Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie’s Top Ten Best Restaurant Dishes of 2013

Here we go, folks! My “top ten” list (a la David Letterman) for the best restaurant eats of 2013!

*DISCLAIMER*: All of these photos were captured by me, The Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie. I do not claim neither ownership nor monetary profits over these dishes and food items.

I will list the links to the restaurants’ websites, and Twitter accounts below.

10. Friend Chicken Livers: Meat & Potatoes

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Although M&P calls this a “snack”, this portion size is DEFINITELY enough for either an appetizer or a meal. These Fried Chicken Livers equal foodie BLISS! If you like chicken (and approach this dish with a bit of an opened mind), then you will not be disappointed. Worth the $7! Plus, the spicy brown mustard (which tastes homemade) is INCREDIBLE! 😀

9. Red Beans & Rice: Conflict Kitchen

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All I have to say is: the creative geniuses behind CONFLICT KITCEN never disappoint! This red beans & rice dish was the best rice dish I’ve ever had. PERIOD. This photo (and menu item) was captured during this summer’s “Cuba” reign.

8. Red Velvet French Toast: Flip Cafe (Edinboro, Pennsylvania)

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There are very few people who love breakfast more than me. Honestly, it doesn’t get any better than breakfast food (well…except for dessert…). In my opinion, it’s worth the two hour drive from the ‘burgh to visit this gem of a cafe! Flip Cafe is located along the main drag of Edinboro, PA, home to the “Fighting Scots” and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (my undergraduate alma mater). First: you can never go wrong with red velvet. Second: this is tied with Meat & Potatoes for the best french toast dish I’ve ever tasted! 😀

7. Spread from “Wednesday Night Wine Flight: Holiday Wine & Cheese” with Carol “Dear Heart” Pacuzzi of Pennsylvania Macaroni Company

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Once a month (usually, the first Wednesday of most months), the “Wednesday Night Wine Flight” patrons gather inside the Cabaret at Theater Square (in Downtown Pittsburgh) for a wine sampling, hosted by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Every December, the Wine Flight team invites Carol “The Cheese Lady” from Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, to select the finest Penn Mac cheese to pair with the wine. If you’re not sure of which wine flight to attend, you don’t want to miss this one! The wines are always superb, the conversation is engaging and the cheeses are just perfection! This was my third year attending; it’s always one of the highlights of the year!

6. Deep Fried Brownie: Butcher & The Rye

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Butcher & The Rye is the second installment from the creative minds of Chef Richard DeShantz and his business partner, Tolga Sevdik. This wonderful palace of food has only been opened since the end of October, but it has already developed a loyal fan base. This picture was taken this past Saturday (December 21st). My Mom called 11 days in advance, hoping to snag a 6:00pm reservation. Unfortunately, she was unsuccessful at her attempt. Did that deter us? Heck no! This past Saturday, we arrived in downtown a little after 5:30pm. We entered the restaurant, waited 5-10 minutes, and were seated! 😀 Luckily, there was a large group reservation cancellation. Sometimes, timing really IS everything! Anywho: this was our dessert, the deep fried brownie! As you can see, there were pieces of a waffle cone, two scoops of chocolate sorbet ice cream, caramelized bananas, a banana-like sauce, crushed-up nuts, and of course, the deep-fried brownies. If you are a choco-holic (similar to me), you will LOVE this dish! Just make sure you are exercising for the next few days! X) Although, this dish is TOTALLY worth it! Heaven on a plate! 😀

5. Soft Scrambled Eggs: Bar Marco

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EVERYONE has been buzzing about Bar Marco (Bon Appetit magazine named BAR MARCO one of the best new restaurants of 2013! They were the only Pennsylvania-based restaurant on the list! Pittsburgh Pride, baby!). Thus, I HAD to sample their menu! My Mom and I decided to visit this establishment for brunch, on a cold (yes, cold) October morning. This was soooo worth the trip! These were the best scrambled eggs I’ve EVER consumed! The potatoes were WONDERFUL! Don’t get me started on the fresh-squeezed orange juice- just magical! My only question to you, dear reader: if you haven’t stopped by Bar Marco yet, what is your excuse (especially if you live in Pittsburgh)?

4. Grilled Cuban: Oh My Grill!

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The food trucks are gaining popularity in Steelers Nation! This past summer, I was lucky enough to attend a “food truck round-up” in the South Side of Pittsburgh. I had lunch from the Oh My Grill! food truck (based north of the city, but they travel to the city from time-to-time). This grilled cuban sandwich was literally one of THE best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve ever sampled! It comes pretty close to being as good as my Mom and Grandmother’s (always a good compliment). Plus, the guy who waited on the customer was incredible FRIENDLY. Good food and top-notch customer service: how can you beat that?

3. Baked Camembert: Butcher & The Rye

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Although I’ve only dined at Butcher & The Rye twice, I was smart enough to order the Baked Camembert both times (and share with my lovely dining partner). Forget baked brie, camembert is where it’s at! I felt as if I was floating on a cloud of joy! The combination of the phyllo dough, cinnamon apples and some of the best bread EVER (Meat & Potatoes has great bread, too) equals a winning combination! Pittsburgh diners & foodies: I URGE you to convince your dining partner to share this dish with you. You have Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie’s guarantee of excellence! 😀

2. Brunch at Franktuary: Franktuary (Lawrenceville location)

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One of the best brunches of my entire LIFE! Similar to Bar Marco, Franktuary offered potatoes (soooo good!) and fresh-squeezed orange juice. The main course: french toast bread with a jalapeno blueberry sausage and scrambled eggs on top. Also, this meal was paired with a side salad. Perfection on a plate!

1. Chocolate Pot Du Creme: Meat & Potatoes

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Last, but CERTAINLY not least: Chocolate Pot Du Creme from Meat & Potatoes!! I had this dish during the second day of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, Summer 2013. Let me tell you, this was THE best chocolate dish I’ve ever had- ANYWHERE! Whomever creates these impeccable dessert at M&P: I love you; I bow down to you. You are a culinary GENIUS! 😀

Honorable Mentions:

Peace, Love & Little Donuts (Strip District)

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If they have the maple donuts, please try them!! The maple donut is one of the best donuts I’ve EVER ordered. No joke!

Tonic Bar & Grill (Downtown)

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(Appletini! J.D. from Scrubs would be proud!)

The drinks are strong, the food is scrumptious and the service is excellent! Easy access from both convention centers in Downtown Pittsburgh. Once again: if you haven’t been there yet, what’s your excuse?

Round Corner Cantina

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The one (and only, boo! I must go back there) time I’ve dined at Round Corner Cantina in Lawrenceville, my friend and I shared the guacamole & chips, and I ordered a “Cantina” margarita for myself. The guacamole was THE best I’ve ever had, and the chips were pretty close to being the best as well. I can honestly say that the “Cantina” margarita was the tastiest margarita EVER! Especially during the spring & summer months, it’s nice to venture over, grab a margarita, sit in the outdoor patio dining area, and “shoot the breeze” with your fellow diner(s). So much fun! A gem in Pittsburgh (one that is no-so-hidden anymore)! 😀

Good & Evil Chocolate

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Not exactly a “Pittsburgh” food item, but: 1) the chocolate was manufactured in Pennsylvania and 2) it is being sold at Mon Aimee Chocolat in the Strip District. Make sure to look for this by the counter at the front of the store. If you see some, BUY THEM! The price is a little steep, but worth every penny! This is the best chocolate I’ve EVER tasted! Christopher Curtin (owner of Eclat Chocolate and business partner to:), Anthony Bourdain, and Eric Ripert traveled to another country to discover these rare white cocoa beans. They have turned these beans in to the “Good & Evil” chocolate. There are only two LIMITED productions per year. Thus, if you know this chocolate is in a city near you, I encourage you to purchase it ASAP! You won’t be sorry! 

Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas, yinz!

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Meat & Potatoes’ website

Meat & Potatoes’ Twitter: @4meatnpotatoes

Conflict Kitchen’s website

Conflict Kitchen’s Twitter: @conflictkitchen

Flip Cafe’s website

Flip Cafe’s Twitter: @flipcafe

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s website

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Twitter: @culturaltrust

Butcher & The Rye’s website

Butcher & The Rye’s Twitter: @butcherntherye

Oh My Grill’s website

Oh My Grill’s Twitter: @OhMyGrill

Franktuary’s website

Franktuary’s Twitter: @Franktuary

Upcoming post: holidays/end of 2013!

Hi everyone:

Please “stay tuned” to this blog and my Twitter account (@lauraelizabethj). Before Christmas (December 25th), I will be doing a “Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie’s Top 10 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2013post (complete with Instagram photos)! I will be posting it sometime within the next week. Thanks for your patience, cooperation, and your support!

Happy eating, dining & culturing!

Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Review of Bricolage Production Company’s “Midnight Radio: Animated Holidaze”!

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*Note- “Live Tweet” highlights, Twitter handles, website/blog links will be listed after the review*

*DISCLAIMER: both of the photos in this blog post are my own. I do not claim ownership of Bricolage Production Company. I do not seek to profit monetarily from “Midnight Radio: Animated Holidaze”. I’m just spreading the word about good theater in Pittsburgh!

Last night, I attended the opening performance night of “Midnight Radio: Animated Holidaze” at the Bricolage theater in Downtown Pittsburgh. Bricolage is located on 937 Liberty Avenue, in a former bath house (cool, huh?). Jeffrey Carpenter and Tami Dixon stumbled across this beautiful space; along with the assistance of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust (and several other donors), they FINALLY have discovered a home for their traveling theater troupe.

The word Bricolage literally means: “to use what is at hand“, and that is exactly what co-owners (and husband and wife team) Tami & Jeffrey do. Along with minimal sets, special effects, costumes and makeup, this uniquelyPittsburgh theater company” relies on their stories, actors and crew for the success of their shows. Also, Bricolage is heavy into audience participation (which, in my opinion, is one of the reasons patrons return show-after-show). The mission of the Bricolage Production Company is: to provide an “immersive” and authentic theater experience, that will change the audience members’ definition of theater.

The first show I ever attended was STRATA in summer 2012 (I will provide a link below, with a review of that show). I have never experience a show as original and interactive as STRATA. In my opinion, Bricolage’s best production TO DATE.

Midnight Radio is a close second!Animated Holidaze” was the third production of Midnight Radio that I’ve ever attended. Last year, I was present for “Midnight Radio: Ghost Stories” and “Midnight Radio: Cult Movie Classics“. “Animated Holidaze” was similar to “Cult Movie Classics“, in the respect that both shows utilized a “Mystery Science Theater 3000approach. In other words: there was a big screen, where movie and television clips were played, and the actors dubbed over the clips with Bricolage’s scripted dialogue (and perhaps a little bit of improvisation).

First: the lobby! You really have to see it for yourself! They decorate for every show (Midnight Radio or not), and the elegant tile floors are always a topic of conversation. For Animated Holidaze, presents were gathered by a table and ladder. In between the presents, were robots made from “War of the Worlds” (the previous Midnight Radio show). One aspect of the Bricolage that I LOVE: they always have interactive games in the lobby! This time, theater-goers could cut their own “paper snowflake” with white construction paper. In addition, Bricolage fans were asked “are you naughty, or nice?” and were given a corresponding sticker with their program. For the first time EVER, I ordered something from the “Happy Half Hour” bar: homemade eggnog (with a little bit of special ingredients added)! 🙂 Some of the tastiest eggnog I ever had! I really appreciated that all of the beverages were “donation based“. That’s great for college students, young professionals, and those living on a budget.

Also, you could enter your name into a box for a chance to play on “Family Feud” (which, of course, I did)! Odie the Theater Dog (the “official mascot” of Bricolage, and Jeffrey & Tami’s dog) greeted me, and eventually, he mingled with the rest of the crowd. He LOVED the attention! After I conversed with Tami, Jeffrey, and Hannah (General Manager of Bricolage), I met fellow blogger & “Live TweeterMichael Pellas and his fiance. Both were very nice! It sounds like they just moved to Downtown Pittsburgh; both have explored the city and are getting to know their new town.

Soon, it was time to take our seats (Tweet Seats! Long live “Tweet Row”!), and anticipate the start of the show. Before the show began, I captured a photo (captioned: “View from Tweet Row”):

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The retro G.E. commercials were BRILLIANT! Bricolage poked fun at how men assumed all their wives wanted for the holidays were more cooking supplies and gadgets! For the first part of the show, we watched a few clips from some “Animated Holidaze” classics! Even “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was not safe from the clutches of Bricolage! The voice of Yukon Cornelius was dubbed over with a Bob Dylan impression (“You go…your way; I go…my way!”); you really had to be there to appreciate the humor! I couldn’t stop laughing! Such a genius move!

The second animated classic was “Year Without a Santa Claus” with the Heat Meiser being played by “Christopher Walken” (a.k.a. Bricolage actor Jason). “I’m…MIS-Tah Heat…Meiser; I’M…Mr….FUN!” That was a Christmas present in itself! Eventually, there was “a word from our sponsors”. They did fake advertisements for “layaway” and “eggnog“- so fun!

The third animation was a clip from “Rocky & Bullwinkle“, another retro T.V. classic! My favorite part of that clip was Boris saying to his “elves“: “If you cross Santy, you’ll get a one-way sleigh ride!

The fourth and fifth animations were short clips from “Beavis and Butthead” and “Rugrats“. Honestly, I was never much of a “Beavis & Butthead” fan, but I LOVED Rugrats! I still remember the night Rugrats premiered like it was yesterday. At the time, my family and I were living in Bethel Park (a suburb of Pittsburgh). We moved to Upper St. Clair in 1993. Thus, Rugrats must’ve began either during 1993 or before.

The guest band (Cello Fury!!) played two songs for the audience! Wow; they were incredible! I have to say, they were THE BEST musical guest I’ve heard at the Bricolage TO DATE! Rock on, cellos!

Of course, no “Midnight Radio” broadcast would be complete without MAD LIBS and FAMILY FEUDS. Family Feud was sooooo much fun! The young gentleman that hosts family feud USUALLY hosts it for each Midnight Radio episode. He’s too much fun! Anyway, a twist of fate occurred, and I was competing on the stage! Thanks to the some audience help, I was able to steal the win from my friendly competitor, Matt! Thank you, Joe Wos & The Toonseum, for a wonderful prize pack! 😀

After Family Feud, it was time for “Fake Breaking News“, where two of the fake newscasters indulged the theater with their take on the holidays. Also, they had a few special guests (including a creepy version of “Elf on the Shelf“. Word to the wise: if you don’t know what “Elf on the Shelf” is, good. You don’t want to know).

Lastly, Bricolage presented a full rendition of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (classic, hand-drawn cartoon version). The actor that played “The Grinch” was wonderful! I read his bio in the program, and he has performed on Broadway! Very impressive; I just watched a Broadway actor in PITTSBURGH production, for a more reasonable price. Thank you, Bricolage! 😀

That concludes my review. Now, it’s time for my highlights from “Tweet Row“:
#Pittsburgh: r u ready 4 some live tweets? Two hours ’til #MRHolidaze @BricolagePGH! 😀 Support local theater!!
(a tweet I sent out for Her Campus Chatham): One hour until @BricolagePGH‘s #MRHolidaze! We couldn’t be more excited! Support your local #Pittsburgh theaters! 😀 @onlyinpgh
(a tweet from @thejunctionman): @lauraelizabethj having a blast meeting fellow blogger @lauraelizabethj at @bricolagepgh #MRHolidaze
Thanks! I am enjoying speaking with your Fiancé & you! 😀
(another tweet I did for Her Campus Chatham): I’ll never look at the animated classics the same way! #mrholidaze via @bricolagepgh
“I should know: I’m David Bowie (*wink*)”. #mrholidaze via @bricolagepgh
Wow; what an honor to share the stage with the #mrholidaze cast during “Family Feud” @bricolagepgh! 😀
Live Tweeter, Family Feud contestant & prize winner (@toonseum), all in one night! Thanks @bricolagepgh! 😀 #mrholidaze
(Tweet from @bricolagepgh): @lauraelizabethj congrats on your big win. #tweetrow rocked tonight!!
(Tweet from @HCChathamU): Thanks to @HCChathamU alum, @lauraelizabethj, for tweeting for us tonight during #MRHolidaze. We love you, Laura!
Soul: singing. Heart: happy. Phone battery: dead (lol). Thus, a successful night in “Tweet Row” for #MRHolidaze!! @BricolagePGH @onlyinpgh
Thanks Joe Wos & @toonseum, for the lovely prizes that you provided for @BricolagePGH last night! 😀
I love @BricolagePGH! No other theater in #Pittsburgh provides bloggers with such a wonderful opportunity as the “live tweet”! Many thanks!!

Now’s your chance to enter my two FREE ticket giveaway! Here’s the link with the criteria for my giveaway: http://healthkicklady.net/2013/12/05/criteria-for-midnight-radio-animated-holidaze-two-free-tickets-giveaway/.

Thank you, everyone, for supporting me, reading my tweets, and visiting my blog! Want to read the rest of the tweets fromTweet Row“? Search for the hash-tag #MRHolidaze on Twitter! Wish to learn more about Bricolage and Midnight Radio: Animated Holidaze? Go here: http://www.bricolagepgh.org/events/midnight-radio-season-5-episode-3-animated-holidaze.

Bricolage’s social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bricolage/88047839872
Twitter: @bricolagepgh

I encourage you visit the blogs/websites of the other “Live Tweeters” & bloggers:

Michael Pellas (Downtown Living): http://michaelpellas.wordpress.com/
Follow Michael on Twitter: @thejunctionman
Nakturnal/Nak You Outhttp://www.nakyouout.com/
Twitter handle: @Nak_You_Out
Her Campus Chatham: http://www.hercampus.com/school/chatham
Twitter handle: @HCChathamU

Link to my “STRATA” review: http://www.hercampus.com/school/chatham/my-strata-experience

Reference:

Plumb Media. (2011). Home | Bricolage Production Company. Retrieved from: http://www.bricolagepgh.org/events/midnight-radio-season-5-episode-3-animated-holidaze

Thanks everyone!

Happy eat, dining & theater-going,

Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Criteria for “Midnight Radio: Animated Holidaze” two FREE TICKETS giveaway!

Greetings, dedicated #Pittsburgh #theater fans! You’ve been waiting for at least a week for me to dispense the criteria for the “Midnight Radio: Animated Holidazeticket giveaway, I assure you: your wait has not been in vain! Here we go with the criteria:

1) This weekend, I will be posting a review of Bricolage Production Company‘s “Midnight Radio: Animated Holidaze“. Please read the review!

2) Either “like” the review on the blog, on my Facebook page, on LinkedIn, or “favorite” the tweet mentioning the review.

3) Either comment on the blog, on my Facebook page, on LinkedIn, or “replyto the tweet mentioning the review. The comment can be anything, as long as it is professional (and not offensive. No negative comments, please! Constructive comments, please! Most of us are adults).

4) In order for your entry to count, you must be “following” me on Twitter (@lauraelizabethj).

5) *BONUS POINT #1*: if you either respond to one of my Tweets with the hash-tag #MRHolidaze.

6) *BONUS POINT #2*: if you follow me on Instagram (artwritdesign86).

7) *BONUS POINT #3*: if you follow Bricolage (@BricolagePGH) on Twitter.

REMEMBER: Tonight is the night to read my Twitter feed (@lauraelizabethj). Also, I encourage you to follow @BricolagePGH’s Twitter feed. If you would like to read all of the “Live Tweets” from “Tweet Row” (bloggers/guests of honor), please search for the hash-tag #MRHolidaze on Twitter!

The winner of the giveaway will receive two FREE TICKETS for either the Friday, December 13th performance (which starts at 9pm; the doors open at 8:30pm) or the Saturday, December 14th performance (same start time and door-opening time) for Bricolage Production Company‘s “Midnight Radio: Animated Holidaze“. You will be contacted before Wednesday, December 11th. All entries AFTER Wednesday, December 11th will not be counted. If you would like to learn more about the Bricolage theater and “Midnight Radio: Animated Holidaze”, please click on the following link: http://www.bricolagepgh.org/events/midnight-radio-season-5-episode-3-animated-holidaze.

Thanks everyone, and best of luck with the contest!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Bricolage Production Company’s MIDNIGHT RADIO: Animated Holidaze (upcoming event)

Hello devoted Pittsburgh theater fans:

This upcoming Thursday (December 5th), I will be one of the “Live Tweeters” & bloggers for the opening performance of “Midnight Radio: Animated Holidaze” at the Bricolage theater in Downtown Pittsburgh. I will be tweeting during the show (make sure to follow me on Twitter, @lauraelizabethj) and use the hash-tag #MRHolidaze to discover tweets from the other “Live Tweeters”, bloggers and me. I will be writing a review of ANIMATED HOLIDAZE on this blog and I will be giving away two free tickets to the MIDNIGHT RADIO: ANIMATED HOLIDAZE shows on the weekend of December 13th & 14th (both shows begin at 9:00pm. Also: doors open at 8:30pm and the “Happy Half Hour” begins). Once the show draws nearer, I will be setting the criteria for the giveaway. Want to learn more about MIDNIGHT RADIO: ANIMATED HOLIDAZE? Here is a full description and the website to purchase ticketshttp://www.bricolagepgh.org/events/midnight-radio-season-5-episode-3-animated-holidaze (although, I encourage you to enter my giveaway, and try your luck at winning two free tickets)! 😀 

Thanks everyone! Make sure to “stay tuned” to this blog and my Twitter account (@lauraelizabethj).

 

Happy 2nd of December! 😀

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie