3.5 stars out of 5
Honorable mention to their tortilla soup- 10 out of 5 stars, it was that good.
They describe themselves as Modern American fare. And its true, Pastiche is an upscale dining experience with a spacious dining room, modern atmosphere, good service and pretty good food. They feature a large bar with a light Irish theme and both the bar and the restaurant are supported by an on-site and integrated wine shop.
For us, this was date night. We started with their Friday 5:00 to 6:30 pm wine tasting for 5 bucks each and then went back downstairs for dinner at six. The wine tasting was fun as we tried a variety of whites and reds that were all named after sisters, each chosen for the evening’s theme of “Sister, Sister” sweetly inspired and hosted by a frequent guest in dedication to her own sister. During the tasting, they also turned us onto a Jack-based blue cheese that was just too good to describe.
We found Pastiche through the Iron Chef Tucson event which took place up at Loews Ventana Canyon a couple of weeks ago. We had wondered up to Pastiches’ booth and signed up for their mailing list. Although the Iron Chef day event proved to be a huge disappointment (the food provided by many of the restaurants was generally just awful, with the noted exception of a tomato bisque and bacon and cheese sandwich) and Ventana Canyon’s people treated us like cash cows, sans the quality of service and products in their own bars and restaurant. Pastiche appeared then and now to be a diamond in the rough.
From my wife’s plate, I sampled one of the most deliciously encrusted and prepared bites of Sea Bass I’ve ever tasted. I’m not kidding, it was magical. Sea Bass is already rich and buttery in its own right and so a chef that wants to sauce it, in my opinion, had better know what he/she is doing and how to lay down a palette that plays well with the piece of fish. In other words, just drenching it in a reduced butter sauce is not going to make it better. And so, they added a smoked tomato-caper beurre blanc, Champagne cream sauce to our piece of fish and it was a little slice of culinary heaven. I’m serious. This was a great piece of fish and the sauce was puuuurfect.
I decided to treat myself to the Filet Mignon. And this is what put the rough back in the diamond for me. I continue to hunt for a restaurant that knows how to treat a piece of steak from beginning to end. Although cooked slightly past medium rare, the filet was almost fork tender. Beautifully marked on the grill and probably slathered in a little butter right before plating, it arrived looking gorgeous. However, as I took the first taste is was reminiscent of a grill fire. A slightly bitter taste permeated the entire cut of filet. I could have sent it back, and frankly didn’t, because I know the Chef would have tasted the steak and then flogged whoever was on the meat station and sent them to the kitchen sink. In fine dining food preparation there are no short cuts and you cannot cover up your mistakes. But the problem with sending food back when you are on a hot date with your smokin’ hot wife is that I end up sitting there as said wife eats and it just creates a bit of awkwardness as she feels guilty and I eat half her food. I wasn’t paying $15 bucks hoping to get a cut of good meat. I was actually paying more in the hopes of entering into a mutual promise, call it an assurance locked in by price, that the cut and preparation by the chef would be the best. I want them empowered to toss aside a steak they know they screwed up and start over, even if it also means they now need to toss the fish too because it will be cold, and then re-fire the meal. And so I ate most of the steak, not because it was delicious, but because I was starving and it was edible.
As sides they featured a mash of root vegetables along with asparagus. Nothing memorable, slightly under seasoned (again the details are only almost there), but overall pretty good.
I know I’ve been a little rough on them over that filet, but don’t let that discourage you from becoming a regular. Overall, our date night at Pastiche was pretty sexy, and we were well taken care of. Although the prices are not cheap, they are also not over priced. Note that they also offer “bistro” portions and pricing on many of their entrees. The menu features a wide variety and while I don’t see the chef taking many risks, I also don’t see how anyone couldn’t find something they wouldn’t love to try. From soups and appetizers to pastas and sandwiches, they also feature heartier main entrees like we discuss here.
They boast an after 10 pm full service gourmet menu, which, for Tucson, is a stroke of genius by its absence elsewhere. And the bar is not an afterthought. Just like the feel of the rest of the place, it is spacious, well attended, and warm.
And now I hope you are still reading because there are a couple more special things that set Pastiche far above places like “Sullivan’s” and those chains that aren’t exactly locally owned.
I was honored to participate in a Pastiche-created opportunity designed to contribute to the concept that none of us is any better than the least of us and that is never more true than when you simply look around you. For those in our community that need food and may go without, Pastiche has taken a proactive step to do their part. It is called “Soup for Tucson’s Soul.” For any of you that follow my food blog, you know I am a soup connoisseur. And so I ordered their version of chicken tortilla soup. Not only was I absolutely blown away by that little cup of soup (the best ever- I swear), I was very pleased to learn that Pastiche donates a dollar from every bowl sold to the Tucson Community Food Bank. I was absolutely moved, touched, and inspired by Pastiche’s commitment to paying more than just lip service to what it means to be local. And then the bowl of soup just blew my mind. It’s that good.
And so with those thoughts I highly recommend that you give them a whirl and then go again, and then tell someone you like to go too.
I know we forgot to go back into the wine shop and get our bottles and cheese, so I am heading back over today. I can’t wait to sit in the bar on some yet to be determined Friday afternoon, and try several of the “meat and/or cheese and olive platters.” I’m going back, if for no other reason to get at that soup again and I hope to see you there!
Located on Cambell- Everything you need to know is here http://www.pasticheme.com/
Make a reservation.
3025 North Campbell Ave
Tucson, AZ 85719