Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thirsty Thursday Halloween Special: Best Bloody Marys in Town

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought I'd let you all in on the Bloody Marys that will get your blood pumping.  Here are a few specials to check out this Sunday:

Blake'sBloody Pick:

Grille 36's Steel Curtain is by far the best Bloody Mary I've ever had.  I can't say for certain if they're having any specials this Sunday, but I say if you haven't had it yet, GO TRY IT.  You won't be sorry.
Jerome Bettis' Grille 36
(412) 224-6287

Other Bloody Specials:

Redbeard's gives you the ultimate hangover cure with their $7 Effen Bloody Marys all day long.  See if it's Effen good enough.
Redbeard's Bar & Grill
201 Shiloh Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15211
(412) 431-3730

The Bar (my favorite name of all) on Carson Street is once again offering their weekly Build your own Bloody Mary special with over 50 spices and garnishes available for the choosing!
The Bar
2132 East Carson Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
(412) 488-3980

Over the Bar is offering $3 Bloody Marys on Sunday from 12-3 p.m. Remember: bike riding is still considered operating a moving vehicle -- so find a designated pedaller!
Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe
2518 East Carson St
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
(412) 381 3698

Thirsty?  Head on over to Thirsty’s on Ferguson Road in Alison Park for $3.95 Bloodies all day.
2412 Ferguson Road
Allison Park, Pa 15101

Birmingham Bridge Tavern offers $4 Bloody Marys all day made with their house specialty infused vodka.
Birmingham Bridge Tavern
2901 Sarah Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203-2327

Lava Lounge in the South Side offers $4 Bloody Marys and Karaoke to boot!
Lava Lounge
2204 E Carson Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Cain’s Saloon has lots of different daily specials, and on Sunday it’s $5 Bloody Marys…along with the NFL Ticket and 14 flatscreens.
Cain’s Saloon
3239 W Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15216-2319
(412) 561-7444

Remedy Restaurant & Lounge claims to offer the HOTTEST Marys in town for $3.50 on Sundays.
Remedy Restaurant & Bar
5121 Butler St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

If you're feeling schwanky, try Grandview Saloon’s $5.75 Bloody Mary which comes with a  hard salami, aged smoked cheddar, Spanish olive kabob. Sounds delicious!
Grandview Saloon
1212 Grandview Ave , Mt. Washington
Pittsburgh, PA 15211
(412) 431-1400

If you're like me and your wallet is feeling a bit thin, try Fuel & Fuddle between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.. They sell their Bloody Mary’s on the cheap for just $1.50!
Fuel & Fuddle
212 Oakland Ave
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213
(412) 682-3473

Thanks Living Pittsburgh!

Know of more bloody specials?  Contact me at tasteofpittsburgh [at] gmail [dot] com!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: WELCOME TO MOE'S!

Now I know my main squeezes are the locally owned and operated powerhouses in our fine city.  But once in a while I just have to give a shout out to well known favorite.

Gotta love the warm "WELCOME TO MOE'S" you get from the enthusiastic, efficient assembly line every time you walk through the door :)

I had the Homewrecker Burrito with black beans and mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmboy was it good!

The FREE chips and bottomless salsa with every order ain't a bad gig either.

A HUGE thank you to Moe's for sending me $10 in Moe's Bucks to play with! It was more than enough to fill my belly for the entire day.

Elements of Surprise

A few months ago my office was devastated when Palomino shut it's doors.  Just a stone's throw away from our building, Palomino had always been a conveniently classy option for client lunches or happy hours. The waitstaff was always friendly and the menu delicious enough to keep us coming back.  So needless to say I was nervous when I heard about a new restaurateur from outside of Pittsburgh was coming in to open up a new place called Elements Contemporary Cuisine.

That is...until I found out his executive chef was Justin Severino.

I am a huge fan of the Big Burrito group in general, Eleven in particular which appears last on Severino's resume. So I perked up a bit at this news and thought we might be in for a treat.

I'm happy to report that I was right.

About a month ago my team and I checked things out for happy hour where all draft beers and well drinks are half off and wines go for $5 per glass.  We ordered the American Tasting platter ($5 less expensive during happy hour) which featured Prosciutto Americana,  Fra Mani Salametto Picante, Meadow Creek grayson, Rogue smokey blue, a white bean puree and roasted peppers to name a few items.

Coworkers tried intriguing cocktails like the Cucumber Martini, Basil Gimlet and the mojito reminiscent Green Tea. I reluctantly stuck with a glass of cab sav as I had a number of things to do after HH.

Because a meat and cheese plate is not a reasonable means of judgment in terms of rating a restaurant, I decided I needed to go back for more.

Thanks to a recent Groupon surprise,  I was granted just such an opportunity.  So I stopped by for a solo lunch on Friday afternoon.

Happily, the entire front of house was very pleasant. The hostess asked me if I had a seating preference and she gave me a table with a lovely view. The layout hadn't changed much from the way things were at Palomino. Just a few new tables and chairs.

As...luck?...would have it I had the same waiter as our team had just a few weeks earlier. His name was Bill.  As much as he weirded us out during happy hour with his oddities and overly conversational nature, he made up for it this time around. He came around just enough to fill my diet coke when the (absurdly tiny) glass neared empty and, observing my apparent need to quickly return to an afternoon of meetings, brought me my check in a very timely manner.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We'll start with the bread...

A motley crew of white, poppy seed and a whole grain raisin of sort proved far too much for one person, but welcomed nonetheless. The butter was appropriately soft -- perfect for spreading. I like a variety of bread choices. Sweet, savory and plain. An option for any diner's taste. A sweet deal for me.

Then it was on to the appetizer.

I couldn't ignore the crabmeat pumpkin soup screaming my name over and over again. So I didn't. And thank God. It was completely delicious. If I'd had fewer morals or manners I may have just picked up the entire bowl and slurped it right out. Jumbo lump crab meat swam in a sea of pumpkin bisque with a kick of curry for the heat and a drizzle of sweet and sour sauce which gave it a nice cooling touch. It reminded me quite a bit of the Butternut Squash soup from Spoon, but I don't think I'd dare say I preferred one over the other... That being said I definitely recommend the pumpkin soup at Elements.

I rounded out my meal with an entree to write home about:

Dear Mom & Dad,

I ate something amazing this afternoon. It was sea scallops served with thick cut bits of bacon, pomegranate and apple slices bathed in a mouth watering chestnut pesto. For getting only three scallops, it yielded a good 12 hefty bites of juicy meaty scallop. The bacon was thick and crispy (although one gooey fatty piece snuck in there some how) and provided a great textural contrast to the softness of the scallop. The crunch of the apple strips added a touch of sweetness to the (not too) salty dish and played a significant role in the texture wars as well. It was outstanding.

You need to come out here and visit so I can take you here. You'd love it. I think you and Bill would get along, too.



Cliffs Notes:
Groupon:                @ $15.00
Beverages:              1 Diet Pepsi @ $2.50
Appetizer:               Pumpkin Soup @ $9.00
Entree:                    Sea Scallops @ $15.00
Groupon discount:  @ -$25.00
Tax:                        @ 7% (Allegheny County only) @ $0.11
Total for one:          $16.61

Not bad for a schwanky lunch, I'd say! 

Overall opinion:

I truthfully believe that I made the perfect choices for someone with my taste. Looks like the menu is still extensive and appealing enough that I wouldn't be opposed to taking my clients here time and time again. Which makes me quite happy.  And yes, I'd even bring my mom here. Being a downtown restaurant its more of a happy hour, after work dinner spot than a weekend date location. Parking, I'm sure, is just as expensive as the meal and as much as I enjoyed it, I won't ever believe any meal is worth paying excessively for parking -- so call ahead to see if they validate.

Well done, Elements.  You've made me forget all about Palomino.

Elements Contemporary Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: We found the German Pride!

 Das boots!

 The food was plentiful and delicious!

 Real beer wenches served us German pretzels!

 A couple of German hams:


 There was great music!

 PID enjoyed his Oktoberfest. Yum, yum!

This guy was FOR REAL.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Turkish Delight

Guess who went and had a deliciously unique lunch but forgot her camera?

This girl.

I busted out the winter coat this afternoon for a chilly stroll down Liberty Avenue to meet a former intern of mine for lunch. We chose Istanbul Grille's downtown location because it looked fast and unique.  We were right!

As soon as I walked in I had a good feeling about this place.  The line was wrapped around to the back of the tiny walk-in restaurant and the smells permeating from the grills were mouthwatering.

Sadly, our experience would have been much more enjoyable had we gone on say, any other day but today.  The downtown location has no indoor seating (save for one lone stool under the thin counter which looked like the kid picked last in gym class all by itself).  It was spritzing outside and we could see our breath for the first time since last March, so the tables in the veranda next door were out of the question.

We battled back and forth with heading across the street to Starbucks and paying for a Pumpkin Spiced Latte so we had a place to sit, but my companion spotted an unclaimed, sheltered table in front of Au Bon Pain.  We kept our jackets buttoned and bared the cold to enjoy our meal.

I had a generous helping of the chicken gyro meat on top of turkish brown rice with an enormous side salad.  She had the vegetarian platter with hummus, Babaghanoush with pita bread and the same salad.  We both had trouble finishing, but not for lack of flavor!  We were just given that much food!

The chicken was absolutely divine. It had just enough crisp to make it full of flavor but not taste remotely burnt. I've been picking at it since lunch even though I'm about to burst at the seems. And I watched as I waited in line while the prep cook continuously refreshed the salad with new lettuce and fresh vegetables, oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper, and mysterious (but tasty!) Turkish spices, tossing it every couple of moments to make sure the oil and vinegar didn't settle at the bottom of the bowl. That is commitment! And commitment never tasted so good.

Cliffs Notes:
Meat platter (chicken): $7.50
Vegetarian platter (hummus/Babaghanoush): $6.50
Diet Coke: $0.50
Ginger Ale: $0.50
Total for two (she paid, the sweetheart): $15.00

No tax, cash only, quick, easy, outta there.

Overall opinion:
My experience with the downtown location has definitely intrigued me to the point that I am dying to check out their Lawrenceville location and sit down with a bottle of wine of my choice in what looks like a very warm and inviting atmosphere.  If it smells and tastes anything like the Liberty Avenue joint, I'll be hard-pressed to leave!

Istanbul Grille on Urbanspoon

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