Last Thursday, I walked up to the brand-new TARTINE MANUFACTORY, the line snaking out of the building on day two, full of the many friends and fans of this unique San Francisco company made of some of our very best craftspeople. Tartine is one of our city’s proudest culinary achievements, and now Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt and their talented team have the space they so deserve to do much more of their crafty magic. We’re talking more than 5,000 square feet, flanking the Heath Ceramics factory, for everyone to stretch their wings and work comfortably and thrive (the conditions at the original bakery on Guerrero were cramped to say the least).
It’s many things, but first, it’s a production facility. A bakery. The massive German Heuft oven is right there, front and center. You’ll be able to watch Robertson and his team of bakers, whether they’re managing the loaves coming out of the oven or in the adjoining dough/fermentation room, purposefully built with plenty of windows so you can peek in. There is nothing but top-of-the-line equipment, and the team even has their own grain mills to make their own flours, so expect to see more fresh-milled loaves.
While bread service is ramping up (lots of quality control going on right now as they use the new equipment), bread is sold as it’s available throughout the day, after 11am. Eventually, it will come out regularly, so you won’t have to plan on that 4:30pm pickup time anymore. But for now, if you have your heart set on some country loaf, breads are still available at 600 Guerrero daily after 4:30pm.
There’s a counter where you order, with a case full of tempting goods that are constantly being depleted, refreshed, and depleted again. (This is what happens when you have more than 600 people you’re serving each day.) In the morning, there are items like Fontina, herb, and pepperoni biscuits, and the Danishes of your dreams, like arugula-hazelnut or ham, cheese, and mustard. There’s poppy seed coffee cake and Liège waffles, and you’ll note some of Prueitt’s wheat-free magic in items like flax-apple muffins. Get up early for breakfast, served from 7am-11am. The savory team also offers a few delicious items including two egg sandwiches, toast (of course!), and coddled eggs with trout roe.
Lunch items and afternoon desserts come out at 11am, like the smaller-sized flatbread sandwiches ($12, salami and tapenade, or tomato and mozzarella with squash blossoms) as well as warm sandwiches like porchetta and salsa verde ($16) or a hearty ham and cheese ($12), which are both pretty substantial. (Savory chef Sam Goinsalvos, previously at Il Buco Alimentari in New York, makes a mean porchetta sandwich!) Salads range from Brentwood corn and green bean with Parmesan to Little Gem lettuce with a Caesar-like anchovy dressing (both $9). More goodies will be added in time, like Roman-style pizza, mmhmm. There are also items ready to go, so all you nearby KQED worker bees should be stoked.
Afternoon desserts include a rice pudding tart ($6.50), gateau Basque ($8), and there’s even a wheat-free chocolate cake with raspberry and whipped cream. I have been happy to see the talented Alen Ramos and Carolyn Nugent (previously Quince and Cotogna) back in the mix, so to speak.
Dinner service will launch in time; there’s also a bar in the corner, where you will find wine, beer, and low-ABV cocktails, plus shrub spritzes, housemade sodas, fresh juices, water kefir, and more. For now, there are beers by Regan Long from Local Brewing Co. on tap and a selection of a few wines for all-day consumption—the offerings will expand over the next few weeks as they ramp up for dinner service. I’m excited to see what wine director Vinny Eng has in store for us (he’s also director of ops, so you can guess who is really bizzee right now). He is also working with beverage manager Ashley Miller, formerly of Plum and Haven (she is developing a menu of items with Liz Prueitt to incorporate the seasonal bounty of fruit and vegetables).
Launching in September is Prueitt’s Tartine Cookies and Cream, which is going to be a dream ice cream counter, with a variety of offerings, including soft-serve. And gelato. And ice cream cakes. You can just imagine.
There is also a coffee bar, the Coffee Manufactory, which ended up revealing some very cool surprises. I was wondering who Tartine was going to partner with for their coffee after the Blue Bottle Coffee merger went south. And whaddya know, they applied their crafty sensibility to it and are roasting their own damn coffee. Of course. Chef-driven roasting, it’s on.
I spent some time chatting with Devin Chapman, the director of coffee retail, who was formerly with Verve Coffee. Actually, a large part of the team was with Verve, including Chris Jordan, Verve’s former CEO, who is COO of Coffee Manufactory, which is actually its own business. They plan to do wholesale business with some accounts, both here in SF and in LA, too, where Tartine is expanding. They will also collaborate with more chefs. (Chad and Liz were present on every cupping.)
The coffee is roasted at a co-roasting facility in Berkeley on a Loring coffee roaster, which uses indirect heat. They are doing three kinds: the 01 is espresso-focused and round, 02 filter is more fruity and floral, and 03 is origin-focused (presently 100 percent Ethiopia, Layo Teraga). You can buy a bag of the 01 for $15.50, the 02 for $15.25, and the 03 for $17.25.
There’s also 00, their single-origin decaf, which, as Chapman puts it, is a nice departure from the usual hot dog water you find with decaf. Ha-ha.
The 01 espresso roast has soft, round flavors, and is balanced. Chapman tells me they are doing a longer-style pull and have dropped the pressure a bit to bring out the roundness while offering clarity of flavor. He also showed me this very cool tool they are using, the OCD: ONA Coffee Distributor—not only does it offer consistency, it’s also much more sanitary. Cool. They are pulling shots off a Mavam, a handmade machine from Seattle.
As far as regular coffee, they are brewing the 02 on a ThermoPro G4—Chapman said he has been using a refractometer to carefully (read: obsessively) monitor the batches.
Chapman is working with Jeremy Brooks, director of coffee roasting, and Maja Vojnovic, director of sales and marketing, both formerly at Verve. He said their ethos is similar to what Tartine did with bread. They want to learn as much as possible, experiment, be excellent, and moreover, they want people to be happy with the product—this isn’t an exercise in personal taste preferences and proclivities. Coffee service is at its own counter in the space, open Wed-Mon 7am-5pm. (Teas are from London-based Rare Tea Company.)
The room was designed by local architect Charles Hemminger, working with Los Angeles design firm Commune Design. It has 96 seats, with a variety of seating areas in the light-filled space. There are camel-toned leather-padded banquettes and booths (the leatherwork was done in the neighborhood), and the tables made of fir are so soft and beautiful—I love that there are some round tables too. The chairs were actually former school chairs and are hella cute.
You’ll note the original fir beams (the building is 102 years old), and the woodwork at the bar by Peter Doolittle is beautiful (the team wanted to use as many local craftspeople as possible). A few additional design notes: the lighting is by Richard Lewis, the kitchen has Calacatta marble counters and (of course) is using Heath Ceramics for all the dishes. Even better: Heath created a special color, Tartine Teal, for the Manufactory. Gorg.
As for the original Tartine location at 600 Guerrero, expect a redesign to happen in 2017. In the fall, and leading up to and after the redesign, the original flagship will continue to offer iconic pastries and introduce new afternoon items into their repertoire.
The Manufactory team continues to evolve their offerings and will be closed on Tuesdays for recipe development, staff training, and to complete final touches to the three-year buildout.
Hours for now are Mon, Wed-Fri 7am-5pm and Sat-Sun 8am-5pm. Follow on Facebook and Instagram for updates as things continue to take shape. Congrats to the team for manifesting this massive undertaking and achievement! Keep on pushing! 595 Alabama St. at 18th St., 415-757-0007.
Co-founder Chad Robertson. Photo courtesy of Coffee Manufactory.