How could I not order something called a Tallow Candle? Tallow is a more lyrical name for lard, and the very thought of it whisked me back to a bar in Firenze that listed lardo as one its bar snacks. And it was just what it promised: little chunks of lard to put on a cracker or slice of bread. With each bite it was like saying, "Here it comes, arteries; deal with it."
A Tallow Candle, as presented at Tartine in College Park, sounded like a more inventive presentation. And it was. Essentially, the tallow was in the form of a tea candle with a lighted wick that was to melt the lard into a spreadable goo. Unfortunately, unless you're willing to wait a long time, the flame is insufficient to melt the lard. And it wasn't really worth the wait. But I appreciated the effort.
The Oeuf Cocotte, on the other hand, was wonderful. And the gooey soft barely-boiled egg in the gruyere-laced bechamel offered immediate gratification. It was delicious, tinged with just a touch of truffle, spooned on the toast points.
As you might expect from the name of the restaurant, tartines, the French open-faced sandwiches, are a focus. But things veer off in an odd direction with the rest of the menu. I don't know why anyone would go to a French restaurant and order fried chicken, but there it was as a feature on the menu. A burger, too. I stuck with the namesake.
I ordered the Boeuf Tartine, which featured frizzled bits of beef on a piece of house-made toasted bread with blue cheese, horseradish cream and peppery arugula leaves.
My companion ordered the Shrimp Tartine, which was reminiscent of a shrimp po'boy, but not as fully dressed. The shrimp were lightly breaded and fried, served on the bread platform with tomatoes and greens. Both were good, and I appreciated the option of ordering a half tartine.
The decor is homey, with a coffee shop/boulangerie vibe. Besides a small dining room, Tartine offers a few outdoor tables, very nice on a clement evening. Our server was personable and prompt.
I like the way that College Park is getting more of the kinds of restaurants that help make it a more vibrant neighborhood. A good variety, too, and Tartine adds to the mix with its French accent (and a bit of Southern drawl).
Tartine is at 2425 Edgewater Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch Wednesday through Friday, dinner Thursday through Saturday, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. The phone number is 407-845-0016