. Smith, and packed up my spoon.

Two glasses of sparkling wine, four mini-tartines (or two regular sized ones), two entrees, and a dessert should run you $106 plus tax and tip.  Like I said, treat Tartinery like a small plates restaurant and stick with the tartines and you'll be happy.

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