Formerly: Paying homage to the heyday of Johnny Hallyday, Brigitte Bardot and other French icons of the 1960s, Madame Tartine packs a little je ne sais quoi into the otherwise familiar bistro format.
Vintage jacquard wallpaper, candy red accents, and portraits of the aforementioned icons decorate the space, creating the perfect ambiance for a good meal and conversation in River North. If the elitism of haute French cuisine has pushed you to la fin des haricots, then you are in luck. Madame Tartine specializes in accessible French fare that translates to even the most American of palates.
The restaurant's namesake item, the tartine, is essentially an open-faced sandwich adorned with delicious combinations like beef tenderloin, horseradish cream, chives and watercress ($13.50). If classic dishes like coq au vin ($19) and steak pomme frites ($19.95) are French to you, then surrender to the Bar Amercain menu. The sauteed crab cake with red pepper mayonnaise ($9.50) is buttery, not greasy, and won approval from my father, a crab cake connoisseur.
With so many options, Madame Tartine affirms a chacun son gout. Indeed, the only requirement here is to enjoy good food, wine, and people. Whether seated on the expansive patio or in the chic private room, the romantic setting invites you to linger over your meal like a true bon vivant.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Amanda Nyren