Tag Archives: downtown

Penn Avenue Fish Company Downtown

Talk about a smart business plan. Penn Avenue Fish Company in the Strip does a brisk business serving delicious undersea lunchtime specialties and sushi to crowds of customers from the immediate surrounding businesses as well as Downtown employees and folks working up Penn and Liberty Avenues into Lawrenceville and Bloomfield. So when the restaurant expanded their territory, they made the right decision to put their new location in the middle of Downtown, securing the hearts and appetites of many of their already loyal Downtown-based customers, as well as ensuring a whole horde of new followers.

Favorites of the Strip location, such as the sushi and the fish tacos, made the trip into Downtown as well. In addition, they added a dinner menu for Wednesday through Saturday service. The inventive and tantalizing lunch options easily transformed into upscale (but not uppity) dinnertime offerings.

The interior of Penn Avenue Fish Company Downtown feels like a combination sushi bar and cafe. It’s long and narrow, but the design keeps it from feeling cramped, with brightly colored walls and flooring. Warm overhead lights supplement the natural light coming in from the entrance, and a few well-chosen items of aquatic-themed wall decor give the place an appropriate dose of seafood restaurant without falling into the realm of the cheesy.
Penn Avenue Fish Company  on Urbanspoon

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Lunchtime Link: Bad News Day

The Post-Gazette ran a story today about the closing of Le Cordon Bleu Downtown and the potential effect it will have on local dining. Didn’t realize it had an effect on local dining? Psshaw:

Graduates of the 25-year-old program, previously known as the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, fill many of the top spots at notable restaurants around town, including Danielle Cain, executive chef at Soba in Shadyside; Kevin Sousa, chef-owner of Salt of the Earth in Garfield; Justin Severino, executive chef and partner at Elements, Downtown; and Richard DeShantz, chef-owner of Nine on Nine, Downtown.

Anyone else going to sincerely miss seeing the white-clad culinary students Downtown?

The Local Food Report: Monday, January 3

Local food news happens all the time, and it’s unbelievable how much you miss if you don’t check out local publications. Recently read something worthwhile? Link it at the bottom!

– It’s been a busy and varied year for Pittsburgh dining, especially when it comes to new restaurants opening up. The PG’s China Millman takes us through the notable openings in 2010. Not a bad place to start if you’re listing restaurants to check out in the new year. (On my list: Salt of the Earth, Spoon, Sababa, Green Pepper, Daphne, and on and on and on…)

– If you checked out the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s previous article on Notion, the new restaurant from Dave Racicot, you might want to read this follow-up on recent developments. The restaurant, scheduled to open today, had 50 reservations for its opening night, but time will tell if this will be the 31-year old  chef’s flight or folly. Chef Racicot is not fooling around. “To err might be human but not in Chef Racicot’s kitchen, even on the first day of business: If you allow people an opportunity to make mistakes just because something is new, he notes, it changes the mindset.”

Need a place Downtown for breakfast or lunch? Deborah Deasy of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review covers the Market Square merging of Prantl’s and Mancini’s. I, for one, am glad to have a Prantl’s post somewhere a little closer to the South Hills. “The pair first joined hands in September 2008 to rent the former Jenny Lee bakery site on Market Square. ‘We were both businesses looking to expand Downtown. Our future landlord introduced us,’ says Nick Mancini Hartner, 32, great-nephew of Jimmy Mancini, who founded Mancini’s Bread Co. in 1929.”

The Penn Avenue Fish Company and the Big Burrito Group get a nice shout out in this piece on nationwide dining from Joan Nathan (for Tablet Magazine). The author made several notable dining stops on her 32-city book tour, but only one city’s chef got to represent with a full recipe. That’s right, Big Burrito’s Chef Bill Fuller.

– Rebecca Sodergren delves into holiday food traditions for the PG’s Food Column, including “Good Luck” foods for New Year’s Day eating. While the event listings are sadly out of date at this point, the lentil soup recipe sounds good enough to make any day of the year.

Gimme Gimme Gimme a Gift Card for Christmas!

I try to be budget conscious. My love of dining out, however, has a way of breaking me down. It’s not always that I don’t have anything to eat at home – sometimes I’ll be ready and game for going out despite a fridge full of produce slowly rotting away. Sometimes I’m just feeling too lazy to bother, and the only thing that stands between me and possibly eating a bag of chips for dinner is the promise of a take out veggie sandwich or seitan wings and sweet potato fries. (When are you going to open a South Hills location, Spak Bros.? We NEED you here.)

Mostly, though, I love to dine out. I love exploring new restaurants, checking names off the “to try” list. I love wandering around a neighborhood until hungry, then choosing a place at random to eat. I love taking recommendations from friends and actually being able to report back my opinion to them. As much as I love to cook, I tend to fall into a loop of making the same dozen things, in variations, and dining out is a great way of shaking me out of an eating rut.

Is it healthy? No. Not for my body, not for my bank account. But dammit, it could be worse! It’s not like I’m hooked on smack or something.

This Christmas, I’m not looking to get anything really big. Last year, I received a mighty Kitchen Aid food processor, and that was the last bit of kitchen machinery that I really needed. Instead of expensive goods, I thought I might request gift cards and certificates to different restaurants, cafes, etc., in hopes that I can spread these cards out over a few weeks, and maybe adhere to my budget just a little better in the new year.

Five Restaurants on My Christmas List:

From Foodburgh.com

Salt of the Earth  Yes, I keep up on local foodie news as much as any local food blogger should, and I’ve heard raves and raves about this recent addition to the culinary blossom of Penn Avenue/East Liberty area. And admittedly, the menu isn’t all that expensive – I could probably eat there for a similar amount that I would gladly spend at Thai Cuisine – but when trying out the new hot place to eat, it’s go big or go home. I don’t want to stick to my expensive restaurant budget saving order – usually soup and whatever appetizer is the least pricey – I want to go all out, especially if it means ordering a dessert cheese plate (“Midnight moon goat, Maytag bleu, quince, maple, bacon” – $8) and a Rye cocktail (“Sazerac, cinnamon, Averna” – $10) to finish.
Do they offer gift cards/certificates? – It’s not readily apparent on their website, but they are the big buzz restaurant right now, especially after taking “Best New Restaurant” in the Pittsburgh City Paper’s “Best of 2010” poll. If they didn’t offer anything yet, they probably will soon.

Mekong – The best kept Asian secret in town. I have been to Mekong. I have been there many, many times. The way some people have a neighborhood bar they frequent, that’s how I view Mekong. And because I live within short walking distance, I am both a frequent in-restaurant guest and delivery order customer. Because I already spend a large share of my money there, and because I always like to see more business go their way (especially if that business leads to more Mekong food in my tummy), get me a gift certificate. Maybe I can save you some of my Spicy Vegetable Noodle with Tofu. Maybe.
Do they offer gift cards/certificates? – They certainly do.

Le Pommier – I’m not a huge fan of super fancy restaurants, but I’ll admit, all the time I was working in the South Side, broke as shit, and had to walk past Le Pommier on the way to my hourly wage slave job, my mouth watered a little at the thought of sitting down to a table covered in fine linen, set with sterling silver, a fine glass of red wine in front of me, candlelight softly illuminating the lovely face of my dining companion. Perhaps the Chou-Fleur to start (“roasted cauliflower with puff pastry and brown butter” – $8), then on to the main course, maybe the Cassoulet (“southern france white bean stew with a crispy duck leg and sausage” – $25) or maybe the Porc (“pan seared Duroc pork loin chop with apple bacon lentils topped with local cider gastrique” – $24). Then onto coffee and conversation over the season Trio de crème brûlée ($8). I haven’t worked in the South Side for some time, and yes, I’m considerably better off financially now than during those glassy-eyed days of yore, but I still haven’t gotten that fantasy trip to Le Pommier. It’s about time I did.
Do they offer gift cards/certificates? – At last check, they had gift certificates, but that was pre-renovation.

From exploriate.com

Round Corner Cantina – Okay, yes, I’m being a little cheapskate here, cause this place isn’t exactly expensive. But I was thinking: if I got a gift card/certificate for like, thirty bucks, I could take myself and a few others out for dinner. Anyway, it would make a good excuse to finally get over to this restaurant. While living over in Bloomfield/Lawrenceville area, I had enjoyed a drink or two in the weird little setting of the Round Corner Hotel bar, so I wasn’t surprised when new owners took it over and turned it into a swinging hotspot Mexican restaurant. Get me some credit dollars there, and I’ll buy the first round!
Do they offer gift cards/certificates? – Probably not.

Wild Rosemary – Nicole from Yum Yum writes highly of this restaurant in Upper St. Clair, and I’m always eager to take a recommendation from someone whose tastes I can trust. It’s the priciest of the bunch here, so that’ll have to be a pretty big gift card to cover the Chilean Sea Bass ($37) and the Fudgie Mocha Tart with Espresso-Custard ($8), along with enough to include the nominal corkage fee and gratuity. But don’t worry, I’ll treat you when we go to the Round Corner Cantina!
Do they offer gift cards/certificates? – No mention of it on the website. Seeing as how they’re fairly high-end, they probably do offer something. Nicole?

Fiftieth Post! Let’s celebrate with a giveaway and list!

Yep, it’s our fiftieth post. Feels like just yesterday we were squabbling over a blog name, finding pictures of forks, figuring out what the heck we might write about. Ah, those were simpler times. We’d drive the ol’ jallopey to the local hootenany, a community picnic or barbecue, then have  the local artist sketch pictures of our food. Then we’d type out our criticisms of the local farmer’s wife’s apple pie (too crumbly, woman!) and, using a homemade printing press, we’d deliver copies of our newsletter to our reluctant neighbors who believed us to be Commies.

Yes, we’ve come a long way since those dusty dirt roads and ink-stained newsletters. We’re riding fast on the information highway, and nothing is going to stop us now!

To thank the few of you who read us on a regular basis (and the few of you who read us semi-regularly, and the many who have only dropped in for a post or two), I’m announcing the Fifty Post Celebratory Giveaway: Simply post a comment below with your favorite eating place in Pittsburgh (or one of your favorites, you lovely gluttons) and your email address, and I will pick a winner at random.

The winner will receive a dozen homemade cookies and assorted useless trinkets from Dot’s Dollar Store (cheerfull provider of lottery tickets and ugly mugs to the Mt. Lebanon area). I will announce the winner on Monday, November 22.

Also, for our fiftieth post, I thought we’d cobble together a list of our fifty favorite eating spots in Pittsburgh. These are not ranked, just an assorted collection of fifty restaurants (and take-out stands and street -vendors) in Pittsburgh worth giving a try.

Fifty Places to Eat in Pittsburgh
1. Mekong Restaurant 
2. DeLuca’s
3. Enrico Biscotti
4. The Zenith
5. Spak Bros.
6. Spice Island
7. People’s Restaurant
8. Tana Ethiopian
9. Smiling Banana Leaf
10. Dor-Stop Diner
11. It’s Greek to Me
12. Aladdin’s
13. Namaste
14. Cambod-Ican Kitchen
15. Cafe Du Jour
16. Bloomfield Bridge Tavern
17. Six Penn Kitchen
18. Kaya
19. Angelo’s Pizzeria
20. Las Palmas weekend taco stand
21. Bangkok Balcony
22. Chicken Latino
23. Tram’s Kitchen
24. Molly Brannigan’s
25. Dormont Dogs
26. Coriander Indian Grill
27. J’eet
28. Paris 66
29. Round Corner Cantina
30. Abay’s Ethiopian
31. Conflict Kitchen
32. Rocky’s
33. New Amsterdam
34. Thunderbird Cafe
35. Frankie’s Extra Long
36. Gypsy Cafe
37. Tamarind Savoring India
38. Piper’s Pub
39. The Quiet Storm
40. Chaya Japanese Cuisine
41. Thai Cuisine
42. Mexico City
43. D’s Six Pax & Dogz
44. Tessaro’s
45. Crystal
46. Milky Way
47. Casbah
48. Double Wide
49. Big Dog Coffee
50. Sun Penang

Good Morning, Brunch!

In a perfect world, we could all start work at noon, leaving us plenty of time to grab a nice brunch before settling into our work day. While I’ve come around on breakfast – as in, I regularly eat one now – I’m a long time lover of brunchtime, a magical hybrid of breakfast and lunch foods, sometimes with the welcome addition of cocktails, almost always satisfying and cohesive despite its hodgepodge origins. Or, in the immortal words of Jacques, the bowling instructor: “It’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don’t get completely what you would get at breakfast, but you get a good meal!”

It seems that brunch has evolved a great deal since 1990 (although you’re still likely to encounter a fair share of cantaloupe – it just goes with so many flavors). But it no longer seems like an unnecessary blend of breakfast and lunch so much as a meal composed of the best elements of all mealtimes, creating a mealtime tradition that, because it doesn’t happen every day, is special each time it is enjoyed.

From rachelridesthetrain.blogspot.com

I’ve written about The Zenith before, but it had been a while since I paid a Sunday visit. One of the primary reasons is that football season started, and my partner and I were just as content to stay home and watch the games while eating a homemade brunch. But alas, the cupboard was pretty bare this past Sunday, and we were just motivated enough by the cool, drizzling gray November mid-morning that it seemed like the right time to reconnect with one of our favorite brunch spots.

The Zenith brunch was a fine reason for us to get ourselves out of the house this past Sunday morning. If it’s been far too long since you’ve made a brunch trip, here are five other places you might want to give a try: Continue reading