Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
I bet you didn’t know this, but January 14th- January 20th is Pittsburgh Restaurant Week(winter). Don’t worry, most people wouldn’t know this because it’s only the 3rd time Pittsburgh has had a restaurant week. The premise is, one week in the winter and one week in the summer different eateries in the area do a prix fixe menu or daily specials that they normally wouldn’t have. The main goal of this is to get people out and to support local restaurants and also to try new places that they may not try otherwise. We chose to dine out at 3 restaurants during this week, Legume Bistro(Oakland), Girasole(Shadyside), and Savoy Restaurant(Strip District). We have been to these places before but D’s Mother who is joining us this week, has never been to any of them.
Legume Bistro opened in the heart of Regent Square in 2007. It is owned and operated by Trevett and Sarah Hooper, who are fans of the farm-to-table approach to cooking (which in the last few years has actually caught on here in the ‘Burgh). After 4 years in Regent Square, the Hoopers decided they wanted to expand the restaurant and moved to Oakland on North Craig St., which was formerly More Restaurant. Along with the much larger space came a full service bar and newly acquired liquor license, but still the same attention to the food and service. They now have designated the bar area as “Butterjoint” which has its own little menu that serves an amazing burger and small plates, such as homemade pierogies and in house pickled vegetables. The menu at Legume is always small, local and seasonal, with everything done in house, from the butchering of meat and fish, to pickling and canning fruits and veggies. The staff is always friendly, inviting and knowledgeable, even knowing which farm the produce, meat and dairy products come from. The bar offers a great wine list, local draft beers and both classic and original cocktails.
We started out the meal with the Jamison Farm Beef Tartare, which was spectacular. Most people may be scared off by consuming rare meat, don’t be, especially in a place that butchers its own meat and buys from farmers that take incredible care of their animals. We wouldn’t suggest running out to some random chain restaurant and eating anything rare, but at restaurants like Legume we always suggest trying things you may have never tried before. The beef is minced and seasoned with parsley, shallots, cornichons and salt and pepper served with crostini. This was the first time D’s Mom tried beef tartare and she was raving about it!
Next up are the salads, not usually something to get excited about but Trevett and his team put a lot of thought in to his offerings. D and her Mom had the Cara Cara and Blood Orange salad (both oranges are in season, so naturally they are on the menu). The oranges are sliced thin and served with slivers of red onion then drizzled with a light olive oil and sea salt. You may not think that combination would work, but some how it does, the tart sweet oranges with the pungent onion blend nicely with the olive oil lending a mellow flavor. I ordered the Mixed Greens Salad with shaved endive, sautéed mushrooms, Pecorino cheese, croutons and truffle oil vinaigrette. This salad had great crunch from the croutons, endive, and lettuce and a real earthiness from the cheese, mushrooms, and dressing. The soup offerings are also great, but tonight we went with the salads.
As for the entrees, I ordered the “Sausage Bonanza” and no, I did not make that name up. It had a veal knockwurst, kielbasa and a mild Italian sausage—all made in house, served with polenta, sautéed greens and chow-chow (google it). All 3 sausages were great, different spices and textures. The polenta, greens and chow-chow matched well with the sausages. D and her Mother enjoyed the “Chicken Cooked under a Skillet” which is a menu staple and for good reason. The chicken is cooked perfectly and it was served with polenta and a roasted garlic pan sauce. We should also let you know that Legume is very vegetarian friendly, but don’t hold that against them.
Last but certainly not least- DESSERT!! Now, we have had great panna cotta, pound cake, crème brulee and other desserts at Legume all made in house, but the Flourless Chocolate Cake is THE dessert to order. This cake is a work of art, it is the perfect way to end any meal, and don’t forget the amazing whipped cream. The cake here and the chocolate soufflé at Cure are by far our 2 favorite desserts we have ever had! (and that’s saying something).
As always the meal at Legume was amazing from start to finish. The service was incredible, the food was great, and drinks were top notch as well. Even though Legume is now 3x times as large as they started out its still a very inviting place and they make sure to welcome you, just as it was in Regent Square.