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Friday, June 29, 2012


That smile is almost as beautiful as the cheese.
The Porch was a welcome surprise. I spent a great deal of my youth at Eat N Park - just enough time to know that I have literally no interest in consuming another super burger, hot turkey sandwich or breakfast smile. Eat N Park owns The Porch and Six Penn. The food is quite different, but something about Porch still has that industrial cafeteria vibe. I think it is probably the lack of towels in the super sterile and bright bathroom or the large booths. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I know a bastard stylized Eat N Park when I see one. The real selling point is the beautiful outdoor area. One warning though, don't frolic on the quad. We were asked to simmer down on the frisbee.

I tried the cheese plate, the seafood salad and the salumi, but the real winner was the pizza. A nice thin crispy crust with an appropriate sauce to cheese ratio. There were some grumbles that the pizza could use more seasoning, but I rather enjoyed my piggy pie (house cured meats and mozzarella.) The pizza was far superior to standard chain restaurants like Sbarro or Pizza Hut and you can get a pie for half price after 9 p.m. I would not make a special trip to Porch for their pizza, but I would go for their reasonably priced happy hour and scenic outdoor seating. Also, if I was there for those things I would probably jam some pizza in my face-hole. Overall I think the options at Porch are somewhat akin to the offerings at Piccolo-Forno in Lawrenceville and Piccolo-Forno is the winner in terms of quality - no contest.

The Porch at Schenley on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Church Brew Works

Church Brew Cheese Steak
I'm starting to like beer. I used to think of it as this beverage I would consume in order to not get tragically drunk in between bouts of whiskey, wine and shots. Kind of like an alcoholic chaser. My goal at Church Brew was to try every beer they had on tap, goal accomplished. I liked most of the beers, in particular I enjoyed the millennium trippel and the blast furnace stout. However, I did not care for the extremely popular ambrosia ale. It tasted like a disgusting fruit-laden wine cooler. I like a beer with heavy flavor and body - not something that tastes like fairy pee. BE WARNED, if you decide to drink all of the beers at Church Brew you will get a nasty hangover. I'd recommend sticking with two or three.

Honestly, I was very excited for the food at Church Brew. I've been here before and I've always liked everything I've tried. I did not care for my cheesesteak, pictured above. The beef was mostly flavorless and covered in a runny cheese sauce. I should have been weary when the menu claimed that it was, "kobe beef." We do not get kobe beef in the United States. When a restaurant offers you real kobe beef, demand a certificate of authenticity. All Japanese kobe beef is very expensive and it is always served with a certificate. Because kobe beef is Japanese, and not traditionally sold outside of Japan, there is no authority to regulate what is sold as kobe beef in the United States. One does not put kobe beef in an eleven dollar cheesesteak, and more importantly, kobe beef should not come slathered in liquid cheese. I also tried the chicken wings and I have to give them the official Pittsburgh HappyHour two beers down. Not enough crisp and a buttery sauce. If I go back I'll try the pizza which is highly regarded. Unfortunately, the oven was inoperable during our visit. I still highly recommend going to Church Brew for the iconic setting and wonderful outdoor seating.

Church Brew Works on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Double Wide Grill

The Double Wide is a staple of the historic South Side of Pittsburgh. The menu is gigantic, the outdoor seating is epic and the food is pretty good. Notice that I just said, "pretty good" in regards to the food. BBQ in Pittsburgh really isn't that delicious or original. Double Wide's ribs have just the right texture, their chicken is good and their pork is fine, but the BBQ overall is just so-so. I actually find their brisket a bit on the dry side and their sauces rather watery and gross.

If I'm going to eat at the Double Wide, I typically go for brunch or I stick to the basics like chicken wings or their delicious chicken-wing style fried seitan. (If you've never heard of seitan it is a protein made from wheat gluten with a similar consistency to tofu.) I think their BBQ is sub-par and I've even considered opening a BBQ restaurant on the South Side to exploit this weakness in order to line my coffers with cash money and smoked meats.

Double Wide has some really fantastic vegetarian options - probably more selection than most restaurants in town. However, this is exactly what I DO NOT want from a BBQ restaurant, a myriad of vegetarian selections. If your vegan girlfriend Matilda is coming into town, take her to Double Wide. If fat cousin Jimmy is stopping in from Texas he is going to be pissed off you've taken him to some fancy-hipster BBQ restaurant.

Side notes: This place is owned by the same people as the Beehive and the Rowdy Buck. You can play baggo for free on the patio (bonus points.) Drinks are expensive and I've had awesome servers, like Victoria last week, as well as some lousy servers. There are lots of regular food specials but drinks are always a bit on the pricey side as far as South Side living goes.

Double Wide Grill (South Side) on Urbanspoon