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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Streets on Carson

Wingz
Streets on Carson served our group some of the most unique chicken wings I've had in recent memory. In general, chicken wings are served fried, baked or smoked. (I would even venture to say in that order of prevalence.) Streets on Carson has a unique style, they serve a confit chicken wing that has a remarkable texture and a very original flavor. They only serve one style of wings and they come with roasted garlic, roasted jalapeno puree, fresh lemon juice, scallions, celery and carrot. I found the citrus and garlic to be the most prevalent flavors, I could not taste the jalapeno. In all my chicken wing adventures throughout the lands, I do not believe I've had a wing that featured a citrus profile. It was great! The wings were exploding with flavor, and although the meat was falling off the bone, the skin still maintained a crispiness due to the confit cooking style. 



I cannot remember what this thing was called, I believe it should be called the peasant's egg roll. ( I'm just kidding, it was a pretty standard pork egg roll with cabbage, carrot, scallions, cilantro and sirracha aioli.) Although I called this egg roll standard, you can tell from the photo that great care is taken in the preparation of all of the dishes at Streets on Carson. 

Other favorites included the duck fat poutine and the jerked chicken skewers.  Hit up happy hour from 5 - 7 for discounted small plates and drinks.


Streets On Carson Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pirata

Smoked Guac
Pirata currently is currently my selection for 2017 sleeper restaurant of the year.  I love the Caribbean theme so much that I went back to visit a week after happy hour. Some of their fantastic menu items include: empenadas, Jamaican curried goat, salt cod fritters and a watermelon honey salad.

The smoked pineapple guacamole wasn't just delicious, it was masterfully presented. The guac came served with a nice little bundle of plantain and taro chips. It was one of the better deals on the happy hour menu for $6. (Pirata is not cheap, and it is worth mentioning that they have the same menu for lunch and dinner. Happy hour and later in the evening (10-12) are the only times you can expect any discount on menu items.)

My other favorite was the jerked chicken. I tried the entree version as well as the tacos. The secret to any good jerk seasoning is the scotch bonnets, the allspice and the smoke. Lots of other flavors are typically added, but I would consider those three elements the most essential base to any proper jerk seasoning.

The jerked chicken at Pirata is true blue. I tend to stray from the jerked chicken on most menus as I find bastardized versions of the dish to be quite awful. The jerked chicken at Pirata has been flavorful, spicy and perfectly moist on both of my visits. It is reassuring that they warn you that the dish has a natural level of spice. A real pirate's booty and the must order dish for the year!

As the Pirata website loves to mention, don't forget to check out the rum.

Pirata Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, May 19, 2017

M&J Bistro - Mad Noodles




Wow, M & J Bistro. Talk about a god damned restaurant nightmare. My friend Phil warned me about this place. but I laughed in the face of destiny and scheduled a happy hour. The establishment was not equipped to handle more than 12 patrons at any one time. Our happy hour was clearly overwhelming for both the bar and the kitchen. The most disappointing part of writing this review is that they seemed like really nice people that are trying to operate a decent restaurant. However, they desperately need some help.

Four weeks after we visited M & J they have already re-branded as Mad Noodles. Even more alarming is that their market research for their re-branding project appeared to be based on a series of questions that were posited to the members of the Facebook group South Side Secrets. (I wouldn't even trust the collective members of this group to give advice on how to make potato salad.)


Who has ever heard of french fries in a bento box? What a great idea! The food at M & J really wasn't bad. I enjoyed my bento box as well as my sushi - I would have no problem stating on the record that the food was better prepared and higher quality than the offerings at Nakama right down the street. I'm quite hopeful that Mad Noodles will also have great food.

I wish the staff and owners of Mad Noodles the best of luck. However, I think it would be in their best interest to hire some type of brand and operational consultant. They are shaping up to be the next Bobby Hendrix aka Wings and Whiskey aka whatever they called it the third time before they closed.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Southern Tier Brewing




I had the pleasure of going to Southern Tier for their groundbreaking last summer. It was truly a momentous event filled with celebration and excitement. The Pittsburgh brew pub is the first location Southern Tier has opened outside of their flagship brewery in New York. Apparently the Pittsburgh market has responded well to their brand.

I actually consider Southern Tier to be one of my favorite breweries. They have one of the best pumpkin beers on the market and, in my opinion, their 2X IPA really set the standard in terms of bringing IPAs to the public. Pictured above with my sandwich is the cherry gose - a delightful cherry flavored sour beer that was available for limited time.

Unfortunately, I do not have anything positive to say about the kitchen at Southern Tier.

It emphatically states on the Southern Tier website, "We take our food as seriously as we do our beer." This statement is a bold lie. The food at Southern Tier is extremely underwhelming - particularly in comparison to their world class beer.

My grilled chicken sandwich was charred, flavorless and covered in a thick blackened crust that did not seem intentional. I barely wolfed the thing down. The salad that accompanied the sandwich consisted of simple greens with some type of vinaigrette. (Can a man get a cucumber or at least one cherry tomato?)

The other dishes on the Southern Tier menu also appear extremely uninspired. (A simple bar man's menu of sandwiches and lackluster entrees.) For a brewery that goes out of their way to serve extraordinary beer, they sure slacked on the kitchen. 



These wings actually weren't too bad! But, I'd still rather eat at a Bojangles or Fuddruckers.

Southern Tier Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Condado

Queso, Pineapple Salsa and Hot Salsa
Of course you can customize your tacos almost anywhere, but how often are you given the opportunity to do so meticulously with a work sheet? Now that Bites and Brews has closed over in Shadyside, Condado is the new customization spot. Pictured above are the queso with chorizo, the pineapple guacamole and the ghost pepper salsa.  The queso was the crowd favorite. We scraped the bottom of the bowl.



On our two trips to Condado we tried the jackfruit, beef, chicken and the shrimp ceviche. One of my favorite options on the menu is the "sweet Lucy." For an extra dollar you can have a double decker style taco with a hard and soft shell along with queso and gauc. Most of the other options on the customization menu come at no additional charge.  For example, your choice of cheese, salsa, sauce and cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, etc. Also, be sure to add the bacon refried beans. We loved the damn things. 



Check that menu out! The possibilities are nearly endless. Actually, I attempted to do the math. I believe the number of possibilities is 40! which equals 8.159152832 E+47. I honestly do not think I can comprehend how much that is.

Out of the protein selections that I tried, the beef brisket and the shrimp ceviche were my favorites. The shrimp was outstanding, packed full of flavor and perfect for the sweet Lucy double decker style taco. The jackfruit was also a really unique choice. If you aren't familiar with jackfruit, don't be intimidated! It is really just a starchy filling that soaks up whatever sauce you use. I loved it, but I would always select meat over jackfruit, tofu, seitan or basically any veggie protein. Sorry vegetables.

I can't wait to go back and try the ghost pepper steak, brunch and awesome cocktail selection. (Be sure to check out happy hour too, you can't beat $3 margaritas.)

Condado Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thank you Modern Map Art!

Shout out to Modern Map Art for the awesome print! Please check out their site for all sorts of great stuff including phone cases and unique prints of the city.

Now I just need to take the time to highlight every place we've visited for happy hour over the last five years!

https://www.modernmapart.com/


Friday, March 24, 2017

Talia


When I get sad I drink Campari in my attic. Personally I love the stuff. Pictured above is a negroni - according to my awesome bartender at Talia they will have them on tap once they get settled. If you've never had a negroni they are made with gin, vermouth and Campari. If you want to get sexy with Campari at home, here's a great list of recipes. Personally I adore the boulevardier.


Have you ever had hot olives? Generally I have not been impressed by them in the past.  I've always had the dish served in some type of rosemary lemon dressing. The hot olives at Talia were served with a pork salumi sauce that really tied them together. A unique dish in my humble opinion. I'm really looking forward to going back so that I can check out the salumi board and cheese board on the menu. Based on what was offered at the tasting I'm certain they will be fantastic.


Out of the various samples we tried the beef tartare was probably my favorite. They did a great job, perfect texture and flavor with a nice balsamic tomato twist. On my next visit I'm really looking forward to sampling the spaghett and the Italiano pizza with speck, sopresetta and hen of the woods! I never see exotic mushrooms on menus, this is a very exciting development.

Also, if you are wondering if I spelled spaghetti incorrectly, I did not. That is how they have it on the menu, just like my favorite Tim and Eric character. http://www.taliapgh.com/dinner/


Talia Cucina & Roticceria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato