Three Bites: Tartines

Marilyn HawkesMay 10, 2021
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Photography by Angelina a Aragon
Photography by Angelina a Aragon

Bruschetta-like tartines lend some French zest to Valley small plate menus.

Francine

4710 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale
480-690-6180, francinerestaurant.com
It’s hard not to compare French tartines to Italian bruschetta, because the parallels are obvious. Both are essentially crusty bread donned with a multitude of toppings. But tartines, right or wrong, just seem a little fancier, and they have a loyal following in Arizona. At Francine, executive chef Brian Archibald uses charcoal-grilled red fife wheat bread from Mediterra Bakehouse. The fig and prosciutto tartine ($16, pictured) boasts a generous slather of fresh whipped ricotta laced with blue cheese, topped with razor-thin slices of salty prosciutto and glorious slivers of fig coated in dried granulated honey. If you’re craving a savory bite, try the avocado tartine ($14) with smashed, lemony avocado crowned by broccoli sprouts, shaved radishes and house-made dukka seasoning for texture. The secret to a successful tartine is the bread, Archibald says. “If the bread doesn’t have the integrity to support [the toppings], then it’s all for nothing.”

Zinqué

4712 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale
623-745-9616, lezinque.com
When Kristin and Emmanuel Dossetti opened the first Zinqué in California 10 years ago, tartines were the main attraction. Fast forwarding to 2021, we find a fleshed-out menu of French classics, but tartines are still well represented. Central to their appeal is the crusty Poilâne bread flown in from Paris three times a week, Kristin says. A couple of standouts: salmon tartine ($17) loaded with delicately smoked salmon dotted with crème fraîche, hard-boiled egg slices, fresh dill, capers and bits of salt and vinegar potato chips to lend a crunchy finish; and the salami tartine, a slab of lightly toasted Poilâine bread adorned with luxuriant Rodolphe Le Meunier butter thinly sliced (never spread) and a layer of Rosette de Lyon pork salami with ample fat and plenty of garlic, capped with sliced tart and sweet cornichons. In a word, magnifique.

The Mick Brasserie

9719 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale
480-210-5500, themickaz.com
Chef-owner Brent Menke likes preparing tartines more than sandwiches because their open-faced presentation reveals the goods. To that end, Menke makes a crab and avocado tartine ($18) with toasted Noble Bread brioche gussied up with spicy avocado mousse and seasoned jumbo lump crab lightly dressed in house-made aioli. Menke festoons the tartine with orange flying fish roe and then tops the whole megillah with broccoli, radish and mustard microgreens, giving it a horseradish vibe. But Menke’s tour de force is the vegan avocado ($16), made by smearing avocado mousse on Noble Bread ciabatta and smothering the tartine with slow-roasted tomatoes doused in olive oil mixed with fresh charred corn. And for the crowning garnish: brown and crispy dehydrated leeks with a kick of cayenne. “It all comes together.”

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