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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Jean Louis - Dormont

Jean Louis
Jean Louis - Pork Bread Mushrooms Sweets

Jean Louis was one of the best culinary treats that I had the pleasure of experiencing this year. I know what you might be thinking: why would you expect exquisite French cuisine in Dormont?

But you should! Chef Vincent Capuano trained extensively in France but he has all the sensibilities and quirky qualities you could expect from any chef raised in McKees Rocks.  His approach to French dining is totally lacking in pretension. He came across as warm, honest and humble. But his food was remarkable and displayed the qualities that you might expect from a much more unyielding chef.


Our first course was octopus which was extremely fitting as it was the very first dish that Chef Vincent learned to cook. I love octopus and this was some of the best octopus that I have ever tried. It was remarkably tender, well seasoned and served with gorgeous accoutrements. If you could only try one dish at Jean Louis, I would say try the octopus. Based on the article that the City Paper ran it would seem that everyone agrees with me. 

Crab Cake


Our next dish was this spectacular crab cake. It was entirely unique from any crab cake I've tried as it was not breaded or heavily fried and the dish itself really featured the richness and quality of the crab.  It was almost like a delightful warm crab salad. They used jumbo lump crap from Ecuador. It is worth noting that jumbo lump crab meat is not usually used in crab cakes because it is the more expensive part of the crab. Thanks Jean Louis! 

Pasta With Musrooms

Our next course was the burrata pappardelle with these remarkable mushrooms. When I expressed interest in the mushrooms Chef Vincent actually sent out his sous chef with this absolutely gorgeous box of assorted fresh mushrooms. I'm a huge mycology guy, that's to say - I get really excited about fungus.

Did you know that Kennett Square in Pennsylvania is the mushroom capital of the world? Those lunatics produce over 500 million pounds of mushrooms a year, nearly half the US crop.  With recent changes in legislation in Oregon and other parts of the country I would say that Pennsylvania has a great opportunity to cultivate all sorts of mushrooms.

Foie Gras

Throughout the evening we really found the presentation of each dish to be spectacular. This foie gras is the perfect example. I personally adore foie gras. The rich texture lends itself to so many delightful applications.

I find it outrageously silly that there is a move to ban foie gras in some parts of the world such as New York. Despite what the psychos at PETA might think, not all production of foie gras is unethical. In fact many farms are quite transparent about how they treat the geese that are used in the production of foie gras and I would venture to say that if you have a problem eating foie gras you probably shouldn't be eating meat at all. (Disclaimer, I have no disrespect whatsoever for vegetarians. Personally I subscribe to Kantian ethics when it comes to the treatment of animals. The only thing that I find infuriating is when people decide that it is more ethical to eat some animals or some parts of animals than other animals. What a bunch of fucking hypocrites.)

Some of the other dishes we really enjoyed included the scallops and the desert pastries. Personally I would say you can skip the pork belly. It's quite obvious that the staff here takes great care in selecting quality ingredients. Overall this is a remarkable restaurant. I would highly recommend stopping by to pay Chef Vincent a visit.


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Fet Fesk - Round Two

The Precious

Fet Fisk has previously been a traveling act, but for a while earlier this year they found a temporary home at Pear and Pickle in Troy Hill. Back in October I had the opportunity to check out Fet Fisk at Dish Osteria for a spooky meal comprised of various offal. It was just fantastic.

I had the pleasure of visiting Fet Fisk again at Pear and Pickle in early 2020. I was scheduled to dine with them again in March, but unfortunately their regular dinners been on hiatus due to COVID. I've been telling anyone who will listen that I believe Fet Fisk is one of the most unique culinary experiences that Pittsburgh has to offer.

Some of my favorite dishes from the evening included the soft omelet with gravlax, the fish head soup, the fishmongers lunch with smoked mussels, scallop, octopus and salt cod. It was just a wonderful array of perfectly prepared seafood. We honestly tried everything on the menu.

As our oysters arrived I asked if it was possible to have some mignonette or cocktail sauce. The waiter came back and told me that the chef said that any additional sauce was forbidden! I know that a lot of people might be offended, but I personally think it is great when the chef tells you how to enjoy something exactly as it is intended.

Within the last few weeks Fet Fisk has opened their Royal Market featuring some really amazing looking smogasboards.  They should also have some additional offerings as they get acclimated to their new space, how exciting.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Sheetz Unviels New Hop Dog Beer with Neshaminy Creek Brewing

This post was brought to you by Sheetz in collaboration with Pittsburgh Happy Hour.

Just last week Sheetz unveiled their brand new beer, "project hop dog." This was the second time I had the opportunity to attend the unveiling of a Sheetz collaboration, and they really are a ton of fun.

Sheetz worked with Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company to produce this remarkable hot dog inspired beer. I would describe the hop dog as being salty and subtly hoppy with a great finish that really does remind you of a hot dog. While they claim it doesn't actually taste like hot dogs, I swear that it does!

My favorite part of the launch event was when one of the members of the Sheetz family referred to Sheetz hot dogs as "death dogs." Ha! 

I love Sheetz food, but instead of their hot dogs I usually go with an MTO chicken sandwich with about 14 different toppings. My go to toppings are pickles, banana peppers, jalepenos, sauteed onions, raw onions, lettuce, tomato, boom boom sauce, habenero sauce and extra cheese. It's a real mess but totally worth it.

For the next few weeks you will be able to get a hop dog at most Sheetz locations throughout the state while supplies last. For a full list of participating locations, visit I highly recommend grabbing a sixer if you like IPAs as this unique beer will not be around long.

Launch Event
Thank you to Sheetz and Neshaminy for putting together an amazing event! They've provided some additional information below.

About Sheetz, Inc.
Established in 1952 in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Sheetz, Inc. is one of America's fastest-growing family-owned and operated convenience store chains with more than 20,000 employees. The company operates 600 store locations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina. Sheetz provides an award-winning menu of M•T•O® sandwiches and salads, which are ordered through unique touch-screen order point terminals. All Sheetz convenience stores are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Recognized by Fortune as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, Sheetz is committed to offering employees sustainable careers built on an inspiring culture and community engagement. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter (@sheetz), Facebook ( and Instagram (

About Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company
Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company is an award-winning craft brewery and taproom located just north of Philadelphia in Croydon, PA where they use their DIY ethic to make great tasting beer that challenges both their drinkers and brewers. Founded in 2010 by Jeremy Myers, Rob Jahn, and Steve Capelli, Neshaminy Creek has grown exponentially over the years and expanded distribution across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and New York. In 2017, Neshaminy Creek opened their brewpub, The Borough Brewhouse, in Jenkintown, PA which features a full bar, kitchen, and exclusive beers from Head Brewer, Jason Ranck. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook (, follow us on Twitter (@ncbcbeer) and Instagram (@neshaminycreekbrewingco).

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Restaurant Week 2020 - How I Roll

Some of my treasures.

Restaurant week is amazing. For years Brian has been putting together a heck of an event and this year he brought back the special food blogger dinner. Three courses at Bonfire in the Southside prior to the start of restaurant week: the raw deal (tuna tartare with pureed black beans) wagyu meatloaf and a fancy hazelnut chocolate crunch dessert.

Overall it was an absolutely fantastic meal, but I do not understand why you would use wagyu beef to make meatloaf. C'est la vie.

We also stopped by Or the Whale. Their prices have become more reasonable since they opened and they served up some fantastic seafood chowder along with fire roasted chicken with broccoli and potatoes.

Also pictured is Piper's Pub Sunday Supper. A generous serving of roast beef with mashed potatoes, yorkshire pudding and roasted brussels. (They actually serve this meal every Sunday and it was not part of Restaurant week.)

Finally, the Carlton has become my absolute favorite option for restaurant week. I visited for both lunch and dinner as unlike many other participating establishments they serve a different lunch and dinner menu for restaurant week. I'm talking shrimp, I'm talking short ribs, I'm talking kung pao  chicken. Pure bliss.

I also dropped by the Capital Grill, but their salmon was just OK. I simply adore those fancy uniforms the waiters wear though.

Friday, February 21, 2020

SYN Bar & Bistro

Taco Pizza and Pizza Taco

Pappa always told me, son, "You gotta chase that unicorn." Syn is a unicorn, a beautiful creature simply not destined for this world. Until I visited Syn I had absolutely no idea that Mexican-Italian fusion was a thing. According to Allrecipes there are actually a ton of Mexican-Italian fusion dishes I had never even considered such as spaghetti tacos and Italian nachos, barf.

When I walked into Syn it was nearly empty and I asked the bartender if he would prefer an hola or a buon giorno. He stated that a simple hello would suffice. I was underwhelmed by his lack of enthusiasm. The space is enormous. It used to house the old Sharp Edge Bistro. I have to say, I'm glad that the various Sharp Edge locations throughout the city are closing. They are dated and the food is gross.

I walked into Syn expecting an opportunity to write a terrible review. After all, it is difficult to master one variety of cuisine, let alone Mexican-Italian fusion. I spent about an hour trying to figure out what to order that would really fuck them up. I went with the Mexican Pizza and the Pizza Taco.

I was shocked. The pizza was fantastic. Great crust, lovely Mexican toppings. Second only to the Italian taco, just a wonderful treat filled with meat, cheese and that Sunday gravy.  They really blew me away, I was astounded by how good the food was. It is worth mentioning that their happy hour is also pretty decent:

Monday - Friday
$4 Margaritas
50% OFF ALL Craft Drafts
$5 Glasses of Wine
$5 Chips & Queso


This is where they hide the ghosts.

This is where they keep the donuts.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sly Fox

Don't get the chips.
Sly Fox is a dump. Their beer is just awful, their food is gross and you need a door code in order to use the restroom. If I wanted to use a door code to access the restroom I would hang out in a public park in Europe. Shame on you Sly Fox.

Pictured above are the world famous Sly Fox "chips and salsa." For only $5 (or $2.50 during happy hour) these delicious chips could be all yours. We are talking about some Costco bargain chips served with roughly 2oz of flavorless salsa and way too much sour cream. I cannot earnestly recommend these chips and salsa, even at the happy hour price point. 

Happy hour at Sly Fox really isn't a bad deal as all of the appetizers and beer are discounted. However, everything kind of sucks so it isn't really a good deal either. Rashan had this sausage for $9. He said it wasn't awful, but I thought it was odd that they couldn't be bothered to bring him silverware or napkins with his meal.

The hefeweizen I tried tasted like bubblegum and the stout I tried was similarly lackluster. I think they should just stop making beer and sell Miller Lite.

The saddest thing about this whole ordeal is that Sly Fox is apparently opening a second Pittsburgh location right by my house. I hope that they learn how to make beer before they open the doors.

I usually agree with City Paper. Their review of Sly Fox says, "Go to the Sly Fox at the Point for the craft beer that’s been around since 1995. Don't expect much from the food." I would politely add that you should also not expect very much from their craft beer.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Mad Mex - Shadyside

Three sizes of inconsistent margarita specials.
When your grade school teacher told you that math would be important throughout your life, she was not a liar. Mad Mex in Shadyside runs a daily happy hour from 4:30 until 6:30 that features margaritas and discounted drafts. I immediately noticed that the margarita pricing was wildly inconsistent.

I've done the math for you below so that you won't have to bother, but it makes the most sense to order the smallest size margarita. The special has diminishing returns as you order the larger sized margs. The three different sizes of glasses and the advertisement for the special are pictured above. It's worth noting that they don't even tell you the size of the "Big Azz Margarita" - but I'm pretty certain that is a 22 oz glass. What a fucking scam.

$3 12 oz   - 25 cents per ounce
$5 16 oz - 31 cents per ounce
$7 Big Azz margarita - 22 oz - 32 cents per ounce

My friend Paul provided the plausible explanation that even with this knowledge some folks might still be inclined to order the larger size so as to be considerate of the staff. I personally recommend that you just order two 12 oz margaritas at a time so that you are getting the best rate.

A few notes about Mad Mex, they offer half off all drafts during happy hour. Unlike several clown bars around town whose beer selection consists of 42 different IPAs, Mad Mex usually has at least a few different styles of beer to choose from. 

I highly recommend the boneless chicken wings. Mad Mex is one of the few places in town that has a bonafide de-boned chicken wing as opposed to a sauced up chicken tender.

Mad Mex Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Fet-Fisk - Organi Osteria - Dish

Organi Osteria

I'm starting to think that I've lost relevance as a food blogger. After all, food blogs haven't been popular since 2010. It would seem that podcasts and vlogging are the wave of the future. (I'm not even sure the kids call it vlogging anymore.)

The perfect proof of my insignificance is that I've somehow never heard of Fet-Fisk.  Fet-Fisk is a testament of the Pittsburgh restaurant scene transformation. They are a pop up dinner collaborative that takes place at an undisclosed location semi-regularly.  I also do not believe that they disclose the menu prior to their events.

From their site:

"we are not a restaurant. we are a group of friends who currently work in or have worked in restaurants, and we are kind of bummed on restaurants.
we are a group of friends who want to bring other groups of friends together over delicious food, so we throw pop-up dinner parties.
our dinner parties are recurring, and one-of-a-kind. our location changes. unique to each event, our menus highlight fresh seafood and regional produce.
it is important to us for our food to be valued accessibly, and to include satisfying options for diets and restrictions. delicious food is important at FET-FISK.
FET-FISK means ‘greasy-fish’ in swedish"

I'm shocked that these guys could slip under my radar for so long. I really mean it when I say that I must not be cool anymore. Special thanks to my friend Katie for making me cooler. After taking a peek at their Instagram, it appears that Fet-Fesk has been around for about one year.

The Fet-Fisk I had the pleasure of attending was at Dish Osteria and was an all organ/offal dinner titled, Organi Osteria.  Although they have been closed the last couple of years, Dish recently reopened their doors in the historic South Side of Pittsburgh. I highly recommend checking them out, their food is fantastic.

In total we were served nine highly unique courses for $85. Honestly it was not a bad deal but it got expensive quickly as the drinks at Dish were about $10 a pop. Also, we ended up having quite a few drinks as the dinner was slow! The dinner was supposed to run from 7-10 pm but it ran past 11 pm. I'm not a European, I don't like 4 hour dinners.

Some of the amazing dishes we got to try incorporated  head cheese, eyeballs, gonads, tendon, heart, blood and liver. This was not a dinner for the faint of heart and both the menu and the location were not disclosed ahead of time. I've posted the full menu below for your viewing pleasure.

My favorite courses were numbers 8, 4 and 6. Respectively, veal brains with tagliatelle, brown butter and iberian pepper - beef heart with foccacia and bitter greens and calf liver with guanciale and potato.   I can't wait to go party with these folks again.

Full Menu

Dish Osteria & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Western PA Lamb Cook-Off 2019


Lamb Fest has grown massive within such a short span of time! From humble beginnings the Western PA Lamb Cook-Off is now an all out lamb extravaganza. By my count there were over 20 different lamb dishes you could sample. Unlike in previous years, vendors were extremely well stocked and there was no rush to try and get to all 10 stations. Guest chefs included:

Jennifer Girasole (Girasole), Jessica Lewis (Spirits & Tales), Kristin Butterworth (Lautrec), Julio Peraza (Floor 2 at Fairmont Pittsburgh), Will Randall (Meat & Potatoes), Justin Steel (Bar Marco), Chris O'Brien (Scratch Food & Beverage), Brian Hammond (Siempre Algo), Curtis Gamble (Station), Jon Sterrett (Senti), Derek Burnell (Round Corner Cantina and Umami Pgh), Roger Li (Umami Pghand Ki Ramen Pgh), Dan Kern (1201 Kitchen, Bird and Noosa in Erie), Lily Tran (Soba), Sam DiBattista (Vivo Restaurant). Dom Branduzzi (Piccolo Forno and Grapperia), Justin Severino (Morcilla), Michele Savoia (Dish Osteria and Bar), Anthony Falcon (Gaucho Parrilla Argentina) and Nate Hobart (Morcilla). For more on the participants see PRNewswire.

I have to say that I was slightly disappointed by the judges. Usually I think the professionals get it right, but based on my tastes I just have to disagree. I've posted the top three winners below. By and large the judges tended to favor the chefs who made tacos.

In particular I thought that Team 7 was overrated this year and I'm saddened that they are now the three time champions. I just could not get on board with their Lamb Robtaaki (lamb kebabs with various offal.) However, their taco was one of the better ones presented at the event.

Personally, I thought the best dish of the day was the delicate lamb dumpling presented by Team 1. It was perfectly seasoned and just did such a nice job of showcasing the delicious lamb.

This is a top notch Pittsburgh culinary event. I would highly recommend it to anyone! This years winners are posted below.

Team 7:
Roger Li Umami Pgh & Ki Ramen Pgh
Dan Kern of 1201 Kitchen Noosa North East & Bird
Derek Burnell of Round Corner Cantina & Umami Pgh
AKA The Most Hated Players took home the 1st place title for their third year in a row. This undefeated team served three different lamb dishes including
- Lamb Robatayaki
- Lamb Tacos
- Crispy Lamb

Team 5:
Chris O’Brien of Scratch Food & Beverage
Josh Ross of Con Alma
Julio Peraza of Floor 2
David Devoss of Sewickley Tavern
Took second place with Barbacoa Lamb Tacos

Team 8:
Kristen Butterworth
Patrick Duffy
Kareen Brown
Kylie Zaccagni
Team Nemacolin Woodlands Resort come in 3rd with their
Braised Lamb Leg Tacos and their adorable Lamb Fat, Sugar Cookies