Tag Archives: date night

A Romantic Evening at Brasserie 33

25 Feb

Brasserie 33 constantly runs Groupon specials for a price fixe dinner or lunch.  In general, I’ve found that restaurants begrudgingly accept Groupons.  Such is not the case with Brasserie 33.  They are thrilled to have their Groupon patrons! And don’t let the price fixe setup scare you away, either– the price fixe menu features the restaurants best loved dishes in ample portions.

I love that Brasserie 33 has a small wine list, but that you can also bring your own, with a small corkage fee.  You can’t have a French meal without wine, and our wine fridge has been overflowing lately (yes, we are wine fridge people…truth be told, we have two wine fridges!) so it was nice to have the luxury of a dinner out but also get to enjoy some of that wine that has been crowding up the house.

The price fixe menu includes the selection of a soup or salad, an appetizer to share, an entree and a dessert.  Each dish we tried was rich, flavorful and all around delicious.

I started my meal with the French Onion Soup.

This soup was perfect.  The only potential downside was that it was extremely filling.  In my typical style, I couldn’t bear to only eat some of it.  I ate it all, and as a result was already pretty full by the time we moved on to the starters.

For our starter, we shared the escargot.  I can’t recall what all the options were, but Mr. Beez and I did have quite a time trying to decide between them.

The escargot was a bit heavy with garlic, but it was prepared well and very tasty.

For my entree, I had the blanquette de veau.

Oh wow was this amazing.  It is an absolutely perfect comfort food. The stew was creamy and the flavors subtle.  I was pretty full even by the time I started this, but the taste was so delicious that I ate it slowly, waiting for digestion to give me just a little more room in my belly to keep eating.  Slowly but surely, I finished the whole darn thing.  I needed a nap afterward, boy did I ever.

Mr. Beez opted for the cassoulet, and he was extremely pleased with his selection as well

Again, Brasserie 33 was right on the mark with a flavorful offering that warmed the belly.

Even though we hardly had room for dessert, we stubbornly refused to depart without indulging in sweets.  I went for my usual favorite of a creme brulee and a coffee.  The custard was cold and crust was sweet and crispy, so delicious.

The staff was friendly and attentive, quick to fill our glasses, and eager to make sure that we were enjoying our meal.  We had a truly lovely date.  I noticed that there were several negative reviews on UrbanSpoon, and found our experience was not at all like the bad customer service described.  Our visit was very early in the evening with all the olds, so we avoided the issue of a busy or overwhelmed staff.  I’m an old boring lady and like going to dinner early anyway.  I’m too hungry to wait til 8pm to eat!

Brasserie 33 on Urbanspoon

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Blogger Dinner @AlmaPgh, Last Call for @PghRestaurantWk

19 Jan

Attending the first Pittsburgh Restaurant Week blogger dinner was one of the highlights of my summer. I met lots of cool people who were just as enthusiastic about the Pittsburgh dining scene as I am, I got to chat with the chef about his thoughts, and I had some excellent grub. When Restaurant Week Winter 2013 was announced, I was thrilled to see the food blogger dinner on the agenda again.

This time the dinner was hosted by Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen. I have eaten at Alma before, and my previous impression is that their fare was tasty and satisfying, but did not find the restaurant to particularly stand out. This time around, they really brought their A game (I guess that’s what will happen when you’re hosting a dining room full of amateur critics), and we had a really excellent meal.

The evening started out with a cocktail hour hosted by PG Plate. The wine was flowing and the conversation was cheerful. I got to meet some new people and it was an all around nice way to kick things off.

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Alma’s owners, Jamie and Heather, shared with us the trials and joys of owning their own restaurant, and their experiences bringing new varieties of cuisine to often-change-resistant Pittsburgh (btw, they also own Abay, which is delicious and excellent, and it’s been far too long since I was last there…)

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Mr. Beez and I were thrilled to partake in the price fixe menu that Alma was offering in celebration of restaurant week.

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I started off with the Brazilian chicken and rice soup.  It was excellent.  I eat a lot of soup but I’m not usually enthusiastic about it.  Soup is just soup.  But this soup was very hearty and full of rich flavor.  I hope this is (or will be) part of their permanent menu.

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The theme for the night was apparently FLAVOR, and my entree was full of it! I had pork line with mashed white sweet potatoes and a plantain chip.  The meat was expertly seasoned, and every bite was lively.  I usually like to try new things every time I visit a restaurant, but the pork was so delicious that I would absolutely rather order it than anything else.

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Mr. Beez had the chicken, which also had vibrant flavors.  Although Alma is a Pan-Latin restaurant, the food was not spicy (which is great for me, I can’t take the heat), just flavorful and tasty.

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For dessert, Mr. Beez opted for the molten chocolate cake with cinnamon ice cream. That  dessert was GOOD, and it was just the right size so that you got a satisfying serving of it, but no so large that you got all sugared up and lost the effect.

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I had the fresh made raspberry sorbet.  It was a great sorbet, but not a chocolate cake. I was in the mood for sorbet, and loved the sorbet when I started eating it, but then Mr. Beez gave me a taste of his chocolate cake and I was all full of envy of his selection.

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Mr. Beez and I had such a lovely evening chatting with Quelcy of With the Grains, and her special one, Gabrielle of Primped in Pgh, and Alex of Everybody Loves You.  I would have absolutely loved to mingle and meet more people, but the space was a little limited, so that was hard to do.  Alma did a lovely job of hosting all these food snobs.  Every review I’ve read so far has been rave.

Tomorrow is the very last day of this Restaurant Week, so you better get out there quickly if you want to catch the specials!  There will be another one in the summer, but on these cold January days, summer is oh so far away.

Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Dancing in the New Year with Flashdance! and @CulturalTrust

2 Jan

WHAT A FEELING!
FLASHDANCE - The MusicalMr. Beez and I kicked off the New Year with a date to see the U.S. Tour premiere of Flashdance! The Musical.  It’s appropriate that the tour kick off in the good old ‘burgh, since that’s where the whole thing is based, after all.  The movie translated exceptionally well to stage, probably because the movie was full of music and dance anyway. 

The ample Pittsburgh shout-outs made this hometown audience happy, but tastefully not heavy handed.  There were flashes of Pittsburgh bridges on the video screens, and several scenes set in a steel mill, but the show did not go overboard with the Pittsburgh references.

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It’s been a while since I saw the movie, but from my recollection, the play was fairly true to it.  They added a few more songs, and they fit nicely within the context of the plot.  The music was fun and the dancing lively.  Mr. Beez especially enjoyed the break dancing.

 

The show is a bit racy, so it may not be ideal for a family night out.  But if you’re looking for a fun outing with your pals, it’s a great show.  Flashdance is going to be touring throughout the US in the next few months, with St. Louis, Louisville and Grand Rapids as the first stops on the tour.  Check it out, and I’ll bet you’ll want to dance along! SHE’S A MAAAAANIAC! MAAAAANIAC! ON THE FLOOR!

FLASHDANCE - The Musical

Legume

13 Oct

I’ve been meaning to try Legume for ages and ages, ever since it opened its doors back in Regent Square. Legume has been in its larger space in Oakland for a while now, and I still haven’t made it there. I blame Pittsburgh’s swanky food scene, always innovating, always changing, and always way too many places on my “to try” list.

Last night was my 5 year law school reunion. I very nearly missed it because I was disorganized and confused and ended up walking all over the darn campus only to find that my car was actually about 20 feet from the entrance to where I was supposed to go. GAH. Once I made it inside, there were friends and wine and it turned out OK.

As the reception was winding up, my gal pals and I still had rumbling tummies, and we wanted something yum. Legume to the rescue! It was close by, and we managed to get a table after only waiting a few minutes.

Legume focuses on local, seasonal, fresh foods. You may recall that Legume and Chef Trevett Hooper were honored as the best restaurant of 2012 by Pittsburgh Magazine. The menu changes regularly, and with a new chill in the air and an empty belly, I was thrilled to find elegant versions of comfort foods on the menu. Selections included leg of duck, beef kielbasa, lamb steak, and a vegetarian tasting menu.

Being a cold night, I could not help but indulge in the butternut squash soup. I love the little crispy and cheesy bits on top. They gave the soup a perfect little kick.

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For my main I selected lamb. Boy do I love lamb. Even when I was a vegetarian for 10+ years, I missed lamb (and corndogs. Don’t get me started on how much I love corndogs). I could live without any other kind of meat, but now and then my stomach would rumble for a lamb chop. Legume’s servers are careful to explain the dishes thoroughly. When I ordered the lamb, she explained that it has a small bone in the middle, with connective tissue, and a rim of fat. I liked the attention she gave to explaining the dishes, and it probably goes a long way to preventing diners with mismatched expectations.

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The lamb was rich, and paired perfectly with mashed potatoes and chard. There were some bites that were a bit chewy (although that’s probably to be expected from that cut), and I would have enjoyed a larger helping of the taters and the greens, but these are minor observations. My dinner was delectable, and in my next visit to Legume (hopefully sooner rather than later), I’d happily order it again, even though I am so determined to always try new dishes.

I was entirely too exhausted by the course of the evening to indulge either in cocktails or dessert, so I’m afraid I cannot report on those fronts. The ambiance was warm and friendly, and Legume is a lovely spot for a nice romantic evening, or a charming meal with friends.

Legume Bistro on Urbanspoon

Date Night: Brasserie 33

19 Feb

We decided on Brasserie 33 for our date night! We made a 7pm reservation, and got to Shadyside a little early, so had a pre-dinner cocktail at Soba Lounge.  I know this opinion is not universal, but I’m very much in favor of there being separate “grown up” places, and “family friendly” places.  I like to have nice grown up dinners with no kids around, and Soba is one of those places that I consider to be very “grown up.”  I’m glad we were only there for a drink, because there was a crying baby in the lounge area, and another young child (albeit well behaved) also dining with his parents in the lounge.  Bah, kids, go away!  The cocktails, however, were delicious as always.

Brasserie 33 was delicious.  I’ve heard rave reviews of the service, and while the servers were very friendly the entire time we were there, things slowed down considerably as the night went on and the restaurant filled up.

Mr. Beez and I shared a starter of the escargot.  We picked it as a novelty because I’d never had escargot before.  The people dining at the table next to us were loudly proclaiming their love for the dish, but I found that the pesto sauce taste was overwhelming and didn’t taste much else.  It wasn’t bad, but not spectacular either.  Mr. Beez had french onion soup, and said it was delicious.  I had a very tasty salad with beets and goat cheese, yum!

My handsome dining companion and our starters

Brasserie 33 has a limited wine list, but the servers are well versed in it.  Based on our descriptions of what we like (wine with bold flavor, but not Beaujolais, I don’t like Beaujolais), he recommended this wine:

And we loved it!

For dinner, Mr. Beez had the Boeuf Bourguignon and I had the Jambe d’Agneua (lamb shank).  The menu focuses on traditional, hearty French dishes, like I’d imagine an old French grandmother whipping up to fill up bellies on a cold winter night.

My apologies for the bad lighting...

The dishes were very flavorful and comforting.  I especially loved the vegetables, they were just barely crunchy, and thankfully not mushy.

For the life of me, I can’t remember what Mr. Beez had for dessert.  I know it involved ice cream and he loved it.  It also had hazelnuts on it, which kept me from stealing all of it off his plate (I had a bad run in with an entire jar of Nutella as a child, and haven’t been able to eat hazelnuts since).  I had the perfectly done creme brulee!

The custard was very cold, and the caramelized top was very crunchy.  Creme brulee done well is a joy, but it’s a gross mess if the custard warms up or if the top isn’t crunchy enough.

Yes, I know the food in these pictures is half-eaten, but I’d like to point out that for once I remembered to take pictures before eating all the food.

Brasserie 33 is a lovely place for a romantic night out.  I did not know this ahead of time, but they permit you to bring your own wine as well, which is a bonus.