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Thursday, December 29, 2011


I probably have high cholesterol. I need to stop eating anti-pasta and charcuterie every week, but it is just so delicious. This anti-pasta plate from Cioppino, pictured above, was really fantastic. The meats were fresh, recently sliced and flavorful. I was very appreciative that the plate came with a variety of vegetables and two different types of cheese (buffalo mozzarella and provolone.) The prosciutto in particular was so good that I think they must have purchased it from a specialty vendor in the Strip District.

If you look at the very top of my picture you can see the pate I had as my second course. The pate was not good at all - I'd even venture to call it lousy. We could not get it to spread and spreading is half the fun. If the flavor had been acceptable I might have forgiven the pate for the poor texture, but the flavor was also lackluster. Don't get the pate!

I've heard very mixed reviews of Cioppino, but overall I really liked it and I would go back. The happy hour was well attended and there was even a band afterwards. Be sure to dress for success as I noticed that everyone in attendance was very well kempt. (One patron even commented how out of place he felt in his sports apparel.) Also, make sure to check out the cigar room. It was surreal, almost what I would expect a country club to look like in the 1950's. If I knew Don Draper, I'd take him to Cioppino.

Cioppino on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 17, 2011

1947 Tavern

The 1947 Tavern is charming. There are no televisions on the wall, the fireplace creates a nice cozy atmosphere and the bar is rather stylish. I found the menu engaging, this is to say that I was actually interested in ordering more than one of the selections. I cannot say this about every restaurant I visit. (Note that they did not have short rib during my visit, this made me a sad panda.)

I like gauging the quality of a restaurant on something basic, such as the meat plate pictured above. I thought the meat was quite good, especially the roast beef. The menu claims that they are house meats and I found them very delicious and well paired with the bread and sauces. I must say though, please include something else on your charcuterie plate other than just the meat. Throw some olives on there, maybe some miscellaneous vegetables, something. I think you need a little roughage to round out an entire plate of meat, perhaps I've grown soft in my old age.

Overall I have to give this bar a strong recommendation. They have a great bourbon selection, a fantastic atmosphere and the service was pretty decent considering how crowded they were. Apparently 1947 is owned by the same people as Bites n Brews. If you've been to Bites n Brews please leave me a message as I'm interested in possibly visiting.

1947 Tavern on Urbanspoon

The Beerhive

If you've read my posts, you know that I'm not overly critical of bar food. Really, the only purpose of bar food is to allow you to have something to munch on while you slam brew-dogs. The bar food at the Beerhive was terrible. I ordered the meatballs to start. They were incredibly salty. So salty I found myself wishing I had more bread so that I could cut down on the massive amount of salt I was consuming.

Following the meatballs I decided I had better play it safe and order something healthy. After all, I'm not 21 anymore and I can only imagine that a myriad of health problems will be coming to haunt me in the next decade. I went with the chicken lettuce wraps. SO SALTY. The chicken was spicy, but so ridiculously salty I once again had difficulty consuming the concoction. Unfortunately, lettuce does an even worse job of cutting down on saltiness than bread does. Additionally, there was not enough lettuce to use all of the materials on the plate. What a disappointment.

I can't say I disliked the bar, the atmosphere was good, the service was decent and the guy running trivia night was pretty cool. Just don't eat here.


WoW! These guys are commited to service - check this email out!!! 

"Hi P.H.H. My brothers and I recently came across your review of our establishment. First, we would like to sincerely appologize for your over salty dining experience. We have taken immediate action to get to the bottom of why your meal was so salty. We've spoken with our cook on duty the night you dined, and questioned their obvious over-salting of meals. We appologize for not catching this mistake sooner, and are grateful that you've brought it to our attention. It is our goal to make sure that every one of our customers receive the experience and product they deserve. Secondly, we would be more than happy to refund you for your meal that evening. Nobody should have to pay for an unsatisfactory product. Thank you for your time."

Beerhive on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Nine on Nine

I'm consistently impressed with the quality and presentation of the food at Nine on Nine. A week before happy hour I stopped by for a lunchtime steak  - it was easily one of the best steaks I've had in months. I'm not sure if it was the shallot butter or the A-9 sauce, but the meat was amazingly well seasoned and tender.

Pictured above is the charcuterie plate I enjoyed during happy hour last week. It was very good, but not quite as good as the charcuterie plate I was served at Braddock's. In particular I was disappointed by the mortadella. What is mortadella but fancy bologna anyhow? I find the texture and flavor disgusting. If you do decide to order the charcuterie plate from Nine on Nine, keep in mind that it is not half price during their happy hour like many of their other items. I was a bit disappointed when the check came. However, I've never been disappointed by Nine on Nine. Their food is some of the best in the city and their happy hour is pretty decent as well. Three dollar domestics, helpful staff, half price bar food and six dollar specialty drinks.

Nine on Nine on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jack's Rose Bar

I once threatened to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau because someone stole my Steelers headband from Jacks. It was an idle threat. Jacks is one of my favorite bars in Pittsburgh. They boast a surprisingly large menu, but you wouldn't want to eat most of the food. As a matter of fact the menu doesn't even exist in one concise location, it is just a variety of food offerings posted around the bar on hand drawn posters. I couldn't even find an entry for Jacks on UrbanSpoon. One poster on the wall offers the one dollar "boneless chicken dinner." This consists of three hard boiled eggs. The food at Jacks is not flashy. Take these happy and sad cheeseburgers for example.

Who's a sad cheeseburger?    

Despite the sympicity, the bar food offerings are fine. I've never gotten sick from the deep fried meals I've consumed at Jacks and the cheeseburgers aren't bad at all. If you are really important, or extra nice, you may be able to negotiate some of the off the menu delicacies such as sweet potato french fries, generally reserved for staff only. Also, I once had the "nachos a la Ben" which is a specialty nacho dish made with pickles and ranch dressing.

Jacks is somewhere you go to drink. The bar is open 365 days a year and the prices are cheap as hell. (Someone once threw up on my coat at Jacks on Christmas day.) You are likely to encounter individuals from every walk of life including the homeless, city councilmen, motorcycle gangs, frat boys and vivacious hipsters. I would recommend grabbing something to eat before you go, but if you are extra nice the bartenders will make you food at any hour of the night, provided that they aren't too busy.

Jacks is a bar for best friends. 

Jack's Rose Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sammy's Famous Corned Beef

I liked Sammy's Corned Beef the first time I walked in the place nearly a year ago. It is dark, it is dirty and the service is below average. The bathroom is gross -  it makes me feel right at home. As for the corned beef, it isn't bad at all. I've enjoyed every corned beef sandwich I've ever had at Sammy's. Don't get me wrong, it is no Slyman's (My first, and most intimate moments with corned beef were at Slyman's in Cleveland), but Sammy's can hold their own.

Pittsburgh has never really been much of a corned beef city.  I think the texture of the Sammy's corned beef is fantastic, but the amount you get, and the flavor are just not as good as other corned beef restaurants I've been to. The bar itself is truly amazing though, a real last stop before the end of the world. If you don't understand what I mean by, "Pittsburgh isn't really a corned beef city," here is a picture of some guy at the bar eating an egg salad sandwich.

Egg salad is gross.

Sammy's Famous Corned Beef on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Diamond Market

Diamond Market just opened in Market Square, which is quickly becoming the bastion of downtown happy hour mayhem. The establishment is owned by the folks who own Primanti Brothers, and it shows. A lot of the furniture is the same and the general layout and feel of the menu is also similar.

I struggled with the menu. I was trying to explain to a friend recently that I enjoy menus that are challenging. I personally like a menu that has some exotic food options including items I've never tried before and things that I cannot, or have not made at home. We all suffer some form of human weakness. I find that many eaters enjoy routine. They like the same meal, prepared the same way, with genuine consistency. (This is after all how McDonald's became the world's most successful restaurant.) Personally, I suffer from a condition where I desire that which I cannot have.

The Diamond Market menu was not exciting. It looked like a re-tooled Primantis menu minus the traditional sandwiches. Some items that caught my eye included the Pittsburgh poutine and the deviled eggs. Poutine because, well, I've never seen it on a menu in Pittsburgh. Deviled eggs because, well, eww. Despite my reservations towards the menu, I cannot deny that I really enjoyed the one item that I did try.

I attempted to tell one of the restaurant patrons that the grilled cheese was out of this world. He laughed at me. Grilled cheese is one of those timeless classics that is really good no matter what, unless you burn it. This grilled cheese knocked me out though. It had a delightfully crunchy exterior due to the use of home-style bread and a parmesan crust. The pairing of internal cheeses was even more delightful - cheddar, gruyere and cambozola. Cambozola was the dominant flavor, a combination of camembert creaminess and gorgonzola punch. I must admit that after being hesitant to eat based on the menu I cannot wait to get back to Diamond Market to see what their other dishes are like.

Also, this place was absolutely slammed for happy hour. We met a nice Japanese man, a Greek who insisted he knew someone in every region of the world and the mayor of Pittsburgh just happened to be there with a giant entourage. Like I said, bastion of happy hour mayhem.

Diamond Market on Urbanspoon

Olive or Twist

As myself and my happy hour companion Frank Larson sat in front of Olive or Twist, he politely explained to a bible pusher that I was Olive and he was Twist. He told her that we were hired by the bar to promote their fine services and that her presence was requested at the bar. (She was quite attractive.) The bible pusher then attempted to sell her own wares, neither party was interested.

Olive or Twist is easily one of the most popular martini bars in downtown Pittsburgh. I only drink martinis that are made by Chinese immigrants in Canada or my personal bartender at Jack's Rose Bar in the Southside. I opted for the pumpkin ale and a plate of pizza fries.

I didn't really like the fries, but the pizza part was OK. Waffle fries are a novelty wasted on me, particularly when they are frozen as I believe these had been. Overall they weren't bad, but is anything bad when it is covered in pizza?

The caprese salad is one of my personal favorites. I enjoy the simplicity, lack of lettuce and sharp contrast of flavors. The caprese at Oliver or Twist was pretty good, I found the mozzarella and dressing more than acceptable. However, I prefer when young tender basil leaves are used as opposed to the somewhat coarse leaves that were provided by either Olive or Twist.

If you like martinis I recommend trying Olive or Twist. Additionally, I should note that the waitress told me that the calamari is what they are known for. I find that most restaurants of the Olive or Twist caliber tend to serve frozen, pre-cooked calamari so I did not partake. Overall I'd say Olive or Twist was overpriced, overrated and pretentious, but I'm just a simple man of fine tastes.

Olive Or Twist on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Apostila - Prague

The food in Prague is different. For example, I was shocked when I went to the grocery store and found about one tenth of the regular vegetables I'm accustomed to. I suppose the old world could really use a Giant Eagle Market Place.

My hosts told me from the moment that I arrived that they would be taking me to their favorite restaurant, Apostila. The best thing about fine dining in Prague is that it is cheap. Our entire meal, with over six bottles of wine and multiple courses came to less than fifty dollars per person. About what you might expect to spend at Olive Garden. (Also, I like Olive Garden, just don't tell any of my Foodie friends that I eat there discretely.)

I don't usually bother mentioning the bread, but I even enjoyed the bread at this joint. It came with butter made from sheep's milk which was unusually rich and intense. I'm not even sure how to describe except that it was much more flavorful and salty than the butter I'm accustomed to. I loved it.

For my next course I enjoyed the pate. I know liver is a turn-off for lots of folks, but I am under the impression that they just aren't doing it right. This liver was fantastic and it benefited from the addition of the strawberry foam. Foam is all the rage these days, I'm not sure I get it, but that isn't to say that I do not get it. I just think they are better ways to explore flavor pairings than the use of foam.

Duck is perhaps the noblest of the foul. And my expectations were very high after everything else I'd enjoyed so far. I generally prefer duck in the French style more than the Chinese style which I find a bit greasy. The duck at Apostila was good, but I've had better. I think it was just a little overdone for my taste. Those were potato pancakes accompanying my duck, they weren't that special.

This desert was very good, baked chocolate with caramel ice cream, but then again I'm a sucker for anything with chocolate. (Please take note that I was the fat guy who ordered desert after the rest of the party declined.)

If you are going to Prague I highly recommend Apostila. Especially if you are in good company, like Ed's girlfriend who knocked over a bunch of stuff at dinner and caused a scene.

Friday, October 7, 2011

McCormick & Schmick's Seafood - Worst Fish Tacos Ever

I've always been a tired and weary sailor, particularly when it comes to chain seafood restaurants. McCormick's is just that, a giant seafood conglomerate with over 90 locations nationwide. (We have two in Pittsburgh, one Downtown and one in the Southside.) We set sail to the downtown location after our brief happy hour hiatus.

To their credit, McCormick & Schmick's runs a happening happy hour. The bar was packed with 40 somethings indulging in Chardonnay and chicken wings, we couldn't even find a seat! Additionally, I found the staff extremely accommodating. McCormick & Schmick's extended their regular happy hour for our group. This always makes me feel special, in the warm and fuzzy but non-weird way. Especially when other local establishments tell you that extending happy hour is impossible and then make up some lie about their elaborate computer system.

Unfortunately, this is where my praise of McCormicks must come to an end. Pictured above is the worst fish taco I've ever had. Not only was the taco bland and poorly textured, it was entirely too fishy. The contents of the tortilla included fish, cheese and iceberg lettuce. I find that fish tacos are a little more interesting when they are made with some Napa cabbage, a nice spicy sauce and a little TLC. For all I know this taco could have been made with cat food, that is how it tasted.

I needed something to get the decrepit taste of the fish taco out of my mouth, so I ordered this hansom hummus plate. I must say that both plates were well priced at $1.95 each. I believe the happy hour food menu is the reason that the 40 somethings crowd into every corner of this establishment on a nightly basis. The hummus plate was not bad, but the hummus was about what you would expect from a mid-range store bought hummus, that is to say it was nothing fantastic. Doesn't it look pretty though?

If by some off chance I end up at McCormick & Schmick's again, I will order a steak as I've been told that they have the same food distribution company as Mortons. However, I will avoid the seafood at a seafood restaurant that has not mastered the simple art of the fish taco.

McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant (Downtown) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Winghart's Burger & Whiskey Bar

Hamburgers and whiskey! Possibly two of my favorite hobbies in the whole world. Winghart's Burger and Whiskey bar has been open in Market Square for about six months. Although, the whiskey part was an addition that took a little longer.

Every time I've gone for lunch the place has been packed and it is very difficult to get a seat at the bar. Happy hour this week was no exception, we crammed about twenty individuals into their tiny location. Winghart's has a very specific charm - no plates, huge burgers, interesting burger toppings, house-ground meat, a growing whiskey collection, flat-bread pizzas and a very accommodating staff. (As you can see from the picture above they will even feed your burger to you if you are courteous!)

I can't even begin to explain how much I enjoyed my burger. Before this visit my favorite Pittsburgh burger was easily the Kaya burger in the Stript District. (Note I have not yet been to BrGr or Burgatory.) However, my shipwreck burger really blew me away. Just adding photos to this blog post has caused some deadly stomach rumblings and salivations. The shipwreck comes adorned with brie, caramelized onions, bacon, arugula and white truffle aioli oil. While these toppings might sound overwhelming, they mix together in the most harmonious way imaginable. I honestly enjoyed this burger more than my Ray's Hell burger from Washington D.C. - take that Obama! The bread was better, the meat was more moist and the toppings were much better. (To be fair I think I blew it choosing my own toppings at Ray's Hell Burger.)

Part of the appeal to Winghart's is that the owners are right there behind the bar making sure that everything is properly prepared. Winghart and Shipwreck are two lively characters who really did a fantastic job of accommodating our group. If you have not been to Winghart's, I have to honestly recommend that you make the trip. Personally, I can't wait for their new location to open in the South Side.

Winghart's Burger & Whiskey Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Las Velas

Las Velas was a total disappointment. I can't say that I was surprised as I already knew that it was owned by the proprietors of Azul in Leetsdale. (Another Mexican restaurant I don't like.) I would describe the food as boring, uninspired, bland and completely lacking in any type of original or authentic inspiration. I did not pick this location, and I personally won't be going back. What I can say is that no one else from happy hour complained about their food and the margaritas must have been strong because everybody in the club was getting tipsy.

Here were my impressions on what others ordered. The nachos supreme seemed OK.(Pictured above.) The salsa we had brought to the table (for an extra fee) wasn't terrible. The chips were mostly little chip pieces, I looked around the restaurant and everyone seemed to have a basket of little chip pieces. Perhaps this is some awesome new fad I'm not hip to? The guacamole was awful. Entirely too salty and a little too mashed down for my taste. The chorizo quesadilla I tried was exactly what it purported to be, chorizo in a tortilla. It was extremely greasy and it could have used some other ingredients in order to make it more interesting. After sampling food from the others I decided not to order anything.

Instead of playing Russian roulette with the Las Velas menu, I walked across the street to NOLA and ordered the Croque Monsieur. It was fantastic, I really enjoyed the ham and gruyere, and I enjoyed dipping the sandwich in apple butter even more! Do yourself a favor and go to Mexico City if you want Mexican in downtown Pittsburgh. Las Velas does not even come close.

Las Velas on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crystal on Penn

Crystal has been on my radar ever since they were featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. Crystal is the latter, so of course the selection of a dive bar meant I was the one that got to choose the location of happy hour this week. Dive bars are the best. They aren't pretentious, you are more likely to get free drinks, the owners are always interesting and willing to chat you up, no one talks about austerity measures or corporate governance, everything is cheap as hell, you can do whatever you want and no one bothers you, and finally, they always have damn good music on the juke-box.

I've been going to Crystal for a few years now, it was actually the first place I went after taking the bar exam back in 2009. They always have a way of making you feel right at home. Don't be surprised to see the owner of the bar, Crystal, behind the counter serving drinks and mixing it up with the locals. Crystal features a fairly standard bar menu, save for the selection of specialty Lebanese foods.

I grew up with Lebanese food, so I'm no slouch when it comes to spotting quality. Crystal easily offers the best grape leaves I've ever had in any restaurant, ever. Usually when I get a grape leave it tastes like it was prepared several days in advance, the texture is awful and there is way too much lemon. Crystal offers the perfect grape leave, a well proportioned mixture of meat and rice served fresh and warm. Although I've never had a garlic style yogurt sauce served with Lebanese food, I love that this little concoction comes with anything you order at Crystal. When I asked what was in it they said that they could not tell me unless I was terminal.

 I order the same thing everytime I go, combo-platter with tabbouleh and a lamb skewer on the side.(Pictured above)  I honestly enjoy it so much that I've never bothered to order anything else from the establishment and I never will. Can you say that about anywhere you eat at?

Crystal on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Braddock's American Brasserie

Braddock's is another one of those hotel bars that has a lot to boast for a hotel bar. Don't get me wrong, I love drinking in slummy Holiday Inn bars, as a matter of fact I took one of my ex-girlfriends on a date to a Holiday Inn Bar (I always wonder why my relationships don't work out?!)

Braddock's is very sheik and the food is well crafted with a European flare. They have an excellent whiskey collection, I have to say that no bar we've visited comes remotely close in terms of selection.  Pictured above was my delicious charcuterie plate. I shared with some of my happy hour friends, but promptly consumed the majority of the delicious meats. The pate was my favorite, but I have to give an honorable mention to the prosciutto. I love prosciutto, if prosciutto was a woman I would kiss her on her pink meaty lips.

Unlike my cheese plate at Six Penn, everything on the Braddock's charcuterie plate was very well proportioned. (Don't you just hate it when you end up with too much bread or too little meat?) Happy hour enthusiast, Ben Feldman, even consumed the small salad garnish after I ravished the gherkins. 

This was easily one of the most fun happy hours we've had in a few weeks. Nick Mross and JK Means showed up to film part of their new web series, "Florida Nights." While we were doing some filming in front of the bar people started snapping photos with their cell phones, I guess they figured they were on the set of Batman. Nice try you looky-lous, we are super hansom and beautiful, but not Batman hansom and beautiful.

Also, we added a little strange to our happy hour by partaking in shots. Usually we try to keep our cool, but everyone was really excited this week and we enjoyed each others company a little more than usual with the aid of some liquid remedy. Braddock's has some poor reviews online but I like everything I've ever tried at the bar. The staff was even kind enough to allow us to film in the bar, so no complaints on this end.

Who are you calling a dip? The Turtleman's French dip sandwich.

Braddock's American Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Seviche is one of those Pittsburgh institutions which has somehow acquired a cult-like following. Personally, I've always considered the place a chick-flick, and I promptly informed all of my happy hour friends of my strong feelings. (Please note that a chick-click generally refers to a movie created especifically for women, in this instance it refers to a restaurant catering to women through small portions, vibrant decor, high prices and the illusion that they ARE Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.)

I tried to ignore my bad attitude as I do love seafood and in particular I enjoy ceviche.(I'm accustomed to the dish being spelled with a "C" as opposed to the restaurant which is spelled with an "S".) I haven't been all that upbeat lately so I decided to treat myself to the seven-course chef's tasting menu. It was worth it. For $40 I received three courses of ceviche, an appetizer course with a tuna-chorizo spring roll, three oysters with a chimichurri sauce, a filet along with potatoes and broccoli rabe and a tres dolces cake.

The ceviche course was my favorite. I really liked the presentation and the play of flavors, the one incorporating cilantro and corn was my favorite. The oysters were decent and the tuna-chorizo spring roll was quite good, but didn't make much sense to me. Chorizo is so powerful that the tuna only seemed to add some texture to the dish. I'm honestly at a loss as to how chorizo and tuna can be comfortably incorporated into a spring roll.

The filet and potatoes were fine, but the broccoli rabe was awful, stringy and bitter! (I know that broccoli rabe is supposed to be bitter, but it was like a sour rubber tire.) Finally, the tres dolces cake was so good that everyone at the table decided to try it. I'd recommend the chef's tasting to anyone who is feeling hungry and adventurous. Word to the wise though, all of those different animals did not play nice in my stomach post chef's tasting!

Seviche on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Six Penn Kitchen


Last week our little happy hour group ventured to Six Penn for some roof top action. If you recall we attempted making a reservation to come to Six Penn a few weeks ago and we were simply told that they, "weren't available." Rather than make a reservation we just showed up. I expected the place to be packed as they, "weren't available" only a few weeks prior, but I was surprised to find only two patrons sitting at the bar upon my arrival. I promptly retreated to the roof deck to find the jolly group of people who make the Pittsburgh Happy Hour so great.

Six Penn has a fantastic roof deck with a full service bar. They even let us order food from the roof (it was a bit slow.) I have been to Six Penn once in the past and I loved my medium rare duck breast. I'm not used to being served medium rare poultry and I really enjoyed it. On this venture I opted for this cheese plate.

As far as cheese plates go, it was underwhelming. The blueberries were kind of sad and I wasn't even sure what I was supposed to do with all the mustard (I'm guessing they just needed to put something there to round it out.) The cheese was about the same quality of cheese you'd expect to get from a prepared, store bought cheese plate. As one of our happy hour goers mentioned, "they are owned by Eat-n-Park, what did you expect?" If you ever head to Six Penn, I'd recommend going with the mussels of the day or possibly the smoked chicken wings. Also, everyone likes pizza!

Six Penn Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ray's Hell-Burger, Arlington, VA

So occasionally, the Pittsburgh Happy Hour goes on hiatus and we take trips to eat at the most popular restaurants around the country. While we were visiting our good friend Sam in Arlington, Virginia we decided to stop by Ray's Hell Burger. 

I had heard that Ray's was good enough for president Obama, which kind of surprised me as the establishment is a simple, strip mall, cash only kind of juke joint. I'm not saying the president is beyond eating at simple restaurants, but if I was president, and wanted a burger I would just have the five different white house chefs cook burgers and eat my favorite one.

Rays is very charming and the menu in particular is rather original. There are about fifteen different cheeses to choose from and ten different non traditional burger toppings such as charred jalapenos and cognac and sherry sauteed mushrooms. I went with the diablo style with roasted garlic and muenster cheese. It was not the best flavor combination, but I honestly have no room to complain about my poor decisions.

The burger was very good, but not the best I've ever had. The meat didn't have the crunchy outside char I so adore, but was otherwise cooked exactly right. If you are craving a burger in the Pittsburgh area, I'd honestly say that the Kaya burger in the stript district or Wingharts in market square are on the same level as Rays, minus the creative menu. As a side note, Ray's Hell Burger had the best onion rings I think I've ever had, and I don't even like onion rings.

Ray's Hell-Burger on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 14, 2011

NOLA On The Square

I love New Orleans, I love everything about it, even the cockroaches and the way Bourbon street smells after they hose it down with cleaning solution at 4 a.m. NOLA on the square opened earlier this summer and it is run by the same individual who started Nine on Nine on Penn Avenue (another one of my downtown favorites.)

I've been to NOLA somewhat regularly since it has opened. The happy hour scene is fantastic, and always very crowded. In anticipation of the crowd we tried getting a table in the back to accommodate our ever growing group of loyal happy hour goers. No dice, you can't get happy hour prices if you are seated!

So we graciously crowded into the bar because happy hour prices at NOLA are great, $1 gumbo and red beans and rice and $5 flatbreads. I ordered the pissaladiere flatbread because I'm a sucker for gruyere cheese, I've had it several times and I love the tasso (I dare you to find tasso on more than three other menus in the Pittsburgh area.)  Unfortunately, the server didn't understand and I somehow ended up with an eggplant and chevre flatbread (pictured above), still excellent, but not what I ordered. The crust is airy and blackened on the bottom with a thick dusting of cornmeal.

During other visits I've sampled the red beans and rice, gumbo, roast chicken and fried artichokes. All of them were very good and respectfully representative of fine cajun/creole cuisine. One professional tip, if you are at the bar for happy hour with a large group, get a separate tab. At the end of the night I ended up paying for someone's white wine and the server's response was, "can't you just figure it out?"

NOLA on the square on Urbanspoon