Downtown Restaurant Warriors: Habitat In The Fairmont

Achievement: #67. 10 Downtown Restaurants

Well, I still have about eight billion West Coast-trip-related things to post about, but in the essence of staying *moderately* chronological otherwise, I’ve decided to put the emphasis on the up-and-coming Pittsburgh Achievements, and work the California blogs in as seamlessly as possible. This way, I won’t be forcing EVERYTHING to get pushed back time-wise, and we can still focus on knocking off new Achievements without worrying about the old ones not being written yet.

That being said, I’d like to tell you about our latest downtown restaurant adventure (our fourth of ten, despite the fact that I still haven’t uploaded the post of the third – seriously, I’m working on timing going forward, promise!!). This past weekend, we had dinner at Habitat in the Fairmont Hotel downtown, and had the chance to use our Restaurant Week gift certificate.

Back during Restaurant Week, Brian was able to do a contest using Foodspotting, an online photographical food catalog. During Restaurant Week, diners were encouraged to take photos of their food and upload it to the Foodspotting page on the website. At the end of the week, one of these photos was chosen at random to win the grand prize – a dinner for two gift certificate at Habitat, who not only participated in Restaurant Week, but also hosted the Wrap Party that we were fortunate enough to attend.

And guess what? My photo of lunch at Kaleidoscope was randomly picked as the winner!

So on Saturday night, we got an early dinner reservation before taking in a show downtown (we’d scored tickets to the Pittsburgh Musical Theater’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar through Groupon). We weren’t exactly sure what was included in ‘dinner for two,’ but as soon as we handed our certificate to our server Megan, she explained: drinks were on us, but basically whatever else we wanted to eat was on the restaurant.

And if you’ve ever checked out the menu at Habitat, you can see how dangerous that sort of wide-open answer can be.


First things first, since we’d gotten to sample their naan at the Wrap Party, we just had to try a full order. The naan is served with three dips: the pink stuff is an apple ginger chutney, the tan stuff is hummus, and the section in the middle is a cucumber dip. All three were excellent (the apple ginger chutney was the favorite of both of us though – so unique!), and the naan was super buttery and soft.


And then… well… I was trying to play it light at dinner but then… I saw beets on the menu and… well, you know what happens when I see beets on the menu. I have to have them. I’m like the Cookie Monster of beets. These beets were served just a little hard, on top of wildflower honey, and with big lumps of goat cheese in the middle. While I love the melt-in-your-mouth beetiness of borscht, there is something to be said for this type of beet, which almost packed a crunch. I loved the addition of the honey – the sweetness balanced out the goat cheese and made this almost feel like dessert. I’m a sucker for restaurants who can change the game on me and make it work, and the chefs at Habitat definitely pulled that off with sticky honey beets. Yum!


Something else we loved about Habitat? Paso Robles wine on the menu!! I got to enjoy a glass of Castoro Cellars zin with my meal, and this was one of the wineries we visited at ZinFest! (You’ll get to hear alllll about that soon 🙂


It took me almost a full twenty minutes to come to a final decision about which entree I wanted. Everything sounded so good, but in the end, I had to try the pork chop. I was very impressed: you know how, in diet books, they tell you that a pork chop is roughly the size of a deck of playing cards? This pork chop was more like the size of the whole Blackjack table. Wow!! The onions on top were grilled to perfection, and the pork chop was resting on a yummy white bean sauce and some wilted greens. Clearly, I wasn’t going to finish this whole thing, but I gave it a shot!


Michael got the night’s special, a 12 ounce steak with onions and a small stack of potatoes. I tried a few bites, and it was soooo soft and delicious. Believe it or not, Michael managed to eat the whole thing. Ummm… okay, so, I helped. (Just a little bit, I promise!)


Even though we were stuffed after dinner, we couldn’t resist the chance to try this pear dessert. True story, pear is one part of the Holy ‘Burgh Trifecta for me: three of my favorite things that are hard to come by in Pittsburgh – the other two are beets (Pittsburgh is getting better about this!) and well-made Long Island Iced Teas.

The pear dessert was awesome. Sweet enough to leave you satisfied, but not too big to weigh you down. There was a giant pear crisp (like a potato chip, but with pear), caramel logs (yes, like the little caramel chews you get at the candy store!), fresh pear chunks, pear streudel, and ice cream. I was totally sold.


Other things to love about Habitat? They’re all about farm-to-table and using our local resources, so you can expect everything to be fresh and in season. And, if you’re looking for a place to get away in the city, you can get a room at the Fairmont (which is pet friendly!!), see a show downtown, and then, theoretically spend all night ordering beets via room service (err… I mean, that’s what I would do, but it’s just a suggestion…).

The food was delicious, and the service was great. I even loved the frog-shaped silver pitchers they poured our water from – I love attention to detail like that. I thought the blend of different ethnic foods was spot-on. Where else could you order authentic Tandoor naan and a massive steak?? And we SO appreciated the excellent treatment we received as gift-certificate-wielding guests. I felt very special!

Even better news? There’s a summer edition of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week in the works, so you have no excuse not to check this place out! Thanks, Habitat, for making our Saturday evening downtown so wonderful!

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