The talented couple behind the soon-to-be-renamed Bar Tartine are already plotting a second project, even though the deal to buy Bar Tartine from the Tartine Bakery folks still hasn't been fully finalized. As they just revealed to Eater, chefs Nick Balla and Cortney Burns are testing out dishes for a new spot heavier on the Japanese influence, to be called Motze, beginning next week, on Monday August 15, and will be following suit with Motze "pop-ups" every Monday thereon.
Balla's previous gig, prior to taking the reins at Bar Tartine in 2011, was as executive chef at Nombe in the Mission, and prior to that he worked at O Izakaya, learning Japanese techniques in both places that informed some of his cooking at Bar Tartine in particular his broths. Burns recently took a research trip to Japan to learn about fermented rice, and both chefs share a passion for the humble and homemade elements in global cuisine, and the ways in which regional cuisines have mixed and mingled over time. The eclectic menu at Bar Tartine has reflected that, beginning five years ago with more clear nods to Balla's Hungarian roots, but evolving now to include signatures like a chopped salad with housemade feta cheese, and beef tartare with green horseradish.
Likewise, Balla says not to expect Motze to be strictly, or in any way traditionally, Japanese. "We never want our food to be pigeonholed and Motze won’t be any different," Balla tells SFist. "Japanese flavors and cooking techniques will be the starting point, but we’ll continue to draw from and be inspired by other culinary traditions. We won't be holding back on spice and flavor this is the stuff we would want to be eating on our day off from work."
Soon, Bar Tartine will become Crescent, with the kitchen and menu staying the same, and Balla and Burns will be on the hunt for a space to open Motze which is named for an ancient Chinese philosopher, also spelled Mozi, who per Wikipedia rejected the fatalism of Confucianism and "emphasized self-reflection and authenticity rather than obedience to ritual."
In the meantime, you can make reservations for one of the Monday prix fixe dinners, which will be $58 per person, and will include "Dishes like black koji and flax seed crackers with salmon roe; fat dumplings with egg and shiso; poached chicken with tomato chili paste; and eggplant with rye shoyu, nepitella (a mint-like herb), and avocado; and sesame candy with bee pollen."