Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
D and I seem to have stretches where we tend to, dare I say, forget to blog. Oops. It is not intentional, we either hit a period where we eat at familiar places or maybe we are just so busy with our full time jobs that we forget about our little recreational project. We do apologize for our absence. We greatly appreciate all the people who read our blog and we don’t want you to think we don’t take this seriously. We hope you will forgive us. Now that we have that out of the way back to the good stuff, eating and drinking around our beautiful albeit rather cold city.
Late fall and early winter is probably my least favorite time of year, work is crazy busy and it is hard to have any sort of social life. For the few nights D and I do get out we try and make it worthwhile. So last week we went out with our friends Joe and Nat and ate at Altius. Fantastic! This week though is something really amazing, the 5th Beer vs. Cocktails dinner held between East End Brewing and Wigle Whiskey. This year Wigle is hosting the event at their new Barrel House in Spring Garden. The chef for tonight’s festivities is the amazingly talented Trevett Hooper of Legume. Tonight we are joined by some of our closest friends, Dan and Court.
We attended the last Beer vs. Cocktail dinner at East End and it was so good that we knew we had to attend any upcoming dinners. We arrived at the Barrel House, grabbed a 4-top and got comfortable. They gave us some soft butter, homemade pumpkin butter, and homemade schmaltz (although this was made with pork fat, not exactly kosher) along with crusty sourdough bread. The schmaltz was beyond words; honestly I can’t describe how delicious it truly was. The pumpkin butter was great in its own right but not on the same level as the schmaltz. We probably could’ve made a meal out of just the bread and spreads. However we have 4 courses and 8 beverages coming our way. To keep this as simple as possible I am just going to break this down by course and the accompanying drinks.
Drinks: Along Came a Cider (EEB) and the Yinz 75 (Wigle)
I am a huge fan of EEB’s cider it is semi-dry and super crisp, the Yinz 75 had Wigle’s ginever, lime, honey-ginger syrup and aromatic bitters. It was super refreshing and just the right amount of tart.
Food: “Snacks”- Beef tartar on crostini, mascarpone cheese with peppered jelly on oat cracker and pickled radishes with sungold-morita ailoli. Simple little bites that really were a great beginning to the meal. There were tons of different flavors working on these plates. I loved the spicy aioli with radishes and everyone loved the cheese and jelly crackers.
Cocktails win Round 1.
Drinks: Brett Hop (EEB) and In Soviet Russia… (Wigle)
The beer was a spinoff of the Big Hop, using Brettanomyces, not my favorite beer. The cocktail had barrel-rested ginever, grapefruit, honey, bitters and sea salt. This cocktail was rather similar to the first but just as delicious.
Food: Borscht with horseradish sour cream, pumpernickel croutons and fresh dill. Awesome soup, colors are vibrant, flavors are clean and the crunch from the croutons was damn good. The amount of horseradish was just right, not overpowering in anyway.
Beer wins Round 2.
Drinks: Sketchy (EEB) and Take care, Y’all (Wigle)
East End’s Illustration Ale aged in wine barrels. A more assertive ale with a nice kick. Take Care, Y’all has Wigle’s rye whiskey, lemon, thyme, aperol, and mole’ bitters. This was my favorite cocktail of the night, the slight kick from the mole’ bitters was outstanding.
Food: Goat cheese and leek tart with lentils, root vegetable salad and pickled chilies. The crust on this tart was so perfectly flaky it didn’t need anything else. However, everything is better with goat cheese! The root vegetables were crisp and vibrant with just the right amount of vinegar.
Beer wins Round 3.
Drinks: Homewood Reserve 2014 (EEB) and Hot Buttered Whiskey (Wigle)
Homewood Reserve is as black as motor oil and delicious! One of my favorite beers, but it is not for beginners. The cocktail was a dessert in itself, almost too rich.
Food: Carolina Gold rice pudding with caramelized apples.
I prefer my desserts to contain chocolate, but if I could never have chocolate again this would be my dessert of choice. The whole barrel house was filled with groans of satisfaction while eating this.
Cocktails win Round 4. It came down to popular vote with Cocktails winning the evening!
I was surprised the meal was so veggie focused but it was still delicious and filling. The drinks could’ve been paired with dirt and they still would have been amazing. I think we will have to make a tradition of this event, so I hope they keep having it.
Again, please accept our apologies for the long delay in between posts. We will try our hardest to not let it happen, anytime soon at least. We would also like to take a second to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for reading.