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Homey, yet diverse and elegant

Citizen Staff Writer
Restaurant review: Feast



Feast is an electron.

You can never know just where it will actually be, but you’re sure to get a charge out of it.

A study in contrasts the likes of which Tucson has never seen, this midtown marvel is simultaneously hip yet homey, regal yet irreverent, and meticulously classic yet unflinchingly nonconformist. More important, it’s just about the most fun you can have with fine dining.

Feast always seems to give you something along the lines of that good-kind-of-nervous you get just before embarking on a trip somehow coupled with the easy calm of an hour in the backyard hammock. It’s homey comfort food made from ingredients you’d never have at home.

Take the Lobster, Corn and Scallion Bread Pudding ($7.50). Looking something like a small souffle or a large, calico cupcake, it had that playfully bouncy and deep-roasted flavor of the best turkey stuffing Grandma ever pulled off infused with luxuriously sweet and succulent gems of lobster and scallions. Moated in a silky Parmesan cream sauce, this is the kind of dish that makes me wish chef/owner Doug Levy wasn’t so dedicated to changing his menu every month, because I’d order it every single time.

Our other starter, the Eggplant Napoleon ($5.75), featured crispy, mellow eggplant chips layered with goat cheese and served in roasted tomato beurre blanc. It was refreshing to enjoy eggplant in such a distinctly non-flimsy fashion, and the chips were nicely set off by the pungency of the chevre and the acidity of the sauce.

We couldn’t resist the Saddle of Rabbit ($16.50), as Levy is the kind of chef who gets you to order dishes you thought you’d never order. Stuffed with chicken livers, pancetta, artichoke hearts and leeks in a fresh thyme jus, the outer shell of roasted rabbit had a rich, hearty payoff somewhere between duck breast and pork loin. The complex nucleus brought different combinations of salty, earthy and zingy hits with every bite. Nearly as impressive as the main offering were the elegant sides of mashed potatoes and kale, with the latter confoundingly prepared. Purging the bitterness from kale without cooking it into leaves as limp as wet newsprint is no small feat, and this vibrant, crunchy offering could make kale lovers out of even the most nonherbivore customers.

The Pan-roasted Monkfish ($19.50) was a beautifully prepared offering of a notably ugly ocean creature. Monkfish is a muddy-hued bottom feeder that sports a pancake-flat head with wormlike filaments that arc up and out and lure prey into the vicinity of its nightmarish maw. That the tail of such a beast could be so luxuriously supple in texture and flavor – it’s known as “the tenderloin of the sea” – is yet another seeming contradiction that fits in well here. The fist-sized, pearly white offering had a texture approaching that of a diver scallop and a clean, sweet flavor profile that was near lobster-like. The monkfish was nicely spiked with a salty yet mellow Nantua sauce, a creamy bechamel with crayfish butter and tails. The sauce just as appropriately complemented a pungent, asparagus-studded risotto.

As with everything else here, desserts were imbued with uncommon creativity and verve. The Warm Molasses Cake ($5.75) delivered a powerful payoff of hefty, near-licoricelike molasses. The dense, dark cake had me remembering the chocolate gingerbread cake of my youth and was nicely sided by a ramekin of creamy compote of caramel, pear and cardamom.

The Mascarpone and Dried strawberry Monte Cristo with Berry Sauce ($6) was the closest thing to a disappointment we had in the entire meal, and even that was a split decision. My companion loved the imaginative affair, which featured slices of dry French Toast layered with dollops of mascarpone, tangy dried strawberries and a gingerly strafed berry sauce. Though I appreciated the bridling of sweetness in which to take in the unfettered mascarpone and tang of the fruit, I found the offering to be a tad on the dry side and a bit underpowered.

As with every month’s menu, March’s features a diversity and creativity you’d be hard-pressed to find at any other eatery, with offerings that include Mussel Pot Pie, Vietnamese Beef Salad, Ducklava (phyllo dough layered with duck confit, pistachios and honey), Roasted Beet Cake, South Carolina Baby Back Ribs and a Merguez Sausage sandwich with collard greens, preserved lemon and veal demiglace.

Based on my experiences and those of essentially everyone else I’ve ever spoken to about Feast, you really can’t go wrong no matter what you order, though you’d be crazy not to start with the Lobster, Corn and Scallion Bread Pudding.


Address and phone: 4122 E. Speedway, 326-9363

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays

Prices: Menu changes monthly, but prices currently range from $5.75 to $13.50 for appetizers, $3.50 to 9.50 for soups and salads, $8.50 to $9.75, for sandwiches, $14 to $21.50 for entrees, and $5 to $6.50 for desserts.

Bar: full

Vegetarian options: Several, including Eggplant Napoleon ($5.75), Poached Beet and Garlic Salad ($9.50), Roasted Beet Cake ($14), Parsnip Salad ($8.50), Feast Grilled Cheese sandwich ($8.50) and Swiss Chard-wrapped Spoonbread ($14).

Desserts: Dark Chocolate Espresso Tart with Chantilly cream ($7), Banana Crumble ($6.50), Warm Molasses Cake served with Caramel Pear-Cardamom Compote ($5.75), Marscapone and Dried Strawberry Monte Cristo with Berry Sauce ($6), House-made Ice Cream ($5), and Chocolate Truffle Cookies ($0.65 each).

Latest health inspection: A “good” rating Jan. 28. A critical violation was reported for foods not correctly date marked.

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