Tartine San Francisco. Sharing not recommended.

Upon finding out I was headed to San Francisco, a coworker recommended Tartine, calling it “a transcendent experience.” He wasn’t kidding. It’s a modest-sized French bakery in the Mission District offering over-the-top luscious pastries, cakes, and toasted sandwiches.

We had a hard time making up our minds about what to try–so many temptations. Fearing that if we didn’t decide fast, we’d get trampled by the crowd behind us needing their sugar/cream/cheese fix, we landed on the lemon meringue cake and bread pudding.

The bread pudding was hands-down the best I’d ever had. Bread pudding isn’t something I normally gravitate to. It’s one of those desserts that varies too much from place to place. But this bread pudding was more like a flan or custard, topped with caramelized nectarines. Wow.

Onto the (humongous slice of) cake, a creative interpretation of  lemon meringue pie. The menu describes it as “lemon-moistened genoise layered with caramel and lemon cream.” While the caramel didn’t come through, the lemon flavor permeated the moist cake nicely. I was one the fence about the meringue icing. It was a little eggy for my liking.

By the way, if you decide to share your desserts, you might want to wait until you’ve had your fill before taking a break. I came out of the ladies’ room to find only a bite or two left of each. Mr. X-sXe had seized the opportunity to eat more than his share, spinning it as, “Look, I left this for you!” Grrr.

PS: If you can’t make it to Tartine, there’s always the cookbook.

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