- 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd., Tucson, AZ, 85741
- Overall User Rating:
- (3 ratings)
- daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
- Official Web Site:
What we ordered: one tomato, basil and mozzarella sandwich with peppered cabbage ($8.95) and one French dip sandwich with potato salad ($10.95) for a total of $19.90, just short of our Cheap Eats goal of $20 for two people.
Comments: It was easy to tell that the chef at Café Tremolo put a lot of work into our sandwiches. After all, it was dinnertime and we were the only people in the restaurant. Once our order was in, I could see him popping around the open kitchen for a straight 10 minutes—chopping, mixing, baking. A lot of work for a French dip. …
The Café Tremolo experience is a bit bewildering. The new tenant of the former Gavi building seems to be a sophisticated American bistro, but the décor makes it look like a Hard Rock Café. The menu is all over the place, with basic sandwiches and salads accompanying dishes like apricot pork medallions or prime rib with Yorkshire pudding.
Atmosphere: The theme at Café Tremolo is supposed to be rock and roll; we must have been in on an off night, because this place was as tame as a Yanni composition. Collectors’ guitars and autographed pictures of musicians decorate the newly painted, pastel yellow walls. The tables are dotted with fancy translucent candle holders, and the ceiling has schmaltzy neon blue lights covered with children’s star stickers.
Food: It’s a shame we were the only couple eating here, though, because the food was really excellent. Head chef Paul Blackwell (formerly of the Tohono Chul Park Tea Room) really gets into his café fare, dressing the simple entrees with loads of fresh herbs. If you don’t mind eating a sandwich for dinner (or you live close enough to go on your lunch break), this place gives you lots of quality for average prices.
The French dip was delicious to say the least: warmed, shredded roast beef inside a soft sub roll, slathered with a touch of tangy Dijon butter to punch it up. The au jus had herbs swimming in it, giving the simple dish a gourmet touch.
The tomato, basil and mozzarella sandwich was even more sophisticated. It came out open-faced, almost like bruschetta, on four flat slices of sourdough bread that had been warmed in the oven. On top we had a glorious mixture of complimentary flavors: tangy pesto spread, buttery olive oil, melted cheese, warmed basil leaves and thinly sliced tomatoes. Even though it’s not an original creation, I could tell the chef had put some thought into it.
The sides were interesting as well. Even though the menu is made up mostly of sandwiches, French fries are nowhere to be seen. Instead, you get a choice of dill potato salad, jicama slaw, fresh fruit or—my favorite—peppered cabbage. The healthy side was made up of thick strips of cabbage that had been marinated in vinegar and touched with salt and pepper. It was sweeter than it sounds, though!
Service: It’s hard to tell how the service is on a live music night but, being the only people there, we got extra-special attention from our waitress.
Bar: full bar
Bottom line: If it’s going to be truly excellent, Café Tremolo has to work out a few bugs. First off, get rid of the backlit sign that’s illegible even from the parking lot. And second, rework the menu a little bit. I don’t know a single person who likes to eat daikon sprout sandwiches while listening to classic rock covers. (Although they sound good alone.) My advice: You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes….