Never let it be said that all musicians are divas: At Pasha, which is owned in part by members of Bandoleros, the service is patient, sweet—the opposite of performative. “My personal favorites are the pan con tomate and the croquetas de pollo,” my server said softly. He seemed like such a nice and honest guy that I ordered accordingly.
Of course, there was really no question about trying the croquetas. The chorizo-chicken fritters are indicative of everything that’s being attempted here: They are Spanish in influence, big on flavor and—this is important—adamant about not being tapas. These fritters are a first course, appetizers meant to precede an entrée. Though if we’re being real, there’s no way a pile of hot croquetas can avoid being somewhat snacky. Ditto for that pan con tomate, which turned out to simply be grilled bread served with tomatoes and garlic cooked to a spreadable softness in olive oil.
There was something refreshing about eating Spanish flavors in a three-course framework, if only for a change of pace. But after eating the entrées, I wished I had turned this evening into a night of tapas. Where the appetizers were surprisingly flavorful (the pan con tomate benefitted from a really great olive oil, and tons of it), the entrées were surprisingly dull. A serrano-wrapped cod was a bit funky, and the serrano was limp where it should have been crisp. The steak was fine but would have been more welcome in—I hate to say it—a smaller, tapas-sized portion. Which I think would benefit the restaurant. One night, having stuck to a three-course meal, I ended up leaving the place just as the Bandoleros (who not only own the place but use it as their main venue) started their mike check. As I left, there were only a handful of people in the room watching them. But had I been able to lengthen my stay by lingering over a tapas menu, they would have had at least two more.