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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Winghart's Part Duex SOUTHSIDE

We already ventured to the Winghart's in Market Square and we loved it! Guess how we felt about the second location in the Southside - we loved it! Pictured above is the tatonka pizza. Chicken, mozzarella, provolone, blue cheese and hot sauce. I enjoyed the pizza, but if you are going to Winghart's I have to recommend you stick with the burgers. The pizzas are good but Winghart's makes my favorite burger in the city - why question perfection by ordering a pizza or a salad? 

The Shipwreck

There are some great hamburgers in the city of Pittsburgh. Honorable mentions include Kaya, Burgatory and Tessaro's. (Sorry BRGR, I still haven't made it to visit you yet.) However, I've found the burgers at Winghart's tend to have the best texture and my favorite toppings. The Shipwreck comes with arugula, onions, brie, bacon and white truffle aioli - pure joy on a bun. This combination is truly fantastic and if you are lucky you might even get to meet Shipwreck himself. As his name suggests, Shipwreck is a lot of fun and a little loose around the edges.

Of particular interest in the new Southside location is the extensive draft beer list. Winghart's may very well have one of the top five draft beer selections in the Southside along with Fathead's, Smokin' Joes and Double Wide. The beers are separated by style depending on their location in the tap system - genius! 

One thing to keep in mind when ordering at Winghart's is that your burger will actually be served in the manner in which it is ordered. I typically like my burgers medium but I tend to order them medium rare at most establishments as I find that burgers are generally overcooked. If you order a rare burger at Winghart's, you will get a rare burger. Also, you may want to skip the fries. The burger itself is more than enough food to constitute an entire meal.

Winghart's Burger and Whiskey Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bar Marco

Unfortunately, I have to disagree with my esteemed colleague and fellow Pittsburgh blogger, The Steel Trap. I did not like Bar Marco. The staff seemed to have absolutely no idea what they were doing, the process for ordering food was confusing and the upstairs bar is in a state of disrepair. I only ordered from the meat, cheese and things portion of the menu, but I was very disappointed. The plate pictured above cost $15 or $3 per item. What a rip off!! That small portion of quince jam cannot be justified for $3.

Some of the other various mishaps: I had to ask to order multiple times, there were two different menus and I was originally told the larger menu was not available even though it was, we were not given silverware or napkins, when we were given napkins they were the multi-fold style cardboard napkins that are available in the bathroom at my office, they ran out of glasses and we were served wine in plastic cups, the downstairs bar was incredibly difficult to navigate and loud - when I walked into the restroom it was a stack of cement bags, no toilet or sink and it had a putrid sewage smell.

The space itself has some incredible potential and I think we visited the bar on a day where they were uncharacteristically crowded. I'll make a few other positive notes: the bar does seem to be focused on promoting local artists, which is wonderful, the bartenders were very polite and helpful, they were only charging us $1 for Lionshead beer at the upstairs bar and the other menu offerings do appear very interesting. Hopefully someone will invite me to Bar Marco in the future so that I can give it another try, but for the time being I think I will hold my breath until they work out some of the kinks.

Bar Marco on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 5, 2012

James Street Gastropup

Leath with my chicken and his two entrees.
The James Street Gastropub really knocked me off my feet. I can't even begin to say how impressed I was by the atmosphere and the quality of the food. I've been closely monitoring food trends in the fine city of Pittsburgh for years. I have to say that after a period of some stagnation we are on the up and up, restaurants are providing more interesting options, the competition for fine cuisine is more fierce than ever and gastropups seem to be all the rage. I'm still not positive that I know what a gastropub is, but the best description I've heard is, "an establishment with a sports-bar like atmosphere and fancy food." If this is how we are to define a gastropub, James Street hits the mark. The bar is very casual with a great basement lounge where they have live music several nights a week. The staff was attentive and friendly and the patrons seemed like they were all locals. And the food - the food was the best part. 

Fried oysters.
Personally, I like fresh oysters in the half shell. I think fried oysters are usually bland and oily, not to mention that they are generally frozen. The oysters from James Street were fresh and hand breaded. I suspected as much from tasting them, but I even asked the staff to confirm. My friend chicken, pictured above, was immaculately succulent. The greens were very well done and the grits were grits. I do not like grits. I don't think that any topping, preparation or gimmick will ever get me to like grits. I gave them to my friend Elias and he really enjoyed them, but honestly I don't think I can critically evaluate grits as they just taste like sand and rocks to me. We also tried the fried veggies. Lightly breaded peppers, onions, mushrooms served with a trio of amazing dipping sauces including a tomato relish I would have liked to take home. If you haven't noticed a trend by now you should note that the selections at James Street are largely styled after southern comfort food.

What sets the James Street Gastropub apart from the competition is their offerings and their lack of pretension. Most of the sheik restaurants in Pittsburgh have a commonality to many of their specialties. At any given new restaurant opening in Pittsburgh I anticipate the following menu items: mac n cheese with some clever addition, fancy risotto, mussels of the day and skirt steak dressed handsomely with exotic ingredients. It is comforting to dine at a restaurant that takes care in the preparation of more modest offerings.

James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bossa Nova

I guess they do have the whole food aesthetic thing down.

I wish I had some pleasant things to say about Bossa Nova - I will try my best. I suppose the drinks are not the most over priced in the history of the world and the bartenders are only moderately rude and snarky. The decor is OK and I did run into Ben Roethlisberger there once while he was hanging out with some of the Pittsburgh Penguins. There, I tried.

The food is just not very well prepared. The menu is somewhat interesting, but everything I tried was uninspiring. The fig and jamon toasts didn't have enough toppings to really let you savor the flavors and the veal and pork meatballs were fine but they just didn't have any special seasoning or accompaniments to make them pop.

One item to avoid, the spinach manchego quesadilla. It was literally spinach on a tortilla, we couldn't even taste the manchego and the amount of spinach gave the quesadilla a very unappealing texture. One item I'd order again, the chef's cheese plate. A pretty decent selection of cheeses that put the Six Penn cheese plate to shame.

"Do you want half of my meatball?" "Sure, just leave it right there on the ground."

Bossa Nova on Urbanspoon