The proprietors have done a very nice job of converting a classic Milwaukee corner bar building into a cheerful bistro setting. The bar has been cut back to a small service bar area, making room for the ten or so restaurant tables.
As usual, we tend to dine early, so the place was not full when we came in on a weekday night, although it did fill up later on. The small number of tables were handled by one server team, with assistance from the hostess, and service was managed quite well.
Although the business includes a wine shop, I was was a bit surprised that the didn't have any specifically aperitif wines (I like an occasional dry sherry), and referred me to the dessert wine list. At the server's recommendation, I opted instead for a dry white wine to accompany the charcutrie plate we split as appetizer. The plate included a couple of very nice home-made pates, a couple of types of sausage, and some pancetta, served with a lovely whole-grain mustard and crackers. All good, althogh I would have preferred more of the pates and less of the sausages.
For entree, I chose the cassoulet, a dish I've been wanting to try for a long time, but haven't found on a menu anywhere else, and haven't made at home since it's a major production. Cassoulet is a French white bean stew, which includes usually at a minimum ham, sausage and duck. Pastiche describes theirs as: "classic French dish of slow-cooked white beans with pork shoulder, duck confit, smoked pork shank, sausage and lamb." The dish was presented in a bowl, with a whole duck leg on top, the other meats in small chunks in among the tasty and well-cooked beans. I found it very good, and very interesting, and I am edging toward making my own some time soon. Again, at the recommendation of the server, I accompanied the meal with a glass of Cotes du Rhone, a rich red wine.
Georgie opted to try the coq au vin, and also found it very good, but not as richly flavorful as the version served by Coquette Cafe, where it is one of the signature dishes. She had a glass of a nice rose wine with her meal.
For desserts, Georgie had the Puff Pastry Apple Tart ("apples baked with cinnamon and sugar on puff pastry; served with vanilla bean ice cream and homemade caramel sauce") and I had the Chocolate Hazelnut Tart("homemade hazelnut crust with a dense chocolate and hazelnut filling; served with caramel sauce and Frangelico creme anglaise"). Both again very, very good. The Chocolate Hazelnut Tart was a dense hunk of dark chocolate with the hazelnut crust and hazelnut slivers on top. Delicious, but I had been expecting more nuts.
All in all, particularly for a newish restaurant, very promising and very pleasant. Prices are quite reasonable, comparable or less than we would have paid at restaurants offering similar fare.
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