Tart Has a Sweet Spot in Cooper Young
In the past week, two new restaurants opened in Cooper Young. As a Cooper-Youngian, I couldn't wait to try them both, so yesterday, I went to the new French cafe Tart for lunch and the new Italian restaurant Strano for dinner. Here's the post on Tart. Strano is still in the works.
Is Tart a bakery or a coffee shop or a restaurant? The answer is yes. They serve a light breakfast menu (eggs, fruit, yogurt, pastries) until 11 a.m. After that, you can order salads, sandwiches, soups, and more. Quiche and baked goods are available all day while supplies last. Tart has French press coffee, espresso drinks, teas, and La Croix sodas, and they've applied for a wine license and will have pour over coffee in the future.
Tart is in a refashioned house on Cooper Street just south of the train trestle art (aka just south of the big red I Love Memphis mural). The front of the building is dominated (in a good way) by a spacious patio with plenty of seating. Best part? The giant tree that creates the perfect balance of sun and shade.
Inside are several rooms with table seating, and a counter where you can stare longingly at the pastry selection and then place your order. You'll get a playing card with a number and the servers will bring you your food or drink. I didn't see a ton of outlets, but the wi-fi is free. It feels a bit like a house, a bit like a coffee shop, and a bit like a gallery – rotating local art will be a part of the decor.
The menus aren't huge, but they're carefully considered and well-executed, and – get this – affordable. The lunch/dinner menu items range from $7 to $12.50, which makes Tart's one of the most reasonably priced menus in Cooper Young these days. I attended two soft openings, plus my lunch yesterday, so I've had the opportunity to try quite a few things from the menu. I am not exaggerating when I say that every single thing I've tried has been delicious.
Nearly everything is made in-house from scratch, and the presentation is lovely. The cups and plates are custom-made by midtown artist Melissa Bridgman, and it's only a matter of time before I cave and buy a set of mugs to take home (they're for sale, along with t-shirts and coffee). Co-owners Heather Bryan-Pike and chef Abby Jestis have an obvious attention to detail, and they're super friendly to boot.
At the soft opening last week, I had the Croque Monsieur, a decadent take on a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich. It came with a tasty cold black-eyed-pea salad that I relished even though I don't even normally like black-eyed-peas. I also got to try a bite of my friend Tiffany's Ratatouille Tartine, and I've been craving it ever since.
Yesterday, I went for the Onion Soup Gratinée, which came topped with three baguette slices smothered in cheese like a French onion soup should. My friend ordered the Heirloom Tomato Salad with mozzarella in a balsamic reduction (fresh, flavorful, so good) and the Beof Bourgignon, a tender, satisfying beef stew. I saw other people order the Steak Bistro Salad, which also looks scrumptious.
For dessert, I had the Pain au Chocolate (chocolate croissant) and my friend tried the bread pudding, which was doused in a maple-y syrup. That chocolate croissant is just excellent. I think my notes say "mmmmm!" which is not something I say lightly. The coffee is good, too.
Since Tart opened barely a week ago, they are still working out the kinks and training on the service side of things. If you decide to give them a try in the next few weeks, bring a little bit of extra patience just in case. I think it's well worth it.
Tart is open Monday – Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. They take cash and credit cards, but not American Express. The building is ADA accessible and there is plenty of street parking and a small lot behind the restaurant.
820 S. Cooper St.
Memphis, Tennessee 38104