Tart Brings French Flair to Cooper-Young Restaurant Scene

Scrolling through my Facebook feed with my morning coffee, I happened upon a post by Chef Kelly English that lured me to check out the newest addition to the Cooper-Young restaurant scene.

Sunday, May 18, 12:10 p.m: “There is a revolution happening on Cooper. Just had an absolutely incredible meal @tartmemphis. Seriously, wow.”

This wasn’t the first bit of buzz I had heard about the restaurant, which opened in mid-May. I called up a friend and laid out our lunch plans. We were going to Tart.

Inside, we ordered at the pastry-filled counter from one of two menus: breakfast or lunch after 11 a.m.

It was 2 p.m., and we were starving. I ordered the soup au pistou and the bistro steak salad, and my friend decided on the croque monsieur and onion soup gratinée. For drinks, Tart offered French press coffee, espresso drinks, herbal tea, freshly squeezed orange juice, or La Croix sparkling water.

The décor is eclectic with chalkboard ceilings, wooden folding tables and chairs, and hand-crafted pottery serving ware stamped with the Tart logo. The bungalow turned French bistro has a substantial front deck that holds seven tables, which is where we decided to sit and take in the not-yet-too-hot Memphis spring weather.

Our food arrived within 10 minutes, and it’s a good thing we each ordered two menu items. The portions are not too large. Naturally, we shared everything.

At Tart, the food is fresh and simple. The soup au pistou, a vegetable soup with cannellini beans, celery, onion, carrots, and green beans, is light yet satisfying. The bistro steak salad includes hanger steak (admittedly, a little over-cooked for my taste) and Parmesan cheese on top of a bed of romaine with homemade buttermilk ranch dressing.

The croque monsieur, an iconic French dish, is the grilled cheese’s sexy and more sophisticated cousin. Sliced ham, Gruyere cheese, and béchamel are nestled between two slices of Dijon-slathered bread, topped with more Gruyere cheese and toasted. My friend was impressed, but the sandwich is a little too heavy on the Dijon for me. What I did love is the black-eyed pea salad served alongside. I made a mental note to add the mix of black-eyed peas, leeks, celery, tomato and parsley to my kitchen repertoire.

The onion soup gratinée boasts a savory rich broth swimming with onions topped with three slices of French bread and a generous amount of, yes, more Gruyere cheese. The result is a cheesy, bread-sodden, onion-filled heaven that already has me thinking about when I can return for another bowl.

Tart, 820 S. Cooper (901-725-0091) $-$$

The croque monsieur at Tart sandwiches sliced ham, bechamel, and Gruyere cheese, inside and out. Black-eyed pea salad comes alongside.


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