SF’s baked goods scene continues to rock. Opening tomorrow in SoMa is the brick-and-mortar location of VIVE LA TARTE, a bakery and cafe from Belgian couple Arnaud Goethals and Julie Vandermeersch, who moved to SF in October 2011 and started baking here in early 2012. The space was originally a printing house in the 1920s, and the duo wanted to maintain the open-air look of the space (you’ll even see some old ink stains on the concrete floors); you can read the earlier announcement from Eater.
Their focus is on small-batch baked goods, which will come out fresh throughout the day. In the morning, you will find croissants, their twist on a cinnamon roll, and koek, the Flemish name for a rectangular pastry made with laminated dough and vanilla raisins (it’s similar to the couque suisse and is also known as “Belgian buns”). To round out their line of viennoiserie, you’ll also find Danishes made with seasonal fruit (expect rhubarb and nectarines right now). They are excited to show the Belgian side of baked goods, using Belgian technique, while giving their own California spin to some items, which you will note in their sweet tarts made with fresh fruits and more.
At their preview party last week, I got to try one of their Berliners, a lighter kind of filled doughnut, with fennel-caramel custard inside, and they also had slices of their bonkers good cheesecake, which had such a fluffy-creamy texture (with a hint of lemon), with a crisp ginger cinnamon crust made from speculoos, a spiced biscuit like the famous Biscoff or Dutch windmill cookies. Don’t miss this.
There will also be some savory items, like pizza al taglio (which is what you see in Roma—pizza cut and sold by weight). The crust is bready and soft, like focaccia, and made with whole wheat. It’s a bit Italian and a bit Californian, with toppings like braised kale, lemon, ricotta, and Grana Padano, and another with guanciale, burnt green garlic, and pecorino. There will also be a vegan option. One item that will be more on the classic side is their quiche, with flavors like spinach and chèvre, but of course they make it with their own modern method.
You don’t want to miss a look at their 1971 bright orange Rancilio Z8 elematic lever machine, designed by Marco Zanuso, which is where you can get shots of Sightglass espresso, and drip will be available too (Eater mentions “they’ll be the first to serve the roastery’s new espresso blend Crown Point”).
The space has a couple of seating areas, including a wood bleacher-like seating arrangement with multiple levels (for ringside seats) and an island with stools and a low counter. The catering side of their business will continue. Hours to start are Wed-Sun from 8am-4pm. 1164 Howard St. at 7th St., 415-891-9743.
The coffee counter and seating at Vive La Tarte, with the bakery in the background. Photo courtesy Vive La Tarte.