Here's A Blues And Rock 'N' Roll Joint That Serves Good Food.
By Rebecca Cook
CONSIDERING THAT THE Third Stone Bar & Grill is a happening venue for live rock and blues, it's amazing how quietly it has joined the Fourth Avenue scene.
Owner Alan Thomas opened the Third Stone's doors for business about five months ago. But unless you're in pursuit of a particular musical act, it's easy to overlook this unobtrusive addition to one of Tucson's more concentrated dining neighborhoods.
On two recent visits, both approaching peak dining times, business was sluggish at best. Too bad, because the Third Stone serves an impressive and tasty assortment of food, ranging from the expected burgers to an elegant pasta and fresh seafood dish.
If patrons are concerned they'll be accosted by a cacophony of rock and roll music while they eat, rest assured it's highly unlikely your eating schedule will conflict with the scheduled musical acts which are, for the most part, slated for late evening performances.
Not that you'll be able to forget for one minute what the Third Stone is all about--along with the slightly sunken stage area directly across from the bar, posters of famous rock and blues artists pepper the walls, and taped music (which plays at decibels that easily allow for table conversation) can include anything from real head-banging music to Miles Davis.
The Third Stone--the name itself a tribute to the late, great Jimi Hendrix--almost has the feel of a shrine to the blues and rock and roll. The fact that you can also get a decent meal is like the signature on the guitar.
As suggested earlier, The Third Stone's menu offers some diverse dining choices, thanks to the inspiration of Chef Edgar Mendians.
A scrumptious way to begin a meal is with the bruschetta, a lightly fried flour tortilla topped with a delectable combination of chopped tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, fresh basil and mild goat cheese. To ensure the tortilla remains crisp, this appetizer must be gobbled up with dispatch--not a problem considering how yummy it is.
Also popular for snacking (particularly with a $2 Happy Hour pint of one of the Third Stone's several beers on tap) are the wedge-cut, seasoned fries--moderately sized potato wedges fried until golden and lightly sprinkled with spices. An additional quarter gets you some bleu cheese crumbled atop the taters, a savory variation.
The Third Stone's house soup is a vegetarian version of mulligatawny, a name derived from the word for "pepper water" in India. Corn, chopped bell peppers, green chiles and onion swim in a rich, highly seasoned broth redolent with curry. While flavorful, the soup, unfortunately, was not served piping hot, a drawback for any soup other than gazpacho or vichyssoise. In addition, it's served in a very large bowl, even though the amount is definitely cup-sized.
The trademark sandwich here is the Third Stone, which consists of grilled, marinated chicken breast served open-style atop foccacia bread smothered with garlic aioli, roasted bell peppers and melted mozzarella. The chicken is tender and moist, and generous amounts of ingredients balance perfectly with the whole.
Third Stone also serves a trio of 10-inch pizzas: a fresh-roasted tomato sauce pizza with smoked mozzarella, grilled chicken, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes; the Third Stone from the Sun pizza with virgin olive oil, fresh herbs and a mix of cheeses sans red sauce; and a build-your-own pizza with a variety of toppings.
We sampled the Third Stone from the Sun and, though satisfyingly cheesy, found it to be a little on the bland side. The pizza crusts are also fairly thick and yeasty, which I recognize will appeal to some while disappointing others like myself who prefer more goodies on top and less filler on the bottom.
A winner from all perspectives is the Third Stone's angel hair pasta, a lively combination of fresh salmon and shrimp sautéed with fresh tomatoes, sliced portabello mushrooms, chopped chayote squash and herbs tossed with a clear, lightly seasoned salmon broth.
Also, I was very pleased to taste at the Third Stone some of the freshest salmon I've tried in a long while. In combination with the other ingredients, especially the slightly tangy chayote squash, this dish was a standout.
Diners have a choice of three dessert options: warm cinnamon-apple cobbler, chocolate mousse or cheesecake. I had the mousse, which is served in a pie wedge and lightly drizzled with raspberry sauce. With its rich, dark chocolate undertones, this was a dessert to linger over and enjoy.
If the musical acts at Third Stone are anywhere near as extraordinary as the food, Tucson is in for a real treat. You can keep your Hard Rock Cafés; I'll take the Third Stone Bar & Grill any day.
It would be nice to have a T-shirt,
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