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Front Page - Friday, August 6, 2010

River City Roundabout

Hot new brew

Pasha Coffee and Tea offers a variety of standard coffee and espresso drinks as well as Turkish coffee, smoothies and fresh brewed tea. Located in St. Elmo, they also have breakfast, lunch and fresh baked pastry offerings. (Erica Tuggle)
Coffee enthusiasts and caffeine free fans alike all seem to have fallen in love with the relative newbie to the Chattanooga java scene: Pasha Coffee and Tea. The reviews on urbanspoon.com give the little nook of a shop a 92 percent approval rating, and I have already had several friends recommend a visit to the 1914 St. Elmo Avenue location.
Not immediately visible from the road as you head to St. Elmo from Broad Street, Pasha Coffee and Tea is located behind and beside Blacksmith’s Bistro and Bar, which anyone who has passed their rooster emblem of a sign will be familiar with. Circling around on Tennessee Avenue to reach the alleyway where Pasha is located is suggested, and plenty of street parking is available in two-hour time slots.
At face value, one of the best things about Pasha is that it is a cool place to go on a hot day. I visited Pasha while the thermometer was dancing around the triple digits, and the chance to get out of the heat to a quiet place was heartily welcomed.
Entering Pasha, the shop was pretty peaceful, with only a laptop displaying an ongoing World Cup game playing softly behind the counter. The front part of the shop is full of comfy couches, high and low tables, and local artwork on the walls and tables. The center table has several art books patrons can flip through as well. Through a doorway, the shop expands into an area with more sofas, tables and relaxing looking chairs, where there are tapestries and more artwork on the walls. Pasha offers artists the opportunity to display their art for sale in the shop on six-week rotations. The exhibits they feature include photography, mixed media, pottery and original paintings.
The back part of the shop is where Pasha features events like Music Mondays and New Voices. Bands can book themselves at Pasha for Music Mondays and poets can showcase their work during New Voices reading events. For the rest of us, there’s the coffee and entertainment of the events, as well as each Thursday and Friday, Pasha offers one-dollar coffee from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and throwback music during Vinyl Night.
Even if you are not the social type, Pasha pulls through with some unique menu selections. Besides their Turkish coffee, other exotic selections include the Halvah Latte, hummus, the Mezes combo plate, Baklava, Curried chicken salad, grape leaves and Turkish
Delight. There’s standard brunch food too with Barista eggs and bagels that include the option to add feta cheese, pesto and different meats. Regulars rave about the turkey panini, frappe and pastry selections.
The pastries are varied and impressive for such a small shop. They offer cupcakes, scones, muffins, cookies, cakes and many more untraditional coffee shop sweets. Case in point, a strawberry cake was sitting on the counter temptingly when I visited. But, in my opinion, the true test of a coffee shop’s pastry merit must be measured in the quality of their scones.
Scones seem to be difficult to perfect. Usually they are either hard enough to be used as a weapon or too sweet and doughy to be edible. Pasha succeeds in the scone department. I tried their blueberry scone filled with juicy, sweet blueberries in a butter infused and mouth melting pastry that was lightly topped with a blueberry glaze.
Their coffee is equally impressive. The iced latte with a shot of butterscotch I tried was not too sweet, coffee rich and went well with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. I couldn’t taste the butterscotch flavoring in the coffee, which may be due to the resistant nature of coffee to blend with butterscotch, or the amount of syrup in the drink was too faint.
The staff was polite, helpful and quick in preparing the drink and pastry. They interacted with the regulars watching the World Cup game while paying attention to other customers. After dining with the tasty smells wafting from the Blacksmith Bistro next door, a stop at Pasha’s coffee and tea is a must.
The historic and eclectic neighborhood of St. Elmo is a good fit for Pasha, and allows the shop to compete with the other local coffee shops without being clustered in with the rest in the concentrated downtown area. They are also Chattanooga’s only all Organic and Fair Trade espresso bar.
Whether for coffee, tea, or pastry, Pasha Coffee and Tea shop provides a satisfying treat and a quiet atmosphere that would be ideal for the after work wind-down, weekend relaxation or for out of the office paperwork time. Pasha is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Email Erica Tuggle at reporter@hamiltoncountyherald.com. Pasha Coffee & Tea on Urbanspoon