Keen on Tartine

Written by Carey Sweet Category: Three Bites Issue: November 2012
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Carmel’s
4225 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
480-251-8888,
carmelsbreakfast.com

Set in a tiny 1940s Arcadia cottage, this upscale coffee shop packs a big punch, thanks to owner Pat Flanigan and his passion for gourmet coffee, delectable bakery delights, European-style salads, sandwiches and quiche. Credit is also due to his mother and inpiration, Carmel, as well as his grandmother, since both women contributed their favorite recipes to the menu.

Flanigan’s not saying which matriarch is responsible for the sumptuous tartine, but let’s just say that any childhood that featured this dish would be a happy one. It’s deceptively simple – goat cheese, asparagus, two poached eggs and cherry tomatoes atop sliced bread – but brilliantly conceived. The artisanal MJ Bread is smeared with tangy chèvre, the asparagus is grilled to tenderness and the tomatoes are roasted to skin-splitting perfection. Then, as you pierce the egg with your fork, the golden yolk soaks into the whole beautiful mess. The only thing that could make it better is Pat’s Bloody Mary, made fresh and strong with Svedka vodka.

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Le Chalet
5626 W. Bell Rd., Glendale
602-337-8760,
lechalet-llc.com

As classically French as tartines are, it’s surprising so few French restaurants in the Valley offer them. Happily, Anthony Ferre’s Le Chalet makes up for the dearth with its nearly half a dozen tartines, plus more make-it-yourself models.

Not that you need to stray from the regular menu, which dishes up juicy grilled chicken breast smothered in seared onions under a mantle of melted Swiss and mozzarella kicked up with seriously spicy Dijon atop a French baguette. Or slabs of brie melted with caramelized shallots and mozzarella. Or comforting Black Forest ham and gruyere with béchamel. Our favorite is a delightful layering of crispy bacon, onion, raclette cheese, mozzarella and béchamel.

Ask about low-cal custom models, too – perhaps a Bretonne combining creamed mushrooms, Black Forest ham, Swiss and a sunny side up egg for a mere 185 calories (plus your choice of bread), or the Bergere of homemade ratatouille, mozzarella and roasted goat cheese at 184 calories (plus  bread). And you’ll feel extra French diningat wine barrel tables amid sexy, dark wood, rock-accented walls.

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La Petite France
7001 N. Scottsdale Rd.,
Scottsdale
480-922-3727,
lapetitefranceaz.com

Merci beaucoup to La Petite France for bringing the hearty, German-inflected flavors of France’s Alsace region to the Valley.

Faux-French-style ham and cheese sandwiches are easy to find ’round these parts, but for the real deal, you can’t beat La Petite’s Croque Tartine, layered with salty prosciutto, Swiss cheese, sharp blue cheese, tomatoes, onions and slabs of sweet pear. The restaurant also serves tartine’s eggy cousins – the Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame – as well as a lavish Continental breakfast that includes orange juice or fruit cup; coffee, tea or hot chocolate; croissant or chocolate croissant; an omelet; and crusty tartine with butter and jam.

You may feel the urge to don a beret while you dine, given that the tiny Scottsdale Seville shop is a sit-down-style brasserie with real china and glassware, and friendly servers are known to toss out the odd bonjour. You can enjoy a glass of wine at the wine bar, or feel quite Parisian dining on the chien-friendly patio.

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