Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
Our final stop for this year’s Restaurant Week brings us once again to Butler Street in Lawrenceville. The cocktail and bar scene in the area is booming; places like Meat&Potatoes, Bar Marco, Acacia, Cure, Legume, Salt, Verde, Industry and many others are putting a huge emphasis on quality drinks and spirits as much as the food.
Tender is no different, the drinks are at the forefront of what the restaurant is all about. Housed in the old Arsenal Bank, Tender (tender, like money, get it? Old bank? See what they did there!) is a Gatsby styled bar and restaurant and it serves some of the most amazing cocktails we have ever had the pleasure of drinking! The space is beautiful, loads of natural light, tall ceilings, the beautiful bar and its walls of spirits will have you staring in joy and amazement! They kept a few things to remind you of its banking past, old checks and money orders are hanging on one wall and they have an old safe right in the dining room.
The staff is really friendly and able to answer all the questions you may have about the drinks. Trust us, we only know what half the ingredients are for the cocktails, so you will probably have some questions. Watching the bartenders prepare the drinks is a show in itself, the care and thought involved is clear when you watch them and then again when you taste your drink. I’m sorry we won’t go into detail about all the beverages, we had a few each and it would take way to much time to describe them all. Believe us when we say that we have never had a drink here we did not thoroughly enjoy, the flavor, the combinations, the ingredients are all just fabulous. If you are not sure of what you like to drink then ask them, they will figure out your likes and point you in right direction. They also have a huge spirits list that shows all the different libations they carry; I caught myself going over it like it was a best-selling novel, it’s a good read. It was National Rum Day when we went so Doctor Bamboo (the rum specialist) whipped us up some amazing and innovative rum drinks.
Now onto the food, and it is just as delicious as the drinks. The focus is on regional inspired American cuisine. Think, lobster rolls, soups, hush puppies, fried chicken, burgers, gumbo, pork&beans just to mention a few. We ordered the potato chips, not your average chips, confetti of baby potatoes fried perfectly and served with a sweet tomato aioli.
They were offering a 3-course menu with an app, entrée and dessert. D started with the “city chicken”, ground pork herb-breaded and fried on a stick. I ordered the “hot chicken” fried chicken dipped in a hot sauce served over white bread with homemade pickles. Both apps were great, huge flavor the hot chicken had great spice and just made us enjoy our cocktails even more.
Entrees were equally awesome, I had the burger, fresh ground chuck with house cured bacon, creamy bleu cheese, lettuce tomato and onion. The beef was juicy and flavorful, the bacon was thick and smoky and the creamy bleu cheese the perfect compliment. This was one of the best burgers I have had, would order it again in a second. D ordered the pan seared trout, served with chanterelle and barley risotto with squash and heirloom tomatoes. The trout was flaky and flavorful, and the risotto great, the mushrooms and barley went well with the fish.
For desserts D went with the Key Lime Pie, and I ordered the Ice Cream Sandwich. The key lime pie was refreshing and light served with a white chocolate covered graham cracker and a coconut rum glaze, I am not even a fan of key lime pie and I loved it. Now the ice cream sandwich was vegan (I won’t start my rant about vegans. Hey, how do you know if someone is a vegan? Oh don’t worry they will tell you!!), that being said, this was amazing! It was a ginger snap cookie with peach ice cream with a maple bourbon reduction that we would have drank if they gave us a cup of it!
This meal was stellar from start to finish, our server Brie was fabulous, and bartenders are out of this world! After this dinner D and I said that this place is right up there with Cure and Legume Bistro as our favorite restaurant in the city! This place is that good. When you are in the mood for more than just the normal bar food and drinks try Tender and see what the world of cocktails has to offer. You will not be disappointed. This was a great Restaurant Week, they seem to get better each time, we are already looking forward to the Winter Restaurant Week.
Tender Bar & Kitchen
also on Facebook.
4300 Butler St
Pgh, PA 15201