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Wild Rosemary Review

16 Feb

I am very delayed in writing and posting this.  My friend Shannon and I went to Wild Rosemary for dinner about 3 weeks ago and I’m just getting to writing this.  There goes the new years promise to be better at writing timely reviews!  Once again, my personal life has gotten in the way of things.

I’ve wanted to go to the tiny (and I mean tiny) BYOB Wild Rosemary for ages.  This place is next to impossible to get a reservation at.  They only have about 8-10 tables, maybe they seat 30 people at a time and this is a place that people tend to linger.  Also, people tend to make standing reservations (like every first Friday).  So I made my late January, Wednesday night reservation back in November.  However, it it well worth the wait.

First they brought us out this fabulous focaccia bread that was seasoned and served with an olive oil and pomegranate balsamic (if I remember correctly that’s what it was).  I was starving and pretty much devoured one piece immediately.

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They only offered one appetizer.  They were just shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce.  But these shrimp were like the size of a newborns arm.  I’m not kidding.  It was good to have something little to start with!

We both ordered something off the menu that is not offered all the time.  Shannon ordered a chicken that was served with a fantastic caper sauce.  It was both pretty and delicious.  And, bonus, both capers and caper berries are good for you!

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I went with a less healthy but equally delicious option of veal short ribs and homemade pappardelle pasta from Fede (local pasta makers) and sticks of Parmesan cheese.  Again, this was as pretty as it was delicious.  The braised short ribs literally melted in my mouth.  This was easily one of the best meals I’ve ever had.  I loved the red wine tomato sauce that the meat was braised in.  It served as the pasta sauce as well and was simple and delicious.

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We had finished our bottle of wine at this point, but of course had to try something for dessert.  This was the only thing I was a little disappointed in.  We got a berry tarte with white chocolate drizzle and it was cold and rather dry.  I assume it was served cold on purpose, but the tart shell was really dry.  With a dinner that good though, I won’t complain about not being in love with dessert!

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Overall, I would absolutely go back here.  It was not cheap though, so I’d reserve this for a special occasion meal I think!

Wild Rosemary Bistro on Urbanspoon

 

 

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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

 

 

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

 

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

Grit & Grace Review

22 Feb

One of my dear friends was celebrating a birthday this week and we both were looking forward to trying Grit & Grace so that is where we went to celebrate.  I honestly can’t say enough great things about this restaurant.  I enjoyed everything about the meal from the setting, to the casual style to the food itself.

They style of food is interesting.  Chef Brian Pekarcik has created a style that (according to our server) is taking Asian food and “Americanizing” it.  Not in the way that the Chinese buffet down your street Americanized things with sweet sauces and fried food, but in a way of taking traditional Asian flavors and giving it an American comfort food touch.

The menu is interesting, and to be honest probably isn’t for the picky eaters among you.  But honestly, nothing that I talk about on this blog is for picky eaters!  They have some salads, sandwiches, noodle bowls as well as small and large entrees.  On top of that, they have a dim sum offering with a server who comes around randomly with the food already prepared.  I saw several things that we didn’t order that I’d certainly go back for.

Off the regular menu we went with Short Ribs on cream cheese biscuits and a hollandaise sauce which was a little messy and also amazing.  This may have been my favorite item that we ordered!  We also ordered the chicken thighs with fried rice, also very tasty.  Until I started eating out at some of these great restaurants, I did not realize the joy that is dark chicken meat.  The flavor is fantastic in this dish and it was simple and delicious.  The last item we ordered from the regular menu was the braised pork in butter lettuce cups.  It was also very good, but probably my least favorite of the items we ordered.

IMG_1103The Chicken Thighs

When the dim sum server came to our table, I wasn’t sure what to get!  Every item was tempting.  Eventually what we got was the kimchi (2 of those because it was so good we ordered another when he came back around later).  The pork belly, which is like really amazing bacon, and a steak tartare.  Each of them were tasty!

IMG_1101The Short Ribs, Kimchi and Pork Belly

We ended with something sweet of course.  I didn’t see desert listed so I was thinking that we would be heading out for something, but they did have two options that were not listed.  What we chose was… interesting.  It was a lemongrass creme with toasted fruity pebbles.  Yes, you heard that correctly, fruity pebbles.  It was different.  I’m not sure I’d get it again, but it was certainly something to try!  I loved the lemongrass creme, just not sure how I felt about it with cereal!

IMG_1104Our Fruity Pebble desert

Again, I really enjoyed everything about this restaurant.  We ended up taking close to 2 hours to eat and never once felt rushed.  The servers were all very attentive but not overly so.  I asked about possibly menu changes and additions and she said that yes, they’ve been and will continue to change up the dim sum as well as the regular menu.  It was a small space downtown, not far from Market Square.  I’m happy to see new places going in in the downtown area as it seems some of the other neighborhoods around town have been the target for many of the interesting restaurants in the last 5-10 years.  With the relatively recent addition of Grit & Grace (as well as Butcher and the Rye which I’m hitting up in about 3 weeks) there are now some really great dining options in downtown Pittsburgh.  The only other thing I’ll add is that you need a reservation.  While we were there early and it wasn’t that busy at the time, I can see this place getting really crowded later in the evening.  Have you been to Grit & Grace yet?  What did you think?

Grit & Grace on Urbanspoon

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