Since opening in 1983, Pastiche Fine Desserts has been a mainstay of the Providence restaurant scene. Owners Eileen Collins and Brandt Heckert serve European-style cakes and tarts out of a quaint storefront in Federal Hill. Despite its out-of-the-way location and scant parking options, the place is always packed with sweets-craving patrons. When I recently stopped by at around 5 p.m. on a Sunday, I was shocked at the crowds. Who eats cake at 5 o'clock on Sunday? It's almost dinnertime! I thought. But of course, there I was, about to order not one but two desserts.
I already knew that the Chocolate Mousse Cake ($6) was a crowd pleaser at the cafe, and followed the waitress's suggestion of the Banana Cream Tart ($6) as my second treat. Both were delicious.
Texture-wise, the Chocolate Mousse Cake falls somewhere between a flourless chocolate cake and a traditional chocolate cake. The mousse is sturdy but melts in your mouth, and the chocolate crust tastes like a crumbled gourmet Oreo, in the best way. Slightly sweet whipped cream cuts the richness, making it easy to eat this whole slice without pause. (Or, you know, share it with someone.)
The Banana Cream Tart has an impressively high layer of whipped cream on top and a homemade caramel drizzle that had me licking the plate. The rich vanilla custard elevated the sliced bananas to dessert status. When I managed to get a balanced bite of the tart—crust, bananas, custard, cream, and drizzle all on one loaded forkful—it was out of this world. But individually, the elements didn't quite hold up. The crust was relatively bland—an understandable choice, given the tart's many ingredients, but it could have used a little sugar. And the separation of bananas and custard into their own layers left me with the occasional, disappointing banana-only bite. I mean, bananas are delicious. But on their own, they're not dessert.
When it comes down to it, Pastiche is the best place in Providence for a crowd-pleasing, slightly fancy cake or tart. At around $45, the full cakes are a splurge. But for a special occasion, they're worth it.
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