Follow by Email

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

As always, just click on the title above!

The Freedom Square Diner

Over the past few years the draw of lower taxes combined with good highways into the city have made the Cranberry area increasingly congested. While I usually try to avoid the area, an abundance of good shopping made it a destination this Christmas season. Aside from the typical chains, the area is drawing some new restaurants. The upscale Echo, along with quality burger joints BrGr and Wingharts (due to open soon) come to mind.

In search of a place for breakfast, we found the Freedom Square Diner near the Shop and Save just off of Freedom road. It was 7:00 am (we start early!) and they had just opened. They have a weekday breakfast special of two eggs, bacon or sausage, and choice of potato, toast or pancake for $3.99, but what caught my eye was the December breakfast special which was $4.00 off of any Eggs Benedict, and they have several tasty choices including spinach and tomato, crab and salmon. The Crab Benedict was so good that I went back a couple of days later and ordered the Salmon Benedict! Very generous portions of crab and salmon make this a hearty breakfast, and at $4.00 off, that makes it a great bargain meal for only $4.29. I've got to say, their promotion worked. I'll be back and gladly pay full price.

To get to the Freedom Square Diner and avoid the Cranberry traffic, just head North on I-79 and exit on the second Cranberry exit. Turn left at the light, cross over Route 19, and it's about a mile ahead on the left side. As always, just click on the title above to see their website.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


In years past, I would frequent Rico's quite often. I remember sitting at the bar and seeing Art Rooney Sr. (yep, The Chief!), and Lynn Swan come in one evening. The Rooney family and many local sports figures still dine here, probably because it's the kind of place where no one will bother them. The place hasn't changed much, they still have a coat check, valet parking (that's not necessary)and it's still decorated in old school Italian. Rico will usually greet you at the door. The place still has the feel of rare old school elegance.

We started our meal with salad with a nice mix of fresh greens, house Italian dressing and chunky Roquefort cheese. It was really fantastic. For the main meal, my daughter ordered Poached Salmon, I chose Veal Medallions, and Stacy and Jaye went for the Filet Mignon. All of us raved about our meals, and my veal may have been the best I've ever had. I still remembered my favorite selection from years ago was the Walleye Pike, and even though I didn't order it, I was happy to see it was still on the menu!

If you want progressive, inventive food, this might not be the place for you, but if you want a great traditional meal, prepared with top quality ingredients, and a little pampering, try Rico's!

Rico's is kind of hard to find, hidden on a hill just off of McKnight Road at the Millvale exit. As always, just click on the title to see their website.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rachael's Roadhouse

For many years my family owned a little cottage North of Pittsburgh, outside of Meadville Pa. The fastest route is the interstate, but I always liked to travel on Rt. 19, which runs parallel to Interstate 79. While the scenery is great, the food was a struggle until the Iron Bridge Inn, the Springfield Grill, and Rachel's Roadhouse popped up. All are owned by the same group so technically, I guess it's a chain, but it doesn't seem like it! My favorite of the three has always been the Iron Bridge, all are pretty good and comparable to each other.

Stacy and I were doing a little Christmas shopping, and headed to the Grove City outlets. By the way, I was a bit worried about the holiday crowds on the weekend before Christmas, but Sunday was our only opportunity to shop so we had to go then. We arrived just after opening time at 9:00. To my surprise, it was practically empty! After about three hours it started to really fill up, but it wasn't bad. Anyway, after our morning of shopping, I intended to head over to Rachael's.

The menu has a nice selection of salads, sandwiches, steaks, ribs and seafood, but one thing I really like is their variety of different Reuben's. Traditional of course, but they also have a Carolina Reuben, that is loaded with BBQ pork, also a Russian, a turkey, and even one with a fish fillet. I went with turkey on rye and it was very good. Stacy had a salmon salad which had a generous portion of salmon over mixed greens with a balsamic drizzle. Looked pretty tasty!

If you are want to go to any of these places, take 79 to the Grove City exit, turn left, and continue to route 19. Turn right on 19 and Rachael's is just ahead on your right. If you want, the Iron Bridge Inn is just a bit farther on the left hand side. Either one's a good choice!

As usual, just click on the title above to see their website.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Hop House, Wood Fired Food and Ale

The Hop House has two locations, one on Noblestown Road in Greentree, and the other (formally the Barking Shark) on Three Degree Road in the North Hills. I've been to both several times and was always satisfied. As the name implies, The Hop House has 36 different draft beers and a nice selection of speciality bottles. The menu is also quite varied with choices from their wood fired pizza oven, to racks of ribs, cedar plank salmon, and my favorite, fresh ahi tuna, described on the menu as:

Fresh Ahi Tuna encrusted in a delicate mixture of coconut and sesame seeds and lightly seared to perfection. Further topped with our orange chili sauce.

The Noblestown Road location has live music on the weekends and a great outdoor patio for the summer months. Note that both of these locations permit smoking, but I never even noticed any smokers. I wouldn't really call them smoking bars.

Just click on the name above to go to their website.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Pretzel Shop

The Pretzel Shop on Carson Street in the Southside is really one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh. I can't stand the rubbery, cold pretzels that are typically sold at Steeler/Pirate games, but these are totally different. If you go in the morning they will be bringing them fresh and hot, right from the oven in the back. I usually get a couple of pretzels (only a buck for two) and some spicy dipping mustard. They also offer a number of pretzel sandwiches, but I'm partial to plain pretzels although right next to the register, they have pretzels with jalapenos and cheese...very tempting!

I've also tried the Philly Pretzel Factory a couple of times, but I don't think they can compare.

If you go, the Pretzel Shop is right on Carson Street, between the Double Wide Grill and the Birmingham bridge.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Teddy's...My search for great Devonshire!

Just like my search for the best fish sandwich or pizza, I'm always on the lookout for a good Turkey Devonshire. For those of you not familiar with this great sandwich, it is usually toast points, turkey, a slice of tomato, and topped with a creamy cheese sauce then bacon, and baked or broiled. It's very similar to the Hot Brown sandwich which is famous in Kentucky.

This is a common menu offering in the Pittsburgh area, but like anything else, most of these are great and some not so much. A local Chowhound recommended that I try the Devonshire at Teddy's Restaurant which is just east of Pittsburgh on route 30. Stacy and I were traveling past that area last week and decided to give it a try.

Teddy's is an old-school type of place. The interior is pretty dated, but that's what gives this place it's charm. Stacy ordered a lunch special of talapia which was excellent and quite a large portion. I of course went for the devonshire, which at Teddy's is made from chicken, not the traditional turkey. Two large pieces of chicken sat on top of a thick slice of Texas toast. The cheese sauce was very good, and the bacon on top was thick and good, but there was no tomato. While I wouldn't call this one of the best, it was pretty good and a large enough portion that I could barely finish it.

Teddy's is by no means "fine dining", but its very acceptable for a casual meal. It hasn't ended my search for the best Turkey Devonshire though!

Teddy's is on route 30, just off of the Irwin exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie!

Since it's Thanksgiving, I decided to repost this recipe. It really is good, and very easy to make. Hard to believe that I had never tried sweet potato pie. Now it's becomming a yearly tradition!

Desserts have never really been a big deal to me. To stay away from the "super-sweet" stuff, cakes and pies have been my choice. One that I always loved was traditional pumpkin pie. Rich and creamy, but not too sweet. Well, my favorite pie has been replaced! It's hard to believe, but I had never tried sweet potato pie until recent years...I just didn't know what I was missing!

Here is a recipe for a simple but great tasting sweet potato pie. I just use a frozen pie crust, but if you are talented enough to make home made, that's even better! Maybe I'll master that next year.

1 (1 pound) sweet potato
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin.

Break apart sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mix well with mixer. Stir in all the other crap. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. This is from scratch, so you need to mix it quite a bit to make it smooth. Just pick any stringy stuff off the beaters. Make sure it's smooth! Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pie may puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Favorite Recipe!...Not really, but pretty good.

You know how you have a favorite recipe, then you get another one? Well this is my favorite one right now. This one's really good. I was in the mood for chicken soup, but wanted something other than the standard chicken noodle. It's very easy and really good!

Chicken Curry Soup

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 apple, cored and chopped
1/4 cup white rice
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half - cut into cubes
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 pinch dried thyme
1 pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon parsley

Saute the onion, carrot and celery along with the butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and flour and mix. Add the broth, bring to a boil and simmer for 1/2 hour. Add the chicken, apple, rice and spices and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the rice is done.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Grandview Bakery

Bakery's aren't really something that I give much thought to. I'm just not a huge fan of desserts, doughnuts or other sweets, mainly because they are usually too sweet for my taste. That doesn't mean that I won't stuff a couple of doughnuts in my face on occasion.

The residents of Mount Washington have been quite vocal about the need for more local business ventures over the past couple of years and the idea of a bakery seemed to lead the pack on the wish list of the locals. The Grandview Bakery just opened a couple of weeks ago, and although it wasn't on my list of "must try" places, I kept hearing and reading such great things about this place, that I had to try it.

We stopped in Sunday morning around 10am, to find the cases about half full of a variety of baked goods. In addition they bake beautiful bread and have a large selection of cake and candy decorating supplies. I ordered a small nut roll and a coconut eclair and Stacy went for a cream filled donut. We decided to sit a one of the two small tables in front of the window to enjoy our treats. As we sat down, one of the nice women working there wondered out loud whether or not she should put the outdoor furniture on the sidewalk. Her dilemma, she explained, was that while they had just opened about an hour ago, she thought they might be totally out of product in another hour or so! That explains the half empty cases. That's also a pretty good sign.

All three of our selections were excellent. My nut roll was probably the best I've ever had. Aside from being top quality, the real reason that I love this place is that none of our choices were overly sweet. I could really start to enjoy baked sweets if they are made like this!

The Grandview Bakery is on Shiloh Street on Mt. Washington. If you go, make sure to get there early!

Click on the title above to see their website.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

All Clad Sale

The All Clad factory is in Cannonsburg PA. Two times each year, they hold a sale of seconds where you can get pretty good deals on great quality cookware at deeply discounted prices. I've gone for many years and have been able to put together a pretty complete set of cookware without spending the kind of cash they want in the department stores. The pieces are seconds, but I've always been able to find pans where the imperfection is so minor you can barely see it. This years All Clad winter sale will be held on December 2nd and 3rd at the Washington county fairgrounds. The doors open at 9am and it does get crowded, especially on Saturday, so I'd recommend going early!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Primanti Brothers

I don't usually write about, or even go to chain restaurants but I really think that Primanti's deserves special attention. I've been going to the Strip District restaurant for decades. I recall that they were open for breakfast and all night long, and they would be closed each afternoon for a few hours. In those days, the waiters and waitress's would yell orders and insults at each other from across the dining room, as they impatiently waited for your order. You could request a sandwich without fries, the waiter would politely nod, and then show up at your table with the sandwich stuffed with fries. They would usually be holding a very large knife, and offer to cut your massive sandwich in half if you desire.

Since then, Primanti's has opened many other restaurants around Pittsburgh and also a few in Florida. I've been to several of the "newer" stores, but still gravitate to the Strip District location. Maybe it's memories from the past, or just the fact that I really enjoy a trip to the Strip, but it's still my favorite Primanti's.

For those of you that don't know, Primanti's offers a wide variety of sandwiches from my favorite, steak and cheese, to many others. Pastrami, kolbassi, capicola and jumbo, all with cheese of course, and also good choices. These are served on two slices of thick Italian bread, along with a big handful of french fries and topped with tasty coleslaw. The slaw is not mayo based, but gives the sandwich a good crunch with a taste of sweet vinegar. Tremendous!

This is the kind of place that many people love, and many just don't understand the attraction. I happen to think they make great sandwiches...with one exception. The cheese steak. The menu refers to the cheese steak as the #2 best seller, but it's the only sandwich that I despise! It should be labeled as a cheeseburger, not a cheese steak.

If you go, try to make it to the Strip District location, and don't be judgemental about fries and coleslaw on your sandwich, at least until ya try it!

Click on the title above to read about the history of Primanti's.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Perrytowne Draft House

Perrytown is a small community that sits on route 19, just north of Westview. Years ago, the Perrytown Tavern was quite popular and always seemed to be packed for happy hour. On more recent visits, the place, now named the Perrytowne Draft House, has been practically empty. Last week, due to an appliance malfunction at home, Stacy and I were forced to find a laundromat and located one right next door to the Perrytowne.

I haven't been there for quite a while, and although it was lunch time, the place was practically empty. We both had sandwiches that were very good. In my quest for Pittsburgh's best fish sandwich, I found the Perrytowne's to be one of the better ones, and the proper size...Huge. Served with your choice of fries, coleslaw, or homemade chips, I found the chips to be very good, seasoned with a taste of Cajun flavors. Although I didn't try it, Stacy's Italian Hoagie really looked good, with generous portions of salami, pepperoni and provolone cheese.

Please note that the bar area is smoking, although it was so empty that didn't matter to us. I'm not sure why the Perrytowne no longer seems to attract the crowds it use to. Smoking could be a factor, but who knows.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bigham Tavern

Mount Washington is known as a great place to view the city of Pittsburgh. Hard to believe, but USA Today actually chose it as the second best view in the entire country. The view makes the perfect setting for a number of glass walled, up-scale restaurants that sit on the edge of Grandview Avenue.

Those restaurants are great for tourists and special occasions, but it's always been a struggle to get an informal, moderate priced meal up here. Within the past couple of years, Redbeards Tavern and the Shiloh Inn have changed hands and both are greatly improved in both food and atmosphere. Now the Bigham Tavern (formally Kaibs) has done the same. I always liked Kaibs, but the food was just OK, the draft beer was slightly warm, and the TV's while large, were all placed in the corners of the room, making them hard to see. In addition, the place always had a big, irritating echo when the crowd was a bit noisy.

The new owners have really cleaned the place up and really improved the menu. While still pub-fare, the grub is a pleasant surprise. The burgers are great, and they offer some inventive toppings such as bologna, pepperoni, and capicola. And the curly fries are tremendous! Kaibs had great wings, and The Bigham smartly kept Wednesday as wing night, and I'm told they are using the same proven recipe. A bunch of new HD TV's makes it enjoyable to watch a Pens/Steeler game.

The Bigham Tavern is a great addition for Mount Washington. The crowd is friendly, the food is good and the TV's can be seen by the patrons, not just the bartenders. I only wish they would add some cloth wall hangings, and get rid of that damm echo!

If you would like to visit, take McArdle Roadway to the top, turn right on Grandview and make a left at the first stop sign.

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp!

Oysters, muffaletta and po-boy sandwiches and BBQ shrimp are all great foods from New Orleans. I like all of them, and one of my favorite simple recipes is for BBQ Shrimp. BBQ shrimp from NO doesn't really have anything to do with BBQ...There's no sweet ketchup based sauce and no grill or smoker involved. Mr. B's Bistro and Pascal's Manale are a couple of restaurants that are famous for their BBQ Shrimp.

This recipe is one of my all time favorite recipes. It's very similar to the famous ones, and is real simple to prepare right on your cook top. Some use an entire stick of butter, but I prefer this one because it uses olive oil instead. If you want, just substitute a stick of butter in place of the olive oil...That will make it even better!!!

1 pound of shrimp, I like 21/25 count. Heads on or off, peeled or not, whatever you prefer.

1 tablespoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter

French bread

Measure out all of the ingredients. This cooks fast!
Wash the shrimp and pat dry. Put the shrimp and a little of the oil in a hot skillet. Add all of the dry ingredients and the Worcestershire and hot sauce.
Cook over medium high heat for about 4 minutes. Slowly add the remaining oil and wine, boil and cook a couple of minutes more until the shrimp is pink. Don't overcook!

Serve in bowls, pour some sauce over and eat with lot's of French bread for dipping!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Shiloh Grill

The old Shiloh Inn on Mount Washington had been serving meals on Shiloh street for many years. I recall having several good meals there and a fun and lively piano bar on the weekends. In the last few years, it seemed to go downhill a bit.

Most of you that read this blog know that I don't often make negative comments about peoples restaurants...I don't consider myself a professional food critic, and don't want to affect the way these people make a living. Since the Shiloh INN is now gone, I can say that the last two meals that Stacy and I had there were awful!! On our last trip, everything from service to food, to cleanliness to service was a huge failure. That's why I was thrilled to see that the folks from the Harris Grill in Shadyside were taking over. They kept a similar name, the Shiloh Grill, but that's about it. The place is cleaned up, the bar area improved and the menu totally changed. Last week I had a business meeting on the outdoor deck with a few folks visiting our city from Atlanta. All four of them were nicely impressed, not only with the restaurant but also with our beautiful city.

The food here is not up-scale dining. I'd call it up-scale bar style. Very good and very reasonable. You can make a meal out of a variety of appetizers or choose from a selection of sandwiches or dinners. We went with a combo trying the fish tacos, calamari, chicken quesadilla, and a Buffalo chicken dip. All were big hits with my guests. The calamari was really good, described on the menu as "all dressed up in a seasoned breading and quickly flash-fried, then tossed in a sweet and spicy chile drizzle of Dutch and Indian influence". Yum!

Many selections are noted that they can be prepared vegetarian, not so much vegan though...Of course if you are vegan, you probably aren't reading this blog!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Allegheny Mariner

Years ago, I would stay over night in the Kittanning area on occasion, and my favorite place to have a meal or just grab a drink and relax was the Allegheny Mariner. I was in the area the other day, and decided to stop. The restaurant is built on a steep hillside and actually hangs out over the Allegheny river, which creates a tremendous atmosphere and the view is beautiful. They also have a comfortable outside bar and a few tables on a deck that affords the same beautiful views.

While I didn't eat on this visit, I remember the food as being very good and the prices are very reasonable. This is a bit of a drive from the city, but it's a really nice trip for an afternoon and really worth it for such a unique place.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Coney Island Niko Lou's

I've been reading a lot about the Greek hot dog shops that seem to be prevalent North of Pittsburgh in the New Castle/Sharon area. Chowhound has a tread called "Coney Island Hot Dogs in the New Castle area" that has over a hundred replies, from all over the country!

We stopped in Sharon Pa to do a little shopping and have lunch and when I parked the car, I recognized Niko Lou's right across the street. Even though we were on our way to lunch, I decided that I had to at least try one of their famous Coney's! Stacy rolled her eyes, and went to the department store, while I went to the counter and ordered a dog the traditional way, which is with hot dog sauce (a type of chili sauce), yellow mustard and onion. I'm not even a big hot dog fan, but I really like these. The good quality Coney combined with the unique sauce make these a winner.

If you care to try this type of sauce at home, a couple of years back, I posted a similar recipe that you can access by clicking on the post title above.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bettis Grille

Jerome Bettis' Grille 36 on Urbanspoon

I really like the Bettis Grille on the North Shore. They have a pretty good menu, with up-scale bar food and everything from fresh salads to a deep fried cheeseburger. Yep. Deep fried cheeseburger. The whole thing is battered and fried....It might be the only thing on the menu that I won't order, but I bet I'd like it!

Check out these specials from their website:

Curry Chicken Pita Pocket
curry chicken on grilled pita, house made tzatziki, shredded lettuce & diced tomatoes Soup - Cheese Burger

South American Seared Barramundi
one quarter pound filet seared with fresh tomato, sweet peppers & plantains in a parsley, lime juice & olive oil
Soup - Buffalo Chicken

Poached Pear & Gorgonzola Salad
sliced poached pears, arugula & a raspberry vinaigrette sprinkled with gorgonzola cheese topped with fried onion crisps
Soup - Chicken Noodle

Vietnamese Meatball Banh Mi
oriental style pork meatballs on a toasted hoagie roll with siracha mayo and marinated asian slaw
Soup - Wonton

Asian Noodle Bowl
soba noodles tossed with shitake mushrooms, green onions, carrots, celery & napa cabbage, sauteed with sesame oil, garlic, shallots, ginger & red pepper flakes in a hot & sour sauce topped with grilled teriyaki chichen thigh
Soup - Stracciatella

The bar area is very nice and seperate from the dining room. Several hi-def TV's make it a nice place to watch sports and the prices are very reasonable. If you can stand the heat, they have a nice outdoor seating area although they recently removed the umbrellas from the tables. One of the waitresses told me that the wind kept blowing them away, and they got tired of chasing them.

One more aspect that's a little quirky:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Brgr Bar

There are a lot of new burger places popping up around Pittsburgh. All of them are serving up good quality, inventive burgers. I've wanted to try Brgr since they opened late last year. The offerings include spiked milkshakes and floats and full bar service with a nice selection of drafts on tap.

The burgers are tasty, and exceptionally moist due to the mix of sirloin, NY strip and ribeye that they use. Their creations are more inventive than the standards found at Tessaro's, and while I love the flavor of the beef and the creativity, I miss the tasty char that Tessaros wood grill provides. Selections range from The Average Joe, which is a basic cheeseburger to a Kobe Beef Burger, and the Locavore, which is Jameson Farm lamb patty, onion, pepper relish, feta cheese, curry aioli, and mint. The Fire In The Hole burger has jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo and a smear of guacamole. Also on the menu is a salmon burger and a couple of salad choices.

This is known as a pretty busy place, and lines are common, although we were promptly seated on a recent afternoon. You can also take advantage of the covered rooftop deck on a nice day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh

Hofbrauhaus, located in Pittsburgh's South Side is a large bier hall, modeled after the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany. Following is a good description taken from their website:

"Fun and friendly is the atmosphere in the Bier Hall, with live music and about 350 soon to be close friends. There is also a quiet dining room for those who want to simply come and enjoy the delicious Bavarian fare. Many dishes are prepared with ingredients specially made for the Hofbräuhaus or imported from abroad. The Bier Garden view is of the waterfront with the Pittsburgh skyline as its backdrop.

The heritage of Hofbräuhaus is the beer. Over 500 years ago the first Hofbräuhaus beer was crafted. Hofbräuhaus has a Brew Master from Germany supervising the production of four varieties plus Seasonal Specialties of the authentic Hofbräuhaus beer. For those of us accustomed to American brews, Munich has developed a recipe for Hofbrau Light."

I've been here a couple of times, and while I'm a beer drinker, I don't claim to know much about brew pubs, or anything about "finer beers". That said, I know what I like! I've tried three of the beers here and have really enjoyed all of them. The Hofbrau Premium Lager is the beer that they claim made Hofbrau famous, and I can attest that it's very good. Their dark lager, the Hofbrau Dunkel is my favorite. Most dark brews are just too filling and strong for my tastes, but the Hofbrau Dunkel is tremendous! It has a light body (for a dark beer) and is easy to drink. They also brew a light beer and a different seasonal beer each month throughout the year. Beers are priced at $8.00 each. Sounds high, until you see the size of the mug! These things are massive.

Although I have a bit of German heritage, I've never been a fan of German food, (beige sausages...yuk!), but I did try the Schnitzel sandwich and found it to be quite good. Lightly fried with a great beir cheese sauce, this sandwich and a big Dunkel makes for a great lunch.

They also have entertainment at night and a one man German band during the day, singing traditional songs and hoisting his mug for German toasts. While I've never been there when it was crowded, I've been told that it's a fun time!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rivertowne Pour House, North Shore

Every year I like to take in the great Three Rivers Regatta, and this year was no exception. We went twice this year, first on Sunday afternoon and then again Monday evening, taking in the various boat races, the spectacular sand sculpture, the food booths, the local bars and restaurants and of course the fireworks.

The Rivertowne Pour House has several locations around Pittsburgh. I've been to the Monroeville location, but the newest is located on the North Shore in the Del Monte Building right on the river next to PNC Park. The heat was unbearable on Monday, and we stopped in as much for the air conditioning as for the food and beer. The food and beer both turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.

The Rivertowne supplements its own beers with those from other microbreweries. While I don't have a vast knowledge of microbrews, I noticed Sierra Nevada Glissade Spring Bock, and Victory Hop Devil, which is considered by many to be one of the best. True micro fans should be content here. We ordered a cold one and some food. The menu is simple, but varied. Scotch Eggs caught my eye...(Check out Pipers Pub on the South Side or read about my visit somewhere here on BurghFeeder!) Appetizers include steamed mussels, calamari, and an order of nachos consisting of tri-colored chips, aptly named Zambelli Nachos. Wraps, subs, sandwiches and salads round out the menu. We just wanted a snack so we ended up splitting a bucket of fish and chips. The fish was beer battered and very tasty. At about six inches long, this wasn't a typical portion for Pittsburgh fish, but it was very thick and quite filling for a "normal" sized portion. They also offer a Cajan Catfish and a Salmon and Chips bucket.

While admittedly this one stop wasn't much of a test, I was really surprised at the quality of the food that we had and other orders that we spied coming out of the kitchen. I've been to most of the establishments in the area and while I like the Bettis Grille, none of the others have been very impressive. This is a place that I'll go back to, even if it's not specifically for an event on the North Shore.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bob's Diner

I just happen to really enjoy a good diner. It just so happens that my most current two posts are both diner related, although that wasn't planned. A few days ago, Stacy and I took my sister to the airport early in the morning, and decided to get breakfast somewhere out there. I wanted to go to Janoski's on route 30, but since it was the weekend we knew that it would be packed. We ended up trusting the GPS, which took us to Bob's Diner just off of Stubenville Pike in Imperial.

Bob's is bright, with tacky but comfortable diner decor. They have a small counter where you can watch the cooks prepare the food and a number of tables and comfortable booths. It was pretty busy, but we were seated right away in a booth by a window. The menu has a weekday special of two eggs, toast, 2 slices of bacon or sausage for $4.95. Not bad. When it was time to order, Stacy did as she usually does, and chose the same thing that I was going to order, Bob's Eggs Benny ($7.95). I didn't want to order the same thing, so I went with another diner classic, Corned Beef Hash and Eggs ($6.95). The service was friendly and prompt and the meals arrived fairly quickly, despite the crowd. The Eggs Benedict were classic, with a great tasting hollandaise and a delicious slice of thick ham. My meal of hash and eggs came with great red skinned potato homefries, homemade hash that included a touch of grilled green peppers and onions and two slices of Mancini's toast. Both of us thought that our meals were exceptional.

My favorite diner in the Pittsburgh area has always been Gab'n Eat in Carnegie...Mostly for it's quirky nature, good food, hodgepodge coffee cups (like I have in my kitchen) and of course, it's name, but Bob's Diner gives Gab'n Eat a run for the money! I'm sure we'll be back very soon.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Adzema Pharmacy (click here for their web site)

Neighborhood pharmacy's with lunch counters have been pretty much extinct for twenty or thirty years now, but not Adzema Pharmacy. Here the lunch counter has been a part of the business since it opened in 1959. I can remember going to these type of stores when I was a kid...Woolworths comes to mind. The Adzema still looks like one of those places, with an old fashioned counter that will seat about forty, and a couple of nice, older, and sometimes cranky waitresses.

They are open for breakfast and lunch everyday. I stop for breakfast fairly often and take advantage of their daily specials...How about an egg, bacon, and toast for $1.99? Be aware that it's only one egg, about the thinnest slices of bacon that you have ever seen and some thin white toast, but what do you expect for two bucks! It's a great little breakfast, and if you want more, and have another dollar or two, you can get more. Lunch continues in the same manner with burgers and sandwiches priced from $2.75 for a 1/3 pound burger, all the way up to $4.95, for chicken wings with fries. I haven't tried it yet, but I've been told that their fish sandwich is great. Maybe I'll get that next week.

The Adzema Pharmacy is located at 8105 Perry Highway in the North Hills.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summit Diner, Somerset Pa

Years ago, when I was working selling medical products to hospitals, I would travel through Somerset on a regular basis. This small town is charming, but doesn't have a lot to offer when it comes to food. There is a nice little restaurant called the Pine Grill, a little bar called Maggie Mae's, an Eat'n Park, and a great diner called the Summit Diner. One ominous memory that I have is eating breakfast there, getting in the car to travel back to Pittsburgh, and learning that the attacks of 9/11 had just occurred, with one of the plane's crashing in a Somerset field.

A couple of weeks ago, Stacy and I were headed to Cumberland Md for a family visit, and stopped for lunch at the Summit. The place has been updated since my last visit, but still holds the great charm of a Pennsylvania diner. The waitstaff were dressed in '50 attire and they were just getting ready for an afternoon car cruise, with car owners arriving in their classic cars and parking them behind the restaurant.

The menu was diner typical, in a good way. Basic home cooking and a great selection of pies. Stacy ordered a chicken salad, and I went for the club sandwich. When the food arrived the salad looked bland and Stacy looked disappointed, but that soon changed when she tasted it. The greens, while mostly "diner iceberg" were fresh and crisp, the dressing homemade, and the flavor was great. My club was also a winner. We didn't try dessert, but the pies looked really tasty, and I'm sure we will make it a point to sample them on our next stop.

I highly recommend this as a good diner experience if you find yourself traveling the Pa Turnpike in need of a good, quick and fun dining experience.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Chelsea Grill

My daughter Kim just graduated from high school (with honors!) and she finally has a few hours during the week to do some other things, so we decided to celebrate with a late lunch/early dinner. I had intended to head to the Southside and take her to YoRita's to sample their great tacos, but the thought of driving the parkway east at this time of the day made us reconsider. I'm not quite sure how we ended up in Oakmont, but we did. I'm a bit familiar with a couple of restaurants there, Hoffstot's and the Mighty Oak Barrel come to mind, but it was still early so we decided to stop at Oakmont Bakery and oggle the vast display of tasty cakes, pastry's and cookies. After picking out an almond torte to take home to mom, we found ourselves next door, at the Chelesa Grill.

It was only about 5:00 pm so the place only had a few diners. We were seated right at a window with a nice view of the quaint street. A nice surprise was the early dinner menu, which is 10 different entrees, each under $10.00, served weekdays from 4 to 6:00. Here are a few of the selections and descriptions from this menu:

Raspberry Chicken Fromage - filled with garlic & herb cheese and topped w/ raspberry coulis
Milanese Pork Chop - coated w/ seasoned bread crumbs then oven baked & served with lemon
Baked Crab Stuffed Shrimp w/ warm couscous salad
Candied Walnut Tilapia - with lemon chive aioli

Kim was in the mood for a sandwich...Of course I can't remember what she ordered, but it was on a panini and I remember it looking pretty good. Stacy got the Raspberry Chicken Fromage, and I decided on the Candied Walnut Tilapia. My side salad was a nice mix of fresh spring greens with a tremendous blue cheese dressing. All of us really enjoyed our meals, as did Dad when the check came!

Oakmont is a bit out of the way, but it's a very nice town and I'm sure that we will make the trip again. It was a very enjoyable afternoon.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Azul Bar Y Cantina

The little town of Leetsdale is only about a mile from where I grew up. Years ago, Leetsdale was the home of a small restaurant called Mike's Place. It was a place where locals would go to eat and drink. The owner's both worked hard. Mike, speaking broken English (with occasional Italian profanity) worked behind the bar, and his wife Tomy working the dining room, serving her homemade pasta and home grown peppers. Now the location houses Azul. I've read several reviews about Azul and have wanted to try it.

As you enter, a long bar is to your left with the remaining space filled with rustic wooden tables. Two large windows in the front filled the restaurant with sunlight on the day I was there. The menu is not the typical Mexican "combo" style that is so common around here. The Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos were served with pico de gallo, fresh avocado, and a chipolte aioli drizzle. These were really tremendous! With a side of black beans and rice, this was a very nice meal. As I enjoyed my meal, I was watching a variety of burritos, sopes, and many other items coming from the kitchen, all of which looked appetizing.

While this is not at all like Mike's Place, it really is a very nice and tasty addition to Leetsdale and a nice complement to the restaurants in the Sewickley area.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

All Clad Sale

For those of you that love All Clad cookware, the semi-annual sale will be held on June 3rd and 4th at the Washington County fair grounds. The fair grounds is south of the city, not too far from The Meadows. I've gone to this sale for years now, and have put together a nice collection of great quality cookware at a reasonable price. The items are seconds, but I've always been able to find products where the imperfections are so small that they can barely be seen, or not seen at all. I try to find pans with a scratch on the bottom, not the cooking surface. Heck, they get scratched on the bottom as soon as you slide them on the burners anyway.

The prices are 40% to 70% off which is a great deal, but even at that, keep in mind that these pans are still expensive! At least it's a good way to get the best for a reasonable price.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pizza House

Police Station Pizza...That's what a lot of folks call it, because it's located next door to the former Ambridge police station. This pizza is one of the absolute best in the Pittsburgh area. It's kind of funny that my two favorite pizza places are both in Ambridge, the other being Franks. Franks has a thin, crispy crust with a bit of a sweet sauce while Pizza House is a bit thicker crust, but still airy and crispy. They bake it and add the toppings after it's baked like they do at DiCarlos. Pizza House is take out only and it's packed on a Friday or Saturday night, but the service is pretty fast. I know it's a bit of a drive from the city, but it's worth it!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Point Brugge Cafe

On a recent afternoon Stacy and I decided to visit the gardens of the The Frick. After a great afternoon touring the grounds, lunch was on my mind. I know the Cafe at the Frick is very good, but there appeared to be quite a wait for a table so we decided on the Point Brugge, which is only a couple of blocks away.

I've driven past here many times in the evening, and it's always been packed, so I thought that three in the afternoon would be a great time. Of course it was packed, so we sat at the bar.

The menu has a nice mix of lunch entrees, soups and salads, and sandwiches. The Point Brugge has always been known for the Moules Bowl, which is a pound of steamed P.E.I. mussels prepared with your choice of three different sauces. Wine and light cream, red curry with coconut milk, or a tomato sauce with saffron and fennel broth. The mussels are served with crusty bread.

Stacy decided on the Chicken Milanese which was a boneless breast with a light sage panko breading, served over arugula and topped with a sautéed mix of banana peppers,
new potatoes, asparagus and tomatoes. I went with the Mediterranean Tuna Melt which is marinated Italian tuna salad baked on a ciabatta with melted provolone, lettuce, tomato & spicy roasted tomato-pepper relish. Both dishes were spectacular.

They also have an impressive list of Belgium bottled beers, and also four on tap. Overall, I really give this place high praise...I'm sure we will return.

Point Brugge Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 9, 2011

Olympos Gyros

Today I found myself searching for a quick dinner in the Robinson area. While I'm familiar with a number of restaurants in the area, all I really wanted was a fast meal that was not from a fast food place. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how impressed I was with "My Big Fat Greek Gyro" in Wexford. Heather Downey, one of the principles at Downey's House, left me a note recommending Olympos Gyro's on Stubenville Pike. Today was a good time to try it!

The place is in a small strip mall and not much to look at. The interior is diner style with a few tables and a small counter with about a half dozen stools. I just ordered the standard gyro and a drink. The gyro was huge, on a thick style pita, with lettuce, tomato slices that were flavored with oregano, and a great homemade tzatziki sauce. The tzatziki was made with sour cream, spices and olive oil instead of the usual yogurt/cucumber mixture. The meat was sliced thickly and very generous. I really liked this gyro, although I found it to be excessively salty.

The quality of Greek gyro places in Pittsburgh has really improved in the past couple of years, and Olympos is another good quality addition to this group. I'm sure that I'll be back and try one of the other sandwiches in the near future.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pennsylvania Macaroni Co.

One of my favorite areas in Pittsburgh is known as the Strip District. This is a narrow strip of land that boarders the Allegheny river, just northeast of downtown. The area is where most of the areas wholesale produce dealers are located. Since the 1950's many of the dealers began to expand their businesses by opening retail stores on Penn Avenue and Smallman Street. Today the Strip District is best known for its retail produce and ethnic food stores, restaurants and coffee shops. I usually get to the Strip a couple of times each month, and don't really have a particular favorite store, but if I had to pick one, it would be Pennsylvania Macaroni.

When you enter, you pass wooden barrels filled with a variety of nuts and grains. To the left is a room with a large cheese counter, a cooler with barrels of different olives, and a counter with Italian meats. Samples are generously provided and the counter people are very knowledgeable and helpful. Another area holds a huge selection of olive oils, canned peppers, hot sauces, pasta and lots of other items. Fresh bread from Breadworks is delivered daily, and in the rear just before the check-outs is a produce area.

Friday, April 8, 2011

CJ's in the Strip

I've always been a big fan of live music of various styles. One of the things that Stacy and I enjoyed was attending the Pittsburgh Jazz Society's Sunday night performances at the Rhythm House in Bridgeville. They never charged a cover and the music was very diverse, but always very good each week. When the Rhythm House closed it left a bit of a void in the Pittsburgh jazz scene. Well, CJ's helps to fill that void.

When you first enter, a sign on the door reads:

Open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 5:00pm to 2:00am

Closed Sunday's, Monday's and Wednesday's

You must be 30 or over to enter!!

You can wear jeans but no tennis shoes

Quirky, isn't it?

A large bar sits toward the rear of a large room. In the center are about a dozen dining tables that sit facing a stage. I visited on a Thursday night to see one of the most talented jazz drummers alive, Roger Humphries for the Thursday Night Jam Session which he hosts. When the band started at a little after eight the place was fairly empty but within a half hour just about every seat was taken.

Although I did not eat this evening, the selections coming out of the kitchen all looked appetizing. This is not "fine dining" but rather good comfort food at very reasonable prices. Entrees that come with a choice of two sides and bread include a grilled 8 ounce strip steak, covered with sauteed mushrooms ($13.95), Tilapia(10.95),
Catfish (10.95), and a few different salad and sandwich choices.

There was no cover charge and of course, Roger's music was great! I really enjoyed the evening and am looking forward to taking Stacy whenever our work schedules agree.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Big Fat Greek Gyro

For many years, whenever I got the urge for a Greek Gyro my favorite place was Mike and Tonys on the Southside of Pittsburgh. The combination of good meat and the flavor of the cucumber sauce is what I think makes a great gyro. Until now, no one around here could touch Mike and Tonys.

My Big Fat Greek Gyro has several locations around the city. We visited the one in the Pine Tree Shoppes in Wexford. This is the kind of place where the menu is posted on the wall and you place your order at the counter. I got the Gyro Platter which is not an actual gyro, but instead a quartered pita, with the meat, sauce, lettuce, and chopped tomato on the side. In addition, the platter included an order of fries and a small, but very fresh and good Greek salad. I don't know much about gryo meat, except that it's a combination of lamb and beef which is seasoned, pressed into a loaf and then thinly sliced. While the concept doesn't sound too appetizing, the end result is tremendous. While I admit that I don't know much about great gyros (I am from Pittsburgh), this is the best that I've had yet. The meat was just a step above my previous favorite, and had a better flavor. Actually tasted fresher, if that's possible considering the process that it goes through. In addition, the sauce was exceptional also.

While My Big Fat Greek Gyro doesn't quite have the ambiance associated with Mike & Tonys (local,dumpy), I'll give them a pass for that. The food makes this my new "go to" place for gyros.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Clem's Cafe Hardwood BBQ

While I'm no expert, I've tasted BBQ in St. Louis, Memphis, Texas the Carolinas and other places. Pittsburgh has really never impressed me with BBQ places. In the past I've made a lot of trips out 22 to Central PA. A place that always caught my attention was Clem's BBQ. It was kind of shack like, the way a BBQ joint should look. One morning I was heading east and passed Clem's at around 6:30 in the morning. I could see the smoke rising and smell the hardwood fire while they prepared for the days cooking. On my trip back in the afternoon, I had to stop. On my first visit I tried the pulled pork sub, with mushrooms and a great sauce. It was the best BBQ I've ever had. Over the years, I've stopped many times and always had exceptional food. The menu consists of baby back and country ribs, pulled pork and beef sandwiches and standard sides. They keep it simple and stick to what they do best.

A while ago, they were forced to relocate due to road construction and are now further east, towards Blairsville. The building is new and doesn't have quite the same charm, but the food is still exceptional! If you like BBQ, it's a nice weekend drive and worth the trip for a great lunch.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Church Brew Works

The Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville (right on Liberty Ave, just up from the Strip)has always provided good food and good beer in a very unique atmosphere.

Originally constructed in 1902 as St. John the Baptist Church, it operated as a church until 1993 when it closed. A few years later it opened as the Church Brew Works. The new owners managed to maintain the original character by keeping the huge pipe organ, pews for seating and on the altar are the massive copper brew tanks.

Church Brew Works brews a variety of house beers with names such as Celestial Gold,
Pipe Organ Pale Ale and Pious Monk Dunkel. In addition they serve upscale pub food, sandwiches, salads, dinner entrees and delicious wood-fired pizzas. In addition, they have a few vegetarian selections. They also have special weekend menu features and full bar service.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Marinated Hanger Steak

While most people seem to prefer beef tenderloin, I've always liked other cuts that seem to be much more favorable. The problem with these cuts is that they tend to be tough...Nowhere near as tender as fillet Mignon. If you learn to prepare and cook them properly, cuts like flank and hanger steak can be delicious. Three tips to ensure success with these cuts:

1. You must marinade, and the marinade needs an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice or wine.
2. Don't over cook! Rare or medium rare is the only way to go.
3. Slice thinly on the bias to serve.

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped
Pinch crushed red pepper
sprig rosemary, picked and finely chopped
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 hanger steaks, about 1 inch thick
Kosher salt

Mix all of the ingredients. It will be a thick consistency. Put in a zip lock bag, add the hanger steak, remove the air and let marinade a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge.

Broil on high, close to the heat 5 minutes each side. Don't overcook!
Let rest 5 minutes, and thinly slice.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Taking Donuts Old-School!

I've never really been a big doughnut fan. Like desserts, most are just a little too sweet for me. In Sunday's Post Gazette was a story about a doughnut shop in the West End called the Better-Maid Doughnut Company. The story is interesting, noting that the owner, Ken Smith, starts work at about 8:30 in the evening and spends all night making, frosting and filling the doughnuts. On weekdays he opens at 6 am, and closes when he runs out of doughnuts, sometimes as early as 8:00.

As a child, my parents had a small cottage on a little lake in northern Pa, and one of the weekend treats was an early morning trip to a little store (I think called Pierces) where the owner would be rolling dough and frying doughnuts. The unusual thing was they were old fashioned cake doughnuts. That's what Ken's making at Better-Maid, and why I was so interested in this place.

Stacy and I showed up at about 8:00am, and when we went inside, there were 4 or 5 people in front of us. No problem, except there weren't any doughnuts! Ken was in the back working and the nice girl at the counter said it would be 10 or 15 minutes. Huh. I'm not one to wait for something like that, but Stacy already had a cup of coffee in hand and was not leaving. I'm glad we didn't! We only got two kinds, glazed and sugar, but they were worth the wait. Crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. These may be the best doughnuts I've ever had. Just like I remember from the little store at the cottage and I've got to admit, I think Ken does them better!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


A local TV station, WPXI, just held a contest to name the top Burgers in the Pittsburgh area. The competition is split into two portions, one being a blind taste test with eleven judges, held at the WPXI studios, and the other a peoples choice. The judges chose their top ten favorites. Here are the winners:

BRGR Bar, East Liberty
Burgh'ers, Harmony
City Grill, South Side
Cornerstone Restaurant & Bar, Aspinwall
Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Ross Park Mall
McGinnis Sisters, Mars
Someone Else's Bar, Castle Shannon
Tessaro's, Bloomfield
The Union Grill, Oakland
Winghart's Burger & Whiskey Bar, Market Square

I have good reason to have faith in this contest. A couple of months ago, they did the same thing in order to name the best pizza, and the winner was my favorite, Franks in Ambridge. These judges must know what they are doing!

I've had the burgers at City Grill, the Union Grill and of course, Tessaros. I also tried to go to Winghart's, but unfortunately it was Sunday and they were closed. Then one afternoon last week, my friend Tom and I decided to try Someone Else's Bar in Castle Shannon, but again closed. Finally, Stacy and I, hungry for a great burger decided to take a drive north to Burgh'ers.

Burgh'ers is in a new strip mall just north of the Zelienople business district. You enter and go to the counter to order from a chalkboard menu. The burgers are named after areas around Pittsburgh, including the Polish Hill, with fried onion, cheddar cheese and of course a peroigi. The Mexican War has roasted green chile's, cheddar, avocado, tomato and cilantro. All are $8.99 and include your choice of fries or salad. Since both of us ordered salad, I can't comment on the fries but the salads were very good. Fresh spring greens, no iceberg here, and your choice of dressing as long as it's vineratte or ranch.

I ordered the Shadyside Burger which is served with bacon, grilled onions, Swiss cheese, and fresh wild mushrooms. The ingredients were all very fresh, and the meat had a tremendous flavor. Stacy got the Forrest Hills, with blue cheese, fresh wild mushrooms, spring mix, and finished with local honey.

I don't know if this is the best burger around Pittsburgh, but it definitely belongs at the top of the list.

Burgh'ers is BYOB.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Patron Mexican Grill

I've driven past this place hundreds of times in the past few years, and for some reason I never had a desire to try it. I just thought it was a typical chain (remember Chi Chi's?), and never stopped. After reading some good comments on different food websites I decided to give it a try.

I admit that I don't have much knowledge about Mexican food, but I do know it when I like it. This is not the type of place that the Azul crowd (in Leetsdale) will flock to, but it sure satisfies my taste for what I know, which is admittedly Americanized/Mexican.,

The interior is covered with bright colored Mexican artwork, with a large dining area and a small bar in the rear. The menu is extensive and very reasonably priced. Service was prompt, and the server offered suggestions and readily answered our questions about the menu. Stacy ordered a bean burrito with a cheese enchilada and Spanish rice. I had a chili rellieno with refried beans, a taco and bean and guacamole salad, each for $6.99. The servings were very generous, more like dinner size, and very good.

Patron Mexican Grill is a great choice for a family, with a nice atmosphere and good prices. I'm sure we will be back.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Favorite Kitchen Tool

I've always thought that the most important tool in the kitchen is a good quality, sharp knife. Many years ago, I acquired a good set of Henkel knives along with a wooden knife block for the counter. The Henkels, which are very similar to Wusthof's, have been a great knife. Very solid, well built and they hold a sharp edge. I've also tried Shun knives and while they have received great reviews, I don't like them nearly as well as the Global's. Then Robin,a friend of mine (she just so happened to manage a Williams Sonoma), turned me on to Global knives. Wow! What a difference!

Despite their rather unconventional look, the knife has an excellent ergonomic design. It is well balanced, easily gripped when wet and scary sharp. You are unlikely ever to meet a sharper knife. When I first picked one up, I immediately noticed how well balanced and comfortable it was, but what really sold me was how well it functioned. These knives will flow through a tough onion or a tender tomato with ease.

Of course, they are pricey, but the price is comparable with the others. If you are on a budget, the 8" Global Chef's knife would be a good start and would most likely take care of about 80% of your needs.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Pines Tavern (click here to go to their website)

It's been quite a while since Stacy and I have gone out to a nice dinner. That's not to say we never go out, heck we do that every day! Usually we end up at one of our favorite local lunch spots or just have an appetizer or two at happy hour while we relax and talk about the day.

Something else we don't do much anymore is celebrate birthdays, so it's no suprise that we didn't make a reseveration in advance when Stacy decided we should go out for my B-Day. You can't even get into an Outback on a Saturday night without at least an hour wait, and we just don't care to do that. After kicking around a couple of ideas, we decided to try the Pines Tavern.

The Pines Tavern has been one of my favorites for many years but it's been a long time since I've had the opportunity to go there. We walked in around 6:30, and although it was very busy, we were able to get a table. The restaurant has the feel of an old country inn, with dining rooms with working fireplaces and a comfortable bar. Stacy really got a kick out of the wallpaper with pictures of horses in the bar. Stacy ordered the Creekstone Delmonico which is served grilled with gorgonzola & green onion demi glace, garlic parmesan bistro fries & fresh green beans.

I ordered the Pan Seared Yellow Fin Tuna Steak on Wilted Baby Arugula, Roasted Apples, Toasted Walnuts and Crumbled Goat Cheese topped with Fig, Honey and Balsamic Glaze, Bistro Potatoes. It was just tremendous! A glass of the house (I can't remember what it was) Cabernet topped off the great meal.

Another thing that I really liked was they serve a tap room menu at the bar along with the full restaurant menu. The tap room menu has a couple of selections that appear to be full meals at very reasonable prices, in the $10 to $15 range.

I was happy that this restaurant is still just as I remembered it, and will make sure to visit again in the near future.

The Pines is a bit of a drive for those of you in the city, but it's an easy drive up interstate 79 to the Warrendale exit. The address is 5018 Bakerstown Road in Gibsonia.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Pittsburgh Legend (click here)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are headed to their fifteenth AFC Championship game tomorrow. Here's a great clip of Myron(just click on the title above), and the power of the Terrible Towel.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Janoski's Country Restaurant

In warmer weather, I enjoy visiting farm markets around the city. Janoski's, which is west on route 30, is one of my favorites. They have a farm market with a nice variety of fresh vegetables, pies and various cheeses. There is also an upstairs area with a country style gift shop, and next door is a greenhouse with a nice selection of plants and herbs.

Stacy and I were on our way back from Chester WV and looking for a place for lunch. I had never even noticed it before, but Janoski's Country Restaurant is right across the street from the market. The building is painted barn red, and has a wrap-around porch with several rocking chairs for customers. Too cold for that, so we went inside. The restaurant is as we expected, family style and nicely decorated country kitch. Perfect!

I noticed that they have a set up for a breakfast buffet, which I learned is served on the weekends. After looking at the menu, I decided on one of the daily specials, a stuffed pork chop served with a side of mashed potatoes and of course, gravy. Stacy had a moment of temporary insanity and ordered liver and onions. My pork chop was stuffed to about 4 inches high, and was delicious! Although I did not taste it, Stacy's liver and onions was awful. I know this, because all liver and onions are awful. I won't hold this against the restaurant.

This is a comfortable country style place, with excellent home style cooking. I can't wait to return for the breakfast on an upcoming weekend.