Pittsburgh, how do I love thee…
Matt and I have a couple we are friends with getting married this summer. Brian and Dustie live in Pittsburgh which means normally we don’t get to see them very much but with the wedding coming up we get to visit more!
Pittsburgh and I have more of a love/hate relationship. I have friends in the city, food is fantastic, the selection of microbreweries is unmatched yet I hate driving there. HATE driving there. The twisty roads are super fun but it takes forever to go anywhere and I’m always lost. Good news; Brian knows where he’s going and knows how to feed me. Hooray!
Dustie’s shower was Saturday. After the tea party complete with sweets and good iced tea, we headed for downtown. Brian mentioned a New Orleans style spot he wanted us to try.
NOLA 5/28 www.nolaonthesquare.com (Just don’t ask me for directions)
New Orleans gift shops are packed with NOLA products (New Orleans, LA = NOLA). I wonder if the restaurant looks at this as free advertising…
Packed with high energy, high top tables and hipsters in high heels the atmosphere was just lively enough but the Mardi Gras cheese factor was kept to a minimum. It was a bit more upscale. Servers dressed conservatively and approached the tables casually without a lot of gimmicky fanfare. We ordered a round of beers while reviewing the menu.
I had the Church Brew Pious Monk Dunkel. Cool and refreshing, light toasty flavor and clean finish. Matt went for the East End Big Hop. Yep you heard it here, after my trip to AZ and a sampling of what IPAs have to offer, we are now IPA drinkers! The Big Hop was not bitter but very floral with an aroma of apricot and honey.
As we sipped our beers our server Jennifer told us about the specials. For an appetizer there was a fried gator tail that caught our attention as well as a bacon wrapped, pecan stuffed trout. As tempting as the gator tail was we chose to start with Frog Legs served in a bacon smoked butter with tender local mushrooms. The tiny meaty lollipops have the consistency of mussels but truly tasted “like chicken”. A great dare food for those stepping out of their boundaries because it sounds like a big deal but is approachable.
Matt and I were debating over two dishes. Craving crawfish he went with the Pasta Ponchartrain; short pasta, crawfish, artichoke, trinity (celery, bell pepper, onion) and Tasso (peppery, smoked pork). Salty, creamy and delicious there was plenty of tender, sweet crawfish and chewy pork throughout.
I always have a hard time passing up Jambalaya, even more so in a Cajun style restaurant.
It was amazing. The rice had soaked up plenty of flavor from the tomato. Lots of big chunks of andouille, peppers and tomatoes were mixed throughout. About 5 mussles, three shrimps so large they could have been small lobster tails and two “four bite” scallops topped the cast iron pot. This is normally where someone at the table insists on trying your plate and succeeds in taking the only bite of your favorite part. Nope, we passed side plates heaping with goodies and there were still enough sea creatures left for a feast.
Brian’s Grilled Catfish was very fresh and perfectly flaky while Dustie went for the bacon wrapped, pecan stuffed trout. Dustie’s fish had beautiful skin, wonderfully bitter greens and bits of thick cut bacon.
5 beers, 2 sodas, 4 dinner entrees and an appetizer later the bill was $130 – perfectly wonderful for the feast we enjoyed.
When I think of Pittsburgh I am always flooded with memories of walking over the Andy Warhol bridge after a good meal. The fun is remembering the dozens of times I’ve done this same thing, but with a different meal.
Until we eat again,