San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery is as renowned for its gateaux and gamine waitstaff as for the queue that invariably snakes outside the bakery and down the sidewalk. On weekends, patrons swarm, anxiously awaiting a seat in the jam-packed eatery, praying to benevolent brioche gods that the last almond croissant has not been sold. Sadly, if you arrive past noon, it likely has been.
For those lowly souls who aren’t early risers (or Bay Area residents, for that matter), owners Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson have lent their expertise in all things leavened to help assess Dwell’s top picks for the most humble of kitchen appliances: the toaster. A servant to sliced bread since its patent in 1905, the electric toaster has seen little change over the past century, and for good reason:
A simple box, flanked on either side by heated coils and outfitted with a spring-loaded compartment (patented in 1926), the toaster makes palatable even the most wondrously bland bread. Prueitt and Robertson’s bakery is named for what is, essentially, the French term for toast (a piece of bread—–be it freshly baked, toasted, or grilled—–on which something is spread), and Dwell couldn’t think of
a better duo to judge the merits of these five toasters or, as we prefer to call them, tartinerators.