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Walking along Mar Mikhael street, you can't but magically be driven towards the rich aromas coming out of a new modern bakery, Tartine Bakery. Hidden behind a tree, a huge window display is decorated with deliciously looking pieces of bread in many shapes and forms. The freshly painted walls in coral color frame the large window display allowing the true shapes of the bread, calls you to come in... My morning turned out to be amazingly fruitful, delicious and pleasant. I discovered the place by pure coincidence. Located in the heart of Mar Mikhael just a few meters from Enab restaurant, is this latest concept boutique bakery brought to us by the same people who changed the meaning of the man'ouche as we know it, Zaatar W Zeit. Tartine Bakery is a purely Lebanese concept with big plans. It's located in the newly developed courtyard called La Cour Saint Michel which now hosts Bar Tartine, Tartine Bakery, Sud and Studio 43. After checking it out, it can safely compete with big European names around.
Knowing me and my constant hunger to find new places, discover new tastes around - I went in of course and had my camera prepared and a zillion questions to ask. I asked the welcoming staff if I could take some pictures and to my luck, Makram Khadij, the managing partner, was there. A pleasant character who's passionate and informative about food and what he does. Makram introduced me to the concept, took me around the bakery, inside out. We spent more than 2 hours together, smelling, cutting and tasting. Enter the bakery, a long fridge welcomes you on the right while shelves carrying different kinds of bread decorate the walls. A window panel reveals all the action taking place in the kitchen faces the door - with a cute line,"Baker's at Work"
The bread choices:
- Poppy Traditional Bread
- Round Country Bread
- Sourdough Bread
- Thyme Focaccia
- Olive Focaccia Bread
- Traditional Bread With Cheese
- Bread With Thyme And Dries Tomatoes
- Bread With Chorizo And Cheese
- Multi-Cereal Bread
- Rye Bread
- Multi-Cereal Bread
- Cereal Mix Traditional Bread
You truly feel like you're in one of Paris' street bakeries where you can grab your own paper bag and fill it with today's craving. Tartine Bakery was created with the notion of really bringing something new, something unique not found until today in Lebanon. Why should bread be hard? Why does it have to be chewy? Shouldn't it be affordable for all? What bread to eat with what kind of food? Why it's good to have air bubbles when you cut a baguette and so much more... With our premium know how, can't we Lebanese compete with the best? Tartine Bakery has proven it all. Makram, put on his white gloves, grabbed a knife from the kitchen, prepared the cutting board and was ready for the tasting.
- Pain au Levain: This bread is great for cheese and wine parties. A good choice for cold cuts as it's pure and unique in taste. From the inside, air bubbles show how fresh the ingredients are. I loved its softness and slight crunch on it's borders
- Pain de Seigle: Pair this piece of bread with something acidic like Labneh and enjoy
- Raisin and Nuts bread: This is one of my favorites, filled with nuts and raisins. A kind of bread perfectly coupled with sweet condiments like jam
- Ficelle Apero Chorizo Comte: This is simply excellent. It doesn't need anything to be enjoyed a bite after the other. I took some home with me, and with slices of Emmental cheese toasted in the oven, I enjoyed a royal dinner
- Ficelle Apero Thym Tomates Confites: Enjoy it with grilled Halloumi, it's a simple sin
- Pain de Tradition au Pavot: Simple and great
- Plain Croissant: It has a great after taste, crunchy on the outside, non oily on the inside. One of the best I've had in Lebanon.
Behind the concept are golden rules:
- The foundation is bread: Bread is what they do and they have mastered it perfectly through intensive research on the consumer and business level
- Bread is not a tool to break your teeth and jaw this is why Tartine's is soft and tender
- Fresh liquid yeast is used in all their production lines
- Bread is baked twice a day and sold fresh
- Nothing is left on the shelves for more than 8 hours
I loved the little details:
- The branding is very nice and simple. On the door is written: "Come on in"
- An open kitchen let's you see the cleanliness of this establishment:"Bakers at work" is written on the glass
- Nice boxes printed with: "A slice of life"
- I appreciate the creativity of the bakers creating many interesting shapes of bread like crocodiles, mice... cute and used as decorative items
- An interesting choice of pastry pieces generous in size and appetizing in shape
- They even thought of gluten free bread that will be available soon
- There are 5 different baguettes styles and the Parisian baguette
I couldn't resist taking one of each pastry with me back home to share my latest discovery with my wife:
- Pear Crumble Tart 5,000L.L
- Strawberry Tart 4,500L.L: I loved the hard and crunchy crust. Perfectly done
- Chocolate Hazelnut Tart 4,500L.L: This tart is tasty, crunchy, adequately sweetened with a smooth taste of chocolate
- Chocolate Caramel Tart 4,500L.L: I fell in love with this piece
- Almond Mille Feuille 4,500L.L: This pastry is too sweet
- Mille Feuille 4,500L.L: The problem of the mille feuille is its flaky dough. It's too thick and too crunchy
- Rosemary Eclair 3,000L.L: This eclair is too sweet, covered in pink icing. It simply tastes like sugar
- Caramel Eclair 3,000L.L
- Coconut Eclair 3,000L.L: One of my favorite pieces. The eclair is big, generous and filled with cream with a hint of coconut flavor. The filling is juicy without being too sweet or heavy...
- Strawberry Eclair 3,000L.L: Nope. I couldn't eat more than a bite. The pastry cream is to sweet and the overall mix is surely not my favorite. The problem in all the eclairs is that the bread is too spongy. It should be fine tuned
- Chocolate Fondant: Wow! simply yummy. Not sweet and not bitter, this piece of cake is heavenly
- Tartine Bakery's bread is just perfect
- Tartine Bakery's pastry pieces need some fine tuning to compete with the best. Classifying the pastry shops into 5 big categories, 1 being the cheapest and inedible and 5 being the best in town, Tartine Bakery takes a decent place in the category 3
While passing by the city, take on the MarMikael Street and drop by Tartine Bakery. It is definitely a must try.