Well, two days into Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, and we’ve got two restaurants under our belt. Tonight was a little of something new, and a little of something familiar. We had the pleasure of dining with some of our fellow Pittsburgh bloggers at tonight’s blogger dinner event at Braddock’s downtown. We’ve been to Braddock’s Street Side, which is their bar area, before, and the restaurant is located in the lower level of the Renaissance Hotel, which is where we stayed the night of our wedding (since we were living in LA at the time and didn’t have a local house).
But we’d never gotten to eat in the main restaurant, and we were lucky enough to sit with a handful of bloggers we’d never met before: the folks from Ya Jagoff!, Burgh Gourmand, and Señorita Cibulka Savors. I think we all have unique blogs, and it was so neat to talk about our craft and our interests and the art of blogging in a city like Pittsburgh where people will recognize bloggers out and about in public.
Prior to ordering a full meal, Chef Brian prepared us all a complimentary tasting plate of some of Braddocks’ Pittsburgh specialties. Up in the left corner is the grilled Strip District kielbasa (that’s ‘kehbossy’ to my fellow Yinzers) and sauerkraut, then to the right is Braddock’s famous potato gnocci with lobster, and at the bottom is the classic braised short rib pierogies (can you see why I was totally nuts for this Yinzer-food spectacular??). Everything was delicious, and it was so filling that if I hadn’t been in the mood to overdo myself in sampling everything I could get my paws on, I could have stopped there.
However, as I mentioned, we were in the mood to sample everything, so a few starters caught our eyes. Michael got this tomato bisque soup, which came with chunks of bacon in the center. It was smooth and creamy and light for a bisque.
And I, of course, saw the word ‘beets’ on the menu and just couldn’t help myself. I had to have the beet and goat cheese salad, but I’m certainly glad I got a side portion: can you see how huge this is?? The goat cheese was served in a puffy fried ball, and the bottom of the greens were lined with slim beet slices, and everything was tossed in a vinaigrette. I was in love.
Then it was on to the real deal, a petit filet with mashy potatoes and asparagus. Since I’m a firm believer that all meals must include either beets or mashy potatoes and asparagus, things were edging into the ‘pretty dang perfect’ category for the evening. This steak was sooooo juicy and melty, but I had to sneak just the tiniest bite home for Miss Lucy, who expects treats from Mommy’s purse each time we arrive home.
Two of our dinner partners decided to sample other things on the menu than the Restaurant Week selection, and they were so impressed with the gnocci and lobster that they decided to spring for the full serving. Don’t be fooled by the presence of pasta: those gnocci were like fluffy little clouds of potato.
Chef Brian came around to all of the tables to talk about his inspiration in the kitchen, including his previous chef experiences where he learned to make the delicious gnocci, and the influence of a friend’s Polish grandmother, whose recipe inspired the short rib pierogies. He was such a charming guy (he even agreed to say, “Eat some pierogies, ya jagoff!” for a video clip), and we enjoyed chatting with him. I love when you can tell how much a person loves their job, and you can tell by talking to him that Chef Brian puts his heart and soul into his work. You can tell even more by tasting his meals. So good.
Finally, we each got these gigantic slices of cheesecake with raspberries (and that’s a “PRW” for Pittsburgh Restaurant Week in the chocolate there). I couldn’t finish mine, but our waitress boxed it up for me, so I can bring a sample of our wonderful dinner to my mum tomorrow evening.
After saying goodbye to our dinner mates (and exchanging Twitter handles, of course), we explored a bit of the hotel, including the gorgeous lobby. The last time we walked into this lobby, we were in our dress and tux from our wedding, and let me just say that there’s no better hotel to walk into in this city that way than the Renaissance. It makes you feel like royalty.
And finally, our last picture together at dinner during Restaurant Week. I’ll miss Michael so much, but I have two more restaurants lined up for the end of the week, so be sure to check back for the blogs!
And if you haven’t decided where you’re going yet, I can definitely recommend Braddock’s. You can’t beat the price for the three-course dinner, and they’ve got a great selection of beer, whisky, and wine to accompany your meal (Michael got one of the little whisky flights, which allows you to sample three different types of whisky with your meal). You can make your reservations online from their website, and if you’re feeling extravagant, snag a room at the Renaissance Hotel so you can enjoy all the whisky you want, and go to sleep in a luxurious room overlooking the Allegheny River!
Up next for restaurant week: Elements and Kaleidoscope Cafe! Thank you Chef Brian and Katie from event planning for such a fantastic night!