In Pittsburgh, we love saving money when dining out. And we also love supporting good local causes. And in the event that there’s a way to do both things at once… Well, you know we’ll jump on it.
For $20, you get a stack of 50 dining cards for restaurants all over the city. 5% of each deck purchased goes to benefit our Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. To use the cards, spend $30 on food at one of the restaurants, and receive $10 off your bill. Basically, if you use 2 cards, your deck has paid for itself. So what’s not to love?
(My only complaint is that a handful of the restaurants on the 2013 list went out of business before we had a chance to check them out, but that’s really not something that could be predicted, so what can you do.)
We finally made it to our first dining cards restaurant in October (I know, we were SO procrastinating this one for some reason). Our choice? E2 in Highland Park!
We’d sampled some of their breads & dips at the Mattress Factory Urban Garden Party, but we hadn’t made the journey over just yet. And on a chilly fall night, it turned out to be just the right place to warm up!
And also just like your really good friend’s parents’ living room, you can BYOB! We brought a bottle of Foxen Volpino (that means ‘little fox’), one of the wines we got out in California on our trip south to Santa Maria.
We started our meal with an order of ‘OMGs’. What’s an OMG? It’s a quickly-prepared snacky food for those moments when you arrive at a restaurant and say ‘OMG I just can’t wait to eat!’ We selected squash (soooo good for dipping with those giant bread slices!), lomo (a type of pork charcuterie similar to prosciutto), mushrooms, and their featured cheese. The charcuterie is all local, from Crested Duck Charcuterie in Beechview. Totally awesome! The OMGs rotate, and are displayed on a chalkboard menu in the dining room.
And even though those OMGs were a great start…. there were beets. And when there are beets, I *must* have them. These beets were served with some pea shoot greens, goat cheese, pistachios, and topped with an arugula & shallot vinaigrette. Heavenly!
The entrees were a tough decision, but in the end, we both opted for pastas. I got the porcini cappelleti with pancetta, peas, sage, and mascarpone. It was a hearty dish, but the flavors were a great blend, and there was more than enough to supply me with lunch the next day at work as well. It heated up even better the second day, believe it or not.
For dessert, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to enjoy some beignets. And when they promise beignets… they promise ALL THE BEIGNETS IN HIGHLAND PARK. Seriously, that’s a huge serving. We actually brought some dessert home with us. That’s the first time that’s ever happened!
E2 was a great little spot for dinner, and if it hadn’t been for the impetus of the dining cards, we might have completely passed it over. I’m glad we didn’t, but you should check it out for yourself!