It isn’t every day you have pizza for breakfast. It isn’t every day your breakfast pizza includes an egg. I want to think that the eggs on our breakfast pizza today came from chickens as happy as mine at home in Virginia, but of this I cannot be sure. Regardless, this breakfast pizza with its bacon, egg and shallots, was (note past tense) an excellent way to start a Saturday in San Francisco. It was absolutely the perfect balance of its three simple toppings on a soft-on-the-inside, crisp-on-the-outside, bread-like crust. What else can you say but Oh yum!?
The full pan of them looked like this. Drew told me that by 11am, these, and all the delectables you see below, will be gone, disappeared into the happy stomachs of Vive la Tarte’s customers. Notice they don’t call it breakfast pizza. I think they should. Drew did.
Vive la Tarte is one of those places you hope the residents of this city are very grateful for. It’s popular for good reason — its food shares the same basic descriptors as most good foods, the most important descriptors: simple and delicious. You know you have come to a wonderful place when you want to eat one of every single thing they offer. I’m talking croissants,
more croissants, monkey bread,
and the pizza, which was at the end of the line and became mine because walking through the line again would not have made it any easier to choose.
Seeing all of these wonders makes me want to bake more at home, to play around with different ingredients. That middle quiche has goat cheese in it. Why didn’t I ever think to put goat cheese in mine? And monkey bread – what’s monkey bread? Think pieces of soft bread dough baked together with cinnamon, sugar and butter in such a way that the adjectives to describe it include: soft, sweet, gooey, sticky, golden, cinnamon, buttery and last but not least sinful.
From the outside, Vive la Tarte doesn’t look like much.That large open space on the right, that’s called the sunroom. It was too cloudy a morning for me to attest as to any sun that might on a different day stream in there, but if they want to call it the sunroom, so shall it be. There’s an opening within the sunroom that leads into the restaurant, besides a main entrance. See the sandwich board outside the main entrance?
As you are walking down Howard Street, that’s your indicator. This is the place to be.
The same simple block-lettered name in the window identifies the bakery. Look elsewhere for fancy.
Two simple signs hang in the windows. One has the basics.
And one informs you of the dog policy.
Not to worry if you have your dog with you. That open garage door, a.k.a. the sunroom, is indoor-outdoor space is just for you and your dog. No takers while we were there.
I am especially enamored of San Francisco’s evident commitment to producing less waste. The coffee station does not have sugar in packets that become trash, plastic or wooden stirrers that become trash, or half and half in little plastic cups that become trash. I know these things have their place, but the less of them the better.
You have real spoons for measuring your sugar out of a glass jar (and for stirring), a cup to put the dirty spoon in, ceramic cups and real glasses to drink from and a helpful staff to get you anything you need that you don’t see.
After I finished my pizza and tea (which I grant does not, without context, sound like a good combo but you know what my pizza looked like), I stood back and took the whole scene in. It’s huge and wide open.
The kitchen is in full view as you approach the counter. I like when you can see what they are doing.
I watched the lady banging her huge whisk to get most of the meringue off it. It’s a quantity of meringue that is inconceivable in a home kitchen, but oh how delightful a dollop of it is on a lemon tarte. Meringue is a kind of free-form marshmallow fluff, a simple mix of egg whites and sugar beat up till it’s fluffy as a cloud. Oh, the incredible ways people have come up with to make food so delicious!
I wish I could come here for breakfast every day.
No, I don’t.
If I did, at least two things would happen that I don’t want to happen.
1. Vive la Tarte wouldn’t be special any more. It would be normal, every-day-ish, and I want places like this to always be special to me. (Once a week maybe I could live with though…!)
2. I would not be incentivized to play in my own kitchen or somebody else’s, which a visit here has very much made me want to do. For starters, monkey bread… So guess what we are going to do tomorrow in Drew and Nicole’s kitchen! I’ll let you know how it comes out 😊