From elegant open sandwiches to jaffles stuffed with lasagne, this Mascot café is breaking all the rules and doesn’t care who knows it
Other than Bourke Street Bakery Alexandria just down the road, there isn’t much in this part of Mascot in terms of decent cafés. It’s a good trek down to Black Star Pastry in Rosebery, and the Grounds of Alexandria is a 20-minute walk away. Which makes Tartine quite an important opening. Wide open to the elements, it’s on the ground floor of a huge new apartment block on a busy main drag, but they’ve tried to imbue it with a sense of Portlandia with recovered furniture, mismatched frames on the walls and vintage miscellany dotted across the surfaces.
The name above the door details what this place is about: tartines are French open sandwiches. It’s a vast menu, with breakfast tartines and sweet and savoury types. They are not big serves – just one slice a plate – so you’ll probably need to think about two orders per person. Each one has already been sliced into soldiers, so they’re easy to share – order a few between you and enjoy them leisurely; cut up as they are, this is the sort of food that begs for slow conversation.
The pear and ricotta tartine would be a great light breakfast. The fruit and cheese is layered up on chewy sour cherry toast and topped with a drizzle of honey and a rubble of biscuity crumble. We also try the ‘French onion’, but it’s a little disappointing. The ‘shredded beef’ topping detailed on the menu is minimally dispersed and is dry rather than soft and giving. The ‘crispy onion’ is reminiscent of those Indonesian-style crispy shallots you buy at the IGA, and the showering of Gruyère is generous but does nothing to make the whole thing less arid on the palate. It could be good with a few tweaks – caramelising the onions to unctuous sweetness instead, and serving it warm so that the cheese has a chance to melt.
Better to go rogue and order the lasagne jaffle. Yep – it’s exactly what it sounds like, lasagne squished inside a jaffle. Sure, it could do with a bit more cheese and béchamel, but if you were hungover and couldn’t decide between a sandwich or pasta (we’ve all been there) then this guy will sort out your dilemma in one fell swoop. It’s stodgy and carby and sometimes that’s all you need – or want.
It’s a nice thing for Mascot, this joint. The service is good and the coffee is solid – the beans are from Grinders Coffee and the flat white is smoky and strong, without losing its creamy undertones. There are also a gazillion ways to have your cup of joe here (including in a glass with whipped cream, caramel and crumble if that’s your bag). So that’s the Mascot locals sorted then – who needs the Grounds anyway?
2/635 Gardeners Road
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat 8am-3pm; Sun 9am-3pm|