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Lunch, Anyone? Tatte Bakery & Café

Original Brookline location reopened after renovation

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When Tatte Bakery & Café in Brookline closed in December for renovation and expansion, customers anxiously awaited indulging in its famous brioche, muffins, salads, and sandwiches once again. Happily, the Middle East–influenced café has just reopened and it’s better—and bigger—than ever.

Israeli-born self-trained pastry chef Tzurit Or launched Tatte in 2007. Initially, she sold her pastries at local farmers markets, but a devoted following convinced her to open a brick-and-mortar café in Brookline. Since then, four others have opened, three in Cambridge’s Kendall Square and one on Beacon Hill last spring. Fears that such rapid expansion would affect its standards were unfounded. Tatte has retained the originality and quality that made the Brookline store a hit.

We arrived there around noon one day last week to find a packed house and a Tatte twice the size it was before the renovation. The café has retained its rustic vintage aesthetic: a sepia family photograph graces one wall and an eclectic assortment of lights that look like industrial salvage hang above a distressed wood communal table in the center. The additional seating allowed us to snag a small table after just a few minutes.

Diners walking in are immediately dazzled by a pastry case filled with mouthwatering confections stretching halfway across the room. From the halva rose ($3.50), a pastry swirled with a nutty tahini-based filling, to the famous, Instagram-worthy nut boxes ($6 to $7), rectangular pastries with either almonds, pistachios, pecans, or a mix and handmade caramel on a buttery crust, all are as tasty as they are attractive.

Tatte’s is famous for its fruit tarts and pistachio crush cake—pistachio mousse on pistachio crust with caramel coated pistachios.

Tatte’s is famous for its fruit tarts and pistachio crush cake—pistachio mousse on pistachio crust with caramel coated pistachios.

But Tatte also has enticing savory food ideal for a delicious lunch. For a light entrée, try one of the salads, like the fattoush salad ($11), with romaine, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, kalamata olives, parsley, mint, sunflower seeds, feta, and a toasted pita topped with za’atar, an herb and sesame seed blend. Another popular choice is the tuna sandwich, tuna, olives, hard-boiled egg, shaved red onion, yogurt, and dill on brioche ($8.50). For something more substantial, consider one of the plates: standouts are the pastilla ($11), a puff pastry pie with chicken, spinach, nuts, and dried fruit, or the Jerusalem artichoke and asparagus quiche ($8.50), both served with a green salad.

An expanded menu accompanied the recent renovation. We decided to try two of the new items. First up was the short rib grilled cheese sandwich ($8.50), with beet horseradish relish and clothbound cheddar on house-made challah. The tangy sharp cheddar had been melted to gooey perfection and contrasted nicely with the sweet beet relish, which we enjoyed even though not big beet fans. The short rib was flavorful and moist and had a slow-cooked tenderness. Holding it all together were two thick, fluffy but crunchy pieces—think Texas toast—of toasted challah. It was so good, we wished we could take a whole loaf home. This simple grilled cheese with a twist was comforting and hearty without being heavy.

Our second choice was the roasted cauliflower sandwich, with pine nuts, spiced labneh, raisins, chilies, and capers on pita ($8.50). The cauliflower tasted more like it had been boiled than roasted, but had a nice crunch, and the rest of the fillings more than made up for its blandness. The spiced labneh, a Middle Eastern speciality of strained yogurt seasoned with spices, among them dried Aleppo pepper, had the tang and creaminess of a really good Greek yogurt, but with an extra punch. The capers added a briny, sour burst of flavor, with bite and richness from the pine nuts. A somewhat strange combination of competing flavors, the sandwich was still light and bright. Despite the spices and chilies, it wasn’t at all spicy. Next time, we plan to try the balakani sandwich, with roasted eggplant, feta, basil, tomato. and pesto on house-made ciabatta ($8.50).

While the pistachio croissant (upper right) is a longtime favorite, Tatte’s recently expanded menu has added to its lunch menu with a short rib grilled cheese sandwich and a roasted cauliflower sandwich.

While the pistachio croissant (upper right) is a longtime favorite, Tatte’s recently expanded menu has added to its lunch items with a short rib grilled cheese sandwich and a roasted cauliflower sandwich.

The selection of baked goods is overwhelming, but after much deliberation, we decided on the popular pistachio croissant ($4.50). Among the variety of croissants, including apple ($4.50) and almond ($3.50), the pistachio is, deservedly, the stuff of legend. With a crunchy, flaky shell and a soft, buttery inside, this is destined to become your favorite French pastry. But what truly sets it apart is the filling: gooey pistachios reminiscent of pecan pie filling—a unique change of pace. It doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re looking for a delicious treat and possibly the best croissant in town, it’s definitely worth it.

While not the most budget-friendly lunch spot near campus, you do get value for the price. With the same flair for serving Middle East cuisine and pastries with fresh ingredients as always and a new, expanded interior and menu, Tatte is sure to remain a major player in the campus lunch scene.

Tatte Bakery & Café, 1003 Beacon St., Brookline, is open Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Breakfast is served Monday to Thursday until 11:30 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and brunch all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; phone: 617-232-2200. Find the menu here. The restaurant accepts all major credit cards. Tatte’s Cambridge locations are at 101 Main St., 318 Third St., and 205 Broadway and in Boston at 70 Charles St.

This is part of a weekly series featuring Boston lunch spots of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the Comment section below.

Kylie Obermeier can be reached at kylieko@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @kyliekobermeier.

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