So, 2018 is here. The New Year! Normally we are SO excited about this, and totally on top of our game and…..
Well. We’re like…. already off to a rough start.
Take heart, dear readers: we normally start the year off REALLY ON TOP OF SHIT and then fizzle out and make a mess of things by the end of the year, so this means, we’re going to have a rough January, and finish really, really strong.
I think. I hope.
(The fact that my first post of 2018 is a 2017 Achievement that we did in October of that year and are just getting around to talking about is not lost on me.)
Anyway! In October of 2017, we did a pierogi crawl, and it was amazing, and it would be a national tragedy if we did not share this adventure with you.
Oh yes, that’s right. In October, we embarked on an 11-stop pierogi crawl throughout our fair city of Pittsburgh. After lots of hard work Yelping and scouring menus, we selected eleven locations that featured pierogi on the menu, and we crafted a scoring system of the following criteria:
1) Church Basement-ness: Do you find it possible that these were made by little old Ukrainian ladies in a church basement?
2) Lack of Mrs. T-ness: The counterpoint to the above rating.
3) Stuffing Awesomeness: Assess the pierogi’s stuffing. How awesome is the stuffing?
4) Accouterments Game-ness : How are the things served alongside or atop the pierogi? Do they match? Complement? Balance?
5) General Ballerness: Just how baller are these pierogi?
And we stayed up all night the night before making little Pierogi Passport booklets for our friends. And buttons. We bought a damn button-maker because we are super extra about our blog endeavors! Without further ado, here are the results of our highly scientific pierogi crawl.
Our first stop of the day was at a new addition to Pittsburgh, Stuff’d Pierogi Bar. Stuff’d had just opened the month before, and they are an entire restaurant focusing on pierogi.
We went for broke and sampled three different types of pierogi here. First was the traditional potato & sauerkraut. They scored a 4 on Church Basement-ness (could have been pinched a little better in a church basement), but they were a 4.5 on General Ballerness.
We got two orders of their specialty pierogi, the cheeseburger pierogi and the breakfast pierogi. I was absolutely IN LOVE with the breakfast pierogi. They were stuffed with eggs and cheese, also had a fried egg on top, and were drizzled with maple sriracha syrup. Oh man, so breakfasty and wonderful. The cheeseburger pierogi were also amazing. It was like a Big Mac tucked into a pierogi.
We created our pierogi route to be doable mostly on foot, because we figured if we were eating pierogi all day, getting some fitness in between stops might be a good idea. So, our second stop of the day was just a few blocks down at Braddock’s.
Braddock’s had two pierogi options available. One was their standard short rib pierogi with creamed leeks. The other was the seasonal option, sweet potato with duck confit. The short rib pierogi were very good, although the meat was the tiniest bit dry. But the sweet potato and duck pierogi were on FIRE. The bougiest pierogi ever, perhaps, but really, really good. I mean, it was topped with a blackberry gastrique. Mmmmm.
Our third stop was the Hard Rock Cafe. You may remember, we’d attended their new menu preview dinner in the summer. We were happy to return and get a full order of their pierogi and kielbasa. These were stuffed to the absolute max, and they received a full 5.0 on Church Basement-ness. Mmmm.
Stop #4 was probably the biggest surprise of the day. You wouldn’t typically think of pierogi when you think of German food. But the folks at Hofbrauhaus know what’s up! These pierogi were fantastic! Stuffed to the limits, and served with these delightful crunchy fried onions on top, and bacon, chives, and cabbage underneath.
Walking from pierogi stop to pierogi stop took a bit longer than planned, so we scrapped our initial aspirations to hike up Greenfield Avenue and crammed ourselves into one of those super-sized Ubers to get to the next stop.
Our next stop was Hough’s in Greenfield. Hough’s is a National Treasure of Greenfield, and they also have many different types of pierogi to try!
We started with their potato and cheese pierogi. A little too big on the pinch (i.e. less stuffing & more dough), but the onion game was strong on these. However, they only scored a 3 on the General Ballerness on the scale.
However, a full point higher on the General Ballerness scale and perfect 5 on the Accoutrement Game-Ness scale, were their Oktoberfest specialty pierogi. These had sauerkraut, Bratwurst, and ‘Boom Boom sauce’ which sounds awfully Guy-Fieri to me, but it sure was good.
Sometimes, magic happens while out Achievement-ing. And I must say, that was the case on our Pierogi Crawl.
Finally, nearly two years after its destruction, the Greenfield Bridge finally reopened!!! And we were among the first humans to stand upon its bridge-y self. AMAZING!
What happened next was less amazing, because it was the underwhelming ‘Chipotle Polka’ pierogi at Fuel & Fuddle. While we are very huge fans of Fuel & Fuddle’s baked nacho plate and their waffle fries, the pierogi were just disappointing. They were mini potato & cheese pierogi with sweet onions, bacon, jalapenos, and adobo sauce. But the pierogi themselves were like… meh. So sad. If we ever do a Nacho Crawl though, we will return for sure.
Then it seemed like the night was just spinning out of control, because our next planned stop, Butterjoint, was so crowded we did not fit inside! We didn’t even get to try these amazing pierogi (which we order every time we are there and love to pieces, so please go try some).
But, our team favourite Cafe Sam pulled us back into Pierogi Heaven. These pierogi are clearly homemade, some have potato and cheese, some have feta, and they have pico de gallo and guacamole on the side! General Ballerness: 5. Also, the staff here is THE BEST and always so sweet.
I’m going to jump slightly out of order right now so that we can bring you the #1 Pierogi Winner last, even though it was third-from-last in our travels.
We ended the night at Harris Grill, where they were out of pierogi, but did have a bunch of yummy tater tots, which are kind of like shell-less fried pierogi if you think about it.
And we had some INCREDIBLE mushroom pierogi (mushroom! like what I put on my pizzas! who knew this was a thing!!) at Apteka. Apparently, they had beets as an accoutrement, but most of my notes are like, ‘WOW THIS IS YUMYUM.’
But the Best Pierogi of the Night Award must be presented to the one and only BBT. The Bloomfield Bridge Tavern has been a part of all three pierogi crawls (two ‘unofficial’) that we have done over the years, and for good reason. Their legit Polish pierogi are beyond a perfect 5 on the Church Basement scale. They’re the real thing.
Sadly, the BBT’s final day was October 21. We knew we had to make one final Pierogi Pilgrimage, and it was so very worth it.
We will forever miss the fabulous food, cheap drinks, and welcoming atmosphere of the BBT. Steve was always so kind to us, and never minded talking about food and church basements and little old pierogi-making ladies (even though he’s Polish and I’m Ukrainian, we managed to see eye to eye on our shared foods). I will always wear my (circa-1996, via the Red White & Blue on Ohio River Blvd) “Pittsburgh’s Only Polish Party House” tshirt with pride.
There were many pierogi consumed on our Great Pierogi Crawl of 2017. But we can say with certainty, the BBT remained the overall winner for the day.