Sometimes, even the best-laid Restaurant Week plans get changed up a bit at the last minute. Sometimes, you can plan for 5 nights of dining and decide… it’s just not enough. And sometimes, you can make a vow to visit only places you haven’t ever been before… but then remember just how much you reeeeeeally want to go to that favorite little spot of yours, even if you have to walk the 4.5 miles to get there to justify eating two meals out in a day.
Which, of course, is how we found ourselves at Kaleidoscope Cafe late Saturday morning for lunch with two of our foodie pals.
I mean… did you SEE those chicken apple sausage bites at the Kick-Off Party? Or, more importantly, did you TASTE them?
(If you didn’t, it’s not too late to drop everything on your Tuesday evening schedule and go get some tomorrow night. I mean… I’m just sayin’.)
And not only is Kaleidoscope one of the tastiest places you can go for a meal, it’s also BYOB! That means you can bring a favorite bottle of wine along to enjoy with your food. (We brought a 2009 Grenache from Alapay Cellars, one of our all-time favorite West Coast wineries)
And even though it was lunch, we weren’t missing any part of the menu, so we started with a ‘small’ plate of the deep-fried gnocchi (ps, I like a place that serves gigantic small plates). These little bites required literally no chewing – they were soft, but fresh and tender, and the homemade marinara sauce was top-notch.
As part of my continuing attempt to eat everything on their menu, we both got sandwiches for our entree. I got the grilled chicken sandwich, with bacon and tons of cheddar cheese (and also normally avocados, although there weren’t any available at our lunch, unfortunately). The bun was a little bigger than it needed to be, but the chicken was awesome and juicy.
Michael got the Build-Your-Own Burger, cooked to an amazingly pink medium rare (I know, you’re thinking, ‘How can Fox love both vegetarian dishes and rare burgers?’ but I so very much do). I promise – I only stole a couple of nibbles!
But perhaps my favorite part of the sandwiches was the heaping side of fries! Chef Dan stopped by our table to chat for a bit, and he explained what exactly it is that makes these fries so magical, but since my brain kind of just goes ‘uhhhhhhhh fooood yum I wanna eat it’ when a menu is being explained to me, I sort of missed that part. But they were so salty!! Like Potato Patch fries, but with giant chunks of sea salt and none of that ‘maybe I shouldn’t ride the Turtle just yet’ feeling after!
To finish off the meal, we split one of their famous pear desserts. This is not your ordinary pear – here’s the description from the menu: poached in red wine and mulling spices served with fig and spiced rum mascarpone quenelle and candied walnuts. I’m not even going to pretend that I know what all of those words mean; all I know is, it’s a mind-blowing dessert. And, you know, it’s fruit, so it’s gotta be good for you!
(I also have this thing for really good pears. I once carried a Canadian pear around with me for a whole weekend, coaxing it to become ripe enough to eat before we had to cross the border back into the US. That pear didn’t come close to a Kaleidoscope pear, even after all my prodding.)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Kaleidoscope is in my top three favorite restaurants in the Pittsburgh area. It’s cozy, it’s BYOB, it’s the kind of place where you can chat for the first time with the chef and his wife and feel like you’ve known them for years, and it’s some of the best food this city has to offer. (One of these days, I will make it through the full menu and be able to order my favorite dish, the Cow Jumped Over the Blue Moon Pasta, again.)
So what are you waiting for? Make Restaurant Week last all winter – call them up and make a reservation right now! 🙂