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Cure Review

26 Oct

Jen and I continued our mission to go to the best Pittsburgh restaurants this past week.  We decided to go to Cure in Lawrenceville.  Honestly, the only reason I hadn’t gone yet was because I really thought we’d already been there.  See, this is one of the main reasons I started this blog, so I could keep a running list of where we’ve gone and which we liked.

In this case, I wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped to be.  Maybe it’s because I’ve gone to some truly amazing restaurants around town and when I draw comparisons these days, everything is compared to my favorite meals.

First impression was of the restaurant decor, which I really liked.  It was small and rustic looking and very cute.  When we went to order was when I had my first reservations.  There was absolutely no altering of the dish.  I get it, the chef has gone through a lot of trouble to put dishes together, but when Jen asked for something to be omitted because she doesn’t like shellfish, they said they only alter dishes for allergies.

So, we started with the brussels sprouts.  They were done with bacon, walnuts and goat cheese.  They were actually amazing.  I’ll still give credit to the brussels sprouts at Root 174 as my favorite, but these were a close second.  So the meal started out really well.

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Jen ordered the butternut squash risotto.  Here is where things got a little more off for both Jen and myself.  While the risotto itself was fantastic, it came with too much extra “stuff” in my humble opinion.  There was a basil oil, a Chianti froth, mushrooms and smoked mozzarella.  I get that each of those could compliment the dish, but were all four really needed?  I think that one or two of those things would have worked just as well.  I honestly loved how the basil oil tasted with the risotto, but the rest felt like overkill.  You can see all the stuff in the picture below (I didn’t use the flash, it would have just been embarrassing to use in a place like this).

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I ordered the hanger steak.  When I ordered I was told that it is usually prepared medium rare, but the chef would be willing to do it medium if I asked.  So basically, if you like your steak over medium, you aren’t getting it at this place.  As with this dish, I loved the steak but it came with too many little sauces.  I actually liked all of them, but it just felt like too much to me again.  There was a cheddar custard, lobster béarnaise, red eye bordelaise and caramelized onion puree.  I really did like the caramelized onion puree and I would have been happy with just two of those sauces.

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To end the night we decided to get the chocolate souffle cake. This I also really enjoyed.  It was served simply with some pistachio butter and sea salt.  I think I liked it so much because it was relatively simple.

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My overall take on Cure was that I was very glad I tried it, but it isn’t someplace that I’m likely to visit again.  Everything just was a bit too complicated for me, and I don’t normally shy away from different dishes.  Also the fact that there was little to no flexibility didn’t make me especially happy.  If you are a bit of a picky eater, you aren’t likely to be happy at this restaurant.  I’d say it is more for those with rather adventurous pallets.

 

Cure on Urbanspoon

Dinner at Arlecchino

13 Oct

Last week I went out to dinner with some folks to this amazing restaurant in McMurray (Peter’s Township), Arlecchino.  My cousin had invited me here over a year ago but then we ended up cancelling our plans and I’d wanted to go ever since she mentioned it.  This place is in an old, converted school house.  It’s not very big and even on a weeknight I’d probably recommend reservations.

The staff is very courteous and seemed to know when to pay attention and when to leave us alone.  The menu was amazing and the portions are very large.  They get in their meat and produce daily so know everything is fresh.  They also modify the menu each day depending on what they get in I think!

So to start, they bring out a salad for the table to share.  It had roasted beets and many other good things in it and was lightly dressed, it was perfect.  They also bring out their bread and some “holy oil” (which is infused oil for dipping).  After the salad, out came some pasta with a vodka sauce.  They also brought out a hot pepper oil if you want to add that to the pasta.  A little went a long way, but it did add a little kick to the pasta and was really good!

After all of that food, out came our meals.  I really only remember what I got, but I know there was a pork dish, a veal chop and a fish dish around the table, here are some pics of their meals…

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I did get to taste each of these and they were all fantastic.  Everything was very fresh and cooked perfectly.  As for me, I ordered the Cottoletta del Monzu.

IMG_0889This was three pieces of thin veal scallopini finished with fresh mozzarella, colossal lump crab, arugula, and toasted pine nuts.  It was so good, but there were two leftover pieces when I was done.  After the salad and the pasta who could blame me, this was huge!  The flavors in this blended perfectly and there was just enough cheese, not too much as sometimes happens when you go out for Italian.  I loved the addition of the arugula, it added something to the dish that I can’t quite explain, but I think it really brought the crab and the veal together.

And since it was still my birthday week, we got dessert.  We ordered a raspberry Tiramisu.

IMG_0893It was light and fluffy and awesome.  The topping reminded me of a burnt almond torte, it was nice and crunchy.  The filling was so fluffy it was a little like what I assume biting into a cloud would be like 🙂

Overall, I was super impressed with my meal.  This isn’t a place I’d go to all the time, it was pricey, but was also worth the money.  This may be one of my favorite places that I’ve been to since I’ve been back in Pittsburgh though, and I’ve been to some pretty amazing restaurants around town!

Arlecchino Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Park Bruges Restaurant Review

2 Oct

I went to Park Bruges in Highland Park for dinner tonight.  First of all, I love going to the Highland Park area.  There are so many pretty old homes there.  They are all in different states, some have been restored and others are still in a state of neglect, but overall, it’s a very pretty area.  And there are lots of really good restaurants there.  There is a Thai place that I like and E2 is there, which is really one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh and it’s super tiny and cute and run by hipsters.  I love it.

Anyway, on the Park Bruges, which is a french bistro style restaurant.  It  has a sister restaurant called Point Brugge Cafe in Point Breeze also.  My friend Jen and I had been trying to get here for a few months.  We tried one night, but the wait was horribly long for some reason so we ended up eating at E2 that night.  So I was really excited to try it.

I started with a beer, and being October I ordered a pumpkin beer.  I got the Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale.  It wasn’t too heavy on the pumpkin with a very subtle cinnamon and nutmeg flavor and a bit of a hoppy taste to it.  I’m rather sensitive to hops though, so for some of you, it may not seem very hoppy.  I really did enjoy it.

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We’d talked about their frites so many times that I couldn’t wait to try them.  We ordered the Poutine in the Montreal style, which came with Amish cheese curds and gravy.  Seriously, yum.  The fries were thin and crispy and they weren’t too heavy handed with the gravy.  Which was perfect.  Sometimes you get fries with gravy and you can barely taste the fries.  These were done very well and Jen and I enjoyed every last bite.

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For entree’s Jen opted for the Gemelli Pasta with peas, artichokes, asparagus, arugula and lemon herb ricotta.  She also got tofu with it.  It was very fresh and they put nutmeg in it.  Which was surprising and really tasty at the same time.  I had a bite and really liked it.  Jen’s only complaint was that the tofu was an afterthought and wasn’t really tossed with the dish but rather just placed on it.  I get that it’s an option, but I think it would have been better if it had been incorporated differently.  And the bread was so good.  I love a good, crusty piece of french bread.  Especially since I’ve been eating sprouted wheat bread at home lately.

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I really debated about what I should order.  I really wanted the PEI mussels when I arrived, but there was also this scallop dish that sounded good.  I asked our server what she’d suggest and she said that they’d always have the mussels but the scallops wouldn’t be there forever.  So, I went with the scallops with an Israeli couscous salad with roasted eggplant & tomatoes, harissa, tahini-yogurt and roasted cauliflower.  I cleared my plate, it was really good.  The scallops were cooked perfectly, just seared.  The harissa was interesting.  It was very spicy to me and I have a decent tolerance for heat.  I only needed the tiniest bit with each bite.  I was laughing though, my friend Bhavini would have mixed all of it into the dish and probably asked for more!  I liked the balance of it though with the cool yogurt sauce.  It was an interesting little dance in my mouth.  That sounds dirtier than intended.  Get your minds out of the gutter.

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Lastly, and forgive me, I forgot to take a photo, we ordered dessert.  You know, I kept forgetting to take pictures all night.  Jen had to keep reminding me and I still forgot to take a picture of dessert.  They don’t post desert options on the website or the menu for that matter.  I assume this means that they change often.  We ordered a chocolate soufle with a salted caramel cream filling.  WOW.  It was so good.  I mean, salted caramel anything really.  The soufle part was very light as was the filling.  It was the perfect end to a great meal.

Overall, I really enjoyed my meal and the atmosphere.  The staff was friendly and attentive without being overbearing.  The location is very cute and the inside is simple and understated.  I said French Bistro style earlier, right?  This is definitely someplace that I would visit again!

Park Bruges on Urbanspoon

Industry Public House Review

28 Jun

Earlier this week Jen, her husband and I visited Industry Public House in Lawrenceville. Yet another great Lawrenceville neighborhood restaurant, this one opened in 2012. I’m really kicking myself for not buying a house there. I seriously considered buying a fixer-upper there and am now thinking that I should have bought a place to rent out.

Anyway, Industry Public house is located on Butler Street and is what I’d describe as a gastro-pub. They have an extensive bar menu with an impressive selection of beers on tap and more whiskey than I’d ever know what to do with. I ordered one of their beers, the Industry Copper Ale. It was a great mild beer. I’m not a fan of overly hoppy beers and this one was very minimal on the hops.

On to the food! Their menu features great comfort food, right up my alley. We decided to start with an order of their fries, they come in three different styles: truffle oil and gorgonzola, pot roast with gravy or melted cheddar and bacon. We opted for the pot roast and it was fantastic. It was so good in fact that we were pretty much done with eating them before I remembered to take a picture! So here is the aftermath.

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I ordered the Worker Burgher which had carmelized onions, goat cheese, wild mushrooms, arugala and a herb aioli. I figured when you go to a place with a burger menu like this one, that’s what you should order! I did opt for a side salad rather than fries since we had ordered the pot roast fries as a starter.

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Jen opted to be healthy and ordered a salad and it looked so good. She got the company salad with granny smith apples, gorgonzola, dried cranberries, sliced red onion, candied pecans and a balsamic vinaigrette. It was a good sized salad and Jen said that it was very good. Those flavors go very well together so I’m confident that it was tasty.

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Jen’s husband ordered a cheese and bacon sandwich. He wasn’t overly impressed with it, but the bacon was really good. It was wild boar bacon and I tasted a bit of it. I really expected it to taste very gamey, but it wasn’t that way at all. It was done very well and just smokey enough. It could have been a little more crispy, but it was a thick cut of bacon, so that would explain why it wasn’t.

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I really liked it here, but I’ll freely admit that I haven’t been many places lately that I didn’t like. The service was okay, not extraordinary. This is the kind of place that I would love to come to after work for a beer and a bite to eat with friends. I would definitely recommend Industry as a great casual bar/restaurant and yet another place that I would visit again.

Industry Public House on Urbanspoon

Tender Bar + Kitchen Review

21 Jun

On Wednesday night, Jen and I went to this relatively new restaurant and bar in the Lawrenceville neighborhood.  First I have to say how much I love that Lawrenceville has been reinventing itself over the last few years.  Being back in the ‘burgh for two years now, I’ve been able to watch some of that transformation from a slightly frightening area with a run-down main street to a neighborhood bustling with art galleries, little clothing stores and lots of great restaurants.

On to the restaurant!  Tender Bar + Kitchen is located in an old bank building that has been renovated into a sleek restaurant.  Here is the description from the website:

“Tender Bar + Kitchen is an American cocktail lounge & restaurant that celebrates a return to the elegant simplicity of a past era. Cocktails are crafted with pride and in the classic tradition by respected professionals behind the bar. The inspired food menu offers soul-satisfying small plates that represent cuisine from all regions of America. Dishes are prepared in a scratch kitchen, with organic, sustainably grown produce, meats, and fish as often as possible. The space is open, the atmosphere warm and inviting, the design a reflection on the elite lifestyle of the early 20th century. Tender draws inspiration, and its name, from the Arsenal Bank building it occupies – a storied financial institution that served the Lawrenceville community, exchanging legal tender for its patrons for over a century.”

Our server told us that they were going to be changing the menu in the next few weeks.  I think since they are a relatively new place they were trying some things out to see what worked and what didn’t.  Their drink menu was really interesting and one of the people responsible for that part of the menu was also the creator of some very interesting drinks over at Meat and Potatoes.  They all have really interesting mixers and spirits in them and equally interesting names.  I ordered one called the Penny Farthing, which is kind of weird to say.  It had Gozio amaretto, Zaya rum, lemon, orange, egg white and sparkling wine.

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I know the egg white sounds weird, but it makes it very frothy.  And I had a mixology lesson a few months ago (by the woman who helped create this menu mentioned above), so I wasn’t afraid to try it as she had taught us about a lot of seemingly strange mixers at that lesson.

Most of the dishes here come on small plates so Jen and I decided to just order a few things and share.  It was a very random selection, but the menu is still relatively small.  We started off with some hush puppies and macaroni and cheese.  I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I have a weakness for mac and cheese, it’s a problem, but since it’s not something I ever make at home, I don’t feel too bad about ordering it when I’m out.

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The hush puppies were very crisp and not overly dry as hush puppies can sometimes be.  The mac and cheese was a great blend of several cheeses.  Not being a cheese monger, I could not place them all, but there was one in there with some bite, it was very well rounded.

For our “main” dishes I ordered the lobster rolls and Jen ordered the yaka mein.

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The rolls used for the lobster rolls was buttery and just a little crispy.  The lobster mixture was flavored lemon and dill, it was very refreshing.  The yaka mein was a little spicy and had homemade noodles.  Jen’s only comment was that it was a little difficult to eat, not quite a soup and not quite a plated dish.

The online menu has a moon pie desert and we were both very excited to try it out, however it was no longer an option for us at the restaurant.  So we settled for the fluffernutter dessert.

IMG_0670It had layers of whipped, creamy peanut butter and marshmallow fluff on toasted brioche bread.  It was served with a petite banana mixture.  The flavors really complimented one another, but peanut butter always goes well with banana!  If you haven’t tried the little banana’s, pick them up sometime.  They are much sweeter than a normal banana.  We were both full at this point, so while I hated to leave it behind, we could not finish this one.

Overall I really enjoyed my meal here.  The overall atmosphere was really good.  And aside from the table of doctors next to us making comments about all of the pictures that I was taking, I really enjoyed the ambiance.  I’m curious to see what changes they make to the menu over the coming weeks, so this is definitely a place that I will visit again!

 
Tender Bar + Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Brunch in Pittsburgh – Memorial Day Weekend Edition

29 May

So this past weekend, my good friend and eating buddy Jen and I went out to breakfast to a new place.  I love Pamela’s and De Luca’s for breakfast.  And if you are going to get me out of bed early on a Saturday or Sunday to go out to eat, you most likely will find me at one of those two places.  Pamela’s pancakes are my absolute favorites and De Luca’s standard eggs, sausage and toast breakfast is great.  Plus, I get to go walk around the strip after hitting up either of these places, which is something I love to do.  If you don’t know Pittsburgh, the Strip on a Saturday morning is the place to be.  There are vendors up and down Penn Ave and tons of people milling about.  I just love it.

But, this time Jen and I decided to try a new place that we had both heard about, Coca Cafe in the Lawrenceville neighborhood.  Our food was fantastic.  I seriously debated what to get, there were about 4 things I really wanted to try.  One of the starters listed was so tempting, grilled banana bread with honey walnut spread.  That sounded so good, and if I hadn’t ordered french toast for my meal, we would have ordered it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat some bread before I ate my bread if you know what I mean.

I got challah french toast with brie and fig jam.  Oh. My. God.  It was so good.  The challah bread was sliced thick and the brie and fig jam was both stuffed in between two slices of the bread and smothered on top.  The fig jam was not overly sweet and really complicated the brie.  The french toast itself was done perfectly, the outside was just a little crispy and the inside was soft and chewy.

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Jen got an avocado omelet.  Luckily, I have a friend who likes to share so I got to try this as well.  It was fantastic, the eggs were light and fluffy and the omelet was cooked perfectly.  The avocado, jalapeno muenster and bacon filling was fantastic and it had a fresh salsa on top that went perfectly with the flavors in the omelet.

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Overall, I’ll give this breakfast an 8 out of 10.  The restaurant was super cute and street parking there on a weekend was pretty easy.  When we got there, 5 minutes before they opened, there were easily 15-20 people ahead of us!  So if you are going to go, get there early or be prepared to wait.  We were seated immediately and the service was pretty good.  I will definitely go back here, it would be well worth the wait and I really want to try more of their menu.  I believe that they make small changes to the menu regularly so they’ll keep us coming back to try more of their creations.

Coca Cafe on Urbanspoon

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