Friday, October 8, 2010

Night of the Living Room

Last weekend, PID and I did something different.  Instead of planning out our evening by checking our budgets, deciding on our attire mood, or working with our social and professional calendars, we just got in the car and...drove.

Our journey brought us to a familiar sight that we'd formerly never thought twice about in the past: the twinkling fairy lights adorning the deck of Leonard's Living Room just off of Washington Road in Bethel Park.

If you've shopped at South Hills Village Mall, then you've been stuck at the intersection below the dining room. You probably know it well. But you may not have taken much notice to Leonard's, looming above you.

We decided it was time to be the loomer, not the loomed.

So we ventured back to the tiny parking lot where we noticed a small, handwritten sign that read "Valet Only."  This confused us since the lot was so small that literally every spot was within a 20 foot walk from the front door.  We were confused even more when we awkwardly sat in our car for 2 minutes without being greeted by a valet. So... we parked. As we neared the door our elusive valet appeared and told us how he doesn't make an hourly wage on the weekends, but works on tips alone. We saw no point in handing him the keys to, what, drive our car in a circle and repark it?  So we promised to give him a dollar or two after our meal.

We walked in to an island bar next to a giant wall of windows, great for people (or traffic) watching during happy hour.  The dining room to the right looked charming enough, but it was a nice night (and as we're discovering, one of the last of the season) so we chose to eat outside on their deck.

To our surprise, the menu was pretty extensive. With six pages boasting traditional American fare from sandwiches to pasta to sections completely dedicated to their own meat: Veal, Beef, Chicken and Seafood, we had a lot of choices. As we decided, our pleasant waitress brought out the bread...

Tasty, but nothing to write home about.  They still get points for offering bread.  More and more places these days don't.  "Cutbacks." Pssht.

We quickly decided on the appetizer...

Jumbo sea scallops stuffed with lump crab meat and a lovely light remoulade.  I really enjoyed this appetizer.  Have I had better? Yes. At restaurants that charge WAY more. I would truly say that these were quite impressive for the cost. The crab meat was 100% real and the sauce was quite tasty!  It's new to the menu and I'd recommend it for certain.

Then we finally had to choose an entree...

Each platter came with a choice of soup or salad, a starch and a mystery vegetable.  I say mystery because there wasn't a list and we weren't given a choice.  We could, however choose the soup, salad and starch. 

For the starter, PID went for the wedding soup as I chose the salad.

Though my salad was much like the bread in it's lack of real noteworthiness, PID could not stop raving about the wedding soup.  "Chalked full of the good stuff, more than you usually get," he told me.  Apparently, 'good stuff means' mostly means the meatballs.  He said he didn't feel jipped out of them here as he had at other restaurants.  The broth was just right, there were large chunks of fresh carrots and the orzo was well cooked.

Originally I'd had my eye on the Raspberry Chicken Salad, but I have a rule about ordering chicken infrequently at restaurants and ordering salads even less. Why pay good money for something you can make for $2 at home? So, as delicious as the salad looked, I went in a different direction. And by different direction, I mean the nightly special: Steak and Cake.

A filet of mystery meat drenched in a demi glaze came to the table with a posse of slightly overcooked redskined potatoes, very undercooked carrots and what originally looked like a burnt crab cake. The meat was OK. I wasn't remotely impressed. To be honest, the sauce was so overpowering it completely took away from the flavor of the meat.  I say mystery meat because I honestly couldn't tell if I was eating lamb or beef. The crab cake, on the other hand was delicious. It didn't taste remotely as burnt as it looked.  Jumbo lump crab meat? Check. Same delicious remoulade sauce from our appetizer?  Check. I tried to eat it slowly, savor it. This case was a no brainer. Cake trumped steak.

PID ordered the medallions of beef served also in a demi glaze with crimini mushrooms and shallots which also came with undercooked carrots, but he opted for the linguini and red sauce as his starch. He wasn't overly impressed with his entree either -- again, the sauce was too strong and too plentiful. His meat was drowning just like mine was.

Cliffs notes:
Beverages:  2 diet cokes @ $2.50
Appetizer:   Scallops with Crab @ $8.00
Entrees:      Steak & Cake @ $20.00
                  Medallions of Beef @ $26.00
Tax:            @ 7% (Allegheny County only) $4.13
Total for two:  $63.13

Overall Opinion:
Leonard's had its ups and downs.  The atmosphere was nice and relaxing -- not overly loungy but not grungy. The deck had a nice view. The waitress was a peach. The appetizer and soup were fairly tasty, but while the entrees weren't bad by any means, we weren't overly impressed.  I wouldn't mind trying it out one more time (after all, there were 6 pages of menu), but I'm in no rush. 

If you're interested in giving it a shot for yourself, you can get a great deal on  Follow on Twitter for even deeper deals by snagging codes!

 p.s. -- for the record, we did tip the valet. I knew it was eating at you.

Leonard's Living Room on Urbanspoon

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