During Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, we make a point of eating at places to which we’ve never been before. So imagine how excited we were when we learned that there was a just-opened participating eatery that a) we’d never visited, and b) could also help us knock out our long-awaited “Try Dim Sum” achievement! The place in question?
Grit & Grace, a downtown restaurant that specializes in “American Dim Sum.” That is: small, sharing-friendly plates of various ethnic street foods with an American twist. The food comes out as it is ready, not necessarily in courses. It’s a fun way to try a lot of different kinds of flavors.
We arrived at the restaurant around 8:30 and got a table near the back. From there, our excellent server, Michelle, told us about the range of available food stylings, and got our drink order. Grit & Grace has a good collection of quality red and white wine, some interesting cocktails…
…and big-ass Tiki drinks! (We doubled dated with our friends Jon and April; Jon was kind enough to pose beside his Tiki glass.)
Shortly thereafter, a tray of dim sum was brought around for us to select from. These are ready-to-eat small bites, presented at your table; each one you choose gets marked down on a little sheet at your table, and you can have as much or as little as you like. Being near the kitchen, we got first pick off the tray.
Of the five options, we chose three to start (from the top, going clockwise): scallops (with lobster gel, lime, and red pepper); shrimp salad (kimchi vinaigrette, broccolini, sesame, and curried raisins); and pork belly bites (with orange, chili, garlic, and ginger).
All three were totally scrumptious and really whet our appetite for the next round of plates. Our first plan was to order one item each and share them. But after studying all that the menu had to offer…
We gave up on choosing only four and threw on a fifth item as well.
The last thing picked was the first to come out. These are the steam buns — a succulent sandwich with housemade mortadella, coriander mustard, and bread & butter pickles. Our server described it as their twist on the bologna sandwich. All I can say is…your move, Oscar Meyer. (Just kidding — you’re screwed.)
After that yummy round, our individual picks came out in quick succession.
Impressed by the scallops we’d tried, Fox chose the larger version. These dayboat scallops came with a lobster dumpling, parsnips, miso dashi, and hoisin (think Chinese barbecue sauce). They were, in a word, delicious. In two words, damn delicious. Perfectly tender, and that lobster dumpling was nothing to scoff at, either!
I picked the smoked brisket, with kohlrabi kraut, Thousand Island sabayon, pickled red onions, corned beef tongue, horseradish cream, all on a crisp baguette. It was a little tricky to cut into four…but absolutely worth the effort! I’m thinking about how good it tasted right now, and to be honest, I’m getting a little verklempt.
Jon opted to get the crispy pig face roulade, which came with a sunny side up egg, Napa cabbage slaw, chicharrons (that would be fried pork rinds), egg yolk hot sauce, and miso apple butter over toasted sourdough. Aside from being amusingly named, it had a perfect combination of sweet and savory. The apple butter combined with the salty pork rind like Voltron, and it basically melted my own face. (To get a little metal about it.)
April chose our last main dish, the braised goat with garlic & ginger smashed potatoes, curry, and appams (think the South Indian version of crepes — paper-thin, spongy and sweet pancakes). This might have been my favorite dish of the night — it was hearty and super-satisfying — sweet, salty, and the cinnamony quality the appams brought took the goat to the next level.
Now, the thing about dim sum is this: when it’s good, it’s really hard to stop eating! After these five plates, we were getting pretty full…but we were enjoying ourselves so much that we decided to flag down the lady carrying the dim sum tray and grab the remaining two bites that we hadn’t tried.
These are the steak tataki (with a peanut emulsion, shallot, and pickled vegetables) and the soba noodle salad (with heirloom radish, cucumber fennel gelée, citrus, and chili vinaigrette). Both are scrumptious.
Also, during Restaurant Week (Jan 13 – 19), you can get all five of the dim sum tray items for $20.14 (or about the price of four)!
So at this point we were stuffed, and all set to skip dessert…but then our server, Michelle, did something abominable and quite devious: she described the desserts.
I honestly didn’t take great notes on this one, so I can’t describe every ingredient. But I can tell you that it was chocolatey, creamy, and Fruity Pebble-y. Hell yes, this dessert contains Fruity Pebbles! And they’re spectacular.
The second dessert dish was a wild mash-up of two classics, apple pie à la mode, and apple pie with a slice of cheddar on top. Basically, this was apple pie with a Cheez-It crumble, and Cheez-It ice cream.
…Wha??! How is this possible? What brazen food scientist ever dreamed of including Cheez-Its into ice cream, and where is their MacArthur Genius Grant?
So yeah, dessert was pretty great, too. Suitably stuffed, we paid our bill and made our way out the door.
As the above picture shows, even at 10:30pm on a Monday night there’s still a decent crowd — so when (not if, but when) you make the trek down here, we highly suggest reservations. And most definitely, add Grit & Grace to your Restaurant Week agenda!