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When is tartare not tartare? How about when it’s made with tuna or salmon? Or diced-up beetroot or profiteroles? Stretching the notion of tartare – a simple classic of finely chopped raw beef, raw egg yolk and various seasonings – into unrecognisable new forms, this restaurant is sure to polarise; irritating the purists, delighting the adventurous and perplexing those for whom raw meat is inedible until it’s had at the very least a flash in the pan.
We had high hopes for Tartar&Co – the French restaurant La Brasserie Erick Jacquin, in Itaim, serves one of the best steak tartares we’ve had in São Paulo, and the eponymous chef is one of the owners here. They’re gunning for a clubby vibe, with mirrored columns, exposed concrete shot through with reds and blacks, and a DJ mixing the pop-rock soundtrack. It would be ideal for a warm-up to a group night out if it weren’t for the small, round tables which are unconducive for being pushed together. But living up to its name, the tartare certainly didn’t disappoint.
As with any dish that involves little or no cooking, the key is all in the ingredients and the preparation. The classic steak tartare (R$39) was rich and perfectly seasoned, properly chopped rather than minced, and served on a striking piece of slate with a handful of leaves, and some fries that let the dish down with their lack of crunch.
Other hits were the salmon and tuna tartares (R$39 and R$46 respectively), also served with salad. You can order the same trio as ‘tartines’, served with foie gras (salmon R$22; beef R$22; tuna R$48) and a slice of whole-wheat bread from upmarket bakery Le Pain Quotidien, though the delicately flavoured fish tartares were overpowered by the somewhat bitter bread. The more daring can try culinary mash-ups like the ‘couleurs de Brésil’ (R$47) – raw salmon with guacamole, tomatoes, peas and roasted pupunha (palm fruit).
It’s not all about raw food, however. There are steaks, grilled fish dishes and risottos under the ‘bistronomia’ section of the menu, though it’s not the restaurant’s forte. We tried an unexceptional grilled tuna steak with chilli sauce (R$47.50), and a tough fraldinha (flank steak, R$38.50).
Don’t miss the cocktails – the dry martini (R$22-$27) was perfectly chilled and packed a punch, while the tequila cocktail, with orange juice, Cointreau and black pepper (R$22-$27) was dangerously moreish.