Search Previous Happy Hours

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Harp and Fiddle

The Tinkers Plate

I already knew what I wanted before I arrived at the Harp and Fiddle - the tinkers plate. Irish bangers, cheddar cheese, soup, a potato pancake, and salmon. My friend, the Turtleman, managed to order it before I could. (Pictured above. Also take note of his amazing Pittsburgh Happy Hour T designed by the talented Michel Vasiladiotis.) I tried almost everything on his plate, except the salmon. As a matter of fact he said he would murder me if I tried his salmon.

If you follow the Pittsburgh Happy Hour, you know that I like to partake in the libations prior to ordering my food - it is just so hard to continue drinking on a full stomach. So I inquired as to how late the kitchen was open and went about my St. Patrick's day celebrations. I finally got around to ordering my food later in the evening as the warm glow of beer enveloped our happy hour team. Because we were at an Irish bar on St. Patrick's eve eve, the place was swamped. I got caught up in the magic of the Pittsburgh Happy Hour and before I knew what happened it was time to go. I inquired about my food and the waitress said she forgot to place my order. As a matter of fact she also forgot my friend Tyler's nachos. It was a very sad turn of events which resulted in the roof of my mouth being terribly burnt by 1:00 a.m. street pizza. Even though the service was a let down we had a wonderful time, like Irish unicorns.

Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Carlton

Braised short rib empanadas - with one bite taken.

The Carlton in the BNY Mellon building is just about as fancy as you can get. Everyone calls you sir, there are white table cloths, the patrons look like aging church-going wasps and the decor is subdued but extremely classy. If I ever had someone I wanted to impress I would probably take them to the Carlton - fortunately I gave up trying to impress people years ago.

The food at this restaurant is really the tops. I would describe the selections as typical continental cuisine, think meat, starch, vegetable. The menu is straightforward and traditional, something grandma would like. What really stands out is the quality of the food. Every dish I've ever had from the Carlton has been well prepared and well presented. The short rib melts in your mouth, the pork has the perfect texture and flavor and somehow, even their nachos don't seem to get soggy when covered in cheese and toppings.

On Thursday they were providing the bar patrons with a free sliver of quesadilla. The quesadilla slivers were wonderful, but not adequate for our passionate stomachs. I split the pulled pork nachos and short rib empanadas with a friend - both were exquisite. In particular, the empanadas stood out. A nice tomato mozzarella filing covered in succulent braised short rib.

Unfortunately, the only other thing that stood out was the extremely poor service we received in the bar area.  Menus and drinks had to be ordered 3-4 times. The waitress threw away a glass of ten dollar pinot noir while I was in the bathroom. The waitress also threw away another guest's beer. At most times during our visit our server seemed confused, disoriented and lackadaisical. To her credit, she was very sweet, very cute and very overworked. She even offered to buy me a glass of wine after throwing mine away, and then inadvertently charged me for it when the check came. Sigh.

Carlton on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Every once in a while I visit a restaurant that really gets me excited to start eating at restaurants more often - this was my experience with Legume. While I was at Legume I tried every cheese on the menu, the charcuterie, the pate, the marinated olives and the tallow fries. My only regret is that I did not order a full meal. (Also I probably shouldn't have eaten all of the marinated olives by myself, the citrus flavor became overwhelming.)

Everything I tried was simply fantastic. In particular I loved the whipped duck liver pate and the fried aged provolone with chimichurri sauce. If you've never had chimichurri sauce it is a South American treat made with parsley, garlic, olive oil and other seasonings. Although it is typically reserved for meat, it paired quite well with the fried provolone.

In addition to amazing food, Legume had a very pleasant happy hour. I enjoyed my five dollar red wine, even if it did come out of a box. Many people still seem to hold to the notion that all good wine must be sold in a bottle. Quite frankly, I've found this to be false. Several wineries are taking to shipping their wine in boxes as it reduces costs, environmental impact and shipping weight. I wonder if I can find bordeaux in a box yet?

Legume Bistro on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Kelly's Bar & Lounge - East Liberty

Kelly's is a bar for hanging out with your trendy late twenty-something friends. The bar is always packed, they feature very fancy drink specials such as the Pimm's Cup and everyone just looks so hansom in their flannel, skinny jeans, sun dress, leather jacket or other alternative fashion look. I like Kelly's for the company and the drinks. Their cocktails are easily some of my favorite in the city, right up there with Mardi Gras and Lefty's. They have an extensive cocktail list and I've never been steered wrong by any of the drink specials, which change daily.

Now, about the food. People rave about the food at Kelly's, especially the macaroni and cheese. I think this is because they are so loose from consuming the libations. The food at Kelly's is bar food. It is just fine, but it is nothing special. I ordered the cajun meatloaf, they were out. So I ordered the poutine tater tots, they were out. I finally settled on the jerk chicken sandwich, it was just awful. The chicken looked like it had been cooked in a sarlacc pit, it was rubber tire black with very little flavor. I had to cover the whole thing in hot sauce and ketchup just to wolf it down.

I really like Kelly's, the bar itself has some fantastic 1950's charm and I think it is just wonderful that they serve food. However, I would make a reservation to eat somewhere down the street like Spoon or Paris 66 and stop by Kelly's just to get loose. Speaking of Paris 66, has anyone been there? My brother raves about it and I've never been.

Kelly's Bar & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Toast - Pittsburgh

DO NOT GO TO TOAST FOR HAPPY HOUR. I repeat, do not go to Toast for happy hour. They do not have a happy hour special. Their bar is prohibitively small. If you show up with a large group of people for happy hour, you will be given the stink eye by management. As a matter of fact, when I ordered my charcuterie plate at the bar the server came out and gave me this little spiel about how he, "had no idea where to put my food." I explained to him that he could just put it on the bar and everything would be fine.

I would like to have ordered more food as I found the charcuterie excellent, but the atmosphere was simply not conducive to dining due to the size of our group. In particular, the duck pate was a real stand up act. It was probably one of the creamiest pates I've ever had with a rich sweetness that lent itself well to being spread on fresh bread. Here are my Toast pro-tips: make a reservation, do not attempt to sit at the bar, don't expect a warm welcome from the management and keep in mind that if you want to sample a wine you will be charged. Some restaurants have such good food that they don't need to worry about charming the clientele, this seems to be such an establishment - I just wish I could have tried some of the other dishes.

Toast Kitchen and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon