Tag Archives: cocktails

A Belly-Filling Brunch .@TinFrontCafe

17 Feb

A few weeks back, the Beez family piled into the car, rolled down the High Level Bridge, and joined friends for brunch at the Tin Front Cafe. Baby Beez is an early napper and brunch time tends to be the witching hour.    We got lucky on this particular Sunday and she behaved more like a baby than a banshee. We managed to have a charming brunch.

I kicked things off with a generously-portioned bloody mary.

Salty, tomato-y and all things wonderful.  They also offer one with horseradish infused vodka, but I was afraid that the kick was more than my delicate sinuses could handle.

The Tin Front Cafe has a varied menu of hearty stick-to-your ribs vegetarian fare, but I also love that they have a small buffet that goes along with your brunch entree.  On this particular day they offered chili with chili-toppings and cornbread, potatoes, salad, cookies and to die for banana chocolate chip mini muffins.  The mini buffet was a lifesaver for brunching with a toddler.  Toddlers, and Baby Beez is no exception, are not known for their patience when hungry. We always order for her as soon as we are seated, but it was nice to be able to give her some food immediately.

For my entree I went for the polenta with ratatouille and veggie sausage.  It was a very cold day outside, and this selection was delicious and belly filling.

Along with the typical brunch fare of french toast, pancakes etc, there was a breakfast burrito on that menu that I was dying to try (next time! next time!). As Greenfielders, Tin Front is super close in Homestead.  The on street parking is very easy on Sunday mornings.  The cafe staff were friendly and attentive.  The cafe was all around excellent.  Tin Front is a brunch gem.
The Tin Front Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Andy’s Wine Bar @FairmontPgh

14 Jan

Ah, Andy’s. It’s simply impossible for me to say anything bad about this place. I love it. I’m a sucker for fancy things, and Andy’s is fancy. Fancy drinks, fancy location but also laid back enough that I feel comfortable there in almost any attire. A business suit, a fashionable dress, heck even jeans fit in just fine here.

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Celebrating my birthday at Andy’s with my pals.

Andy’s has an extensive drink menu, and I’ve found something to my satisfaction regardless of what I have a taste for that particular day.  They’ve got citrusy drinks, potent drinks, even warm cozy drinks perfect for sipping in front of the fire. 
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I don’t remember what this was called, but it was full of big chunks of apple and I loved it.

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Mr. Beez and I stopped by Andy’s before a show a few weeks ago.  I was feeling a little tired and a little whiny, and this Southwest cider was just what I needed.  It’s a warm apple cider spiked with tequila.  The alcohol gave it a little kick and warmed you right up.  

The upside of a bar in a hotel is that it’s pretty much always open.  Sundays? Yup. Holidays? Of course.  So who’s up for happy hour?

Andys on Urbanspoon

Dinner at .@VerdePgh Ole!

24 Dec

Verde generously hosted last month’s Pittsburgh TweetUp, and generously offered a 20% discount on all gift cards purchased by attendees (I can’t pass up a discount!) The following night, Mr. Beez and I had the sitter lined up so we could attend Bill Peduto’s Holiday Party, but after a week of party after party, I was partied out. Mr. Beez and I decided that a quiet dinner out was in order.

So yes, I went to Verde two nights in a row. And if you asked me to go again now, heck yes I would. I loved the Paloma cocktail– it’s fully of tangy grapefruit, and very margaritalike. I also had a different cocktail but can’t remember what it is. But here is a picture of that mystery cocktail. It was good, just not as good as the Paloma.

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Tequila selection. Yes, they haz it.

They start you off with hot chips and salsa. I know that warm tortilla chips are commonplace in a Mexican restaurant, but they are GOOD. Chips taste so much better when they are warm, so that made me happy.

We started with the chorizo mac and cheese. The mac & cheese was creamy and rich, but there was very little chorizo.  Even with the chorizo deficit, the dish was great and I’d happily order it again (but I’d ask for more chorizo chorizo chorizo!)

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I ordered tamales. I love tamales, and Pittsburgh is seriously lacking in them (can tamales be the new taco, please?) The masa/filling proportion was perfect, and the meat was so flavorful. On the first bite, I stopped and said “Wow, this is good!” The entree is also very big, and I was happy that I had half of it left over for lunch the next day. The rice and beans were satisfying, but did not particularly stand out. The tamales were excellent, though.

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Mr. Beez ordered carne asada and also loved it. He is not big on sauces, but he loved the cilantro sauce drizzled all about. He did let me have a bite of it, but I was still fixated on how much I loved my tamales, and did not pay attention to the steak.

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We finished off our meal with churros. I can’t resist churros. There need to be more churros in the world.

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Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina on Urbanspoon

Try it, You’ll Like It.

19 Dec

Inspired by my friend Jill who, despite being a life-long Pittsburgher has never eaten stuffed cabbage (whut?)  here is a list in no particular order of things I thought were totally totally totally gross, and then I tried them and learned they were awesome:

Popcorn Balls.  Seriously, the most delicious food ever.  Rice krispie treats are good, but they’ve got nothing on popcorn balls.

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Bloody Marys. They make my Sundays complete.

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Candied salmon, also sometimes known as Indian Candy.  It’s basically salmon jerky. And yes, it sounds and looks totally gross. But OMG this stuff is delicious. I tried it when I was in Vancouver over the summer and now I want to eat it all day long.  And I just learned that they stock it at the Co-Op.  I’m in heaven.

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And just because, here are some things that actually ARE gross:

Nutella, and anything else containing hazelnuts.  I know I’m in the minority on this one, but I ate a whole jar of Nutella when I was a child, and hazelnuts have made me gag ever since.

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Salt licorice.  This stuff is nasty.  Every Scandinavian I’ve met loves the stuff, but I don’t get it. Gross.

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Eyeballs.  I know that fish eyeballs are in some cultures considered a delicacy. No way. I can’t do it. I can’t even bring myself to look for a picture of it on an internet.

It’s the weekend, party party!

16 Dec

The theme for this weekend is “How much stuff can we fit in one weekend?” The answer: A LOT.  Actually, the theme of this weekend is “Party! Party! Party!”  Friday morning featured Nina Barbuto’s excellent talk about Making Learning a Party at the inaugural Creative Mornings Pittsburgh.  That was such a fantastic event that I plan to write about it separately.  Then I got back to my office and found out I got a great order on a matter I’ve been fretting about, so it was more Party! Party! Party!

The weekend proper kicked off pretty mellow. The Beez family spent Friday night at home, babysitting our friends’ infant while they had a date night at the movies. Baby Beez was charmed by the little guy, and was so excited to show him all her stuff. She kept bringing things to him, “Look baby! Elmo!” “Look baby! A Balloon!” “Look baby!…” Mr. Beez worked his baby swaddling magic, and that kid snoozed the whole evening (and apparently even all night after he went home).

Friday ended up being a great evening for babysitting, because I had to hover around my computer til 3am to deal with various federal e-filings.  E-filing is simultaneously the most convenient thing ever, and the bane of my existence. Yay/boo e-filing.

Saturday featured Party! Party! Party! of the more traditional sort.  We were running early for Mr. Beez’ work holiday party, so we sauntered on down to Speakeasy at the Omni William Penn.

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This actually isn’t in Speakeasy, it’s the giant gingerbread hotel in the lobby of the Wm Penn. It’s 5 feet tall and pretty awesome.

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I have all glowing things to say about Speakeasy. I was a little skeptical going in, because the bar seems to be a little late in the craft cocktails trend, and because (with the exception of Andy’s in the Fairmont) hotel bars don’t tend to be the kind of place I think of when I’m picking a place to go out with friends.  Speakeasy, however, would be a great location for happy hour.  In the lower level of the hotel, and with no windows, it’s a great hideaway for drinks during the cold winter.

My first drink was a Pimm’s cup.  Craft cocktails are small and time intensive.  My first thought was “this is really small!” Except it’s not. I’ve just become accustomed to the ever-increasing size of beverage cups in general.   The flavors were complex and the drink was made with care.

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All the fancy garnishes.

The barkeep, Dawn, was cheerful and thrilled to talk with us about her craft.  She has gone through specialized training to make these particular kind of cocktails, and wasn’t annoyed in the least with all my questions.  The bar area is small, really with room for only her, but she has efficiently mastered the space.  I enjoyed watching her whir from one end of the bar to the next, quickly but with focus.

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My second drink was a Moscow Mule.  It’s easy to see why this drink has been so trendy lately.  Drinks with rosemary or mint often taste soapy to me, but the ingredients in the Moscow Mule come together deliciously.

Speakeasy Social Lounge on Urbanspoon

After Speakeasy it was on to Mr. Beez’ company party, where we had a nice time with his work-friends.  Then we were off to the Jewish Federation Vodka/Latke party to party on with our fellow Jews.  This year it was held at Space Gallery, and we drank and ate and danced and spun dreidels (not really).

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30 before 30: A Perfect Day

21 Nov

My husband spoils me. Spoils me.  For my last day of my 20s, he gave me the green light to spend the day doing every little thing I wanted to do.  I started the day off with an exhilarating but tough hot yoga class at Bikram Yoga. Afterward, I spent a little time relaxing with one of my favorite pasttimes: sipping coffee and reading magazines.  The coffee was from my favorite shop in Pittsburgh, of course– Commonplace Coffee.

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Afterward, followed an afternoon of shopping, tacos at Smoke BBQ Taqueria, and a hot stone massage and mani-pedi.  Oh how wonderful!

When I jokingly told Mr. Beez that I wanted Hostess treats, in fear that the impending liquidation would mean that cupcakes and ho hos are no more, he drove to FIVE different stores, and finally found me the most shameful of baked treats: powdered donettes.

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Mr. Beez especially spoiled me with a mini-vacation right here in Pittsburgh.  We got a fancy suite at the Fairmont hotel, and enjoyed the luxe life for one night!

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The gorgeous view of Market Square from our hotel room

Yes, the Fairmont is so fancy that in addition to its vegan, macrobiotic, raw food, and gluten free room service menus, they also have a room service menu just for cats and dogs.

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After checking into the hotel, we met up with a few friends for dinner at NOLA on the Square,  and enjoyed spicy food and sweet desserts!

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NOLA Bourbon Birthday Cheesecake!

And after dinner, we had a few birthday cocktails at the always fun and always tasty Andy’s Wine Bar

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And at midnight, my friend Christine got the jazz band to play “Happy Birthday” to me!

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Dancing to my Happy Birthday song (and humiliating Christine)

And we ended the evening with a few hilarious rounds of Apples to Apples.  The best! The best!

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30 is great! Happy birthday to me!

Industry Public House

28 Oct

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself with A FEW COMPLETELY UNSCHEDULED HOURS.  I had a ton of work to do that weekend, but I got it all finished.  I had a haircut appointment, but the haircut was all finished.  Mr. Beez and Baby Beez were visiting with his parents.  I had nothing to do, and I decided to do the most uncharacteristic thing for me ever…I went to  a bar by myself!

It was an awkward time in the afternoon, about 4pm on a Sunday, and although I had a list of places I’ve been meaning to try, a lot of them weren’t open.  One, however, was– Industry Public House in Lawrenceville.

I kicked things off with a Rhuby Rhuby Rhuby (blackberries muddled with simple syrup, Rhuby liquer, bitters, lemon zest and basil).  You can’t go wrong with blackberries, ever.  The cocktail was sweet but not sickeningly sweet.  And it ha a nice punch from the liqueur.

Industry has a huge number of beers and hard ciders on tap, and I was thrilled to also enjoy a draught of hard cider from Arsenal Cider House.

For my meal, I enjoyed an amazing farmhouse burger with truffle fries.  This fresh, tasty burger was topped with cheddar, BBQ sauce and a fried egg.  This was my first truffle fry experience, and I don’t think any other kind of fry can make me happy again.

My big plan for my free time was to chow down, have a couple drinks and read some magazines. Despite my usual antisocial attitude, I ended up chatting the whole time with other people.  I didn’t get any magazine reading done, but had an equally nice time.

Even though Larryville was already the bastion of all things trendy and cool, Industry is a fantastic addition.  The service was great and quick, the food and drinks were delicious and obviously prepared with care.  I don’t get to Lawrenceville as often as I’d like, but Industry is worth a special trip.

Industry Public House on Urbanspoon

Club Cafe Brunch

24 Aug

Friday’s not a traditional “brunch” day, but I figured by posting this on a Friday, you could keep Club Cafe in mind when you’re putting very important brunch plans together. (Brunch, my friends, is the most IMPORTANT meal of the weekend). Also, I am feeling like a sad sack because there aren’t many entries on my Love With Food giveaway.  The giveaway closes to night, so please stop on over there to share your FAVORITE THING ON THE INTERNET! (and to make me feel popular)

Club Cafe is an intimate live music venue in the Southside. Seeing a band play there feels like you’re hanging out with them in your living room. I was excited to see they’ve begun to offer Sunday brunches…oh who am I kidding, I get excited about every mention of brunch! Of course, a LivingSocial deal bumped Club Cafe up to the top of my “must try!” list.

I met up with my friend Sonia for a walk around the Southside before brunching. We walked from 18th street down and around the Southside Works and back, and worked up quite an appetite. Good thing, because Club Cafe’s brunch menu was so full of delicious sounding offerings that we had a hard time choosing.

I selected the Steak & Egg croissant. This is no Crossainwich, this thing is delightful. Club Cafe gets their croissants from Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery. They are SRS BZNESS. While the croissant was too delicate a bread to fully contain the sandwich, it complemented the steak and egg with perfect decadence. The only fitting description for this sandwich is buttery. Oh it was so good.  I want to eat this every day.

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I initially did not plan to order any cocktails, but I saw they offer a Bloody Mary flight, and I could not resist. I imagined that these would be small glasses of bloody mary, but hoo boy, are they ever generous with their servings.

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I would return to Club Cafe for brunch in a heartbeat. The food was delicious and the prices were good. The service was astounding as well. We arrived on the earlier side for brunch, but even as time passed and the seats began to fill, the servers were quick to fill our water and coffee and attend to every need.
Club Cafe on Urbanspoon

Oh Canada!

29 Jul

Mr. Beez and I have been having a simply lovely time on our Vancouver holiday! We have done SO much in 3 short days that it’s unbelievable. All yinz are going to have to suffer through a bunch of Vancouver pics for a while.

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Vancouver ahoy!

The airport is attractive and clean. All in all, Vancouver is a lot like Pittsburgh in terms of the city’s “feel”, except they’re doing a smidge better with certain environmental and livability issues (but I’d venture a guess that their homelessness challenges are more significant than those in Pittsburgh).

We started our first day in Vancouver with a visit to Granville Island Public Market. It is similar to Reading Terminal Market in Philly, or Pike Place Market in Seattle, except I think in Vancouver the local-to-tourist ratio is much higher.

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I had to be careful not to chow down too eagerly, because we had a Gastown Food Tour (led by Vancouver Food Tours) scheduled for the evening. We have had a really fun weekend, but Mr. Beez and I agree this was the most fun event of the weekend. Gastown is Vancouver’s historic but funky district, filled with innovative and trendy bars and restaurants. Food and fun are serious business in Gastown.

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Gastown’s famous steam clock.

The tour leader was incredibly knowledgeable about the fun trivia of the neighborhood, and was also an articulate foodie. The tour encompassed four restaurants, each with a different take on drinks and small bites. Our tour leader was both just plain fun to hang out with, and was also good about leading conversation about the food and drink.

The first stop was at Rogue Kitchen and Wetbar. They served 3 different microbrews, and small plates of chili and lobster mac & cheese. The food and drink were solid, and this would be a great place for happy hour or a meal if you work nearby. It didn’t have the kind of quirky individual personality I usually look for, so while I wouldn’t steer you away from it, it would not be my first pick for a bite in this very eclectic neighborhood.

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The second stop was the Pourhouse, which is a pre-Prohibition style bar and restaurant. We were served the Jefferson County cocktail, which was citrusy, with a little kick to it. Just my taste! They also served us Scotch Eggs and Devils on Horseback, both of which were prepared to perfection. The Pourhouse was my favorite stop on the tour, and I’ll be sure to take a visit back here the next time I’m in town.

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The third stop was the most innovative and interesting, and was Mr. Beez’ favorite on the tour. Judas Goat specializes in Spanish wines and tapas, but considering the MINISCULE and completely open cooking area they have, their tasty dishes are extra-impressive. We tasted 2 kinds of sherry at Judas Goat. While sherry isn’t my first choice of drinks, it was neat to step a little out of my comfort zone. Mr. Beez ended up really liking the sherry, so this was a great stop for him.
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Our final stop was Salt which, like Judas Goat, is tucked away in a little alley, which makes it feel secret and exclusive. We tasted 3 wines at Salt, paired with cheeses and cured meats. SO YUM.
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There are many food tour companies in Vancouver, and this tour was on the pricier end of the spectrum. However, I thought the tour was well worth the money. The quantity of food and drink is perfect, the small bites aren’t really that “small” and are spaced well, so that you finish the tour feeling full, like you just had a big dinner. The variety of drinks is a welcome mix, and is enough alcohol to make you a little more chatty, but certainly not too much. The tour guide did a great job of facilitating introductions and conversation, so that we all felt like comfortable friends by the evening’s end. Mr. Beez and I both say: Two Thumbs Up!!