Spoon Review

21 Aug

I just got back from a little vacation to Ocean City with the girls.  But before I left Shannon and I went to Spoon in East Liberty for a very tasty dinner.  We also had some fun going to a trunk show at Luxe showroom around the corner that a friend (Adam) suggested I check out.  So I dragged Shannon there for a few hours to meet up with him and look at some jewelry and clothes.  I love how East Liberty is in transformation (like much of the city).  There are still some sketchy areas, but with all of the restaurants and stores it’s definitely up and coming.

Back to the food!  Shannon and I went there because I wanted to go someplace in East Liberty and it was restaurant week and Spoon was on the list.  I originally had every intention of ordering the chef’s restaurant week menu, but there was a halibut with a goat cheese ravioli that sounded too good not to get.  Shannon and I actually both ended up getting that.

I started with an heirloom tomato salad that was fantastic.  I love how each of the tomatoes have their own flavor and texture.  They were all similar but different.

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Shannon got a salad with a wonderful dressing.

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We ended up sharing both so we could both try everything.  Since we were ordering the same meal I’m only giving you a review of the halibut.  It was absolutely delicious.  The fish was cooked perfectly and I loved how it was served.  The ravioli was also wonderful, I love the tang of goat cheese in a ravioli.

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The only other thing I’ll mention is a rum drink that I had at the trunk show.  When we got there I tried a friend’s rum drink and immediately went to find one of my own.  It was a spicy rum punch.  It tasted like autumn.  At first the guy making the drink laughed at my description, but I’m telling you that I was spot on (Shannon agreed with me, so I felt justified in my description).  If I can find what was in it I will let everyone know!

Now back to the 3 loads of laundry that I have to do after coming back from vacation.

Spoon on Urbanspoon

La Palapa Review

5 Aug

I went to a new Mexican restaurant in the South Side, La Palapa, tonight with Jen.  I had actually been to this place once before but I only took on picture and I only tried my own dish.  I knew I’d be back to do a better review.  And hey, at this point I’ve ordered two things as well as having food from my awesome friend who likes to share!

This place is super tiny, I’d say they can only fit about 22 people (there are about 8 tables if memory serves me correctly).  The first time I went it was a Saturday night and there were six of us.  We definitely needed a reservation.  Even on that super rainy night, the girl there told me that they were at an hour wait at the time we arrived.  On a Tuesday night at 6 pm there was no need for a reservation and it still wasn’t that busy when we left around 7.

On my first trip to this great new place I ordered something a little different at the recommendation of our server.  I got the Lengua en Salsa Verde, in layman terms, beef tongue with green salsa.  I know it sounds weird, but it was delicious.  It just tasted like regular beef.  I love their salsa verde, it was great with the beef.  The texture was definitely different, it was softer, but the dish was fantastic and if you are at all adventurous, you should order it!

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Tonight when I walked in Jen had read my mind and ordered chips and guacamole, they were just waiting for me to arrive.  And this is great guac and homemade chips.  Now I won’t lie, I really still prefer the guac at Round Corner Cantina best (it’s simple), but this was really good.  It was smooth with just a few chips and some queso fresco on top.  And I love the chips too, they are crispy, fresh and I believe fried there.

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Since I’d already been here once and since Jen is a sharer we decided to order some chicken enchiladas with the salsa verde and steak fajitas. The steak was sliced thin and sauteed with a spicy red sauce and lots of onion and peppers.  They served it with warm corn tortillas and a side of rice and beans.

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The enchiladas had that amazing salsa verde on them.  Yum!  They were done with corn tortillas, which I honestly prefer to flour, so they have a little more texture to them than a lot of other enchiladas.  Overall I really enjoyed these.  I could have used a little more salsa, and I’m sure they would have brought some out if I had asked!

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With the chips it was way too much food, but it was all so delicious.   Jen and I ended up taking most of our meals home since we devoured the chips as an appetizer.

Overall I would highly recommend this new little restaurant.  The service is really good, they are very accommodating.  I’m really hoping that this little place gets the business it deserves.  They are doing a tasting menu for restaurant week (which is next week fyi) so hopefully that will draw some people in.  Pittsburgh is seriously lacking decent Mexican food so I am super excited to see this place open up and definitely would recommend it as a place to try out!

La Palapa Cocina Gourmet Mexicana on Urbanspoon

 

 

I’m Baaaack… and a review of Kavsar

10 Jul

It’s definitely been a while and I have a very poor excuse for my absence.  My life just got in the way of my going out to eat and watching movies!  Not that I haven’t been going out, I certainly have!  I’ve just been going places that I’ve already been to and cooking easy meals that either aren’t worth posting (umm, spaghetti with meat sauce) or things I’ve already showed you how to make.  I will admit that I’ve been hitting up a new breakfast place quite frequently and will definitely write up a review soon since I am pretty sure I’ve had about 5 things on the menu already and loved all of it.

Jen found an article about Kavsar a month or two ago and we decided that we should definitely hit up this Uzbek restaurant.  Because honestly, I’ve never had anything from Uzbekistan and Pittsburgh doesn’t have much in the way of middle eastern cuisine.  Quick geography lesson for everyone, Uzbekistan is north of Iran and Afghanistan.  So we decided to hit up this cozy place on Mt. Washington on the corner of Southern and Shiloh.  The restaurant itself is in a renovated house.  The dining room is upstairs and you have to brave the uneven Pittsburgh stairs in order to get up there.  In the dining room they had live music.  At first I thought he was just going to play the keyboard but then he sang, and while it was a bit loud, he did have a decent voice!

Kavsar seems to be run by a family and the service was different.  I won’t say it was bad, it just wasn’t American style so you have to be a little flexible.  The two girls working the dining room were very sweet, I just think a few things get lost in translation and we definitely could have been more clear with what we wanted done with the check (long story, I won’t get into it but it really wasn’t a big deal).

Ok, on to the food… finally!

We figured, hey, we’re in this Uzbek restaurant, we probably won’t come back (or at least not often), lets try some stuff since it was all reasonably priced.  We decided to start with an appetizer.  I actually asked the girl serving us what she liked best and she recommended that we get the Julien in Pancake Bags with the chicken.  This was really tasty.  We usually think of pancakes as being something sweet and I forget that they can also be savory.  These were very thin, almost crepe like and filled with a chicken and mushroom mixture in a  creamy sauce.  Jen was nice and ate them with me by picking out the mushrooms since she doesn’t like them.  I would definitely suggest you get these if you try out this restaurant, it was worth trying out.

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As usual, Jen and I shared the main dishes as well as the app.  The first thing on the entree list came with the following description:  Palov is the symbol of Uzbek food. It is prepared in every Uzbekistan family, whether Uzbek, Russian, Tatar of Korean. Uzbek palov is the part of mentality of Uzbekistan people and traditionally it is cooked by men.

So We decided that we had to try it since it was the only item that came with a description like that.  I mean when in Rome (or an Uzbek restaurant)…  There was definitely a heavy tomato flavor on the rice, which I loved.  I’m honestly not sure how to describe the rest of the seasoning, it wasn’t especially spicy or anything, but it was very good.  The beef was good and was sliced thin and served over the rice.

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The other dish we opted to try Kovurma Chuchvara – small, handmade dumplings filled with ground beef and onion.  It said that they were roasted on the menu, but the certainly tasted fried to me!  They were really good and were served with a little sour cream to dip in.  The onion mixture in these was really fantastic.  And they were bite sized, so they were really easy to eat, honestly, I could have kept eating these delicious little puffs.

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Overall, this was definitely something different to try and I’m very glad we went.  I really enjoyed the food and I’m happy that something middle eastern has opened up as that is definitely a hole in the Pittsburgh restaurant scene.  Another friend of mine recently tried a Turkish restaurant in the Regent Square area and he said that it was really good and also very reasonably priced so I’d like to hit that up soon as well.  I’m not sure I’d be a regular at Kavsar, maybe if I lived nearby I would be.  But even at that, there are several places on Shiloh that are also good.  In fact, when we were done Jen and I walked down the street for some soft serve ice cream.  Because it’s summer and I’m allowed to have ice cream!

So, if you are in the mood for something different from the ordinary, give this family run place a try.

KAVSAR Uzbek Halal Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

 

Butterjoint Review

6 May

Tonight Jen and I went to Butterjoint, the bar attached to Legume, for dinner.  After a few weeks of somewhat fancier dinners, I was looking forward to something a little more low key.  We were debating going to Union Pig and Chicken again (which I went to before I started the blog and really liked but need to go back to), but decided to try something new instead.

I’d stopped in here for a drink before dinner a few months ago, but didn’t get to try out their menu.  It’s a pretty simple menu that really just features some burger and pierogie options.  Jen and I of course shared!  We went with pierogies with Kimchi and a burger.  One of the things I liked about this place was that they split everything in the back for us.  I love it when they do that for you.

The burger was good, nothing spectacular.  We just had it with lettuce, onion and tomato.  The fries on the other hand were fantastic.  It was the really really bad for you kind that were totally double fried I think.  They just tasted too good.

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I loved the homemade pierogies.  They were really tasty, maybe not as good as the ones the old Polish ladies make during lent at my mom’s church, but they were good. I also liked the kimchi that we ordered, but it wasn’t as good as the kimchi that we got at Grit & Grace.  Still though, totally worth trying.  All of the potatoes at this meal made me think of a comment two of my Orlando friends (Tracy and Heather) made when they came to visit and I took them to some standard Pittsburgh restaurants.    We Pittsburghers LOVE our potatoes.  Pierogies, fries, chips, you name it.

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I would love to try some of the different sides.  If Jen hadn’t been in a sharing, burger mood, I was going to get the pierogies with sauerkraut and sausage (which they make in house).

And I’m sure you are all shocked that even though we were totally full, we tried dessert.  We didn’t finish it, but we did try the toasted pound cake with poached pineapple and whipped cream.  It was as good as it sounds.

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Definitely a more casual dinner that we needed this time.  I really liked stopping in here for a quick bite tonight.  If you think you’ll be able to stop in on a Friday or Saturday night and not wait for a spot at the bar or a table, don’t be foolish.  This small place gets packed on the weekends (and I’m guessing Thursday too).   I’ll also add that my diet is taking a hit this week.  I had wings for dinner on Monday and this tonight.  I’m going to be eating plain salad for the next 2 days I think!

Butterjoint on Urbanspoon

Rock the Casbah

30 Apr

Ok – I went to my first hot yoga class tonight.  I’ve taken plenty of yoga classes before, but I wanted to try something new and there is a place not to far from me that offers these classes.  Fist of all, I had more sweat pouring out of my body in this yoga class than I do when I go to spin.  They keep the room at 85 degrees, so it’s, well, hot once you start moving and holding eagle pose for 2 minutes.  I was looking around going, please tell me that I’m not the only one this gross.  Luckily, I was not.  We all had beads of sweat on our arms, legs and chests.  That made me feel better.  So that was totally off topic, but I wanted to share :-)

Last night my friend Niki and I went to Casbah in Shadyside for dinner.  Casbah isn’t a new place, it’s been open for several years now and is one of those places I kept meaning to go to for dinner but just never did.  It has a Mediterranean themed menu and they change the menu daily (with some things that are always on there of course).  I enjoyed this meal very much and was surprised at how busy this place was on a Tuesday night.  Shadyside is always busy of course, but there was a constant flow of people.

The way they have the menu setup is that there are small plates and appetizers and then larger plates.  I know a lot of people who have gone here just ordered a bunch of small plates and apps.  Niki and I decided we’d go with real dinners.  We both started with salads.  I got this pretty salad, the Salad Vignarola, with asparagus, radishes, Manchengo cheese and a celery seed dressing.  This was a tasty salad.

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Niki went with the arugula salad, I took a bite and boy was this great.  I think it was the pancetta vinaigrette that made it so good.

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I went back and forth on what to order for dinner.  I decided on the short rib ravioli and it was exactly what it sounds like.  It was the braised short rib meat in ravioli served with a short rib sauce.  It was very good and I ate about half of the serving while I was there, I wanted desert ;-)  I actually ate the leftovers for lunch today and it still tasted good!

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Niki went with the house specialty, the pork chop with braised kale and pea and prosciutto risotto.  The chop was cooked perfectly (even if it was gigantic) and I loved the kale and risotto.  Niki was kind and let me try a bite of her food.

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Even though I was full, Niki talked me into desert.  We ordered a champagne Macaroon to share.  I loved the strawberry sorbet, it just tasted summery to me.  I liked the cookie and the cream as well.  It was surprisingly pretty big, we only managed to eat about half of it between the two of us but I’m glad we tried it.

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Overall, I really liked Casbah for dinner.  It was on the pricier side especially if you get a glass of wine or two, but I would go back here for a nice night out.  Probably not the place I’d go to every week for a casual dinner.

Casbah on Urbanspoon

 

Sienna Mercato Review (first time)

26 Apr

I’m trying to get this done while I’m still awake and remember what all we ordered tonight.  We had all been talking about gong to Mercato (aka Emporio) for a few weeks now.  Honestly, I didn’t think we’d make an appearance until the rooftop bar opened later in May.  But we decided to hit it up tonight for some drinks and meatballs.

Yes, this is a meatball themed restaurant.  Pick a ball (beef, spicy pork, veggie or chicken), pick a sauce, pick a serving option.  We all decided on different things.  I got a spicy pork meatball with the arribiatta sauce.  So it was spicy and delicious and was truly memorable.  I loved the sauce on this one, it was a great tomato sauce with a kick and I really like spicy food.  My other choice was a chicken meatball with the mushroom gravy.  It was good, but nothing to write home about (unlike the other ball).

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Maura went with the beef meatballs for both with different sauces.  On one she got the parmesan and on the other the pesto.  She was nice and let me have a tiny bite of both so I could try the sauces.  I have to say, both were amazing but I’ll give it to the parmesan on this one.  I really enjoyed it.

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Ok, I admit, I forget what type of ball Niki ordered, but I do remember the sauces she choose!  She got the parm (like Maura) and also the tzatziki.  I tried the tzatziki that she ordered and it was really good.  I liked the cool cucumber sauce (that you’ve had if you’ve ever ordered a gyro) with the meatball.  It was a nice complement.

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And because this was on the menu and neither Niki nor Maura had ever experienced the joy that is poutine (is it just me or does that sound like a slightly dirty word) we ordered some.  So if you haven’t had it yet, it is fries with gravy and cheese curds.  And it is heaven on a plate.  Artery clogging heaven on a plate.  This was good poutine, not the best I’ve had in the city, but really good.

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So my overall on this place was a serious thumbs up.  I really can’t wait to go back and try the different combinations of meatballs and sauces as well as some of the other sides.  I loved the atmosphere and I can’t wait for the top two levels to open up over the next two months.  And again, go downtown for yet another great new addition for the after-work crowd!

Emporio: A Meatball Joint on Urbanspoon

 

Habitat Pittsburgh Review

22 Apr

Jen and I went to Habitat at the Fairmont in downtown Pittsburgh this evening.  It made the list of restaurants for Pittsburgh magazine last year, therefore it’s been on the list for a while now.  Not at the top, but since we’ve been on a downtown kick, we decide to go for it.  We made reservations about a week or so ago, but honestly, we didn’t need them.  I assume that unless it’s a busy weekend you’ll be fine without calling ahead.

The setting was very hotel-ish (another non-word for you).  Just that you could tell you were in a hotel restaurant.  It was super modern and absolutely fit with the theme at the Fairmont, but my guess is that the decor will seem outdated in about another 7 years.  The conversation and company was awesome (as always).  Lots of work talk tonight for some reason, but we both had some things we needed to talk out.  Then there was the people watching.  Which was just phenomenal this evening.  Shortly after we arrived a couple, in their 80’s I’d guess, walked in.  The wife in these black silk pants and what I believe was a chinchilla fur vest that came to her knees.  It was fantastic.  And then toward the end of our meal, a woman came in, also probably in her 80’s, in a silver metal (metal, not metallic) tie and gigantic 70’s glasses.  If I am even half as eccentric as either of these two women when I’m in my 80’s then mission accomplished ;-)

On to the meal…

Two of the things I liked about Habitat Continue reading

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