The Porch at Schenley

The Story

I had to bring folks for a work dinner around Oakland. After going to Primanti’s, Legume and the Union Grill, I decided to tell them to go to the Porch. The Porch is known to be part of the same group as Eat & Park (the Eat & Park hospitality group – see source) but the focus is on organic, sustainable and local food or drinks. Located in Oakland next to Schenley Plaza, the restaurant offers outdoor seating which is really convenient when sun is shinning.

The Porch does not take any reservation, so, it is sometimes difficult to get a table, especially for large parties. Being 10 people, we hopefully get a table. Our server was slow and took lot of time to bring our drinks. Then, we ordered the food, which came not too long after. For such a big party, the service was good. I ordered the Prime Rib Sandwich, which was really good but pricey for what is it ($14 for a sandwich). On the down side, this is not possible to change the side and you have to stick with the potatoes only. Other people at my table ordered items from the Rotisserie and it seems to be also a good bet.

On the drink side, there is a lot of choice for good beers (from Troegs, Great Lakes, Eat End Brewery, etc.) and they are reasonably priced (around $5). It seems that this selection is rotating according to the season and potentially availabilities.

The takeaway

Good food and good selection of beers, a little bit on the expensive side. The room is also busy and loud, so, it might not be the best place for a romantic date! But for a nice dinner with friends or working people, this is a nice one, especially considering the proximity with the CMU and UPITT campuses.

What he said

The food is good but for this price, we could expect better service (able to change the side of the sandwich at least …) and a more quiet room. Other than that, this is definitively a nice place to go, especially when the sun is shinning and it is still warm during the evening …

 

What she said

The is quiet for now

… and to make long story short …

  • Pros: good food and selection of drinks
  • Cons: a little bit pricey and the room is loud

Summary

  • Name: The Porch at Schenley
  • Type: lunch, diner with organic and local food
  • Items under review: The Porch Prime Rib Sandwich
  • Website: http://www.theporchatschenley.com/
  • Location: Oakland
  • Date: March, 21 2014

The Porch at Schenley on Urbanspoon

The Dish Cafe – Daniels, WV

The Story

On the road again: we take off from Pittsburgh in order to participate in the Asheville Marathon in Asheville, NC. Anticipating a 8 hours long drive from Pittsburgh down to Asheville, we decided to stop half-way. Our online research and investigation efforts lead us to stop in Daniels, WV. We discovered a cozy nice place, the Dish Cafe. Once we unpacked, we decided to go in this place, we were not aware that we were about to discover a real gem in West Virginia.

When we arrive, our waitress welcomed us and recommended some good drinks among the selection. We tried the local beers and wine that were good and really affordable (about $5 per glass or beer). Then, we looked at the menu, and, as she likes pork, we choose the roasted porketta with a side of asparagus and added sweet potato fries. It comes pretty quickly and we discovered a really good bread with tasty ingredients.

After discussing with the owner, it appears that most ingredients are local and the bread is home made! It explained why the bread for the sandwich was so good! This motivates us to try the desert. Our waitress told us that the Peanut Butter Pie was a special recipe and we also debated for the Avocado Brownie. So, we tried both! The results exceed our expectations: the Peanut Butter Pie was just amazing and is just excellent with a scoop of ice cream! The brownie was also a blast, very tasty and interesting – using avocado to bake a brownie is not usual!

Before taking off, the owner gives us a taste of its wings and its secret sauce! As an previous owner of a Pittsburgh restaurant, he told us that wings was one of its specialty! He then brings us a couple of its wings so that we can try. The sauces were delicious and give us the idea that we have to come back to try the other menu items.

What he said

Good food, good drink, good people, what can you ask for? This place is just a blast: simple, not pretentious at all, you can enjoy good (and healthy) food at a reasonable price. You can either stay at the bar and discuss with the waitress or sit with your friends and be more relax. The food is delicious and we can’t wait to come back and discover other menu items.

What she said

She is quiet for now …

The Dish Cafe - Daniels, WV

… and to make long story short …

  • Pros: local food, mostly organic, hand made bread, reasonable price
  • Cons: they were closed on Sunday so I will have to wait to come back!

Summary

  • Name: Dish Cafe
  • Type: sandwich, good food, good drinks and friendly people!
  • Items under review: Roasted Porketta, Advocado Brownie and Rachel’s Peanut Butter Pie
  • Location: Daniels, WV
  • Website: http://www.dishcafewv.com/
  • Date: March, 21 2014

The Dish Cafe on Urbanspoon

Triangle Bar & Grill

The Story

After a thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, we were not hungry until the day after at … 4pm. Then, our stomach were crying, asking for food ! We were looking at different place in the neighborhood, but, because of the Thanksgiving Holiday, many places were closed ! We decide to give a try to a famous sandwich place in Swissvale: Triangle Bar and Grill !

The place seems clean and offers different sandwiches with a limited selection of beers (most of the well-known brands). It looks very old school which can be weird at first, but, after a couple of minutes, you are used to it. The place is famous for the battleship, a sandwich that can feed a whole African country for several meal. While it seems it built the reputation of the place, it seems that they are obviously many other reasons to go there (such as a basic one: good and tasty sandwiches !).

The takeaway

What he said

The beer selection is very limited. Miller lite, Yuengling and … this is almost it! On the other hand, the sandwich are very good and the basic (Italian) sandwich is very basic but worth it ! If you are looking for quick and good food, this is a good place to try !

What she said

“YUM!” …that’s what she said. Triangle creates perfectly proportioned sandwiches with quality ingredients. It’s a the simple sandwich art of a bygone era. This place is old school. This place is cool. Go, and you will experience the simple pleasure of a humble mill town, a good sandwich.  Don’t go for beer, unless you want a 40 of Old E (it’s ok. We don’t judge) . This place still thinks that there is no, good, local beer. Most of Swissvale seems to falsely believe the same thing. Maybe ask, at least, for a Penn Brewery beer. If we all do it, maybe they’ll catch on one day and go more local.

… and to make long story short …

  • Pros: good basic sandwich, clean place
  • Cons: limited beer selection

Summary

  • Name: Harri’s Grill
  • Type: beer, sandwhich and good
  • Items under review: Torpedo, cheese steak sandwich
  • Location: swissvale
  • Date: November, 29 2013

Triangle Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Salt of the Earth

The Story

This was a long working day. I stayed with my guests until late and, at the end of the day, planned to bring them in a good location. Somebody recommended the Salt of the Earth and it seems to be a nice place for business dinner in Pittsburgh. It appears that this place was first designed with a famous chef, the type of guy we can see in TV shows. This is exactly that I dislike: people that seems to be well-known and try to make a place famous and expensive just by a reputation built on potentially not-obvious criteria (being in a TV show does not make you a good chef, right?). This is exactly what I dislike in France as well: fancy restaurants are built on a reputation and not real facts (and it fact, the real good restaurants/gens will be in lost and unpretentious area …). But it was recommended and I can be wrong, so, if this is such a good place, why not try it?

As people told me this is a very slow service, I headed there around 06pm and start my journey … We start with the drinks and having the drinks in our hands took approximately 30 minutes. Then, we order the starters and the main dishes. Even if the food is good and tasty, portions are very small. I tried the sashimi, the hanger steak and the Choucroute. Good food, but really overpriced ($14 for six pieces of Sashimi and over $30 for a steak without any side!).

The drink selection is quite good but also on the expensive side as well. Beers are mostly locals and wine from different places all over the world.

The takeaway

Good dishes I could do myself as long as you give me the right ingredients. Nothing to really write home about: the real secret if to be able to get the right ingredients. Then, cook them right with tasty butter and you can do the same. If you are looking for a fancy and pretentious place to date a girl and make her feel she is special and deserve an expensive meal and drink, go for it. Otherwise, head to a better place, there are nice places around the Burgh that are as good in terms of food and more casual and less pretentious.

 

What he said

Food is good, tasty but comes in small portion and totally overpriced! The secret here is in getting the right ingredients, and this is exactly what good cook will tell you: you cannot build a good meal with crappy ingredients! This just makes sense and you cannot build a house under bad foundations. However, even if good ingredients come at a cost, there is no obvious reason to make these dishes so overpriced. And this is exactly the flaw of such a place: they should promote good food and make it accessible by allowing people to enjoy it at a reasonable price! Unfortunately, this is why good food is so often associated (with reason) with pretentious places and people.

If you are looking for a good food at an affordable price, go to Butterjoint (the bar of Legume), have a beer and share a burger with a friend. You will then have good food in a nice place while not spending your whole paycheck.

What she said

She is quiet for now! In fact, she did not come here that night!

… and to make long story short …

  • Pros: good ingredients
  • Cons: loud, pricy, small portion

Summary

  • Name: Salt of the Earth
  • Type: Pretentious and pricy
  • Items under review: Sashimi (starter), Hanger (main) and Choucroute (main)
  • Location: Garfield
  • Date: March, 05 2014
  • URL: http://www.saltpgh.com/

Salt of the Earth on Urbanspoon

Stone Neapolitan Pizzeria

The Story

This was a cold Thursday, we went to the downtown area and had a look at the restaurant week deals. There was this pizzeria place that sounds good! So, we decided to go there and enjoy some slices with a salad, good beers and potentially good company! The place itself is hard to find – next to the Point State Park – but definitively worth it! The pizzas are very good and the salad with a good size without being too big. The crust of the pizza is pretty thin and the toppings very good and tasty. You can get a beer but no beer on tap – everything is in bottles.

The takeaway

Good pizzas, good beers (even if no draft …), what can you ask for? A better location, a place more casual and/or lovely you can have some privacy: while the food is really good, this is more a friendly place and not somewhere you bring your date!

 

What he said

If you are in the downtown area and are looking for a good and simple pizza place, go for it! If you want to bring your new girlfriend, you better go somewhere else! Other than that, this is a very friendly, fairly priced with very good food!

 

What she said

She is quiet for now!

… and to make long story short …

  • Pros: good pizza with thin crust, good beer
  • Cons: loud place, location, no draft

Summary

  • Name: Stone Neapolitan Pizzeria at River Vue
  • Type: Pizza and Salad
  • Items under review: Prosciutto e Funghi Pizza, Antipasto salad and Caesar salad
  • Location: downtown
  • Date: January, 16 2013
  • URL: http://stonepizzeria.com/

Stone Neapolitan Pizzeria at River Vue on Urbanspoon

The Elbow Room

The Story

After a long day, many miles on the counter and several meetings, we wanted to refuel at a nice place. We got some coupons for the Elbow Room, so, why not stop by and have a taste? We arrived on a Wednesday night around 0830pm. Few folks were there and we choose to sit at the bar.

Having a look at the beer list, there are very few options … Miller Lite, Yuengling … two local beers but, compared to other bars, the selection is very poor. The wine list is better although not very impressive. Many wines are from the US, few selection from Europe (Italy, Spain, France).

For food, we ordered the Salmon Wrap with fresh cut fries. It was good but average: nothing to write home about. We try to finally give a chance to the desert list and order a brownie. Again, nothing special: the brownie had nothing special and could come from a pre-made package.

We had two coupons for wine and, as we paid, asked if the two coupons applied. The server refused to apply both and just applied one. We asked to split the bill and apply one coupon on each check and he refused.

To summarize, everything in this place is average: food, drinks and also the customer service. If you are looking for a special and good place, just go somewhere else!

The takeaway

What he said

Nothing to add: this place has nothing special and is just average. The price are not that bad but there are many other places that are more exciting than the Elbow Room. The only plus-side is that is it quiet, which can be nice if you are looking for a good spot around Shadyside. But if you are looking for good food and beers, just go to Harri’s Grill on Ellworth, this would definitively be a better bet!

 

What she said

She is quiet on that story for now :)

… and to make long story short …

  • Pros: quiet during week day
  • Cons: food average and nothing special, small beer list. Terrible customer service.

Summary

Elbow Room on Urbanspoon

Harris Grill

The Story

This was after a night-run in the city. We decided to go to Harri’s Grill in order to refuel our bodies. Once arriving, we waited for a table. As we were a group of almost 10, it took a while, approximately 20 minutes. In the meantime, we waited at the bar with a beer. The beer selection is long and impressive, with many (many) options.

Once seated, we ordered the Pulled Pork Sandwich. We ordered it on a pretzel. One friend of ours ordered the Mac & Cheese and we tried it. The sandwich was normal, nothing really special. The pretzel was really not fresh and rather somethign that came from the freezer and that was not correctly defrost. The fries were ok, nothing special as well. The Mac & Cheese was really good, although pretty heavy.

The takeaway

What he said

Good beer selection, average food. A nice place to hang out in Shadyside, but more for casual discussion with a drink rather than having good food. Go for it if you are with a friend but avoid it for a romantic date!

What she said

I like it, despite the stale bun that they used for my sandwich. I forgive that just once. Otherwise, the beer selection was decent and the food was good. It’s a great place to share laughs, beers, and a bite of decent bar food. It’s not the best that Pittsburgh has to offer, but for a neighborhood bar, it is a nice place to enjoy with friends.

… and to make long story short …

  • Pros: good beer selection, friendly
  • Cons: average food, noise

Summary

  • Name: Harri’s Grill
  • Website: http://www.harrisgrill.com
  • Type: beer, cocktail, restaurant
  • Items under review: Mac & Cheese, Pulled Pork Sandwich (called Aw, You’re Pullin’ My Pork)
  • Location: shadyside
  • Date: December, 19 2013

Harris Grill on Urbanspoon

Lulu’s Noodle

The Story

We were in a hurry, living for the airport. We need to have a quick lunch in Oakland, so, we decide to go to Lulu’s Noodle. The place is very basic for lunch during the week: you pick your menu item, you pay and somebody bring your food at your table. Very basic. The menu did not change since a long time (probably several years). The food is very basic with big portions. We try a noodle dish (pad thai) and a soup (udon soup). Both dishes were good while this is not the best asian food we ever tried.

The takeaway

What he said

Good average place if you like and enjoy asian-type cuisine, Lulu’s can be a nice place to go if you are hungry. Also very good if you are in a hurry, this might not be a good spot for a romantic setup.

What she said

I had a big bowl of Pho on a cool day just before a long flight. This lunch served the purpose of offering hydration and nutrients at a decent price. There are plenty of other, better, noodle places in Pittsburgh. So I would not make a special trip for LuLu’s Noodles. However, I would be willing to go for lunch with friends. The place is acceptable, but nothing more.

… and to make long story short …

  • Pros: quick, cheap, big portion
  • Cons: average quality, noisy place

Summary

  • Name: Lulu’s Noodle
  • Type: Noodle & Asian food
  • Items under review: udon soup and pad thai
  • Location: oakland
  • Date: December, 02 2013

Lulu's Noodles on Urbanspoon

Mullin’s Dinner

The Story

After a long run, we end up by having breakfast at Mullin’s Dinner for refueling. The place seems very basic on the outside and, unless you are very hungry, does not seem like a good place for food. But, as we ran more than 10 miles, we were willing to give a try.

After entering, the waitress came. Not very friendly, she took our order. We chose the mushroom and cheese omelet with a side of sausage gravy. Coffee for drink, as we needed to be caffeinated after our effort. The food was pretty good, even if the sausage gravy was really salty (but this is gravy – what can you expect, right ?). On the overall, this is a nice place to have dinner as long as you do not ask for a beautiful environment.

The takeaway

What he said

If the food is good, the service is really terrible. The waitress are not friendly at all and you can wait several minutes before they come to take your order. Forget the coffee refill, you have to take the coffee pot by yourself to refuel your cup. So, come for the food but but not for the service ! The good side? You do not feel guilty if you do not have enough to leave a tip !

What she said

Just know this, the  waitress hates you. The troubleing thing is that the food is good. I have only ever ordered breakfast items, but I have been very happy with the quality of ingredients and the preparation. This isn’t fancy food, just simple and good food. Go, but sit at the bar where you may be treated with more consideration.

… and to make long story short …

  • Pros: basic good food
  • Cons: terrible service …

Summary

  • Name: Mullin’s Dinner
  • Type: Breakfast
  • Items under review: mushroom and cheese omlette with a side of sausage gravy
  • Location: north side
  • Date: November, 24 2013

Mullin's Diner on Urbanspoon

D’s Six Packs

The Story

This was a long day, we need to refuel, have good food and hang out with beer-lover friends. As we already knew the place, we decided to go to D’s in Regent Square. We called to make a reservation but the place does not take any reservation. So, we come to the place and ask for a table. The waitress estimates a waiting time of 30 minutes, so, we go to another bar to wait while drinking a first beer. But after 5 minutes, we received a notification that our table was ready ! A little bit confusing but not a big deal …

The place is a good one for beers with more than 1000 beers you can enjoy (they sell it and you can bring the one you select in the restaurant area) with some typical good bar food (burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc.). We ordered the burger (with provolone cheese, mushrooms and onions) with french fries. Our guests ordered sandwich and hot dogs. Several of us choose different beers and we enjoyed them. The tap list seems to change periodically with different imports and local selections.

The takeaway

What he said

Good beer selection, the place is definitively a good one if you are looking for a friendly environment with good bar food. Do not bring a date: the place is very noisy and not really good for having some privacy. The french fries are very good but (a little bit crispy on the outside) but each time I have some, I ended up by being sick the next day.

… and to make long story short …

  • Pros: good beer selection, really good french fries
  • Cons: noisy, no reservation and unpredictable time to get a table

Summary

  • Name: D’s Six Pax and Dogz
  • Type: Beer and Burgers
  • Items under review: burger with french fries
  • Location: regent square
  • Date: November, 24 2013
  • URL: http://www.ds6pax.com/

D's Six Pax & Dogz on Urbanspoon