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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pittsburgh Steak Company - The Great Southside Burger Challenge

The hamburger that ruined my life.
So far we've had a number of food challenges and I've always been able to declare a definitive winner. Unfortunately, last week was the exception. The only winner of The Great Burger Challenge was the hamburger itself and the lucky happy hour guests who received concert tickets from Unlock Pittsburgh.

The three pound burger from Pittsburgh Steak Company literally kicked my ass. Sure, three pounds might not sound like much. But when you consider that the thing is served with an entire loaf of bread, french fries, onions, peppers, mushrooms, bacon, cheese, tomato and lettuce - the total weight is much closer to five pounds. The time limit to finish the burger is one hour. After some computation, I've determined that it took me approximately 86 hours as I was unable to finish the thing until Monday morning.

To train for the competition, I consumed one large meal each day during the week. Golden Palace Chinese Buffet, Ambridge Police Station pizza and Las Palmas tacos respectively. The day of the competition I woke up and had a stiff apple cider vinegar drink to aid with digestion and basically starved myself except for chugging water to keep my stomach expanded. This "training" was no more than an experiment in gluttony due to my miserable failure.

I think the most remarkable thing about the burger, other than the size, was how good it was. I would probably go order it again and share it with 6-8 friends. I had assumed it would be somewhat dry due to the logistics of cooking a burger this large, and attempting to serve three of them at the same time for the purpose of the competition. However, it was actually very succulent, well prepared and delicious -  for the first twenty minutes.

About twenty minutes into the competition I knew I was a dead man. I didn't want to discourage my competitors so I kind of picked at my french fries and feigned interest in the burger.  About thirty minutes in, I couldn't even look at the god damned thing anymore. It had beaten me. The food had won and I wanted to go chain smoke cigarettes. At the end of the competition I spoke to the owner of the Pittsburgh Steak Company, I told him, "yeah, I never really thought I could eat it." His reply was, "I know son. I know." Nice guy.

In case you are interested in the logistics of attempting this challenge: the burger costs $35 dollars, you must call in advance, if you finish the burger, the fries and all the fixings, it is free, you get $25, a t-shirt and your name on the wall. You are free to choose your toppings, but we decided that not selecting all of the toppings was tantamount to cheating. Out of over two hundred attempts, only two people have eaten the burger so far. Those two people are probably dead now.

The one time I require assistance from the Hamburgler and he's nowhere to be found.......

Pittsburgh Steak Company on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 16, 2013

BZ's Bar and Grill

Turducken Burger

I was shocked by BZ's Grill. Food on the North Shore is traditionally terrible. For example, I hate the food at McFadden's, Bettis Grill, Mullen's and Titled Kilt. I'd honestly rather eat at taco bell. These bars all serve crap food suitable for baseball fans. I typically avoid the North Shore like the plague, unless I'm looking to get my casino fix.

BZ's is a pleasant exception. I honestly did not hate a single thing I tried.  The turducken burger (pictured above) was a very clever take on an old favorite. A traditional turducken is a duck stuffed in a chicken stuffed in a turkey. The BZ's variation was a turkey burger served with duck confit and an egg. I usually hate turkey burgers, but the turducken at BZ's presented a fantastic flavor combination along with a nice crisp bun and a well seasoned turkey patty. The arugula was a little sad, but I ate it anyhow.


During happy hour at BZ's you can get a hummus plate for $4. This is quite a deal considering the hummus is pretty righteous and served with pesto, a hot pepper sauce and a tomato salad on the side. Additionally, the bartender was even kind enough to provide us with samples of BZ's house brined cucumber slices and onions. (I think they should throw these items on the hummus plate as well.) I want to go back to BZ's to try their Tuesday special: a can of beer, a bbq entree and two sides for $10. Who is in?

BZ's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Pierogies are for lovers.
It only happens about once or twice a year, but occasionally I am shocked by the food you can get in a really dirty bar that smells like someone peed in an ashtray. I'm thrilled to say that Gooskis is this type of bar. The pierogies are excellent. They offer a few different varieties from Pierogies Plus in McKee's Rocks including potato, cottage cheese and sauerkraut. One of my happy hour patrons complained that the onions weren't right because some guy named Billy wasn't cooking that evening, but I thought they were fine. If you've never been to Pierogies Plus, they really know their stuff. They'll even allow you to customize your own pierogies with kick-ass ingredients such as hot sausage, bacon and jalapenos.

Now, the pierogies were good, but the wings really stole the show. I consider myself a bona fide expert on the subject of chicken wings. When I was growing up, my parents both worked long hours and it was often difficult for them to come home and prepare meals. As a result, I consumed chicken wings roughly 3-4 times a week with a group of misfits at an old strip mall restaurant in Moon called Wiggy's.Wiggy's was so consistently fantastic that I've always been very skeptical when consuming other wings or when taking wing advice from amateurs.

Amateur wing eaters are pathetic clowns!
Gooskis makes the cut. Their wings are perfectly seasoned with an excellent crisp which is heightened by the very modest amount of breading accompanying each wing. I'm really at a loss regarding how I can convey the excellence of these chicken wings. I'll be taking my wing-fanatic friend from Oklahoma to Gooskis next time he visits. (The dude basically only eats wings and Italian food and if I took him to a shitty wing restaurant he'd probably kill me.)

Gooskis pro tips: the bloody-marry is damn good. I don't even like bloody-marries and I was extremely impressed by the quality. The juke box is fantastic as well, an extremely eclectic collection of music that can't be found on the modern Touchtones machines. Lastly, the patrons and bartenders don't mess around. If you want to bro around with your bros, I wouldn't recommend Gooskis. You might get a punk rock boot right up your ass. 

Gooski's Bar on Urbanspoon Pierogies Plus on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fuel and Fuddle

Pizza Time
The food at Fuel and Fuddle is remarkable. In particular, the pulled pork sandwich served with horseradish made me want to cry. Delicious well seasoned pork with just enough bite. The pizza was a little sweet, but delicious. Be warned! The patrons are young and rowdy and there is nowhere to stand. A Thursday evening at this bar in the early spring looks like a Saturday night in the Southside. Undergraduates crowd the doorway waiting for tables and get salty when you call them undergraduates.

Additionally, Fuel and Fuddle does not negotiate. I generally call an establishment before we arrive in attempts to procure a special. The special I was offered at Fuel and Fuddle was, "you can order anything you want off the menu in any quantity at menu price." Honestly though, this place was crowded and they didn't need my business. I can hardly blame them.

The interesting thing about this happy hour was I ran into an old roommate from five years ago. We hadn't seen each other since we moved out and I had no idea he was even living in Pittsburgh. I was shocked to see him. When we lived together we were young men so full of hope. (I wrote for a better food blog in those days and I was so handsome.)

My roomy who I ran into at Fuel and Fuddle used to brew beer in the basement and he dated this broad that went on to become Miss Maine. He told me that shortly afterwards she left him and got married to some jerk. He said it was ok though, because she was crazy. We lived with this other peculiar guy as well, Neil. A mustached fellow who used to sit on the couch a lot and smoke cigarettes in the basement when he got mad at us.

I said to my old roomy at Fuel and Fuddle, "So, I hate to bring this up, but did you hear about Neil."

He said no.

I kind of slouched over and slammed my extremely appropriate Great Lakes beer, "Neil killed himself man, he couldn't take it anymore. He's dead."

There was nothing else to say. Oddly, we also happened to be at Fuel and Fuddle and run into each other on the Neil's 32nd birthday. The universe loves fucking with me.

I love you Neil. I wish you were still alive and in this alternate world where you were still alive I would let you smoke cigarettes in the basement.

Fuel & Fuddle on Urbanspoon