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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Carson Street Deli - Southside

Slider Combo
I've only been in the Carson Street Deli a handful of times. They really know how to take care of their customers. First of all, they offer weekly free beer tastings. I think this is a wonderful gesture, particularly due to the amazing array of local craft beers on tap. Mostly beers from breweries like Helltown, East End and Troegs, but I was also surprised to see some other fantastic gems on tap such as the Delirium Noel.

In addition to the wonderful beer selection, I think I managed to sample about eight different sandwiches during my visit. Considering that the Carson Street Deli offers about thirty different sandwiches, I really appreciate that you can order slider samples of any three sandwiches for only $7.50. I tried the Godfather, the Montezuma's revenge and the Sicilian - pictured above. My favorite was the Montezuma's revenge, warm delicious buffalo chicken with green and red peppers and melted hot pepper cheese - like an adult sloppy joe but with actual flavor and texture. I always have trouble choosing between sandwiches, so the slider special was really great for me. No matter what choice I make, I'm immediately saddled with sandwich-envy as soon as a different sandwich appears anywhere in my vicinity. The slider combo did a fine job of placating my indecision.

Finally, as if they hadn't done enough - the staff gave us some free cookies! I highly recommend stopping by the Carson Street Deli as soon as you find yourself craving a delicious sandwich or some local craft brews.

Carson Street Deli on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Redbeard's Hot Wings

Christmas time is my favorite time of the year for chicken wings. Because honestly, every time of the year is my favorite time of the year for chicken wings. There are two locations in Mt. Washington known for their chicken wings. Redbeard's and the Bigham Tavern. Unfortunately, I cannot compare the two due to extenuating circumstances.

The wings at Redbeard's were very good. A great crisp texture, well sized and well seasoned. I tried the standard hot as none of the other flavors really jumped off the page. I think the number one pitfall of the hot wings at many restaurants is that they are too buttery. Redbeard's standard hot sauce was very well proportioned and the amount of sauce was also appropriate. Further, the staff did a great job of taking care of us and we really enjoyed their Christmas themed back patio adorned with stockings, a working fire place, cranberry centerpieces and all the Christmas trim.

After Redbeard's we took a short drive down the street to visit the lively Bigham Tavern. We had slated Bigham for happy hour the following week so we were stopping by to meet the owners and discuss a special. I've been told that the wings at Bigham are actually better than Redbeard's, so I was anxious to check the place out. After one beer and a spirited karaoke rendition of Total Eclipse of the Heart, our entire group was asked to leave the bar! There was some off the cuff altercation that we weren't really involved in and as a result the owner demanded that we leave. In nearly two years of conducting happy hours, we've never even been reprimanded for our questionable behavior, let alone asked to leave a bar. The owner of Bigham even went as far as to physically assault one of our patrons when he refused to close his tab. As a result, I have no choice but to describe the Bigham Tavern as a smelly, filthy stink-hole run by power hungry charlatans. I don't care if you have the best chicken wings in the universe, nothing gives you a license for douchery and physical assault.

Redbeard's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon Bigham Tavern on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rock Room

WOW! Regarding the Rock Room, just wow! This is possibly the cheapest place to eat and drink in the entire universe. Every night there is a one dollar beer special. The food specials throughout the week include: 40 cent whole wings, $2 burgers, 50 cent pizza boats, 15 cent pierogies, and 75 cent tacos. By my estimate, this means that you could potentially eat lunch and dinner for the entire week for approximately $21. This figure estimates the following diet and requires you to take some of your food home in your pockets:

Rock Room Champion's Diet

Monday: Lunch, 2 pizza boats. Dinner, 10 half chicken wings.
Tuesday: Lunch, 10 half chicken wings. Dinner, 1 burger.
Wednesday: Lunch, 1 burger.  Dinner, 2 pizza boats.
Thursday: Lunch, 2 pizza boats. Dinner, 10 pierogies.
Friday: Lunch, 10 pierogies. Dinner, 3 tacos.
Saturday: Lunch, 3 tacos. Dinner, 2 pizza boats.
Sunday: Lunch, 3 tacos. Dinner, 2 pizza boats.

Although this diet might sound entirely cost effective, your health care insurance premiums are bound to go up when you are diagnosed with type two diabetes. However, if you want to suffer a quicker death you could probably do the all pizza boat diet for a paltry $14 a week until you come down with scurvy.

None of the food at the Rock Room is fancy, but for the price I feel as though I have no room to critique the different things that I have sampled. (Not to mention that they were all perfectly fine anyhow.) The pierogies were served with sour cream and onions at no extra charge, the cheese fries were fantastic and the $2 burger was much better than most of the discount burgers I've tried  at other restaurants. The bar is probably about as smokey, dilapidated and dirty as possible, but like I said, when the drinks and food are this cheap - you can't complain.

The PGHHH participated in a pierogie eating competition along with Unlock Pittsburgh and Eat Pgh. I'm sad to say, our competitor Mark Bucklaw came in second place with 39 pierogies.

You'll get them next time PGHHH champion Mark Bucklaw.

Rock Room on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pizza Roma - Sewickley

I've been going to Pizza Roma for a very long time. Long enough that I recognize people at the bar, and they recognize me -  well enough to know that I am nothing but trouble. Pizza Roma is a dark, smokey, smelly rat-hole. It is the one bar in Sewickley that I am proud to call home. (If you want to go out in Sewickley, don't forget your pants with the little animals on them, a backwards hat and a popped collar.)

Drinks are remarkably cheap. The specials and crowd are even better: free pizza Wednesdays, $2 domestics on Fridays, $10 buckets, snarky bartenders and inscrutable patrons. If you've been to Roma's more than three times, you probably know everyone at the bar.

I really like Roma's food. The pizza is about as greasy as possible - DELICIOUS. The toppings are so heavy, the cheese is so plentiful and the crust is so thin that you can't even go with the New York style fold. Basically, you just need to jam the pizza in your face to the best of your individual ability. Overall the food is great - top-notch bar food with Pittsburgh style portions.

I have so many fond memories of Pizza Roma, I feel obliged to share just a few: a hostage situation in the women's restroom, police showing up to make arrests on multiple unrelated occasions, Raynie's falling asleep at the bar and waking up to pre-purchased rounds of shots from strangers, poop on the wall in the  restroom and lots of sad adult-style Sewickley romance.

Pizza Roma on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

LOCAL - Southside

Unlock Pittsburgh Wing Crew
I like writing positive reviews. They make everyone feel all warm and fuzzy, no feelings are hurt, hand shakes are readily extended and everyone smiles. Local did a great job providing us with a really nice happy hour. They graciously extended the time frame for drink and food specials. All draft beers for only $3 and this included the nicer drafts like the Great Divide Yeti. (Please note that you should not try to drink five Yetis in one sitting. At 9.50% ABV it will jazz you up like a sad clown. )

I was especially excited for happy hour at Local as the Unlock Pittsburgh wing crew showed up to partake in the fun. The end result was a disaster, a thick brown disaster.  There is one essential rule when serving chicken wings. DON'T SERVE ME UNDERCOOKED CHICKEN WINGS.  The wings at Local actually showed some potential due to a couple of decent flavors, in particular the garbage wings and the honey bbq. However, as you can tell from the picture below, the wings were extremely undercooked. This was remarkably disappointing considering that we ordered them extra crispy.

Diarrhea city, bro.
I hate to write a bad review of a happy hour that showed so much promise and a restaurant that is generally decent. (I like the pizza and the other appetizers have always been pretty good.) But I just can't allow such a disaster to go without remark.

If it was up to me Local would be forced to place an astrix on their menu that states: "WARNING, consuming undercooked poultry can greatly increase your chances of butt trauma."

Local Bar + Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 16, 2012

STANDARD - Washington D.C.

So occasionally I am so amazed by a menu offering that I simply cannot say no. Standard in Washington D.C. is this wonderful outdoor bar with a pleasant selection of German beers. While looking over the beer menu I noticed something amazing. An entire pig's head for only 18 dollars!! Although I had just eaten a large breakfast pizza, I simply couldn't resist.

Piggin' Out.
The most difficult part of dealing with this pig's head was determining how to eat the thing. The staff at Standard gave us very little instruction. The waiter simply said, "just flip it over and starting spooning it out." We ate most of the cheek meat which was succulent and wonderful, very fatty and similar to pork shoulder. Next I believe we ate part of the brain and some of the throat glands, I'm not really sure. I would describe that meat as a little more coarse in texture with a much richer flavor. We managed to garner the attention of the entire restaurant while trying to eat the thing, we even convinced some other patrons to order their own pig's head.

While the staff wasn't very helpful by way of instruction, they did wrap the rest of the head for my friend Nick Smyth to take home. I can't wait to hear how he used it. (Hopefully to scare an enemy by leaving it on his doorstep.)

 Standard on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 8, 2012

River City Inn - Downtown

River City Inn is one of those strange little downtown bars that is quite easy to overlook. It is situated in PPG place in an unassuming little facade - dark wood interior, smokey and quaint. Although they specialize in lunch, if you call ahead they can arrange for dinner time snacks.

The owner Ed was kind enough to provide us with this nice tray of sandwiches and some SHRIMP. The drinks are reasonably cheap, the food has no defining characteristics and the crowd is warm and friendly. Certain foods just aren't reviewable. These sandwiches and shrimp are such foods.

Here is where this blog post takes a dark turn. Before last week I'd never visited the River City Inn. I'd never heard of anyone visiting. I barely knew the place existed. From our visit I gleaned one good tale of despair that I think everyone must hear. This bar used to have a fat and jolly old bartender who had worked at the River City Inn for over twenty years. He used to throw parties for people in the service industry and was apparently a very fun and well-liked gentleman.

I guess one night he closed the bar down as usual and jumped in the river, never to be seen alive again. He must not have liked the shrimp.

River City Inn on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I'm honestly at a loss of words as to how I can describe Perle. I'll make a run at it anyhow. Perle is trendy champagne night club - meets Jersey Shore -  meets fifty-something fuck-scene. The bar was loaded with older gentlemen escorted by much younger ladies, and everyone was dressed for prom. But not the prom you went to, prom from a movie where Usher, Justin Beiber and Lindsay Lohan are still in high school in their mid fifties. The in look for men was muscles, tinted sunglasses and graphic tee shirts. As for the ladies, plastic surgery is a must and dresses should be short enough to partially expose your lady parts.We just happened in on a night where there was a lingerie calendar signing, so maybe Perle isn't always so intense.

Regarding the food, I don't have a single complaint. I tried the ceviche, the bruschetta, Cuban sandwiches, shrimp salad and crepes. (There were lots of free samples out for everyone to enjoy.) All were top notch. From the ceviche, pictured above, it is evident that Perle is owned by the same individuals who run the restaurant Seviche in the cultural district. A wonderful array of flavors, well presented and delicately balanced - very similar to what you would get down the street at Seviche.The real specialty of Perle (other than debauchery and plastic surgery) seems to be the crepes. The menu has about ten different varieties and the banana dessert crepe pictured below was fantastic. We actually fought over the last few bites.

Here is my overall take on the bar. Good food, interesting decor and a great kitchen staff. For a place that claims to be a champagne bar, it seems unreasonable that their champagne taps don't work. If you are looking for a casual happy hour, this is not your place. If you are a regular at Diesel and the Southside, and you are starting to feel too old to go to Diesel, this is your place.

Perlé on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gandy Dancer - Grand Concourse

I really enjoy oysters. So much in fact that I have a short list of restaurants where I will eat oysters in this fine city. That list includes Wholey's, Eleven, NOLA and Roland's. Today I'm happy to say that I have another restaurant to add to that list.

The Gandy Dancer is a strange little bar that is situated in the far end of the Grand Concourse. I had no idea that the Grand Concourse had a bar, let alone a bar with one of the best happy hours in the city. One dollar PEI oysters, two dollar drafts, three dollar well drinks, five dollar mussels and a variety of other discounted food items under five dollars.(Sashimi tuna, sliders, cheese sticks, etc.) Like I said, one of the best deals in the city.

The oysters were fresh and huge! I prefer a spicy vinaigrette such as vinaigrette served by Eleven to the cocktail sauce I was given at the Gandy Dancer - but for a dollar per oyster I can't even complain. Six different people from our group ordered oysters and I didn't hear a single complaint.... that is, about the oysters. The Gandy Dancer must not be used to seeing large crowds. Although the bar can comfortably seat upwards of seventy-five people, the staff seemed astonishingly overwhelmed by our group. It was nearly impossible to get a drink, food orders were mixed up or lost all together and general pandemonium ensued. Overall they were very good sports about the entire matter, but some happy hour guests (angry Ben) felt so slighted by the poor service that they actually huffed out of the bar in a rage.

Angry Ben is angry.
In case you were wondering, a gandy dancer is a slang term used for early railroad workers who laid and maintained railroad tracks in the years before the work was done by machines. If you stop by the Gandy Dancer, do not wear your railroad clothes. Everyone else will be in a suit or an elegant prom dress.

Pro tips: go for the three dollar portabella mushroom fries and the chicken tandoori flat bread sandwich and make sure to get your picture taken in front of the grand staircase. Avoid showing up in a large crowd unless you've been given assurances the bar will be adequately staffed!
 Grand Concourse on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Papa J's Centro

Legend has it that Papa J's downtown location, situated in one of Pittsburgh's oldest standing buildings, is haunted. I guess it used to be a brothel, they've been in business at their downtown location for over fifteen years! 

I'm not sure if I believe in ghosts. My rational mind says no. If ghosts are real, where's the proof? Certainly someone would be able to accurately document and capture some type of paranormal experience in a clear and convincing manner, right? I think I believe in ghosts in so much as other people believe in ghosts. Their belief that ghosts exist creates a reality in which ghosts exist. Objectivity is passe.

I've visited Papa J's twice in the last week. I was hoping to scare myself, and I was successful. The chicken marsala was so bad -  it literally scared me. A thin watery sauce and chicken that tasted at least a day old with a rubbery texture and awful flavor. The chicken on my pizza, pictured above, wasn't any better. However, I shouldn't run my mouth about the pizza (lest the ghosts get me).

The pizza at Papa J's was good. In particular I thought the cheese and toppings, other than the chicken, were very flavorful and well presented. I had the chicken pesto pizza with fresh tomato, red onion and toasted pine nuts. The crust was well prepared and I believe they said it was made in house. I was actually amazed by the amount of pine nuts on the pizza. Pine nuts are expensive! I would wager that the pine nuts on this pizza cost more than all of the other ingredients combined. It is always nice to see a place that doesn't skimp on toppings to try and save a buck.

Overall, I really liked this bar. The bar itself is a very unique place with a lot of personality. (Dark wood interior with intricate fixtures and many smaller intimate rooms separated by a central bar.) Other than the chicken, I felt no feelings of discomfort or paranormal activity while visiting Papa J's. The bartenders are a lot of fun and the patrons can get a little rowdy, they were basically falling out of their chairs on my first visit. I have to say that I would go back to this bar over other bars with better specials and better food. I would prefer to sit at Papa J's over Easy Street any day of the week. Personality goes a long way. 

If you visit Papa J's, skip the entrees, try the pizza and stay for the potential ghost sightings. If you don't manage to scare yourself with the cuisine, just be patient and the patrons will take care of the rest.

 Papa J's - Downtown on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Duck Sliders
The truth is that I was pleasently surprised by Truth in the Southside. I had no idea to expect from a fancy looking bar just off of Carson Street that is very close in proximity to the lively but slummy Jack's Rose Bar.

The $5 manhattans were strong, the sliders were incredible and the ambiance was quite charming. (Exposed brick, high ceilings, waitresses you would bring home to your mother.) Some old folks enjoying their dinner in the separated dining room even went out of their way to recommend the restaurant to patrons passing by on the street - this does not happen often in my experience.

The duck confit sliders, pictured above, were truthfully delicious. The duck had a wonderful flavor and texture and the roquefort cheese was a very pleasant addition. I actually enjoyed the beef tenderloin slider I tried even more. It was easily some of the most tender beef I've been served anywhere in Pittsburgh. The slider fillings were top notch, but I believe there is some room for improvement on the choice of bread. Hawaiian rolls just aren't appropriate for all occasions.

No one would share their scallops with me, as you can tell the portions are a bit small. I heard they were very good though, and worth the long wait. (The kitchen must have been backed up because some of our orders took upwards of forty minutes.) If I was visiting Truth again for the first time I would avoid the Italian meat and cheese plates. Although the portion size was respectable, I found the selections to be rather boring and mediocre. If I go back I will be sure to try to house specialty fried cheese - the presentation, smell and appearance were just fantastic. Think flaming cheese delivered to the bar and then extinguished with lemon juice. (Sort of like the flaming Dr. Peppers they serve at Jack's across the street but for people over the age of 19.)

Truth Lounge on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Industry Public House

House Nachos
These were my nachos from Industry Public House, I actually thought they were pretty good, but the waitress thought they were even better. She proudly exclaimed that all nacho ingredients were prepared fresh in-house. As far as I can tell, this just means that they made the guacamole and sliced their own jalapenos. They certainly didn't prepare the olives and I highly doubt that they made their own cheese or sour cream. I have to give Industry bonus points as the nachos at the bottom of the pile weren't a soggy pile of trash like nachos from TGI Fridays.

I suppose I'm being overly critical, the nachos were very tasty, I just get annoyed when waitresses make nonsensical claims..... we get it lady, the jalapenos aren't pickled. I believe the employee mentality of Industry is best described by Industry's own plug on Urbanspoon, "IPH is the best thing that happen to Laweranceville." LIES I SAY! Everyone knows that the best thing to happen to Lawrenceville (also they misspelled Lawrenceville) is skinny jeans, thick rimmed glasses and tattoo parlors.

Industry is a very strange place. My friend from Unlock Pittsburgh described it as, "a Pittsburgh bar trying really hard to be a Brooklyn bar." The location is a giant square shaped bar surrounded by several dining tables. The house beer was actually very decent and appropriately priced for happy hour at $3. However, the trendy albeit misguided people of Lawrenceville have decided that this is the best possible bar to bring their babies. And I'm not talking about some babies having a casual dinner, I'm talking about babies showing up to watch an 8:30 Thursday night football game in a loud bar.

I don't go to bars to drink with babies. This may seem insensitive, but I don't care. If I wanted to drink with babies I'd go visit Chris Clark or Andrew Coleman, at least their babies are not adorned in Greenbay Packers gear. Also, one of the babies clearly had way too much to drink as he had to be carried out of the bar by his grandpa!

Bucket of Gross
The Thursday happy hour food list consisted of sliders, pizza and the nachos. I regret not trying the sliders as I heard they were very good. However, this chorizo pizza was terrible. The chorizo was heaped on in a haphazard manner and the goat cheese did a poor job of complimenting. I don't think I'd try another pizza from Industry, but I'd go back for the sliders. Also, leave the leather chaps and mid-riff dresses at home. We need to set a good example for the babies of Lawrenceville. 

Industry Public House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Heinz Field - What is your favorite stadium food?

When I was a young child with the tastes of a young child, I simply adored stadium food. There was something about the variety, fat content and excitement of the big game that just made the entire process invigorating. I thought that stadium food was the best food in the world and that everything I had while watching a sporting match was the utmost pinnacle of modern culinary skill - I think I also felt this way about McDonald's.

Somewhere along the way, the dream died. Rather than look forward to stadium food I became nervous about what I should eat before going to any type of event so I could avoid paying $16 for cardboard nachos and a smelly cheeseburger. I think this phenomenon was best described by Graham Linehan who said, "Every time you have McDonalds as a kid, it's a victory. Every time you have it as an adult, it's a defeat."

I might have liked these stadium tacos as a child. As an adult, they tasted as bland as a discount frozen burrito and extremely rubbery. Somehow, even the normally pungent cilantro was totally lacking in flavor. I'm pretty sure the chicken was the kind that comes in a liquid solution so that it can simply be slopped into a lousy tortilla shell on game day.

My point isn't that all offerings at Heinz Field are terrible, it is just that they are all worse than their real world counterparts. The Quaker Steak and Lube wings we tried had clearly been sitting out all night. They were worse than the wings you'd get from a normal Quaker Steak and Lube. The terrible cheeseburgers were worse than the terrible cheeseburgers at a fast food restaurant and more expensive. Cheap domestic beer costs upwards of $8. Etc, etc, etc.

Please let me know: is there any food at Heinz Field you actually like? Is there any food available at the stadium that you'd go out of your way to get somewhere else that is just as good at the stadium? I NEED TO KNOW, for science. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Unlock Pittsburgh

Check out this great interview in Unlock Pittsburgh. A special thanks to Mark Turic and Grace Miller for not making fun of my obsession with white wine and shrimp.

Unlock Pittsburgh Interview

Also, you've got to love this great Pittsburgh food special chart they put together! Cheap Eats!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Marios Southside is the Winner!

Click for full size chart.

After extreme deliberation, I consider Mario's Southside to be the winner of the ultimate Mario's showdown. This was no easy assignment. I considered categories such as the food I've had at both bars, the fantastic service I've had, the VIP room in Mario's Southside, the amazing Mario's Eastside deck, the colorful homeless people that congregate outside the bar, various specials and even the bar games available to patrons.

 This award is entirely subjective, but I hope Mario's Southside is proud. They really came through big time in this epic match-up. Although both Mario's made an excellent showing, I feel the real winner of this competition was me. 


If you feel I should have taken other factors into consideration, please drop me a line in the comments!
Mario's Southside Saloon/Blue Lou's on Urbanspoon Mario's East Side Saloon on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mario's Eastside V. Mario's Southside - THE ULTIMATE MARIO'S SHOWDOWN

Mario's Eastside Wings
I'm a Mario's man, always have been. One of our happy hour goers recently told me that he felt more at home at Elixer than he ever has at Mario's. This saddened me immensely. Mario's Southside was my home even before I moved to the Southside. The bathroom attendant knows my name. The bartenders have stories about me that I wouldn't want you to know. I once had four different girls in my phone with the last name, "Mario's."

In comparison to Mario's Southside, Mario's Eastside is relatively new to the game. I can't say I loved the wings I tried, but the honey garlic habanero were very decent. A unique sauce and not too much bite. On the other hand, I did not particularly care for the mesquite char-grilled. They just didn't have enough flavor - I think I just generally hate grilled wings. This bar has the perfect happy hour atmosphere. A large roof-top deck, amazingly good drink and food specials and a party-people crowd. Next week I'll be creating a chart comparing Mario's Southside and Mario's Eastside. Do you have a Mario's preference? Let me know before I compile my chart next week. More importantly, meet us at Mario's Southside later tonight.

 Mario's East Side Saloon on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Emilia Romagna - The Strip

I honestly don't know anywhere in the city where you can get pizza and sushi. My best guess is the Cheesecake Factory, which I so loathe. Emilia Romagna recently opened in the Strip District. From looking at the place you'd have absolutely no idea that it has a giant upstairs dance floor and a huge outdoor seating area. I'd say they can easily accommodate over a thousand people.

I expected the pizza to be excellent as the restaurant is owned by Alla Familia, the fancy Italian place in Allentown I've been meaning to go to. I really liked the pizza, and it was quite a bargain, $5. The sauce and cheese were incredible, the crust was a little hard but entirely delicious. The sauce was slightly sweet but it was probably the best part of the pizza, I really enjoyed it. 

Spicy Tuna!
After having an amazing pizza I thought I was sure to be disappointed by the sushi. However, my expectations were surprisingly exceeded. The sushi was very fresh with great rice and a nice blend of flavors. (Spicy tuna with crab, also a bargain for happy hour at only $5 per roll.) I'm honestly dumbfounded as to how the same restaurant can serve pizza and sushi. I suppose it isn't entirely unprecedented, I just find it really impressive considering the number of pizza and sushi restaurants that can't seem to master either of these items separately.

I highly recommend stopping by Emilia Romagna for happy hour. It is a great space, with a great staff and some really decent grub.

Emilia Romagna on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Rowdy Buck

Hot Dog!

I have to be honest, I don't particularly care for hot dogs. I think they are gross, I've always thought they were gross and I think they should be called "trash dogs." Having vented, I can say that not all dogs are created equal. For example, I've always really liked the kraut and cheese dogs at the Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe. (Buttery rolls and pure deliciousness.) 

I did not savor my, "fresh prince dog." (Pictured above, it was supposed to be like a Philly cheese steak.) The sauteed onions and peppers were basically raw and crunchy. There was entirely too much dry bread (this was a common complaint among our party) and the cheese sauce was thick like molasses. If you are going to claim to be a gourmet hot dog establishment, you had better deliver. Otherwise, I would think it is probably worth getting a one dollar gas station hot dog as opposed to a five dollar "gourmet" dog.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like the Rowdy Buck. They have a great outdoor patio and some pretty decent cocktails (I like the electric koolaid acid test made with fresh muddled raspberries.) Also they serve tater tots, which are always delicious, and they had a weird make your own 'smores dessert I am going to go back and try. I don't particularly care for the decor, I think it is aimed at attracting the skirts.

 The bar shares some similarities with the Lava Lounge and Tiki Lounge in terms of decor - these bars are all owned by the same people. There's lots of junk on the walls and a bunch of uneven surfaces that allow for maximum drink spillage. Personally, something about the Southside of Pittsburgh makes me opine for simpler times when bars served cheap drinks in dirty glasses and the crappy food didn't claim to be gourmet.

Rowdy Buck on Urbanspoon Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Harris Grill - Sometimes Chicken Wings STINK

What the cluck?
I am a chicken wing fanatic. Between the ages of 16-19 I would estimate that I consumed roughly fifty chicken wings per week. I'd say my all time chicken wing count is somewhere around seven thousand. Literally scores of chickens have perished for my gluttony. At some point I realized I was going to get gout/diabetes/heart disease and I slowed down a bit. That being said, I regret nothing.

I love a good chicken wing. I consider the perfect wing to be medium sized, crispy and well sauced. (Bonus points for amazing/unique sauces.) I truly like Harris Grill, in particular I like their draft selection, outdoor seating, staff and bacon night. I even really liked the jerk chicken wings I tried which were very well seasoned and prepared. However, the spicy buffalo wings just didn't cut it. They didn't have nearly enough crisp - this alone can ruin a wing experience. But even worse, they were under-sauced and the sauce was rather bland and runny. Something about non-crispy wings just makes the experience of covering my face in sauce and chicken disgusting.

I've had chicken wings at almost every place you can imagine in Pittsburgh - I believe our city has some of the best wings in the country. As a matter of fact, I usually don't get wings when I'm outside of Pittsburgh as I can't stand sub-par chicken. My short list for wings includes: Wings Suds and Spuds, Wiggy's, Rugger's, Birmingham Bridge Tavern, Sidelines, and Talerico's. However, there are at least a dozen other places that all make really great wings.

I came across this article last week, When You Learn What’s Really in Your Food, You May Stop Eating Altogether. None of the "secrets" in this article bothered me at all except that chickens tested by Johns Hopkins University were found to be loaded with antidepressants. This provides a rather unique explanation as to why I choose to drown my sorrows in crispy delicious chicken wings. 

What are your favorite wings in the city? Why? And finally, should we go there for happy hour?

Harris Grill on Urbanspoon