You’ll feel welcome in
Ghent, too, and it’s also casual, but decidedly more worldly. Music
playing might be Turkish folk or pop, French top hits or will.i.am. And
alcohol is served. A U-shaped bar in the restaurant’s center dispenses
an international array of eco-friendly wines (even a couple from
Turkey), a handful of domestic and imported beers (with a non-alcoholic
St. Pauli, too) and cocktails like the Marrakesh Martini, pomegranate
liqueur, mango vodka and pineapple juice. Beyond the bar is a lounge
with swooping white banners evoking a sultan’s tent. Its low slung
seating is cool, but better suited to late night bites than meals.
And unlike at the
original, your waiter is more likely to be named José or Bill than
Yusuf, and probably won’t be wearing Turkish garb. Front of the house
staff is an eclectic mix and male servers refused to wear traditional
handmade vests, claiming they’re too tight and feminine. But
hospitality still rules. Servers replenish silverware between courses
without prompting, describe preparations fluently and include prices
when reciting daily specials.
Sampler ($14) provides an instant immersion into Pasha’s mellow,
feel-good food. The vegetarian dish is a mosaic of aforementioned
muhammarah and hummus, crumbly red lentil pate, latke-like fried
zucchini cheese puffs topped with yogurt and sirkonto zucchini, a raft
of the grilled vegetable crowned with breadcrumbs and almonds. The
Sampler comes with three crispy pita triangles while wondrous bread
akin to ciabatta (baked on premises, like all breads and sweets here)
arrived with an order of Mediterranean seasoned olives ($6), two dozen
ripe green and black fruits dotted with red pepper and herbs.
A good chunk of menu is
devoted to mezze. Stuffed grilled calamari skewers ($9), three delicate
squid rings encasing tiny shrimp and mozzarella, like bejeweled belly
buttons, lacked the anticipated zing of menu-mentioned capers. Choice
of warm hummus or a captivating jasmine-orzo rice comes with the lamb
chunks ($9.90). Copperish domes cover many a dish, whisked off by
servers upon arrival to charming effect, but just as with tapas, there
can be the nagging sense that you’ve spent more for less.
An entrée of
char-grilled beef kebab ($17.50), on the other hand, satisfied with its
two large, remarkably phallic looking pieces of rolled beef, sans
skewer, on a generous bed of rice. Its luscious peppers, onions and
tomatoes rested on top, rather like a formal gyro. Wild salmon ($21)
was also char-gilled and came with sautéed carrots and squash,
julienned as if they were colorful tapestry threads.
Lunch features wraps and
other sandwiches served with soup or potato wedges. Should you be
enjoying one on a Saturday, you might witness local farmers delivering
organic eggs for Sunday’s brunch when buckwheat pancakes and an omelet
torte capped with feta make for a unique meal.
For dessert, try the
chocolate mousse torte ($5), six silky smooth layers, or chocolate bon
bons ($5), three not-too-sweet orbs, subtly crunchy with cracked tea
biscuits and walnuts, rolled in coconut. Mom’s Nuty Cake ($6),
admirable in its 100% organic, sugar-free nature, was desert dry.
Dessert wines are
available, as are Columbian organic ($2) and Turkish coffee ($4), so
slushy you’ll need to floss after one sip, and an out-of-this-world,
hot tea ($2), a miraculous blend of Earl Grey, chamomile and Turkish
leaves, served in a glass cup with organic sugar and honey-ish agave
nectar. (The building next door is set to open any day as a coffeehouse
including loose leaf teas and light foods to eat in or take out.)
Tasteful Pasha, with its
growing empire (economy permitting, there could be another some day in
Virginia Beach or Williamsburg), embodies much of today’s sweeping
sensibilities - ethnic diversity, freshness, health consciousness,
greater personal and collective responsibility. And yet another sign of
the times: You can friend it on Facebook.
Palace Station Shopping Center, 350 W. 22nd St., Suite 114. 627-1318. Open Mon.-Sat. starting at 11 a.m. for lunch
and dinner, Sunday brunch (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and Sunday dinner. Late
night menu, patio dining and catering available. www.usapasha.com
Change the date:
The inaugural International Food & Wine Experience of
Charlottesville (www.ifweoc.com) has been rescheduled to July 31 -
August 2. Of course, you have headlining chef Todd Jurich daily in
downtown Norfolk. On February 5, his Todd Jurich’s Bistro welcomes Dr.
Dirk Richter of Mosel, Germany, for a five-course wine dinner pairing
esteemed Rieslings with spring rolls, roast Lynnhaven rockfish and more
for $59.95. Call 622-3210 to reserve. Also of note, Nigel Jenkins,
formerly executive chef at The Westin Virginia Beach Town Center, has
joined Jurich’s team.