Two on the rise - Page 2

The evolution of Bar Tartine and Txoko's European flair -- chilled cherry soup to Basque cider 

Sight to be savored: Pickled herring salad at Bar Tartine.

On the regular menu, two dishes left an impression. Warm lamb's tongue salad ($11) is a surprisingly light salad of lamb mixed with poached potatoes, manchego cheese, shishito peppers and frisee, surrounded by smoked tomatoes. Different and delightful. A heartwarming dish of grilled venison Denver leg ($29) is served medium rare, draped over mashed yams in blood orange endive marmelata, dotted with crispy sage leaves and pine nuts. Each dish is artfully presented and generously portioned.

Drink options are vibrantly varied, with choices like a bone dry 2009 Isastegi Basque cider ($6) and wines like an earthy, plum and berry-inflected 2001 Senorio de P. Pecina Reserva Rioja. Txoko has a full bar with commendable cocktails ($10), such as a playful, refreshing Cool Hand Luke Fizz utilizing Fighting Cock bourbon, Peychaud's bitters, and egg whites for froth, made vivacious with Mexican Coke.

Finishing the evening with moist, Spanish-style bread pudding ($8), sweetened with prunes, olive caramel, and candied marcona almonds is a pleasure. I look forward to Txoko's continued evolution, keeping up its refreshing change of pace in North Beach, and, indeed, the city.

504 Broadway, SF. (415) 500-2744,

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