Tartine Brunch Club’s sweet & fun ambiance meets menu’s whimsy, playfulness
A dose of fun is Claudia Morales’ and Carlos Torres’ prescription for pandemic weariness.
The couple’s joy and optimism are palpable at their new Tartine Brunch Club, where whimsical cocktails transcend the genre of girly drinks and specialties of Mexico complement France’s favorite snacks.
Mexican and Los Angeles street foods inspired Morales and Torres to open Xilakil Latin Fusion nearly three years ago. But the south Medford restaurant quickly became known for Sunday brunch and specialty cocktails, even as it battled statewide bans on indoor dining.
When Xilakil closed in September, customers likely recognized its owners’ decision to play to their strengths. And judging from interest in Tartine just a week after opening, the downtown Medford restaurant soon could be booked days in advance.
Orders move quickly from the kitchen to Tartine’s small, brick-walled dining room. But mixed drinks encourage guests to linger. And the beverages’ fanciful flourishes take some time to conjure.
Chief among them is a twist on the French 75 — dubbed “Dreaming in Pink” — that’s topped with a cotton candy “cloud” and edible butterfly. Rose petals, edible Hello Kitty images and teddy bear-shaped ice cubes adorn other Tartine libations. Preferring fewer garnishes, my partner and I ordered “the Garden” ($9.75) and “Crater Lake” ($11.50), respectively.
The “toast” craze may have peaked a few years ago, but Tartine unapologetically caters to fans of this trend. The restaurant name, of course, signifies an open-face sandwich popular for generations in France, which Americans recently co-opted as a vehicle for avocado and other ingredients.
Avocado is prominently featured among the menu’s “tartines.” But I skipped those, as well as off-season strawberries and tomatoes, in favor of smoked salmon on cream cheese and pears with Brie and cranberry sauce. The price of $12.50 affords two tartines, which can be mixed and matched, although smoked salmon adds $1.50.
Continuing the French theme, crepes tantalized us for dessert. Also priced at $12.50, sweet crepes come with strawberry and Nutella, banana and Nutella or a combination, which satisfied both my partner’s and my fruit preferences. Although I love savory crepes ($14.50 apiece), Tartine’s fillings of chicken pesto, Hawaiian or a chef’s choice comprising steak failed to entice.
I was somewhat intrigued by Tartine’s “huevos Benitos,” Morales’ and Torres’ reinterpretation of eggs Benedict, which augments the traditional English muffin and poached eggs with refried beans, chorizo and chile con queso sauce for $14. But I couldn’t fault my partner’s loyalty to huevos rancheros ($13.50), although we briefly debated the merits of chilaquiles ($12.50).
Other breakfast staples are waffles “a la mode” ($10.50 apiece), including the irreverent Oreo waffle topped with sweetened condensed milk and the “Fruity Pebbles,” which fortifies the namesake cereal with strawberry syrup and yet more sweetened condensed milk. If showering a waffle with Day-Glo cereal doesn’t scream fun, I don’t know what does.
Topping a waffle with two pieces of fried chicken costs $15.50 while the chef’s choice omelet is $13.50. On the lunch side, Tartine offers three salads starting at $9, adding proteins for an extra $3.50 to $6. There also are minestrone and tortilla-poblano soups ($6 to $8), a charcuterie board for $20 and hummus plate for $10.50.
Specifying the crepes for dessert, we intended to nibble the tartines with our drinks. But the eggs came out almost simultaneously.
Toasting a welcome break in our afternoon errands, we immediately detected generous quantities of liquor — Tanqueray gin and creme de violette in my turquoise Crater Lake and Ancho Reyes with pineapple juice, cucumber and kiwi in the verdant “Garden.” The latter tasted of lush produce while the Crater Lake emitted the barest whiff of rosewater.
Lovely little bites, the tartines lived up to their traditional role in France, as light snacks before an actual meal. A slightly larger slice of bread — or a higher quality, locally baked loaf — would improve this dish. Or customers may find more value in the panini — Caprese, chicken-pesto or roasted veggie — for a dollar or two less than tartines.
Bolstered by home fries, the huevos were a fine value underscored with housemade salsa, jalapeno cream, pickled onions and avocado. Perfectly done eggs didn’t get lost among other components, as they do in some renditions of this dish. The spiciness would be just right for most diners, although I wish the kitchen had turned up the heat a few degrees, temperature-wise.
Similarly, the crepes could have spent a few more minutes in a skillet. Assuming they were premade and reheated for service, we didn’t fault the dish’s method so much as the crepes’ doughiness.
But the crepes’ generous size, slabs of fruit and pools of chocolate sauce — all crowned with whipped cream — redeemed this dessert that doubles as breakfast. I’d order one of Tartine’s specialty coffee drinks next time to cut the sweetness.
The sweet ambiance at Tartine is echoed in its photo wall, where customers can shoot selfies against a backdrop of faux boxwood, blossoms and the restaurant’s neon pink logo.
Located at 36 S. Central Ave., Tartine Brunch Club is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call 541-500-1820 for reservations. See the menu and updates on its Facebook page and Instagram profile: @tartine541
A culinary and craft beverage trio have announced plans for collaborating in downtown Medford.
On the Rocks is the name of the new joint venture for Over Easy, Herb & Flour Patisserie and New Port Distilling. The three have offered cooperative experiences for customers over the past year at Over Easy’s brunch eatery, which also operates Thursday and Friday evenings on North Bartlett Street.
Moving a few doors away to an East Main Street address, Over Easy is the work of chef Braden Hitt, who worked in Las Vegas, Portland and several Southern Oregon establishments before founding Over Easy, first as a weekend pop-up at Downtown Market Co. that went full time in 2019. See overeasysouthernoregon.com
Also starting as a pop-up for lack of a storefront, Herb & Flour provides Over Easy’s pastries and also sells by advance order monthly pastry boxes, each with its own seasonal theme. Owner Kali Kennedy, formerly of Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine in Ashland, creates custom cakes for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and special occasions. See herbandflourpatisserie.com
Announcing the closure of its Central Point tasting room this month, New Port Distilling opened to the public in fall 2020. Producing spirits since 2019, New Port makes vodka and three types of gin for sale to bars, restaurants and liquor stores in Oregon. See newportdistilling.com
Check the Instagram profile @on_the_rocks_medford for sneak peeks and construction updates.
“Bubble” waffles pair with locally made gelato at a new Grants Pass sweet shop.
House of Glory serves artisan desserts and sandwiches in an Old World cafe setting. Manny and Zachary Velázquez opened the business last month at 115 S.W. G St. Jacksonville’s Mamma Mia, a food-service wholesaler, produces House of Glory’s gelato.
Popularized in Hong Kong, bubble waffle cones wrap a tender, eggy waffle around ice cream, fruit, whipped cream and other fillings. At House of Glory, dulce de leche, sweetened condensed milk, caramel popcorn and Maria cookies are featured additions. Customers also can create their own with two scoops of ice cream, two toppings and one sauce, starting at $14.
Gelato can be purchased by the scoop, starting at $4. Freshly baked goodies include cookies, cakes and a guava bar. Passionfruit mousse with dark chocolate shavings is a house specialty for $7.
A half-dozen croissant sandwiches, priced between $9 and $15, complement desserts. And a full espresso menu is available.
House of Glory is open from 11 a.m to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
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Sarah Lemon has relished the Rogue Valley’s dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s dining column. Her palate has helped to judge some of the region’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the Mail Tribune’s weekly food section, she writes a biweekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow @the.whole.dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.