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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Houlihan's - Station Square

"How's that hummus Riesa?" -L "It tastes like hummus." - Riesa
I used to eat at Houlihan's with my grandmother. I didn't have strong feelings about Houlihan's when I was five years old and today I still lack feelings towards Houlihan's. Our relationship is like that of two strangers on a dirty street car exchanging brief words over some shitty chicken strips. Corporate food has no soul.

The cuisine at Houlihan's is entirely unremarkable, but they have some good specials. Half priced drinks and discounted appetizers from 5-7.

One of my spicy happy hour models sports some spicy chicken avocado egg rolls.

I've always had issues with restaurants that offer foods inspired by every geographic area of culinary importance including Mexico, Italy, China, Japan, and Buffalo, New York. Just pick a theme and run with it. When you offer everything I automatically assume that nothing is fresh and everything is bad.

You've probably already been to Houlihan's and I'm sure you've made up your mind about the food. I won't bore you with my thoughts, so here are some of my favorite verbatum quotes from Urbanspoon regarding the Houlihan's at Station Square:

"The area around us was dusty. The shelf could have used a good cleaning. "

"I enjoyed the city view as a backdrop."

"My father got the fajitas which were flavored with teriyaki. Again, weirdly Asian."

"They were quick with the drinks, everyone's checks were correct, and they didn't mind us getting rather rowdy/drunk."

"It's old, tired, and quite literally smelly."

As you can tell from these quotes, and the issues that are important to the average Houlihan's diner, this might not be the best place to take your fancy Manhattan foodie friends. However, if you are looking to get white-girl-wasted with your brother's cousin Darryl, and gnash on some serious organic steamed pot-stickers, please indulge.

Houlihan's on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 16, 2013

Games N' At

You know when you are there.
Games N' At is one of the strangest places I've been in a long while. For example, the large sign above the entryway advertises a website that does not work. Also, the establishment is filled with hidden Easter eggs like the weird happy birthday room with a very peculiar phone booth closet with covered windows. (This is where the birthday clown takes you for your special birthday surprise.)

I've noticed many complaints that people aren't sure what they are paying for when they come to Games N' At as some of the games cost extra money. This complaint is ridiculous. For eight dollars you get two hours worth of access to classic arcade games, pinball machines, basketball machines, foosball, air hockey, pool and console video game systems. They require you to pay extra for duck-pin bowling ($2), skee-ball, whack-a-mole and other games where you win tickets for crappy prizes that you don't want. The real deal is that Games N' At is BYOB. They charge a small amount per six pack, but they did not charge us either time for large bottles of wine and whiskey. They provide refrigerator space and a back room to drink in as well. (This way you don't feel guilty slamming wine coolers in front of young children.)

Most of the arcade games are the ones you might remember from your childhood if you were born in the early 1980's. Many of them have mechanical problems. We had issues with most of the shooting games, Capcom versus Marvel, the Alpine Racer game and one of the duck-pin bowling lanes.

Drinking out of the bottle at the bowling alley is great.

Because of my affection for bowling, I forget that most people don't know what duck-pin bowling is.  The games is played and scored in the same manner as normal bowling, but everything is smaller and the balls don't have finger holes. A product of the early 1900's, duck-pin bowling barely exists in real life. The few remaining duck-pin bowling alleys are mainly in the Northeast United States. There are claims that the game originated in Baltimore, but I doubt it. The only thing good to come out of Baltimore was the premise for the HBO television series, "The Wire."

This actually wasn't terrible.

The most amazing thing about the food at Games N' At was how not terrible it was. It was either because it wasn't terrible, or because I drank most of that large bottle of wine, but the food wasn't terrible. The chicken nuggets were just like the kind you were served as a child and the pizza actually wasn't bad at all. It was easily as good as Digornio or little league baseball pizza.

Here's a picture of a bunch of crappy prizes that seemed like pure gold from ages 4-12.

Games N' At on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 9, 2013

Braddock's American Brasserie


I'm not used to receiving rock star treatment when I visit Pittsburgh restaurants. Unlike the folks at Tendo Review I do not wear food blogger shirts and I try not to alert the staff to the fact that I'm silently judging their every move. This week was an exception.

Braddock's put out an incredible spread to welcome the Pittsburgh Restaurant Week food bloggers. They really went all out to impress us - and it worked. I spent a large portion of the evening discussing the direction the restaurant is headed with their new chef, Jason Shaffer. Jason is passionate about food. It is rare that I meet someone who can give me excellent suggestions as to what I need to read about the American culinary scene.
Sometimes I just look at skinny people and wonder if they know what they are missing.
Some of the many dishes I tried included crab cakes, mixed charcuterie and some delicious kielbasa.  Although they were all amazing, the chicken drumsticks cooked in duck fat and the lobster seafood pierogies were my absolute favorite. I'm really not a pierogie guy, but these things were so fantastic that the staff was basically forced to constantly replenish them while we stuffed our faces. Additionally, the buffalo chicken drums were a real knockout. They had been slow cooking for so long that they actually appeared to be chicken wings, but the amount of meat on the bone proved otherwise. Currently Braddock's is offering the seafood pierogies, but they won't be offering the chicken drums cooked in duck fat for another few weeks. I honestly can't wait to see what chef Jason has in store for us - I know I'll be checking in regularly.

Braddock's American Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 2, 2013

Luke Wholey's Wild Alaskan Grille

Ever since I was a young child, too young to attend happy hour, my father has been taking me to Wholey's. I can remember being barely old enough to maintain my composure in public when papa told me to wait in line for the fish sandwiches while he went grocery shopping.

 The nice Wholey's employees would always serve me these incredible over-sized piles of fish dripping in hot grease. I believe this is where I first learned that anything deep fried is delicious when covered in malt vinegar.

Later, as I grew into a shitty adult, my father would take me to Wholey's for sushi. Andy, the Wholey's sushi chef, has an immaculate sense of humor and does an amazing job slinging the sush'. At some point Mr. Wholey must have had a son named Luke. This is Luke's story.

Luke Wholey Recently opened his Wild Alaskan Grille in the Strip District. The food is god-damn-delicious. Luke graciously extended the happy hour menu for our group. Half off appetizers and discounted beers. The service was less than spectacular as they really weren't suited to accommodate our large group. But like I said, damn good food. Since we were celebrating our second anniversary as a drinking society, I decided to try mostly everything. (I'm not super proud of myself) Here's a list of what I had with my respective feelings:

Oysters and Shrimp Platter (Good)
Hand Breaded Shrimp Poppers (Meh)
½ Lb. Peel & Eat Old Bay
Jumbo Gulf Shrimp (Really good)
Smoked Whitefish Salad (Decent)
Mozzarella Sticks (Good)

So, if you weren't sure from the capslock, I loved the lobster bisque french fries. I had never even heard of such a thing. It seems like a basic idea. Like chili fries, but with bisque. For some reason I pictured runny bisque ruining perfectly delicious french fries. However, the fries were nice and crisp and just covered in delicious lobster claw meat. I've never understood the hype about lobster tail. The claw is where it's at.

Here's to you Pittsburgh Fine Drinking Society!

Luke Wholey's Wild Alaskan Grille on Urbanspoon

Meet The Champ

Richard E. is the Pittsburgh Happy Hour entrant for this years Liberty Mile Race. The Liberty Mile will be held on August 9 at 7:00 p.m. in downtown Pittsburgh. Although many will compete, only one racer will truly captivate the hearts of the entire city of Pittsburgh. Richard Ernsberger. For more information about the race please visit (They even have race day drink specials listed!)

If you want to hangout with me next Friday while Richard wins the race, I'll be at some local sud shop live tweeting the entire race with the folks from Unlock Pittsburgh. Speaking of Unlock Pittsburgh, I can't even imagine what sad hippopotamus they will be sponsoring for the Liberty Mile.

Why did you start running?
Something to do outside.
How fast can you run?
8 minute mile comfortably.
What inspires you to run?
A nice day outside.
What is your favorite place to run?
Schenley Park
What is your favorite beer?
New Castle 
What is your favorite animal?
Polar Bear
How confident are you on a scale of 1-10 that you can beat the runner sponsored by Unlock Pittsburgh? 
10 Running to beat another person’s time seems to be counter to the purpose of the fastest mile competition. It should be about making new friends and take a quick jog in nice weather down Liberty Avenue. But then again, Pittsburgh Happy Hour is a better blog than Unlock Pittsburgh, so I need to step it up to keep up appearances.