Carrying on the pop-up natural wine bar legacy first established by beloved (and now-closed) Juice Bar, Bar Tartare is Gastown’s newest hip hangout.
Occupying The Birds & The Beets space once the cafe closes for the day, Bar Tartare is helmed by Lindsay Otto (a familiar face from Juice Bar), who wanted to keep serving cool wine in the beautiful exposed-brick space.
Bar Tartare is casual. Orders are placed at the counter, which gives guests a chance to get guidance about which wines to taste.
“It’s all about human connection,” explains Otto, “and the magic of low-intervention winemaking.”
The team relishes the opportunity to share their knowledge of the exciting rotating wine selection, allowing curious drinkers to discover more than their new favourite sip.
“Every bottle tells a story of the producers, importers, and regions that have influenced our wine journey,” says Otto. Bar Tartare affords the opportunity for that kind of storytelling. The wine fridge is a well-lit design feature, offering people the chance to take home newly-discovered bottles.
Tartare takes pride in “providing a natural wine selection that is produced with a ‘less is more’ approach from the vineyard to the cellar,” Otto says. (This author got to try one of the last bottles of France’s Les Capriades—an unforgettable moment, as winemakers Pascal Potaire and Moses Gaddouche are retiring.)
The food and wine at Bar Tartare are always changing, giving diners good reasons to keep going back. There is no resident chef; instead, different cooks pop up for varying lengths of time. This allows foodies to constantly try something new, and is also an exciting opportunity for local culinary talents to get into a kitchen when they might not currently have, or even want, a full-time space.
Jaden Maier of Lucky Bepo Ramen is one such chef. He will be popping up in Bar Tartare for one nighit only on November 28. He is grateful to Otto because, he says, she and her team “run the front of the house so the chef can focus on their dishes.”
What’s more, the emphasis on wine provides some additional experimentation and creativity for visiting chefs.
“The natural wine does make me think more about what I’m serving,” Maier notes. He has been brainstorming with natural wine pairings in mind so that his dishes suit the Bar Tartare atmosphere and wine list.
Otto excitedly shares that Bar Tartare is booked through the end of the year with pop-up chefs. Rather than finely honing a menu and then repeatedly executing practiced pairings, Otto has created a space for herself, and the chefs who take part, where the ever-changing selection of wine comes first. The fact that the menu has shifted smoothly from Mark Singson’s chicken adobo to Thank You Pizza’s pies to Lucky Bepo’s ramen shows the fun that is being had here.
With a multi-functional interior and an always-changing offering of food and wine, Bar Tartare is an energizing new addition to Gastown’s restaurant scene.