Tag Archives: pittsburgh dining

Silky’s Crow’s Nest


A while back, I worked as a front desk clerk for a hotel and restaurant in the area. Because we had no formal concierge, the front desk was expected to manage visitor requests and questions, among the most popular being, “Where should we go to get dinner?” Many times, this question would be coupled with additional criteria: “Where should we go to get dinner on the riverfront?”

To that question, there isn’t an easy answer. While we have many restaurants on the river, so where can you go is not an issue. Where should you go… well, that’s an entirely different story.

Like any waterfront real estate, properties by the riverside are highly sought after. The ability to dine while overlooking a body of water will never go out of favor – just ask the fine folks of some of the most mediocre restaurants lining our East Coast beaches. It really doesn’t seem to matter to most waterfront restaurants whether their food is of decent quality, their staff well trained, efficient, and friendly, or even their interior atmosphere welcoming. The whole sell is that they’re on the water, which puts their diners that much closer to the water, and that setting in of itself is enough to get people through the door.

There are exceptions, of course. And then there are places like Silky’s Crow’s Nest, which is neither the exception nor the rule waterfront dining, but instead inhabits a limbo between above-par dining and sub-par riverside stride. But, as with many places of its type, the bar and restaurant requires the diner to set their expectations realistically. When reaching for a menu item just a bit above ordinary, the chances of their kitchen turning out something splendid is fairly slim.

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Pure & Simple Bistro


Settler’s Ridge is about what you’d expect from the latest fashion of shopping areas. It’s expansive and open air. It’s filled to the brim with stores and restaurants of both high-class and mid-level appeal. It’s got a big movie theater. It’s got an even bigger Giant Eagle Market District, looming in the corner like an airport hanger filled with food. It’s  a huge maze of parking and commerce that on a busy Friday evening can drive a person to the brink of madness.

What a relief, then, that nestled in there, next to the movie theater, down the sidewalk from the monstrous and cacophony-laden Cadillac Ranch is a little oasis of calm?


Pure & Simple Bistro is about as far away from its neighboring establishments as it can get without an actual physical relocation. As quiet as the others are loud, as simple as the others are high concept, as low-key as the others are high energy, P&S is sweet Southern cooking with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients and simple, classic dishes done with careful attention paid toward proportion and quality.

Walking through the doors on a hot summer night is like taking a dip in cool waters. The decor is sleek, wooden, and stylish. If you ever wondered what kind of cafe Pottery Barn would have (if, say, they went the IKEA route), you can be it would look like this:

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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.
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Brgr


I don’t really eat red meat anymore. Not as a rule, necessarily, but I just began to realize how little I a) desired it, b) needed it, and c) missed it when I didn’t have it. While I sometimes find myself craving crunchy, slightly spicy fried chicken or a big greasy strip of bacon (especially if that strip of bacon is on a BLT), I never crave beef. I never think of all-beef hot dogs longingly. I never see a big juicy steak and think, “Mmm, I could go for that right now.” I don’t even crave burgers.

It wasn’t always that way, at least not with burgers. I used to love burgers. For a long time, my favorite thing to eat was a burger. A cheeseburger with pickles, lettuce, mustard, and ketchup. Maybe barbecue sauce if I was feeling adventurous. Later I embraced the tomato and onion, and my burger world blew wide open. I wanted the most lavish of burgers and the most minimalist. I made my own and experimented with what I could put on top and within the patty. When someone suggested fried egg, I said why not with hot sauce?

But oh, times change. Tastes develop, evolve, and alter. I enjoyed meat less and less and took to more veggies. I found myself desiring veggie burgers over the regular beef burgers, and then I started to stop craving burgers altogether. Grilled cheese sandwiches, every which way and variation, began to supplant the mighty burger.

What really finished off my burger cravings was a rare break in my red meat abstinence, brought on by the necessity of a long road trip. Stopping at a roadside rest stop, the options for food were meat, salt, meat, salt, salty meats, salted stuff cooked in animal-originated source, etc. Fast food. What’s a girl to do when road-weary, hungry, and faced with limited options?

NOT order a Mushroom Swiss Burger from a fast food stand, that’s for sure. I ordered somewhat foolishly, but only realized my mistake upon sinking my teeth into a soggy, horrible bun. I tasted…. gravy. Canned gravy. Everything was damp. Everything was flavorless, yet greasy. I ate half then tossed the rest in the closest garbage can I could find. To this day, I can’t believe I made it that far in. I must have been really, really tired.

Anyway, that was kind of the gross nail in the burger coffin. But I haven’t turned my back on burgers completely. I just… moved on. But when my friend, Kait, suggested Brgr in East Liberty, my curiosity at the hype surrounding the place was too great to resist. Reassured by a positive review from the veggie-friendly Foodburgh, I was ready to eat.

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Good Morning, Dor-Stop!


While I’d love to crawl out of bed early each Saturday to explore the vast array of delicious breakfast options that this city has to offer, it’s more than likely that Saturday mornings are spent sleeping in, then cooking a late breakfast in my own kitchen. This is a perfectly reasonable way to enjoy a weekend morning, but it has been limiting on my breakfast experience around town.

Another obstacle in my path to local breakfast domination is that I have one of the best diners in the area mere blocks away from my apartment. The Dor-Stop on Potomac Avenue draws in a consistent flow of weekday traffic, but it is the weekends that are the big deal here. Visitors from all around the area bring their loved ones. People line up in the cramped entrance way or shuffle about outside, sipping cups of coffee and waiting for their table. The wait – which is never more than fifteen minutes – is more than worth it.
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The Local Food Report: Wednesday, January 19

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!

– Despite an annoyingly ill-structured headline, Stacey Federoff’s Tribune-Review article on the sudden and tragic death of David “Chef Dato” Kadagishvili is a fitting tribute to the talented and locally beloved food entrepreneur. Chef Dato was killed last Wednesday in a car accident on Route 217. “He came here with his skills and he turned himself into an icon,” Anderson said. “He was the epitome of the American dream, worked hard and achieved success. He saw the opportunities, and he took them.”

– A nice little feature on Hyeholde from the Trib‘s Pam Starr. The Moon Township restaurant has been getting a lot of attention as of late, both in regards to its terrific gourmet menu and unique setting: Hyeholde was built in the 1930s by William and Clara Kryskill, to resemble a medieval castle. With its turrets, enormous waxed beams, dark slate floors, stained glass windows, antique European furniture and various nooks and crannies, Hyeholde instantly transports visitors to a faraway time and place.

  I always seem to want a beer after reading about Bocktown Beer and Grill, and this article on Pop City is no different.  Conceived as a neighborhood pub, Bocktown has developed a significant fan base, despite its Robinson location. Much of the following is owed to owner Chris Dilla’s online diligence. Bocktown has an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Hootsuite, AND WordPress. (Jeez, don’t you have a restaurant to run, Chris?). “Everyone told me I was crazy… And it’s the worst location ever (across from Target). But we’re going nuts. I attribute it to world of mouth and social media. I’m diving into it.”

About ten years ago, the world was still wrapping its head around gluten intolerance and the effects of celiac disease. Now, gluten-free items are flooding the market, and the gluten-free diet is not just a thing of medical necessity, but a potential weight-loss tool. Does it have benefits for the unafflicted? China Millman examines the situation, as well as offering a list of local restaurants that offer gluten-free options.

Max’s Allegheny Tavern

When you live in the South Hills and don’t drive, there’s any number of excuses to largely ignore the North Side. However, having recently caught on to the irresistible charms of Banjo Night at the Elks Lodge, I’ve had more opportunities to get to know the current culinary landscape of the area. Now I can count Max’s Allegheny Tavern as its own reason to make the trip.

Kait and I were all set to meet at Bistro Soul, the fairly recent addition to the popular Bistro-To-Go takeout counter, but they only stay open until six. We had to figure out a new plan. Kait knew about a good German restaurant down the street from the Elks Lodge, but couldn’t remember the name. Thankfully, Urbanspoon (and fate) intervened. Their handy little luck of the draw slot machine app of restaurant picks, when set on North Side, spit out the name: Max’s Allegheny Tavern.

Residing in what used to be Allegheny City’s “Dutchtown,” Max’s Allegheny Tavern has over a hundred years of history, a long-standing story immediately apparent once you step through the doors. Little rooms spill off of the narrow bar area: a little parlor space, a larger dining room, and a slightly more formal white-painted dining room. There are old photos and paintings all over the wallpaper walls. The floors are old wood, the dining tables and chairs are wood. Soft golden light comes from antique fixtures hanging from the ceiling and scones on the wall.

The menu can be found in the interior of what looks to be an old newspaper, and the waitress directed our attention to the paper insert listing the night’s specials. Considering that we were headed off to Banjo Night after dinner and that we’d have more than enough beer to drink there, we passed on brews and went straight to ordering our entrees.

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