Tag Archives: south side

Notes on a New Place: Le Brew House


Le Brew House on Urbanspoon

I’m not sure at what point in Le Brew House’s existence me and my mother happened to chance upon it one rainy Friday night. We had intended on going to Emiliano’s across the street, found it too noisy and crowded for our tastes, checked into one of our favorites Caffe Davio, only to be turned away because of a large party coming in, and what happened to be next to Davio but a big, bright, empty, yet very open new restaurant.

Le Brew House was so new, it had only just gotten its liquor license. Our hostess seemed relieved that the news that they were licensed to sell, but empty of anything to sell did not turn us away. We’re pretty easy to please, admittedly. At that point, we were just happy to get in out of the rain.


At this point in the post, I will be straightforward: If I was going to give this place a regular review, comparable to the reviews I give more established restaurants, I’d probably be saying largely negative things. This, however, is not what you do with a new restaurant. There were many positives to be found in the early stages of Le Brew House. The friendly staff and bright decor, the clean layout that nonetheless made a fairly empty restaurant still seem populated. The lovely and simple strings of lights hanging from one lofted  I even liked the one-sheet menu, as limited options tend to imply a certain amount of quality to what is featured.


It’s the little wrong notes that show you a restaurant is still growing. A one page, two-sided menu is just fine. But one as plainly laid out and cheaply laminated as this is obviously the product of a place rushing to get things together before the doors are opened. Chances are, a few months from now those tacky plastic menus will be a thing long forgotten.


Then there are the little things a new restaurant does right. A bar food staple, like fried zucchini, done in fairly classic style, but with all the right flavors. Not too greasy, not too heavy, with the definite presence of zucchini underneath a fine crispy layer of breading. It had a crunch where many of its contemporaries offer only a soggy bite.


My mother ordered a burger with fried shoestring onions and mushrooms, smothered by a thick layer of provolone cheese. We were both pleasantly surprised by the tenderness of the homemade beef patty. It was medium well, with just a light tint of pink to the inside, and very juicy. The shoestring onions also acquitted themselves well, lending the mild provolone a necessary bite. The one disappointment were the mushrooms, which seemed to all but disappear among more dominant flavors. While the tanginess of the onion could not be denied even underneath a thick coating of cheese, the mushrooms would have been better served on top of the concoction.


I was hungry for greens, and the three salad options Le Brew House was offering sounded decent enough. I opted for another bar and grill regular feature, the crispy chicken salad. This one left off the French fries and featured a nice bed of crispy mixed greens. The veggies on the salad were fresh and abundant, and I especially liked the use of complete rounds of green bell pepper. It lacked the croutons promised on the menu, but I don’t think it was much of a loss, especially since the crispy chicken breading was already providing a salty counterpoint.

The crispy chicken proved to be the only problem with the salad. While you get a nice sized fillet of breaded chicken, it’s so thin that the breading eclipses any of the white meat within. If you’re going to get meat on a salad, it’s got to be more than just an excuse to have something fried on top of your vegetables. Mixing a protein into the dish can be delicious and actually very healthy. When the chicken is served like this, I can’t help but wonder if the salad would be better with more vegetables in place of the fillet.

Le Brew House is one of those rare independent restaurants attempting to capitalize on all the major eating hours of the day, serving breakfast until 2 pm, then lunch and dinner till 10 pm. In addition to the expansive hours, the restaurant also promises to have a wide range of beer and alcohol for sale, another great feature which is sure to attract South Side residents and roving visitors alike.

Overall, I think it’s got a lot of promise. That spot’s not the easiest real estate. It will be surrounded by several restaurants that already have themselves well established niches. Caffe Davio, just next door, even serves breakfast. If Le Brew House suffers from any immediate faults, it’s a lack of a specific quality that makes the place memorable. The environment was attractive and the staff really were very nice, but the food was just okay and the minimal menu held little curiosity or intriguing factors.

But it says something about the right notes a new restaurant hits that I am looking forward to where Le Brew House might go from here. While South Side has no deficit of dining establishments, a new eatery at that end of East Carson is always a welcome addition to what can quickly become a well trod culinary ground. I hope that Lew Brew House makes the most of its first few months and uses the novelty of its opening as a motivating factor to really standout from its neighbors and build its own distinctive reputation.

Friday Happy Hour: Talk about a full plate…

Who needs a drink?

It’s been a quiet week on Forked!, and for that, I can only blame my increasingly chaotic work life. Also, while I am learning immense organizational abilities from my current job, I seem to be devolving in my personal writerly responsibilities, letting myself off the hook for days at a time, ignoring my computer in favor of a podcast, a bowl of noodles, and a nap.

My sincere apologies for this wasteful behavior. I promise that next week will be an abundance of riches… if you consider blog posts “riches,” which if you’re reading this (and especially if you’re a fellow blogger), you might.

Anyway, this week was nothing close to a total loss in food experiences. Things from the week that will most likely be brought up in blog posts in the coming week:

– Last Friday, I tried a new restaurant in South Side. Le Brew House was so new, in fact, that it had only just gotten its liquor license, meaning that though they were legally allowed to sell the alcohol, they had nothing in stock. I’ve got more notes on that visit…

– I finally got to a Food Bloggers Meetup, and I can only shake my head in shameful remorse for all the previous meet ups I have missed. It was such a joy to finally meet many of the writers that I read on a daily basis, like Nicole from Yum Yum, Clara from Food Collage, Mike from FoodBurgh, and Lauren from Burghilicious, as well as some writers whose blogs I have not had the fortune to read before, like Erin of the adorable Community Cucina. Oh, and there was eating too, quite a bit of it, at the very pleasant Paris 66 in East Liberty. Much much more to say on that trip…

– Me and my partner, James, signed up for a CSA. Woo! We’re doing a five month CSA with Garfield Community Farms. I’m also determined to start doing some volunteering with them on their Thursday Community Work Nights. I eat enough veggies, I really should start getting involved in producing them as well.

Chicago: Day Three is on the way.

– One more important item before I skedaddle to finish my laundry: Steve Albini has a food blog.

Who is Steve Albini? More importantly, who knew that Steve Albini was something of a foodie? Forks up to you, Mr. Albini. I dedicate my next tasty concoction to you and your bulger peanut kimchee spring rolls.

Wonder if he would do a cookie exchange with me…

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

Forked on the Road: Episode 2

For those who don’t remember or who are just joining us (Welcome! Can we take your coat? Care for a drink?), Forked! exists in two realms: the blogosphere (people still using that term?) and the podcastosphere (which I know is not actually a term used, but I happen to like, so I’m going with it). We blog here regularly, but occasionally we take our handy little digital voice recorder out on the town. We buy it a few drinks and a meal, and in exchange, it records our conversation, which Wes edits and posts for your audio enjoyment at Forked on the Road.

Our second episode was recorded at Piper’s Pub on the South Side, a visit that you may remember from a previous blog entry, but there was a considerable amount of activity, non-food related, that was left out.

Among the highlights:

– Listen to me and Wes banter aimlessly while walking to the restaurant!
– Engage in secondhand mockery of people we made rash assumptions about!
– Enjoy awkward moments brought to you via Wes and our friendly server!
– Experience podcasting as done by increasingly drunken hosts!
– And, of course, all tied together at the end by Wes’s stirring rendition of “Touch Me” by the Doors. (Not even remotely joking.)

After recording two + hours, Wes has culled together 45 minutes of pure podcast gold. Won’t you take a listen and join us for a meal?

Piper's Pub on Urbanspoon

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

Dinner at Piper’s Pub, or How to Get Drunk While Eating an Enormous Savory Pie

From pittsburghhotplate.com

I featured Piper’s Pub in my Neighborhood Quick Picks: South Side about a month ago, but I hadn’t been there in over a year. I didn’t even manage to make it down for a World Cup game, a serious shame when you consider the prime audience for the restaurant are football enthusiasts. (I mostly watched World Cup games secretly on my work computer, muted and concealed by open work-related desktop windows – a far inferior way to celebrate the world’s best teams going up against each other, but at least it minimized the amount of vuvuzela damage done to my hearing.)

Last Tuesday evening, the reasons to make a visit were stacking up: Wes had never been there. I hadn’t been there in some time. We were meeting up with friends who are picky eaters, therefore a place with an accessible menu was a necessity. And, above and beyond any other reason, we had not one but two coupons, promising two free dinners for two dinners bought. So we made our way into the South Side on cold, rainy night – in hindsight, ideal weather to match our British Isles dining experience. Continue reading

Neighborhood Quick Picks – South Side

There are a hundred reasons to dine in the South Side, but an unfortunate number of dissuading factors, the traffic congestion on E. Carson Street and lack of on-street parking being the prime offenders. There’s also the pervading notion that the South Side, at least on the weekends, is overrun by drunks, skanks, and drunk skanks. Can this be fully denied? No, but there is more to the neighborhood than barflies and party girls, especially if you’re hungry.

If you’re wary of a Friday or Saturday night on E. Carson Street, try heading down on a Wednesday or Thursday night, or try one of the numerous places for a weekend breakfast or brunch. Continue reading