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Saturday, November 14, 2015

The South Paw - Southside

Pizza for days.
I've been hanging around the building that houses the South Paw for at least the last decade. I remember attending an Unlimited Magician show there once when it was a hookah bar called "H-khan" and I spent many blissful evenings there when it came to be known as the Blind Pig.

I was disappointed to hear that the Blind Pig didn't make it, but the South Paw is a worthy successor. Drinks are reasonably priced ($2 draft beers) and the food was great.

I was very impressed by the "Guido Gati" large pizza ($14 pictured above.) It came absolutely piled with toppings and cheese. Hearty heaps of sausage,  peppers, garlic and chopped tomato. I particularly enjoyed that they used a cheese blend as opposed to just mozzarella. As a side not, garlic may be the most underrated pizza topping of all time perhaps only surpassed by bacon.

The Guido Gati is easily one of the better pies on East Carson which myself and food economists have dubbed a recovering pizza desert. ( Google defines a food desert as, "an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food." A pizza desert is a much more extreme first world problem that the media is afraid to discuss.)


In addition to pizza, sandwiches and appetizers, the South Paw also specializes in smoked wings. Old Mendo was having a great time wolfing them down! I tried one myself and although I'm not really a smoked wing guy, I have to say they weren't bad. They even had a good 15 different flavors.

Overall a really great bar with some delicious food. Not much of a crowd though on a Thursday night, so be sure to bring some friends to help you finish the large food portions and listen to your sad stories about how you have been hanging around the same building on East Carson for the better part of a decade.

South Paw Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Yard - Market Square

Mayor McCheese

I am very happy to say that only one week after I had a terrible patty-melt, I had a fantastic hamburger at The Yard in Market Square. The place is located in a rather peculiar building close to NOLA on the Square. It used to be this strange old Italian restaurant that never had any patrons, now it is a vibrant hangout for bankers and office jockeys with several large televisions.  Also, I must mention that it is very loud. They really need to do something about the acoustics of the space. This was either an extremely serious issue or I am aging rapidly.  

On Thursdays The Yard runs a, "burger and beer" special that is pretty special. You get a Mayor McCheese hamburger and a draft beer for $10. Considering the burger typically runs for $11, I approve of this special. In addition to daily food specials, they also offer a half off appetizer special during happy hour. Again, I approve! 

The Mayor McCheese sports two four ounce beef patties, American cheese, greens, tomato, onion and garlic aioli on a brioche bun. I assumed they were going for a McDonalds Big Mac vibe.While the burger was remarkably tasty, it was not entirely in the style of a Big Mac. Where are the pickles? Where is the sesame seed bun and how about that middle piece of bread and the nondescript pink sauce?

In all honesty the brioche bun was better than a McDonald's bun. It was very fresh and wonderfully toasted with a buttery exterior. The beef was also considerably better than the beef you would find on any Big Mac. For my tastes, it was cooked perfectly. Medium with lots of pink in the middle. Considering I was not asked how I wanted the burger cooked, I was extremely pleased by the result. This gave me some concerns regarding consistency. I will be sure to investigate on my next visit.

                                                                                         SAVE THE MAYOR                                                                                 (This sonofabitch spawned a million dollar lawsuit when H.R. Puffnstuff came after McDonald's for copyright infringement)

I only have two complaints regarding The Yard. IT WAS WAY TOO LOUD! Get it sorted guys. I'm only reiterating this because it was deafeningly loud. Also, I had to send my check back so that my burger and a beer special would be honored. They were very apologetic.

 Below I've included a video of some absolutely crazy woman making Big Mac's at home! She's nuts but enticingly sexy in a strange way. Maybe I get turned on by food? Yep, probably.

 The Yard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bill's Bar and Burger

Garbage Melt

I hate disappointment. I would say that it is easily one of my least favorite emotions, second only to jealousy. Boy was Bill's Bar and Burger a massive let down. New York Magazine gave Bill's a glowing review and rated them 7/10. My esteemed colleague, The Steel Trap, said, "One bite of the burgers, and it's clear why they're so decorated with awards and recognition; the praise is warranted."

In addition to all the critical praise, the very stylish renovations and the reasonable prices, Bill's is located in a primo spot at the Westin hotel downtown. When a restaurant does so well in New York that they make it to Pittsburgh, I believe that high expectations are entirely reasonable. *Begin Rant*

Although the one bartender was extremely nice, service was disgraceful. At times it took upwards of 10 minutes to get a drink at a bar that was not even close to being  full. The space is easily equipped to handle well over 200 patrons, but the staff was ill equipped to handle 30.

Drinks were mislaid, tabs were mishandled and bar guests were forced into the shackles of sobriety. At the end of the night I even had to remind them to place an entire round of drinks on my tab that they had seemingly forgot about. (I know, I'm a total moron.)

THAT WASN'T EVEN THE WORST PART. My patty-melt was a garbage-melt. The greasy, butter-laden bread created the sensation of eating a sandwich dipped in vaseline. The meat was extremely salty and over-cooked and worst of all  -  I bit into a giant onion skin that I had to pull out of my mouth.  I don't say this lightly. I would rather eat at Arby's.

As a side note, the charred broccoli wasn't bad.  *End Rant*

 Bill's Bar & Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, October 16, 2015

Blush Sports Bar

The Steak
It probably only happens two or three times a year. But occasionally I am absolutely shocked by the quality of food I receive from some bizarre eatery located on this planet. In 2012 I did my first review of Blush. At the time the only choices on the menu were french fries, chicken tenders and pizza. All cooked in a microwave.  While the girls at Blush never change, the menu has certainly improved.

Blush recently opened a "sports bar" on their third floor. There are quite a few perks compared to your typical gentleman's club atmosphere. It is nice a roomy, there is no cover, there are several televisions, there are a few dartboards and the food is quite good and reasonably priced. This was a very unexpected surprise from an establishment that offers dishes with adorable names like: the "home wrecker", the "tip rail" and the "lap dance."

I have to say I was absolutely thrilled with my hanger steak. It was perfectly cooked, very flavorful and it had a lovely texture. I particularly enjoyed the horseradish cream sauce and the healthy servings of wilted arugula and crisp potato wedges. It was quite a bargain as well at $18. What an age we live in where you can get a steak dinner cheaper than a lap dance!

Now, you will notice that I described Blush's new venue as a "sports bar."  That is because they barely even played the game audio for a prime time Steelers game and there are naked girls dancing in the corner on a small stage. I'm not really much for strip clubs. I don't like the pressure of girls trying to make me buy them drinks or pay for private dances. (Feminists claim that such venues exploit women. I believe they are exploitative of both sexes.) I'm down with some casual "sports bar" nudity, but I would prefer to hear the Steelers game. Sorry girls. 

Crab Cakes

All around, I had a great dining experience. I don't think I've been so pleasantly surprised by a meal in ages. Drinks were a little on the pricey side, but hey, like I said, there was lots of nudity and the steak was cheap.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lucky's/Gaucho Parrilla - Strip District

They don't really make a "Sorry your dodgeball coach just got crushed by two tons of irony" Hallmark card.
I have been walking by Lucky's for several years wondering what goes on under the giant green shamrock.

Let me give you a quick rundown of what Lucky's was like during the early evening on a sunny Thursday. The bar was scarcely populated, the bartender was fantastic, the room was smokey but permeated with late summer sun and drinks were priced for consumption! (Well drinks and draft beers were both $1.75 from 5:30 to 7:30)

Now I've come to expect the occasional $2 well drink special in this wonderful city I call home, but that extra 12% savings is quite the selling point! For an establishment located within city limits of a moderately large city, I would estimate that this deal is in the 95th percentile of all time happy hour specials available nationwide.

While I loved Lucky's, I could not properly recommend dining there. This toaster oven pizza was quite a steal, but, after all, it was cooked in a toaster oven and sadder than a dying grandma on her birthday. Great news though! You can walk right down the street to one of Pittsburgh's best restaurants, Gaucho Parrilla.

The saddest pizza of the lands.
I've dined at Gaucho a number of times, but only recently did I have the opportunity to meet the charismatic owner, Anthony Falcon. In addition to being a total badass, Anthony is a real salt of the earth guy. When I ran into Anthony at the King of the Wing Festival he was talking about how disappointed he was that he had to wait in a huge line at Gaucho the night before. What a great guy he is to wait in line at his own restaurant! (The line can be pretty substantial, but it moves quickly.)


Every meal I have had at Gaucho has been world class. I was extremely excited for the burger due to the high rating from Pitts-Burgers, but I feel that in the future I will opt for my favorite Gaucho dish. The meat platter! You can never go wrong with a meat platter featuring steak cooked over oak wood and a plethora of fantastic homemade sauces. Always go with the steak, eat bread at home.

The burger was just a bit too pedestrian for my tastes at a restaurant specializing in steak.

Don't skimp on the chimichurri and never forget that Gaucho is BYOB.

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Remember earlier this year when Stage AE and Coors Light teamed up to give away tickets to every show at Stage AE. It is happening again! Just enter to win at, let them know where you are partying and be sure to use #MusicToMyBeers. Winners will be announced September 25. Let me know if you win so I can demand that you take me to see String Cheese Incident! My #MusicToMyBeers pick is the Pretenders with Back on the Chain Gang.

Bettis Grill

The pierogie flatbread at Bettis is certainly something different. Who would think of using mashed potatoes as a pizza base? What clever bastards. They list this appetizer  as one of their signature dishes and I understand why.  If you aren't from Pittsburgh, pierogies are entirely a novelty. This is easy to overlook once you have lived in this city for several years. I would say that at least forty percent of bars in Pittsburgh have pierogies on the menu. We might have more places to get pierogies than some large cities in Poland. This is very shocking when you consider the word pierogie has no entry in most spell check dictionaries and indeed no standard spelling at all. See perogi, pierogy, perogy, pierĂ³gi, pyrohy, pirogi, pyrogie, or pyrogy.

 In my opinion the dish was more like eating a potato skin than a standard flatbread. However, I appreciate the novelty and I found the flatbread quite enjoyable with the addition of sour cream. If you stop by Bettis Grill, be sure to visit the men's room. There is a one way mirror that allows for a pleasant view of the dining room while you relieve yourself at the urinal. Bon a petit!

Click to add a blog post for Jerome Bettis' Grille 36 on Zomato