I will admit, it took me a little while to get excited about our fourth Groupon. We had this one sitting on hold until almost its final days before we finally decided to use it, all because I was being a little bit of a snob.
Michael got a Groupon for Pittsburgh Rare, which is the steak restaurant in the gorgeous Sheraton Station Square. I’ve never actually stayed at that hotel, but it was the site of a high school prom, and also my grad school graduation dinner, and waaaaaaaay back in the ’90s, also the yearly Dance Educators of America competition, when we were poor teenagers who had to eat at the Roy Rogers across the street and never dream of steak.
But, all that said, I had this opinion of, “Oh, we can’t eat at a hotel restaurant.” Then I started thinking about whether or not I’d ever eaten anything (other than breakfast) at a hotel restaurant. I don’t think I have. I think I’ve always had this bratty attitude.
On the whole, I was not as disappointed with Pittsburgh Rare as I thought I would be. Nor was I as blown away as I should have been for the price.
The first thing that set me off was the fact that we each just wanted a single glass of wine to go with dinner, but we were informed that they ‘had only three wines left,’ none of which were available by the glass. It’s very weird to me to have a steakhouse that doesn’t have a good wine selection. Those things go together.
When I saw the name of the Pittsburgh Potato Pancake on the menu, I knew we had to try it. Only in Pittsburgh could there possibly be an expensive steak restaurant with a potato pancake on the menu. This was the height of Yinzer classy!
But I’m super glad we sprang for the dahntahn decadence – this was one top-notch potato pancake! Underneath this huge beauty was a mess of bacon and carmelized onions. Yum! Thankfully, we opted to split, as a single pancake could probably feed a small country. It was crispy, cheesey, oniony, and all around perfect.
At our waitress’ suggestion, we opted to split a salad before dinner, instead of each getting our own, and I’m quite glad we did. This was the size of half of a caesar – huge! The dressing and lettuce was very good, although the little parmesan cheese crisp was a little too tough for me. Good flavor, just not crispy enough.
The thing that makes this hotel so beautiful is that it sits right next to the Monongahela River, with a beautiful view of the city. Unfortunately, when we arrived, Pittsburgh was in the middle of an early-spring hail storm, so the view was not as lovely as it could have been. Still, I wanted to take a picture of my husband with the city behind him, because he looks lovely in every weather 😉
The bottle of wine we settled on (and that they had in stock) was Writer’s Block. It’s a (northern) California Syrah from Steele Winery, named after something the both of us battle incessantly, so we thought it was an appropriate choice. I thought the wine went very well with the meal, from start to finish, and at $25 a bottle, it was quite a steal for such an otherwise expensive restaurant.
Just before our dinners arrived, the scenery outside started to shift. There are two sections to the dining room at Pittsburgh Rare – one in the central ‘atrium’ of the hotel, and the other along the large windows looking out to the river and city. We were in the farther row of the window section, but we still had an awesome viewpoint once the skies cleared. This is the Oxford Plaza building, where I worked one summer as a secretary, so it has a special place in my heart.
You know what else has a special place in my heart? This steak. I got the petite filet with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and crab-stuffed shrimp. The shrimp was only so-so in my opinion (Michael loved the piece he had), but the steak was delicious! It was super tender and juicy, so that I barely needed the steak knife to cut it (but I did anyway, since I did think the steak knives were so cool, after all). The mashed potatoes were amazing also, but I was so full after the salad and potato pancake that I could barely even eat half. (Michael reports back that the leftovers were delicious, even cold and right out of the box. Oh boys, can’t dress them up and take them anywhere! 🙂
Michael also got the petite filet, but had his with the baked mac n cheese and crab cake. They used some really interesting seasonings in the mac n cheese and crab cake, hints of curry and paprika, which we weren’t expecting.
As we ate, we got to enjoy the sun setting over our beautiful city. The view is truly lovely – not quite as majestic as the view from the Mt. Washington restaurants, but still great. We also got to watch a train pass by, as the tracks go right along the stretch of shops and restaurants in Station Square.
Overall, we were pleased with Pittsburgh Rare, but I’m not sure we’ll return, simply based on the cost. It was a good standard steakhouse, but for the high prices, I don’t think there was anything that stood out so much to me that I would choose this restaurant over another similar one. Also, we had a super friendly and nice waitress, but it took about 25 minutes between asking for the check and actually getting it for some reason (they weren’t busy). It’s also not the place to go if you want to find a perfectly-paired wine to accompany your meal, more like the Yinzer version of a wine selection.
But, if you find yourself with a Groupon and a little extra money to spend (still wound up being kind of expensive, even after the Groupon discount), you could definitely check it out. I feel like you could get a better meal with slightly better atmosphere for about the same price from LeMont or Grand Concourse, but if you’re staying at the Sheraton for an event, this place might be right for you. And no matter what you’re doing, the Pittsburgh potato pancake is right for everyone.