Downtown Restaurant Warriors: Meat & Potatoes

Achievement: #45. Try 10 House Specialty Drinks | #53. Try 5 ‘Risky’ Foods | #67. 10 Downtown Restaurants

Last Wednesday night was one of those ‘FINALLY!’ nights.

Red Hot Chili Peppers
As in, FINALLY! after more than 2 decades of being madly in love with this band, I got to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers live (full disclosure: it was everything I’d dreamed it would be, minus a few socks).

Meat & Potatoes
And also, FINALLY! we got to check out that super-hip restaurant that everyone’s always talking about, Meat & Potatoes!

Meat & Potatoes
Meat & Potatoes is a little gastropub nestled away in the Cultural District, right with the O’Reilly Theater, Cabaret Square, and Heinz Hall.

Meat & Potatoes
(What’s a gastropub? you may be asking. Oh, they’ve got that covered for you, too.)

Meat & Potatoes
And guess what we were so thrilled to find on their drinks menu? Oh yeah, that’s right: prohibition-era cocktails! (I may have a little current obsession with those.)

Meat & Potatoes
So of course, because we’re crazy about specialty cocktails, we had to try a round. This is Michael sampling the Beatnik, which is Averna (that’s a type of bitters), Maker’s Mark, and port wine. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it actually was pretty good.

Meat & Potatoes
I went with a safer bet, the Tequila Fizz. It’s made of tequila, lime, agave, orange bitters, and that sneaky-Prohibition-era mixer, egg whites. This was yummy, like a margarita with protein.

Meat & Potatoes
I appreciate a drink that looks as good as it tastes.

Meat & Potatoes
Next, it was time for the appetizers, which is where this story gets a little sketchy. These fried taters were totally normal, served with this yummy truffle mayo. (‘Truffle oil’ is apparently a Big Deal in the fancy restaurant world – truffles are a type of mushroom, and there’s something about their flavor that makes them a hit with fries. This was our first taste of a truffle-oil-based dip, and I’ll agree, it was a nice, fatty condiment.)

This is where things started to get weird. Our friend Jon, who was dining and attending the concert with us, had recently heard of bone marrow being served at restaurants from the Food Network. Lo and behold, it was on the menu, so he asked if we would help him eat the plate if he ordered it. Since we’re going for a ‘risky food’ Achievement this year, we said sure!

Meat & Potatoes
In general, I try to be very Zen about eating meat, very ‘circle of life,’ and ‘we are designed in part to be meat eaters’ and all that. But there was something about this dish that I just… couldn’t do. The bone marrow is served to you still attached to the bone (our waiter said they bake the bones to prepare the meal), and you are given a spoon to scoop it out.

Once you scoop it out, you just spread it on bread, season it as desired, and nom away. Which… well, it would be perfect if I could mentally wrap my head around it. You see, when you scoop out the marrow with the spoon, it’s this gooey, gelatinous consistency, like thick egg whites. And there’s the fact that the cow’s leg is just chilling on your table.

And now for the horrifying part: it’s fucking delicious. It’s like a greasy, hearty butter. If someone just handed you a piece of bread covered in bone marrow and didn’t tell you what it is, you’d just keep eating and eating and asking for seconds and thirds and fourths. But lord, emotionally, I was not cut out for this (thankfully, my dining partners were, so while I nibbled guiltily at little pieces of bread, they put this stuff away like it was going to get up and run off the table if they didn’t eat it fast enough).

So, TL;DR: bone marrow is a horrifyingly delicious food that you should try at least once, or, if you are the type of person who doesn’t get haunted by dreams of small cows with big eyes asking what their legs were doing on your dinner table, more than once. (Meat & Potatoes is one of the handful of restaurants in Pittsburgh that serves this, so step right up!)

Meat & Potatoes
The only logical way to deal with my meat-eater-guilt was to have another specialty drink. (This is the real-deal Daiquiri we learned about at Prohibition Class, as in, not to be confused with those frozen frou-frou drinks that are so popular and horrible. This one has rum, Cointreau, bitters, and citrus and berry. Delicious!)

Meat & Potatoes
…And then, of course, since I’d already committed one meat crime, there was no harm in eating the rest of the cow. This is the mushroom burger, with something called ‘midnight moon cheese’. Man, was this good. Juicy, cheesy, with just a taste of onion. (I think I justified all of this dinner beef by doing a sign of the cross over the burger. I know, I’m not a vegetarian, but I guess I was feeling very in touch with the creature world that night, and I was trying to respect the little moo-cows who graciously gave themselves up for dinner. I know. I’m crazy. It’s okay.)

Meat & Potatoes
Michael got the soft shell crab tacos, which he describes as ‘perfectly steamed, and not overly buttery.’ I had a bite, which I would describe as, ‘Holy cow, that was yummy.’ (Thought calling the cows ‘holy’ was respectful.)

Meat & Potatoes
Jon went for broke and got the steak, with mushrooms and wasabi mashed potatoes. How he was able to get up and dance at the concert after all of that, I will never understand. Protein = energy, I guess.

Overall, despite my odd cow crisis of faith, we loved Meat & Potatoes. They have a unique menu (ahem, bone marrow, anyone?) that sets them apart from a lot of other restaurants in Pittsburgh. They’ve also got great bartenders and a one-of-a-kind specialty cocktail theme. You can make your reservations online through OpenTable (good lord do I love that website), and they do their best to get you your dinner, drinks, and dessert promptly if you’re going to a show.

Meat & Potatoes
So we’ll be back. Although next time, I might skip the bone marrow for, you know, a salad.

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Filed under #45, #45-12, #53, #53-12, #67, #67-12, booze, cocktails, concert, dinner, downtown, meat, restaurant, risky food

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