Archive | April, 2014

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

 

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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

Butcher and the Rye

9 Apr

Last night, Jen and I finally made it to Butcher and the Rye.  I’ve been wanting to go here for months.  First I had the surgery and wasn’t exactly getting out of my house and then the winter sucked.  I think we made plans to go twice and were snowed out both times.  So weather is finally improving (it may be in the 70’s this weekend!!!) and we made it to this awesome little restaurant.

This restaurant is brought to us by the same folks who run the super popular Meat and Potatoes just a few blocks down from this location.  Both places are difficult to get weekend reservations for, so if you want to go on a Friday or Saturday, make a reservation a few weeks in advance.  The inside of Butcher is rather dark and intimate.  I mean, you are pretty much right on top of the table next to you, so if you want to have a private conversation, good luck.  It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it’s not someplace I’d necessarily want to go for a romantic night out.

When you walk in, the first thing you’ll likely notice is this gigantic wall of whiskey!  They have a large drink menu that includes a whiskey flight.  Alas, that did not sound like a good idea on a Tuesday night, maybe some other time.

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After we sat down, I looked down at our table and had to giggle.  Each table had a different graphic on it, this was ours…

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I found it fitting that I got the Butcher (played brilliantly by Daniel Day Lewis) from Gangs of New York as this was one of the first Leonardo DiCaprio movies where I actually looked at him as an adult and not a kid.

I had been looking at the menu for days, okay weeks, I won’t lie.  One thing I knew for certain that we’d get, the Brussles sprouts.  They did not disappoint me.  I still intend to make a list of the best sprouts in Pittsburgh at some point as so many places have awesome recipes involving this veggie that was the bane of many childhood dinners.  These were wonderfully salty between the prep and the fresh grated parmigiano on top.  It was also served with a creamy lemon aioli that really complimented the Brussles sprouts.

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Jen and I debated whether to get just a few small plates or our own larger plates.  We were all ready to just get 3-4 small plate options but then our server totally changed our mind.  There is a burger on the side menu that was truly fantastic.  They grind the meat fresh and only made something like 25 patties each day.  I know, we ordered a burger at a place like this, but it was not a normal burger.  The pickles were made in house, the onion was grilled and the sesame seed brioche bun was the perfect way for this burger to be served.  Our only issue was that we were sharing and Jen and I have very different ideas of how meat should be cooked.  We ended up in the middle (I would have gone with medium-rare, Jen would have gone well done).  Either way, it was still amazing….

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So of course, our eyes were much larger than our stomachs and we went with one other small plate because we could not pass up the mac and cheese.  This was made for grown-ups with four different cheeses and was cheesy and creamy and absolutely delicious.  Mac and cheese is totally my guilty pleasure food, I was a little devastated that I was too full to enjoy more than a few bites of this.

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So despite sending back about half of the mac and cheese and a few bites of the Brussles sprouts and being ridiculously full, we did order a small desert.  Coconut ice cream with carrot cake and some fried shaved carrot.  Again, we could only eat about half of this, but the ice cream was homemade and it was fabulous as was the cake itself.

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Overall, I really enjoyed this and fully intend to make a repeat visit.  The ambiance and the staff were both lovely as was each dish that we ordered.  They checked on us frequently, but not too often and that is a difficult line to walk as a server.  I would absolutely recommend going here for dinner, but again, make reservations.  It’s by no stretch a large space so I understand why it’s a little difficult to get in to.  And I said this about another new downtown restaurant recently, but I’m so happy to see more places like this going into the downtown area.  It’s just nice to have a lot of options in that area!

Butcher and the Rye on Urbanspoon

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