Pastiche endears patrons with food, service
By C.J. KARAMARGIN
It’s called Pastiche Modern Eatery, but as far as one happy diner is concerned, this Campbell Avenue restaurant could easily be called Pastiche Accommodating Eatery.
The restaurant permanently endeared itself to this diner last Valentine’s Day. Well, it was just a day or two before Valentine’s Day, but that was the problem. The diner had forgotten to make reservations for her romantic repast. Frantic calls to numerous places proved pointless. Every restaurant but Pastiche was booked solid. The dinner would have to be early, they told her, but one more couple could indeed be squeezed in.
The diner was won over, but the story – a comedy of errors, really – gets better. Shortly after arriving, the diner realized she had to return home for her boyfriend’s Valentine’s Day gift, a box of chocolate truffles forgotten on the counter. Pastiche promised to hold the requested window table and it did, for a lot longer than originally anticipated. Because the diner’s curious dog got into the truffles and had to be cared for, it was well over an hour before the diner and her companion sat down to eat. The inauspicious beginning notwithstanding, they ended up having a fine time.
Pastiche went out of its way to please. It still does. Allowing diners to slowly peruse the menu while sipping cocktails or making sure the to-go boxes are labeled are some of the little details that were appreciated on a recent visit to this 4 1/2-year-old restaurant. To whatever extent a restaurant is a reflection of its owners, Pat and Julie Connors must be nice, thoughtful people.
When we last visited Pastiche more than two years ago, our reviewer found an unhurried, low-buzz atmosphere and a relaxing, sitting-in-your-living feel to the place. Fortunately, these attributes remain. Diners like to linger here and the restaurant is perfectly happy letting them do so.
Ordering the paella entree means you’ll have no choice but to linger. The menu warns that the preparation time for this savory Spanish rice dish is 20 to 25 minutes. This might be why paella is so hard to come by in restaurants. But with a couple of appetizers, the time will be well-spent.
The restaurant’s 13 “kick starters” circle the globe with choices ranging from Fried Jalapeño Ravioli ($6.50) and Margarita Fries ($5.95) to Mushroom Souffle ($7.95) and Hummus ($6.25). The Calamari ($8.95) and Canadian Snow Crab Cakes ($9.95) are two sure-to-please selections. The calamari is dusted with flour and fried to golden tenderness. It is served with a garlic tomato sauce and tsatziki, a yogurt cucumber sauce most often found in Greek or Middle Eastern restaurants. The moist, flavorful crab cakes come with baby greens and a sweet tomato oil.
The menu lists Pastiche’s four paella selections as “Pedro’s Paella,” though chef Pedro Sevilla is no longer manning the stove. (He has been replaced by the able Don Kishenski and Anthony Ortiz.) Available Wednesdays through Sundays, each paella dish is served in a 9-inch paellera, a smaller version of the traditional paella pan that can, at up to 36 inches, be the size of a small kitchen table. It is still large enough for two to share.
With shrimp, mussels, calamari and clams, the Valencia paella ($21.95) is infused with a robust sea flavor. It was too strong for one member of our party, but for another it was evocative of a salty meal one might have on the Costa Brava. This one also comes with chicken, pork and slices of spicy chorizo. The Marinera paella ($23.95) is the same, but with just seafood. Other options are the Pollo, or chicken ($17.95), and Camarones, or shrimp ($22.95).
The Grilled Lamb Chops ($22.95) proved to be just the ticket for the meat eater of the trio. The fat chops come with a smooth, dark balsamic glaze, a mound of mashed root vegetables and sautéed vegetables. The dish had a heft to it that would make it “great for a cold winter night,” the meat eater said.
The top performer of the night was the Thyme Grilled Sea Bass ($18.95), on the menu since Pastiche opened. Pat Connors said this is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. The thyme imparts a fresh Mediterranean essence to the thick piece of fish, as does the smoked tomatoes and capers. The dish won praise from all around.
at a glance
What: Pastiche Modern Eatery.
Where: 3025 N. Campbell Ave.
House specialty: Paella, Sea Bass and Jerk Spiced Chicken.
Price range: Appetizers $4.25-$20.50, soups and salads $2.80-$10.95, burgers and sandwiches $7.95-$10.25, entrees $13.75-$23.95.
The bottom line: Well-prepared, tasty food at moderate prices; elegant but comfortable dining room; friendly, efficient service. But the menu, though inventive, is not very extensive.
Hours: Mondays through Fridays 11:30 a.m.-midnight, Saturdays and Sundays 4:30 p.m.-midnight.
Credit cards: All.
PHOTO CREDIT: TRICIA McINROY/Tucson Citizen
CUTLINE: Jerk Spiced Chicken Breast with prickly pear yogurt sauce, mashed root vegetables and sautéed vegetables.
CUTLINE: Grilled Lamb Chops (center) Chinese Chicken Salad (upper left) and Jerk Spiced Chicken Breast (upper right).
(Pastiche Modern Eatery dining area)