I’m sure it comes as no surprise to our readers that 2016 was, how to put it, ‘a total nightmare disaster except it wasn’t a nightmare at all because it was really REALLY real and actually happened and just ruined everything.’ Or, you know, ‘crappy.’
What better way to do that than by enjoying our fair downtown in the annual First Night Pittsburgh? Let’s just say, a semi-major dance party commenced on the porch when our buttons arrived in the mail.
We love new things, but we also love observing tradition. One of our traditions as a couple is to start our First Night adventure at August Henry’s downtown. The fabulous Elizabeth served us these tasty cosmopolitans, and we toasted to the start of a great new year.
And, in keeping with tradition, after enjoying our cosmopolitans, we trotted across the street in what we feared would be an all-night-long cold drizzle, and sat down to our reservations at The Sonoma Grille. In place of our usual bubbles to kick off the night, we instead decided to sample from their cocktail menu. We were NOT disappointed: the ‘What She’s Having’ and the ‘Steve’ (think a Penicillin with gin instead of scotch!) were top-notch.
Sonoma Grille *always* outdoes themselves on New Year’s Eve with a prix fixe menu and a number of other specials. We started off with a cheese and meat charcuterie plate, and the Truffle Tremor Goat Cheese tasted like a tiny cheese cloud that floated down from Heaven.
The pacing of the meal was just a *bit* off this year, but we’re forgiving of the service industry on a crazy night like NYE, so we focused instead on how amazing every course of the prix fixe was. I got the surf & turf for my entree, which featured steak that melted in your mouth, buttery prawns, and tiny potatoes in a savory chimichurri sauce. There’s a reason we come back every year, and their excellent chefs are the reason.
Another annual favorite of the parade is the wonderful dragon dance by the performers from Pittsburgh’s Steel Dragon.
After the parade, we had just enough time to walk the few blocks up to the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh for the performance by the Balmoral Pipes & Drums. This year, in addition to the great music, they had Highland dancers and a band member who juggled. They even played “Chariots of Fire” (!!!) and ended the night with a singalong of “Auld Lang Syne.”
On our walk back from the bagpipe performance, we noticed that Pittsburgh Popcorn Company was open and featuring dill pickle popcorn. We couldn’t walk by without trying it, and we couldn’t try it without falling in love and buying a bag. So good.
Perhaps the coolest part of the night was the Silent Disco dance party at the August Wilson Center. We have heard of Silent Disco before, but had never had the chance to go. Well, now that we tried it, we can’t WAIT for the next event in Pittsburgh so we can dance the night away!
At the Silent Disco, you receive a pair of headphones. There are three DJs playing, and you can tune into any one of them at any time. Basically, the entire floor of people will be dancing to different beats. You’ll never have to sit out another boring Blondie song again – just change channels and keep dancing!! (That’s DJ Jesley Snipes of Strangeways, rocking out as much as we were to “Rock the Casbah”.)
We were a little thirsty after all that dancing, and it was New Year’s Eve, after all, so we finally got that glass of rose bubbly at Seviche.
Time was slipping away, so we made one quick stop by the Rachel Carson Bridge for the Energy Flow Light Display. (This is still ongoing, so check it out! The bridge is illuminated with LED lights that are powered by wind turbines on the bridge. Beautiful and very cool!)
Then we walked to the final stop of the night, where we enjoyed dancing to the awesome music of the Nigel Hall Band. Their music is VERY danceable, which is what we look for in a great First Night Band. 🙂