Sunday, December 27, 2009

Luma Restaurant

Allow me to begin this posting by sharing some drastic (but really exciting!!!) changes that are about to happen in this blogger’s life. First, since my last posting, I have graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, accepted a full time position with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, and signed a lease on an apartment in the Old Fourth Ward of Atlanta, GA. That’s right… Sweet-Cakes and Milkshakes is headed down South!

What does this mean for you?

  • W ell, it means the next time you’re in Atlanta, you can find some great eats first on this blog. I’m keeping up the tradition, one restaurant per week for my time in Atlanta (at least one year). As we’ve already discovered, one of the best ways to learn about a city is to discover its food. Looks like some sweet tea and southern bbq will be on the menu!
  • It also means that you can still come here for Pittsburgh food choices. I’m behind on posting (by about a month, yikes!). But, good news! I have this week off, so I’ll be catching up and filling you in on my last four weeks of Pittsburgh restaurant visits.
  • And finally, it means that you can find me at a new address. I’m buying and I’ll be designing my own site, so be looking for this URL to forward you to my new and hipper site!

But for now, allow me to begin that catch-up. Two weeks ago, my co-op co-workers and I met up for a “final hurrah” before graduation. Lunch at Luma (just two hours before a final exam, always the responsible decision).

Luma is a past hangout of my supervisor, who lived in Aspenwall a couple of years ago. I had heard nothing but great things, so, naturally, it was on the list! Luma is located right off of Freeport Road across the Highland Park Bridge (trust me, it’s worth crossing the river). This four roomed establishment includes a bar and a “garden room” – AKA, a room with three walls that are windows. Despite our arrival to what seemed to be a pretty slow day for lunch, we were surprised to find that we needed a reservation (which, thankfully, we had made). Right at noon, the place was filled.

Our meals consisted of a mixture of salads and sandwiches. And, the soups were irrestistable, so we all used some lobster bisque and house soups as a starter. If there is one food that I am over critical of, it is lobster bisque (a few years a go I waited tables at a café that served the best bisque in the South Jersey area). LUMA delivered, I’d say that their bisque was as good if not better than that of my little café’s.

Here are some other highlights of our meals:

  • Delicious fresh bread with olive oil – CHECK.
  • Unique salads – CHECK.
  • And the salmon? Quote all three of my coworkers: “This might be the best prepared salmon that I have ever had” – HIGH PRAISE! All three of them had it paired with a different type of salad. So, well prepared food – CHECK.
  • But what if you’re a burger person? Well just ask Andrew, who we all correctly predicted would go with the Chophouse Burger. He loved it (and the side was a healthy fruit salad to help balance out the meal). Classic American food – CHECK.
  • And the price? Well, it’s a little pricey. A “special occasion” place would be the way I’d put it.


Venture across that bridge and check out LUMA for a fun gathering with coworkers or a nice date night. LUMA will be on my list for when I’m back in the Burgh to visit “the old stomping grounds!”

Luma on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Week 13: piccolo FoRNO

Last Saturday, Caryn and I went on a hunt for a deliscious lunch in Lawrenceville. Our search started a little later than expected, so our lunch began at 3PM...piccolo FoRNO on Butler Street was the venue --- and boy, was it worth the wait!

This Italian bistro pulls you in from the street, inviting you to dine amongst exposed brick, soft lighting, an open brick oven, and a dumbwaiter (one of my favorite restaurant inventions, and so fun that it's right in the middle of everything).

Had it been dinner, we would have brought our own wine. But alas, productivity called, so no drinking in the afternoon for us. However, you can be sure I'll bring some wine the next time I attend.

Here's what we went with...

For an Appetizer: Bruschette Varie This assortment of toasted baguette included a tomato, olive tapenade, and red pepper spread. My favorite type of bruschetta is always tomato, but all were excellent!
Caryn's Lunch Main Course: Caprese Panini It's simple: you take really really fresh mozzarella, a thick and flaky roll, and add tomatoes and homemade pesto.
My Lunch Main Course: Lucchese Panini I think that what set this panini apart from others I've had is the bread. SO perfect. Take the perfect bread, and add proscutto (yum!), red peppers, some more fresh mozzarella, and pesto.

The Bottom Line
Great atmosphere, awesome bread, and fresh ingredients (not to mention BYOB) make piccolo FoRNO a must visit Pittsburgh Italian lunch (even if it's not technically in Little Italy). I'll be making a return trip soon for some of their dinner pastas and pizza!



Piccolo Forno on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Week 12: Morning Glory Coffeehouse

Steve and I had been plotting a visit to Morning Glory for quite some time; we acted on our threats yesterday.

We heard about this place based on a recommendation from one of Steve's coworkers at Patrick Dowd's office (thus the proclamation on the establishment's wall with best wishes from Patrick). The Morning Glory Coffeehouse is located in Morningside as detailed by this wonderfully witty map below...

The entire Morning Glory Experience is just that: witty. Not to mention hip, charming, adventurous, fun, tasty, and original. This is the kind of place that every town needs: a chill venue for group gatherings, live music (from all over the world!), and movie nights. Here are the details...

The Space
It's hobbit themed -- from the forest-like ceiling hangings (see below) to the light switches!

My favorite sign: "Mind your head on the way down the steps --- the basement is for hobbits only."

The speakers are fed by an old record player with scores of records for patrons to change at their will. Being a new visitor, I did not feel I had the street cred to change the music, but I didn't need to --- the regulars at the front put on a Supremes album that was PERFECT (I am actually Pandora-ing the Supremes as I write this posting to help set the mood).

The Coffee
It's my "runner up" for best coffee in Pittsburgh (I had 2 lattes!). I think that says it all --- try it and you'll agree! Be sure to try their signature Rhode Island Coffeemilk Latte --- subtle but delicious.

What to do when you're there...
Well, you certainly will not get work done. Steve and I were ambitious walking in, but were quickly distracted by the following:

- Listening to the foozeball machine (that's right, the place has a vintage foozeball machine)
- Wondering what movies they show on the projection screen during "MOVIE NIGHTS"
- Sorting through puzzles (including the "locate the 50 states" puzzle --- always a contest!)
- Reading the City Paper
- Checking out the book collection
- AND, my favorite, playing "It's bigger than...It's smaller than..." cards, in which you are given a noun and need to fill in the blanks to guess your item. For example, "It's bigger than our Solar System, but it's smaller than the Universe." ANSWER: The Milky Way

The Bottom Line
Affortable and Amazing, it's bigger than a hobbit but smaller than (and WAAAY better than) Starbucks. It's the Morning Glory Coffeehouse in Morningside, and you'll be glad you stopped by!

Morning Glory Coffeehouse on Urbanspoon

PS --- I know I'm a bit behind on the posting! I've been visiting the places, I just need to turn my notes into write on the look out for a catch up over Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Week 11: the Zenith Tea Room

On Sunday, Emma and I had a brunch date with the stipulation, "make it something vegitarian..."

Alright, I can work with this --- after a flick of the Urban Spoon iPhone application (note: this was not my iPhone, I'm a Blackberry gal), we found the Zenith Tea Room on 26th and Sarah Street in the SouthSide. This vegitarian dining establishment, turned antique store, turned art space has the witty tagline of "The Zenith Tea Room: Where your seat can literally be sold out from under you..." Such an interesting concept! But the big question is, how was the FOOD?

Well, friends, it was AWESOME! When you walk in for Sunday brunch, you most likely will wait (but not for too long), and shortly your waitress will sit you down at family dinner tables shared with strangers. Here's the run down...

$10.00 gets you:
- One hot item off of their brunch list that changes weekly (I ordered cinnamon french toast with pears, Emma ordered scrambled eggs with ricotta cheese and red peppers)
- A tea (you knew it would come up sometime based on the name of the establishment), or in my case a coffee--lots of work to do yesterday afternoon.
- An unlimited visit to the salad buffet. They literally have fifteen different types of salads. My personal favorite, the chickpea/cucumber salad. Careful, some of the items are surprisingly spicy!
- THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: An unlimited visit to the cake bar. It's not just any cake bar, either. These cakes are moist grandma-esque cakes. My favorite was an apple cinnamon cake with cream cheese icing...mmm.

Bottom Line

You don't have to be a vegitarian to love the Zenith Tea Room. So, go Enjoy a nice whimsy Sunday brunch this week --- and make sure you look up when you do so, the ceiling decorations are really fun!

Zenith Tea Room on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 2, 2009

Week 10: Abay Ethiopian Cuisine

Just off of Penn Circle in East Liberty, there is an Ethiopan restaurant named ABAY --- which, in Amharic, refers to the main source of nourishment for the Nile River (no, I didn't take a night class in African languages, I just read the menu).

I'll describe my experience as a series of several internal (yet wonderful) debates...

Debate Number 1: I'm 99 % sure that this debate comes up for the majority of patrons, that is --- Where is Ethiopia?

Well, it's right here:

(and also it's noted on the map in the vestibule of the establishment --- It's like they knew we were unsure!)

When you enter ABAY, you have the option of eating at a table or on traditional stools at the front window. Steve and I opted for a table, as I was already kind of in my Halloween Costume(just the dress), and stools are difficult in a dress.

Debate Number 2: What to have to drink?

Might I recommend bringing a bottle of wine?...that's right --- ABAY is BYOB!

Debate Number 3: What to order?

I'm not going to lie, I am completely clueless when it comes to Ethiopian food (as I'm assuming many of you are as well --- if not, I'm impressed). The menu has it's own glossary of Amharic terms, but I was still a bit puzzled. Thankfully, our waitress had some GREAT recommendations. Here's what we went with:

The Combination Platter for 2:

  • Zizil Tibs: It's a spicy mix of beef strips, awaze (spicy paste made from red pepper, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon), peppers, onions, and herbs. But not too spicy, my low tolerance could handle it, especially with our wine to calm my palette.
  • Gomen Besiga: It's cube beef mixed with kale, peppers, ginger, garlic, and onions. THIS was my favorite, and consequentally I have a huge bag of kale in my fridge after a trip to the Strip District the next day.
  • Doro Minchet Abish: It's chicken diced and simmered in a berebere (like awaze, but a powder instead) stew.
  • Ayib be Gomen: Or, as I like to call it, greens and cheese. This one came from the vegetarian portion of the menu, and it was a nice accompaniment to our carnivorous first few dishes.
All of this comes atop ABAY's injera, a light, soft, flat bread that comes on a pizza tray for the table. No utensils, just the injera for scooping.

The Bottom Line

I never would have guessed it, but I am in love with Ethiopian food! I can't stop thinking about how cool the environment was, the expert wait staff, and how much fun it was to eat with my fingers (without making a mess or a slap on the wrist)! ABAY is reasonably priced (on a once a week budget), easy to get to, and even more fun to talk about afterwards.

So, the next time you are in the mood for a change, hit up ABAY, and "Enjoy one of the world's most unique cuisines..."

Abay Ethiopian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 23, 2009

Week 9.5: The Pittsburgh Pretzel Sandwich Shop

And just when I'd thought I had been to every restaurant in Oakland, the Pittsburgh Pretzel Sandwich Shop opened at Meyran and Forbes!

Yesterday (Thursday), instead of getting some last minute studying in before an exam, I decided to relax my mind with what else but a soft pretzel (such comfort food).

The Pittsburgh Pretzel Sandwich Shop opened two weeks ago, enlivened with black and gold paint, LCD menus, about seven tables, and some really good pretzel sandwiches. Now, this place is not to be confused with the "Philly Soft Pretzel Factory" --- a favorite stop in my hometown, with it's classic tri-pack of braided pretzels.

Pittsburgh's pretzels are the classic tri-sectioned single twist pretzels, sliced in half and filled with your favorite sandwich fixings. I had a chicken salad sandwich, Adam had a grilled BBQ chicken sandwich.

What were my key take aways from the experience?

- The pretzels are warm, soft, and awesome --- they'd be great even if they weren't in sandwich form.
- The price is right, I mean, really right. A pretzel sandwich, a bag of chips, and a bottle of pop for under $7.00 --- take that, Subway!
- The atmosphere is nice: just a quick walk away, window seating available, and some nice soap operas on in the background

The Bottom Line:

The next time you're headed between classes to one of the many Oakland eateries, walk a bit further to the Pittsburgh Pretzel Sandwich Shop for a meal that you can easily afford! (once a day, I'd say)

Eat well, my Friends,

Kelly - from Baltimore

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week 9: Readbeard's Bar and Grill

I put my to-do list under a book last night... a book that I probably should have been reading instead of going out to a sports bar. But, alas, duty called --- I had a food blog to support.

Amanda and I hi-tailed it out of Oakland and headed up the P.J McArdle Roadway to Readbeard's on Mount Washington (and enjoyed the ride just as much as the meal --- the city looked amazing last night).

As soon as I walked in, the phrase "don't judge a book by its cover" came to mind. The unassuming outside opens into a really nice bar setting --- multiple rooms with arched walkways and windows, new furniture, and walls covered with flat screens. Perfect for Philly's playoff watching (but I'm not commenting about sports, despite being from just outside of Philly, I'm a Pittsburgh fan who's here to talk about food). So, here's how the meal went down:

  • Drinks: Me- Sammy Oktoberfest, Amanda-Water (very nice of her to drive)
  • Appetizer: Fried Ravioli (a classic)
  • Main Course: No, I'm sorry, we were too late for all you can eat crab legs (but good to note: Redbeard's has all you can eat crab legs on Monday nights --- I've heard amazing things about this!)
  • Kelly's Main Course, for real this time: Hamburger Quesadilla, you read correctly, I had burger meat, American cheese, mushrooms, and bacon, toasted to perfection in a Quesadilla crust. I narrowed the varied menu items down to nearly ten items and made a last minute decision when the waitress came by --- I think that I was just intreagued by uniqueness of the idea. Boy was I happy with my choice, my Hamburger Quesadilla was the perfect mix of my favorite American and TexMex food, washed down with a side of fries.
  • Amanda's Main Course: Amanda went for the more traditional "build your own burger" route, and I stole some of her awesome homemade seasoned chips.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for a new place to watch the game in Pittsburgh (and root for a Pittsburgh sports team, hopefully!), hit up Readbeard's:

  • the menu is incredibly varied
  • the crowd is fun
  • the venue is surprising
  • the price is right (a student's once a week budget, I'll say)

Redbeard's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Week 8.5: Max's Allegheny Tavern

Let's talk German Food!

I don't believe that I've commented on a German restaurant in my eight weeks of foodie blogging. So, when Steve suggested Max's Allegheny Tavern as a second restaurant to attend this week (thus the name "Week 8.5"), I immediately began dreaming of Weiner Schnitzel and a good Oktoberfest meal!

We attended Max's last night in the historic Dutchtown section of the North Shore (after a minor detour and wrong turn on the way there). In order to prepare, I fasted for about eight hours before the meal.

I'll cut to the chase --- this place is really cool. Upon entering, you walk into a bar area with high backed booth seating. The hostess then takes you through a labrinth of rooms (each with about seven tables in them), and leads you to your seat under a Tiffany's style lamp. Our table was right next to a window adorned with potted plants.

You can check out the menu for yourself on the website linked above, but you'll have to go in person to get the full menu-reading experience. The menu is on the inside of a replica paper from the 1800's, detailing the history of the North Shore and the Allegheny Tavern building (this led to us taking a very long time to place our order, we were too busy looking at ads from the 19th century)!

90% of the tables were full, and the place gets a bit noisy (perfect atmosphere for eating German food). Here's the run down of our meal:

  • I'll start with the beer (a priority at any German restaurant): I ordered the Spaten Oktoberfest Draft, a rich lager with a fall twist. Steve ordered the Spaten Dark Draft. Both came to the table in a jar. That's right, the draft beers are served in a recycled jar!
  • And now for the bread: assorted bread, which always scares me because I'm afraid of the ubiquitous surprise salt bread. Fear not, there were no salty surprises, only delicious plum spreads.
  • Steve ordered a Weiner Schnitzel with an awesome beer battering --- I tasted a bit of it!
  • I ordered a Weisswurst sausage (veal seasoned with eggs, parsley, and herbs)
  • We both ordered potato pancakes (a staple) with applesauce and sour cream for dipping. As a side note, potato pancakes are honestly the most filling food ever cooked (thank goodness I fasted)!
  • No room for dessert!
The Bottom Line:

Max's has a great atmosphere, lots of history, and an awesome and authentic German menu --- all within a student's twice a month budget.

So, the next time you're thinking German, think Max's, you won't be disappointed!

Max's Allegheny Tavern on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 12, 2009

Week 8: Kelly's Bar and Lounge

I'll admit it, this restaurant was on my list because of it's name...

Don't make that face, if there was a bar that had your name, you would stop by, too.

What was I expecting before attending Kelly's Bar and Lounge in East Liberty this evening? Well, actually I was expecting to go to Abay, a restaurant that has been on my list for ages, but I somehow keep messing up the execution of attending. Tonight, I simply forgot that Abay is not open on Mondays.

So, when my friend Christy called me from outside of Abay to say that we should change our venue plans for dinner, I immediately thought of Kelly's. Because I didn't do my research, I thought that this was an Irish Pub (rookie mistake) for the longest time. It turns out Kelly's is far from an Irish Pub (unless you count the beer). Here's the run-down:

  • Kelly's has a diner-like feel: booth seating with classic diamond shaped vinyl coverings.
  • The menu is 75% alcohol, and the draft list is seasonal and refreshed frequently. I'll be honest, I didn't think outside of the box and went with my classic Yuengling order.
  • There are about twenty American-style menu options, and I ordered a Shrimp Po Boy sandwich (classy), and although the presentation was nothing to write home about, the meal was pretty good. Pretty darn good.
The Bottom Line

Once a week budget, friendly waitresses, varied draft specials, and bench seating galore; I'd say Kelly's is a keeper for late night eats!

Kelly's Bar & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Week 7: Bangkok Balcony

That's right --- two Thai places in a row! I'm really breaking out of my mold now...

This Thursday I went to Bangkok Balcony in Squirrel Hill overlooking the exciting stretch of shops on Forbes Ave. I'm in full swing on the job-hunt, prepping for interviews in the coming weeks; so, I'll keep this short:

  • I ordered Pad Thai with Chicken, and it was awesome. The noodles stuck together perfectly so not only was it delicious, it was also not embarrassing to eat!
  • Our table overlooked Forbes Ave --- awesome for people watching (or in this case, watching people run to their destinations in the rain).
  • Service was great, menu was varied, and the price was right for a once a week college student budget.

Bottom Line
It's a tie (pun intended) between Thai Me Up and Bangkok Balcony for best Thai in Pittsburgh. So, depending on which one you're closest to, I recommend stopping by for some excellent Thai!

Bangkok Balcony on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 28, 2009

We interrupt this restaurant blog... comment on food eaten on the street!

Yesterday we visited Little Italy Days (we being my friends Natalie and Steve) in Bloomfield.

The rain was no match for our foodie crew; so, umbrellas and raincoats in hand, we approached Liberty Ave ready for a marathon, not a sprint.

All tolled, we ate:
  • One mozzarella ball topped with tomato salad (from a restaurant that's about to open at the heart of Little Italy called Stagioni: Seasonal Fare with an Italian Flare). Don't worry, it's on my list!
  • An order of Squash Risotto (a bold move to serve on the street, but they aced it)
  • One slice of Tiramisu
  • Two scoops of coffee and Cream Gelato
  • One order of mixed fried greens
  • 1/4 pound of fudge
  • 3 meatball sandwiches
All I can say is, YUM! I needed a triple latte to even consider doing work after our feast...

...Until next week, eat well!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 6: Thai Me Up!

I distinctly remember my first experience at a Thai Food restaurant; I was a sophomore in high school on a field trip in Boston. Our group decided to break out of the hotel room at night and head down the street a few blocks to one of my friends favorite Thai places. This was absolutely, without a doubt, the most rebellious thing that I had done up until that point in my life...I can still taste the iced tea and remember the low tables with floor cushions instead of chairs.

But jumping forward about seven years, it's 2009, and I must admit, I don't frequent Thai restaurants.

I blame this on the fact that I have zero tolerance for spicy anything. If I enter a restaurant where it is necessary to give a spice index on a scale of one to ten, I immediately break a sweat, request a negative five (-5), and pray that there isn't an accidental mixing issue behind the swinging doors.

I must admit, however, once I actually receive my food, I love it! This seems to be true of so many fears in life...(but that's for another blog entirely).

So, now you know, I'm a wimp when it comes to the sensitivity of my taste buds.

I learned about Thai Me Up from my roommate: "Oh, man, Kel --- I was walking around our new neighborhood [the South Side], and I looked into this restaurant --- it was called 'Thai Me Up.' It's a bold name for a restaurant, but I like it!" So did I, and that's how Thai Me Up was added to the Sweet-Cakes and Milkshakes queue.

I went to Thai Me Up today for dinner after classes with my previous roommate, excited to watch the South Side prepare for potential protesters through windows of one of the only remaining restaurants that has not yet boarded its entry.

Here's what the meal entailed:

- Thai Iced Tea: AN ESSENTIAL
- Fried Won Tons for an Appetizer: Chicken won tons, deep fried, with plum sauce (which I believe is the same thing as what I call "duck sauce," or if it isn't, I sure couldn't tell the difference). These were hands down the highlight of the meal (and so healthy, too).
- Thai Fried Rice with Shrimp: no spice index necessary. The menu describes this as having "a special brown sauce," as opposed to just soy sauce . I don't know what its ingredients were, but it was very special indeed.

The Bottom Line:

( ) Witty name? - Check
( ) Window seating for G20 watching? - Check
( ) Non-Spicy options for the weak ones? - Check
(Despite the aggressive name of this restaurant, they'll be gentle)
( ) Price wise, does it fit easily within a students once a week budget? - Check

And as a side note...

In eating our meal, we saw three out-of-county fire trucks drive by, two state troopers ride past, and one group of cell phone protesters (or at least we think that's what they were protesting) walking down the street. I couldn't be more excited that the G20 is in Pittsburgh --- so, readers, go embrace it tomorrow. Enter Pitt's campus as an aware world citizen, and be sure to get some delicious food to celebrate Pittsburgh Welcoming the World!

Thai Me Up on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 21, 2009

Arrivedirci, Bruschetta's!

Readers, I received some sad news today --- Bruschetta's, my first "grown up person" restaurant excursion at Pitt over four years ago, has closed.

We'll certainly miss its beautiful outdoor patio, awesome Italian cuisine, and prime *date nite* oasis amidst the bars of Carson Street.

Now, we must press on --- to commemorate the loss of this Italian treasure, this weekend's blog posting will be all about Itailan --- loads of it! How can I find loads of Italian all in one place? Well, I can venture to the Little Italy Festival in good old Bloomfield. Start fasting, friends, this is a marathon, not a sprint...

So, two postings this week:

(1) Thai Me Up, which I'll be attending on Wednesday
(2) Little Italy Fest Feast

In the mean time....what type of restaurant do you think should replace the prime 19th and Carson corner lot that Bruschetta's used to own? Comment and let me know...we can start up the place together!

Bruschetta's (Closing August 15, 2009) on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 14, 2009

Week 5: Point Brugge

Mama McCormick came to town this weekend from Jersey, and as promised, we used your suggestions on a new restaurant to visit. My mom's favorite meal is brunch, so we decided to take Justine's advice and visit a French Bistro, in this case, we chose a French/Belgian Bistro in Point Breeze called Point Brugge.

Shamefully, I lived in Pittsburgh for four years before I discovered the quaint oasis that is Reynolds Street in Point Breeze behind Mellon Park. I now feel the need to make up for lost time by frequenting the Make Your Mark Artspace and Coffee Shop after a nice rest in the park on Sundays. What can I now add to my Sunday schedule? Having my taste buds melt in the heaven that is a Belgian Brunch at Point Brugge!

My standards for Belgian food are high after visiting Antwerp and Brussels (sadly, not Brugge) last summer. Point Brugge crushed the standards --- CRUSHED THEM! Here's the run down (read at your own risk, you'll easily become addicted to this place):

  • We arrived just after 11AM on Sunday before attending "A Fair in the Park" that afternoon. Be prepared to wait, Point Brugge's most popular meal time is Sunday Brunch (according to our server, at least). But fear not, you can wait outside with a nice fresh squeezed orange juice or mint lemonade.
  • We felt the need to order an appetizer (that's right, I wanted a pre-breakfast before real breakfast) --- a Leige Waffle topped with pears and peaches, and garnished with the fruit trifecta of pineapple, cantaloupe, and honeydew.
  • For my main course, I ordered Steak, Eggs, and Frites (the proper way to say French Fry -- ask any Belgian) with a garlic mayonnaise for dipping. HEAVEN!
  • My mom ordered an omelette filled with steak, onions, sharp provolone, and mushrooms. We shared --- gotta love mother/daughter bonding!
  • The atmosphere is amazing with multiple levels and outdoor seating available; it's crowded but not overly noisy.
  • If you're there during a more appropriate hour of the day (or if you're feeling a little adventurous one Sunday Morning), they also have Belgian beer and fresh squeezed cocktails available.

The Bottom Line
Visit Point Brugge for Sunday Brunch and:

(A) You won't need to eat for the rest of the day
(B) You may need a nap to recover
(C) You can be sure that your judgement of "deliscious" will hit a new standard

When we finished our meal, my mom said, "Geez, it's so great when you find a restaurant that does everything right!" The Belgians have mastered food, and Point Brugge has mastered Belgian cooking!

And for the price --- well, it's kind of pricey to eat like a king, so I'd deem this a "wait until your parents are in town"-priced place. Or, probably on a student's once-a-month budget.

Bon Appètit!

Point Brugge Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where to next?

Hello Readers,

My mom's in town from Jersey this weekend and we're looking for a new eatery for Saturday night before going to the IMPROV.

Here's your chance to dictate my next posting...

Write in the comments where you think I should go and why -- Thanks for your input!


Kelly the budding Foodie

Monday, September 7, 2009

Week 4: Oh Yeah!

Today is bonus day. What's bonus day? It's the Sunday of a three day weekend, when the day before was Saturday, the day after is fake-Sunday (when you have to worry about to-do lists, etc). Bonus Day is where you can do whatever the heck you a free bonus!

What did I do with my bonus day this Labor Day weekend? Well, I woke up this morning with my new favorite Regina Spektor stuck in my head ("You Don't Know Me" with Ben Folds), the rehearsal version, so you can kind of hear them talking and having fun in the background. Based on this song, you can tell that I was in a whimsey, fun mood that is common on bonus days. I decided to go to my favorite coffee shop, Enrico's Tazza D'Oro, in Highland Park (sadly, this cannot be a subject of my blog as it breaks the rules that require me to visit new places). En route, I passed Oh Yeah!, a coffee-waffle-ice cream place in Shadyside on Highland; it has caught my eye before, but this time I stopped in (because it was bonus day, I could go wherever my whims took me).

I entered Oh Yeah! ready to abandon all sense of what was healthy and go all out --- this place served coffee, waffles, and ice cream together for a reason, and I was determined to find out why!

I ordered a Belgian Waffle with a brownie mix-in, topped with coffee and cookie dough ice cream. Suddenly the name of this establishment became very clear to me --- the only thing that I could think while taking a first bite was, "Oh, YEAH!"

But the food isn't the only thing that this place has going for it:

- The staff is really witty and sarcastic, adding some banter to your visit --- excellent!
- The decor includes books that you can "rent" during your visit, and liscense plates from what I believe was every state in the union (note that you can give them a book of yours to keep on their wall for a free coffee --- adorable).
- And it's convenient! There are power strips everywhere for your laptop needs, and free unlimited wifi (if you're into that kind of thing --- that is mixing business with waffles). I was in this case, I believe that the environment allowed me to go into a completely clear mental state and allow me to have a breakthrough on my Simulation homework. So, I left well-fed and well-studied!
- If the weather is nice (record streak of sunny days in Pittsburgh right now), you can sit outside at the picnic tables and people/car watch on the bustling Highland Ave.

Bottom Line

I've had the best waffles in the world in Belgium, and this place took me back to that experience --- different type of waffles, but same *warm inside* feeling. Just go! --- who knows? Maybe the mental clarity that you have when you leave will suddenly allow you to get that big promotion!

Oh, and the cost --- I actually was too busy paying attention to how deliscious my waffle was to notice the total...very embarassing for me. I can say that my coffee and waffle were less than ten dollars (because that's all of the cash that I had on hand). This place is well with in the budget of a college student's once a week spending limits (although your love handles may hate you if you go once a week).

Oh Yeah! Ice Cream and Coffee Co. on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week 3: Patron Mexican Grill

I love Mexican food. 

But before we get into that, I can't help but write this entry with a side comment about the similarity between all types of Mexican food (I'll allow Jim Gaffigan to comment --- see minute 5).

Although I'm no stranger to chain Mexican restaurants, I do love a good authentic meal, and that is just what I found at Patron Mexican Grill on RT 19 in Wexford (leaving the Pittsburgh zip codes for a bit).

I went to Patron last week for lunch with some coworkers; here's the run-down:

-          The atmosphere is amazing --- floor to ceiling in authentic Mexican decorations.  The booth that we sat in had to have been shipped in from Mexico: carved wood (each booth includes a different landscape) and hand painted. 

-          The meal comes with warm chips and homemade salsa, but don't eat too much before hand!

-          I ordered a quesadilla, very enjoyable and well within the budget of a once a week place for lunch.

That's all for now --- short one today.  I'll be busy getting ready for classes to start tomorrow!

Patron Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Week 2: Mineo's Pizza

I’m sure that based on the title of this posting you have deduced that this is not a review of Tessaro’s in Bloomfield (as promised in my last posting). I’m sure you can sympathize with how this came about --- it was pizza week for me – that week every three months where your body decides to abandon normal food pyramid requirements and the only thing that will satisfy your craving is pizza. Probably not the healthiest of weeks for me, but certainly very appetizing…

Tessaro’s will come in the not too distant future, but for now, my cravings lead me to…

Week 2: Mineo’s in Squirrel Hill (2128 Murray Ave-- on the hill a bit before Forward Ave.)

I think that it’s safe to say I have had my share of pizza --- I grew up in Jersey, which has delicious “we-are-right-next-to-New-York” style pizza. In South Jersey, we fold our pizza in half, and we eat each slice in less than three bites, saving all of the crust for last. I’ve lived next to the most popular pizza place in Shadyside for the past two years, stopping by on many a last minute dinner (or late night snack) run. And I’ve been known to eat a stuffed crust from Pizza Hut backwards every once in a while.

I think that it’s tough to compare pizza places --- regions and styles have so much to do with it. I don’t believe that I have a single “favorite” pizza place in the States. However, I will comment that if I was to expand this discussion to an international scale, then the best place in the world that I’ve been to for pizza was Naples, Italy (or “Napoli, Italia!” --- Italian restaurant owner says while shaking his arms and welcoming me into his establishment). As pictured below, I was in Naples last summer and enjoyed a slice in which I hand picked the tomatoes in the restaurant’s side yard (grown in the rich Mediterranean soil), and the chef made the sauce right there --- the freshest pizza I have ever encountered. It was absolute heaven (wipes drool from chin).

Don’t let me get too side-tracked ---- I’m supposed to be talking about Pittsburgh! I went to Mineo’s in Squirrel Hill (also located in Mt Lebanon) for the first time last night with two of my Industrial Engineering friends at Pitt. I had basically fasted all day in preparation, and we chose to order a large plain to share, dining in. Allow me to summarize:

· The pizza comes out hot enough that you can’t touch it with your hand (let alone your vulnerable tongue) for at least five minutes after it arrives at your table --- torture! However, once you do eat it, you realize it was worth the wait (and the fasting).

· This pizza is about 90% cheese (and consequentially very embarrassing to eat). My coworkers suggested bringing silverware, and I stupidly did not heed their warning. Bring silverware; you’ll need to cut the pizza if you want to have a chance at eating all of the cheese, and the plastic silverware that the restaurant provides just doesn’t do the trick.

· The atmosphere is a typical pizza shop --- counter to order, bench seating, very casual and always filled with customers (so I hear, at least).

· Instead of fountain drinks at inflated prices, they have $.85 vending machine soda cans, which I love. I don’t feel like I’m being ripped off just for wanting a Cherry Coke with my cheese (and the aluminum is recyclable as opposed to styrofoam cups).

Bottom Line

Mineo’s has very enjoyable pizza at a price that is definitely within a college student’s once a week budget. So, check it out, you won’t be disappointed!

That's me in Italy, pre-haircut, eating the best pizza in the world (and throwing up the typical American peace signs --- very classy)

Mineo's Pizza House (Squirrel Hill) on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 17, 2009

Week 1: The 17th Street Cafe

The 17th Street Café

I write this week's posting from my new apartment, sipping a glass of wine, watching my favorite movie, the American President, and very well fed after a delicious meal at Nakama. However, Nakama is not the topic of this week's blog posting (I'll save its review for another week).

I thought that I would make my inaugural review one of the best restaurant I've found in my four years in Pittsburgh – the 17th Street Café (at 17th St in the South Side, one block off Carson towards the river).

Let's flash back to two Friday's ago, when I first visited this restaurant…

Taking advantage of flexible summer work schedules, I left work at 4PM to catch an early dinner and a Friday night movie premier (500 Days of Summer --- I strongly recommend it). I met my ex-roommate (who even though we don't live together anymore, we still see just as much of one another) in the South Side for what she told me was a celebratory dinner (what we were celebrating would be announced in person).

I found the 17th Street Café after a quick Google search of bistro-like restaurants near my new apartment. What can I say? Sometimes the places I find are after careful research, but it turns out that some of the best places I find are happened upon after a rash restaurant search on the way out of work…

Upon entering, I find an uncanny resemblance to an establishment that my best friend in Brooklyn and I frequent, Bar Toto. Although we chose not to drink, I would have been all for homemade Sangria or a nice fresh squeezed margarita (a tough thing to turn down, if you know me at all, you'd easily understand). Here's a quick run-down of our meal:

- Our free appetizer (print out the coupon from their website) of stuffed peppers over breaded mozzarella made me realize that I have no business trying to pretend to cook Italian.

- Make sure to take full advantage of the bread --- fresh-baked and heavenly.

- House Salad (with chick-peas --- one of those accompaniments that I forget I love until a genius chef decides to throw them in my salad at the local bistro)

- And the main course – a penne in a white wine sauce with chicken and prosciutto. YUM! (I only had room for half, and I enjoyed it again for lunch on Saturday)


This restaurant is run flawlessly:

- I left the restaurant with a pen in hand that read, "Return this stolen pen to the 17th Street Café for a free order of Fried Zucchini" --- what a great idea!

- Two days after my visit, I found a letter in my mailbox from my waitress, Kaelyn, thanking me for coming and welcoming me to the neighborhood.

SOMEONE is an expert at running restaurants, and I think that somebody is Pat (restaurant owner --- he'll introduce himself before and after your meal).

So, I can't recommend it enough --- I plan on taking my mom when she visits in September and cashing in on an order of free Fried Zucchini.

A few more things I think will be helpful to readers….

The Price:

I'd deem this a once-a-month priced restaurant for poor college students, and a once-a-week priced restaurant for young professionals. We could spend a bit above our college student budget because, as I said, we were there to celebrate --- and what were we celebrating? My ex-roommate was offered three full-time jobs that week --- talk about a reason to over-eat!

The Details:

Check out their site linked above

Next on the Agenda:

Tessaro's in Bloomfield (I've heard great things about those 'Burgher Burgers!)

17th Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Challenge

It has been 300 days since I last posted in my blog. That's 300 breakfasts, 300 lunches, and 299 dinners (Water's boiling right now for tonight's meal)…

Most of those meals were homemade, many from last minute stops at Chipotle, but a good portion came from delicious independently owned restaurants in the Pittsburgh area. This brings me to the point of today's posting. My three favorite things lately have become:

1. Eating

2. Pittsburgh

3. Telling people how much I love eating in Pittsburgh

And here I am, one semester away from graduating from Pitt, applying for full time jobs like it's a full time job, and realizing that I better hit all of the great undiscovered restaurants in this town just in case my career takes me elsewhere.

Here is my vow to you, loyal readers (all 1 of you). I will visit one eatery in Pittsburgh that I've never been to each week. Then, I will report back to you with my findings.

Here are a few things that you should know about these postings:

- They'll never be negative, if I have a bad experience; I'll just choose not to talk about the particular eatery that I attended. Life's too short to be negative (and especially too short to write about negative things --- it takes twice the effort of thinking of a negative thing, and it provides no reward).

- They'll be on a random basis; I can't guarantee which day of the week I'll sit down to write.

I've never been more in touch with what I want then when I was blogging, and what better time for some self reflection than the time that you're looking to start a career?

WEEK ONE: The 17th Street Café; I'll report back shortly.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to a semester of delicious food and enjoyable reflection.