Brunch at Nola on the Square

Raspberry Mimosa
Raspberry Mimosa at Nola on the Square

*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from neither Nola on the Square nor the Big Y Group. I am just a Pittsburgh foodie, who enjoys sharing her foodie adventures. Pictures captured with an iPhone 5s and were edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 and Instagram.

*Website and social media links below this post!*

This past Sunday, my Mom & I went to see L’Hotel at the Pittsburgh Public Theater. We wished to make it a particularly special Sunday afternoon. Thus, we decided to go to brunch at Nola on the Square in Market Square.

Nola serves up a prix-fixe Sunday brunch (which I HIGHLY recommend!), where you choose one drink, one starter and one main.

Here’s what I chose: first, a Bourbon Street Mimosa with champagne and Grand Marnier raspberry peach. Let me tell you- one of THE best mimosas I’ve EVER had! Beats the shit out of the mimosas with orange juice in them.

Beignets
Beignets with coffee sauce

My starter: house made beignets with Chicory coffee dipping sauce. I must say, these beignets were better than Crested Duck‘s beignets, but not quite as good as Bouchon Bistro’s beignets (but they came close!). I absolutely LOVED the coffee sauce! This really made the dish stand out, and the beignets tasted so good in the sauce!

Eggs Benedict
Big Easy Eggs Benedict from Nola on the Square
Eggs Benedict
Another shot of the Eggs Benedict dish

My main: Big Easy Eggs Benedict– two poached eggs, tasso (house made ham), toasted brioche and mornay sauce, served with a side of fruit. This was my first time EVER trying eggs benedict, and I must stay, Nola made it a good experience! What really stood out to me was the tasso ham (MAN, was that good!). That really made the dish special. Everything was great (From the poached eggs to the brioche bread. Oh yeah, baby!)!

Whether you either seeing a show downtown or just feel like treating yourself to a decadent Sunday brunch, I recommend giving Nola on the Square a try!

Three cheers to good food, fabulous art and cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Nola on the Square’s website

Nola on the Square’s Facebook page

Nola on the Square’s Twitter page

The new BRGR at the Galleria of Mt. Lebanon

MIlkshake
Apple Dumpling Pie Shake from BRGR

*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from BRGR. I’m just a Pittsburgh foodie, who enjoys sharing her foodie adventures. Photos were captured with an iPhone 5s and edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop Extended CS4.

*Website and social media links below!*

A week ago, my Mom & I went to see Birdman at the Galleria mall in Mt. Lebanon. Afterwards, my Mom & I decided to swing by the new BRGR for lunch (which had just opened the day before). I had dined from its food truck a couple of times, and I was eager to try the Galleria location.

Our waiter was Wendy; she was so nice and knowledgeable of the food.

The first picture is the Apple Dumpling Pie Shake (the shake of the day). BRGR makes some of the best shakes around, and this one was no exception! It tasted like an apple pie with caramel sauce. Sooooo good!

Salmon Burger
Craft-a-burger: Salmon burger with provolone, red pickled onions and a capers aioli in a lettuce wrap at BRGR

I decided to “craft” my own burger- MAN, was this good! I tried to be mindful of my food choices, and choose a healthier option for my burger (to make up for the indulgent shake). Everything from the red picked onions, to the capers aioli and dill pickle, paired well with the salmon burger. I HIGHLY recommend this combo!

BRGR fries
BRGR’s fries (with shaved parmesan and truffle oil)

The piece-de-resistance: BRGR’s fries with shaved parmesan and truffle oil. Usually, I don’t even both with regular fries; as soon as I see fries on the mention, that’s when I order sweet potato fries. Today, sweet potato fries were not an option. Luckily, I had heard good things about BRGR fries. Thus, I decided to take a chance and order some fries. WOW! I’m so glad I did! I could not stop eating these fries! They were delectable! I was you could’ve seen how sad I was when I reached the bottom of the plate basket (lol). X)

Well, there you have it, folks! If you’re looking for a casual yet high-quality lunch or dinner, I HIGHLY recommend stopping by either one of BRGR’s restaurant locations (East Liberty, Cranberry or Mt. Lebanon) or order from the BRGR food truck! 😀

 

Three cheers to good food, fabulous art & cultural events,

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

BRGR’s website

BRGR’s Facebook page

BRGR’s Twitter page

Brunch at Tender Bar + Kitchen

Bank Safe
The safe at Tender (Tender’s space used to be home to the Arsenal bank building)

*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from Tender Bar & Kitchen. I’m just a Pittsburgh foodie, who enjoys sharing her Pittsburgh foodie adventures. 🙂 All photos were captured on an iPhone 5s and were edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop Extended CS4.

*Website and social media links below this post!*

I’ve been wanting to dine at Tender Bar + Kitchen for a while now. The same owners from Verde own Tender Bar + Kitchen. Thus, I knew Tender was going to be good.

I love the interior of Tender! You can tell they tried to keep a lot of the original feel of the space (used to be Arsenal bank building). When I walked into the restaurant, I felt like I was stepping back into the 1920s (with cocktails to match).

The clock in Tender (so cool!)
The clock in Tender (so cool!)
The AMAZING bar at Tender Bar + Kitchen
The AMAZING bar at Tender Bar + Kitchen

My Mom & I decided to go for brunch on an (actually) warm Sunday in November. Here’s what we ordered:

Buckwheat Pancakes
Buckwheat Pancakes from Tender Bar + Kitchen

My main dish: buckwheat pancakes with blueberry mascarpone and lavender maple syrup. Very good (although, not as good as the buttermilk pancakes at Verde)! I REALLY liked the blueberry mascarpone on top.

Close-up of the Buckwheat Pancakes at Tender Bar & Kitchen
Close-up of the Buckwheat Pancakes at Tender Bar & Kitchen
Summer sausage
Tender summer sausage

Tender summer sausage as one of my side. As Anthony Bourdain would say, “oh yeah, baby”! This was one of the best sausages I’ve EVER had!

Home Fries
Tender Home Fries

Tender home fries– honestly, THE best home fries I’ve EVER had! I like that the home fry potatoes were nice big chunks. No wimpy pieces in the ‘burgh! Also, I like the addition of the green onions on top of the home fries.

Brunch punch and orange juice
Tender brunch drinks: U.S.S. Richmond punch and fresh-squeezed orange juice

My two brunch drinks: U.S.S. Richmond punch (Jamaican rum, cognac, curaçao, ruby port, black tea and lemon) and fresh-squeezed orange juice. This is how you brunch!

French Toast
Tender’s French Toast

My Mom’s brunch: french toast with persimmon compote, whipped cream and maple syrup. This was REALLY good! 😀 Words cannot describe the genius behind this dish.

So if you have a hankering for a WONDERFUL Sunday brunch, I suggest heading over to Tender Bar + Kitchen.

Three cheers to good food, fabulous art & cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Tender Bar + Kitchen’s website

Tender Bar + Kitchen Facebook page

Tender Bar + Kitchen Twitter page

Tender Bar + Kitchen Instagram page

Birthday Dinner #2: Dinner at Crested Duck

Crested Duck Charcuterie in Pittsburgh
Crested Duck Charcuterie’s lovely dining room

*DISCLAIMER* I do not seek monetary benefits from neither Kevin Costa nor Crested Duck Charcuterie. I’m just a Pittsburgh foodie, who enjoys sharing her foodie adventures. Images were captured on an iPhone 5s and edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

*Website and social media links below this post!*

Why have one birthday dinner when you can have two? 🙂 Birthday dinner #2 was held at Crested Duck Charcuterie in the Beechview neighborhood of Pittsburgh on Friday, November 7th. My Mom and I were the first guests to arrive for the evening at the restaurant. I really loved the waiter’s description of the evening: “Chef Kevin Costa will be your personal chef for the evening, preparing each and every one of your dishes”! Talk about a luxury experience!

Speaking of Chef Costa, I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. I had the opportunity to listen to him speak with Chef Bill Fuller (of the Big Burrito Group) and the eatPGH ladies last year at a foodie event. Kevin taught himself how to butcher animals by watching YouTube videos (hunters teaching how to butcher deer) and from reading old animal butchering books. Costa noticed that there was a need for locally cured meats in Pittsburgh, and Kevin took it upon himself to meet that need.

Bull Painting
Painting in Crested Duck, honoring a noble animal

I loved the restaurant right from the start- from this INCREDIBLE painting, to the maroon colors of the walls to the music playing in the background and a very knowledgeable waiter.

Charcuterie Plate
BIG charcuterie plate at Crested Duck

My first dish of the evening: the BIG charcuterie plate. Some of the meats featured on this plate: duck speck, lomo, cannonball salami, lamb coppa and turkish salami. I am so GLAD that I ordered the big plate; I am really close to finishing this baby single-handedly! The charcuterie was incredible- some of the best I’ve ever had! I LOVED the grain mustard and small pickles, too (and there was plenty of break to help consume the charcuterie). Ladies and gentlemen, this plate is “the stuff that dreams are made of”! 🙂

Charcuterie Plate close-up
Charcuterie plate close-up #1
Charcuterie Plate Close-up
Charcuterie Plate Close-up #2
Cheese Plate
The Cheese plate at the Crested Duck

As Boromir would say: “one cannot simple order the BIG charcuterie plate without ordering the cheese plate”! So, I ordered the cheese plate as my accompanying dish. 🙂 I enjoyed all of the cheese, but I particularly LOVED the cheese in the bottom right corner of the photo. I also LOVED the dark jam that was served with the cheese. Cheese heaven right here! I was one happy diner!

Beignets
Beignets with caramel sauce and apple butter from Crested Duck

I’d like to think all of you know me well enough by now to know that 99% of the time, I always order dessert. ❤ I chose the beignets with apple butter and caramel sauce. These were SPECTACULAR! They came pretty close to being as good as the beignets I had at Bouchon Bistro in Las Vegas. The apple butter and the caramel sauce were both EXCELLENT additions to this delectable dessert!

If you’re looking for a special dining experience in Pittsburgh, with a passionate chef at the forefront (who loves good quality ingredients), I highly recommend Crested Duck in Beechview! You will HAVE to get one of the two charcuterie plates (after all, charcuterie is what they’re know for at the Crested Duck) and the cheese plate (Kevin gets his cheeses from local farmers and cheese producers), and of course, DESSERT! 🙂

Three cheers to good food, fabulous art & cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Crested Duck’s website

Crested Duck’s Facebook page

Crested Duck’s Twitter page

Birthday Dinner #1 at Cure

Butternut Squash soup
Butternut Squash soup from Cure

*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from neither Justin Severino nor Cure. I am just a Pittsburgh foodie, who enjoys sharing her culinary adventures. Photos were captured with an iPhone5s, and were edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

*Website and social media links below this post!*

Cure is owned by Justin Severino (who is also executive chef of the restaurant). Originally from Ohio, Justin Severino later relocated to Western Pennsylvania and also lived and worked in Santa Cruz, California from 2004- 2007 (Valentina, 2012). An element of the west coast that Justin has brought to Pittsburgh: using local and national ingredients and knowing where your food comes from (how was it grown, raised and prepared?).

I’ve heard all sorts of things about Justin Severino from Pittsburgh chefs, magazines and food bloggers. When food blogger & married couple D&T in the Burgh mentioned Cure, I knew I had to visit this establishment for dinner.

The opportunity finally arrived to me on my birthday (November 5th). My birthday happened to fall on a Wednesday (one of my days off from work). I had been eyeing up the menu at Cure for weeks, debating if I should take a chance a request a reservation. Three weeks beforehand, I decided to take a chance and request a reservation through Cure’s website. A few days later, I received a response, and my reservation was confirmed.

I loved the atmosphere from Cure from I moment I walked in the door. Lots of wood panels on the walls; boars’ heads on the one dining room wall, shrubs on the other dining room wall, and little pig statues all over the place. Also, good lighting and good music.

The dish picture above was my Mom’s first course: butternut squash soup. The butter squash soup contained: butternut squash (of course), morcilla sausage, fried egg, smoked avocado, peanut and basil. I did sample a spoonful of my Mom’s first dish- best butternut squash soup I’ve EVER had!

Salumi plate
Small salumi plate from Cure

Here’s my dish #1- small salumi plate: ciccioli (rustic country pate made from pork that cannot be used for neither sausage nor salami), soppresatta,  lardo (cured pig back fat, bottom left-hand corner), duck speck and nduja (spreadable pork- orange, in the bottom right corner), grain mustard, black mustard and cornichons (Valentina, 2012). Let me tell you- best cured meats I’ve had in my entire LIFE and the best dinner dish of the night! I was a little disappointed in myself for not ordering the BIG salumi plate (lol). X) Everything was great, but my Mom and I particularly liked the nduja (especially spread on the bread slices with some mustard).

Strawberry Scrub with Pittsburgh Seltzer Works
Strawberry Scrub with Pittsburgh Seltzer Works from Cure

Who says you have to consume alcohol to have fun? I really loved this strawberry scrub drink with Pittsburgh Seltzer Works. Honestly, one of the best beverages I’ve had in my entire LIFE (it was so good, I had two). Also, very pretty! ❤

Spaghetti Carbonara
Spaghetti Carbonara from Cure

Here’s my Mom’s main course- spaghetti carbonara: salty pork bits, peas, egg, roasted garlic, soffritto and pecorino romano. As you can tell by the words and the image, not your typical spaghetti carbonara (so much better!). The smell of this dish was ethereally bacon-y! When my Mom couldn’t finish consuming this dish, I was all too happy to finish it. Soooooo task- I was sorry I didn’t order it! X)

Copper River Salmon
Copper River Salmon from Cure

Here’s my main dish- Copper River Salmon– hibiscus cured, ginger yogurt, rosehip honey, roasted cucumber, marcona almonds, orange, fernet, cilantro. The salmon was INCREDIBLE; I’ve had smoked salmon, grilled salmon, but never hibiscus cured salmon. All of the flavor combinations gave this dish a very exotic taste. I definitely sense a hint of asian influence.  I loved cutting up the salmon, forking a slice of cucumber on top, and dipping it all in the ginger yogurt and orange marmalade. Once in a while, I was lucky enough to include a marcona almond in a bite.

Salmon
Close-up of the salmon
Dark Souffle cake with pistachio butter from Cure
Dark Souffle cake with pistachio butter from Cure

Eventually, it was time for dessert; my Mom and I chose the same thing for dessert. Dessert was…(*drum roll*): dark chocolate soufflé cake with pistachio butter, sea salt, vin cotto and xxvo. The sweetness of the dark chocolate with the salty-ness and savory-ness of the pistachio were the perfect team. The dark chocolate soufflé was light, yet almost fudge-y (like a molten lava cake). It was, in every sense of the word, a perfect chocolate dessert dish. 🙂

Dark Chocolate Souffle cake
Close up of the dark chocolate soufflé cake

Friends, if you ever have the chance to dine at Cure in Lawrenceville, you must go! You will not regret it, and you will be wowed at every second.

Three cheers to good food, fabulous art and cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Valentina. (2012, June 24). Review: Cure. Retrieved from: http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/Pittsburgh-Magazine/July-2012/Review-Cure/

Cure’s website

Cure’s Facebook page

Cure’s Twitter page

Justin Severino’s Twitter page

D&T in the Burgh’s blog

D&T in the Burgh’s Twitter page

Last Vegas post: Noodles at the Bellagio

*DISCLAIMER* I do not seek monetary benefits from neither Noodles nor the Bellagio Casino & Resort. I am just a foodie, who enjoys sharing her foodie adventures. Picture was captured with an iPhone 5s and edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

*Website link below this post!*

The very last night in Las Vegas, my Mom and I decided to dine at Noodles, located inside the Bellagio Casino & Resort. Since we stayed at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino, we utilized the tram to get to the Bellagio (convenient, right?). I’ve heard lots of great things about Noodles (can’t remember where I heard it, though lol). The restaurant has a very unique decor- there are noodles on the walls and even in glass jars all around the restaurant! The vibe is definitely an asian vibe. I really loved hearing all of the different dialects that the chefs, waiters, waitresses, hosts and hostesses were speaking.

There were so many tasty choices on the menu, but I finally decided on one dish for dinner:

Pad Thai BBQ Pork
Pad Thai BBQ Pork from Noodles at the Bellagio

I decided on Pad Thai BBQ Pork! I’ve never visited a restaurant that offered BBQ Pork as a meat option for Pad Thai! Let me tell you: these were THE BEST noodles I’ve ever had! Also, the best pork and best bbq sauce EVER! What a clever idea to pair BBQ Pork with Pad Thai- Bourdain would be all over this dish! 🙂 This was seriously the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had in my entire LIFE! In my opinion, I would only discover better Pad Thai if I actually flew to Thailand.

Well there you have it folks: a simple review of a not-so-simple dish! I loved Noodles contemporary take on Pad Thai. If you’re ever in Vegas, I recommend dining at Noodles (I’ve heard that their Dim Sum is also very good! It’s only offered on certain days, though).

Three Cheers to good food, fabulous art and cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Noodles at the Bellagio’s website

Mario Batali’s Otto Las Vegas

Gelati
Chocolate, Vanilla Bean & Salted Caramel Gelati from Otto Las Vegas

*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from neither Mario Batali nor Otto. I am just a foodie, who enjoys sharing my foodie adventures. Pictures were captured with my iPhone 5s and edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop Extended CS4.

*Social Media and website links below this post!*

The second night in Vegas, my Mom and I dined at Mario Batali’s Otto, located inside The Venetian Resort & Casino. Before I left for my Las Vegas trip, I viewed LOTS of famous chef’s website to see who’s restaurants fascinated me the most. I must say, Otto was one of them! Otto is an Italian food mecca: lots of pasta dishes, pizza, wine (all from Italy) and of course, gelati!

Pictured above was my dessert from my meal: dark chocolate, vanilla bean & salted caramel gelati! All of the flavors were tasty, but the dark chocolate was my favorite. 🙂

Both the restaurant’s design and the inside of the Venetian shopping promenade was so idyllic! Even though I’ve never been in Italy, just being at both Otto and the Venetian made me FEEL as if I was in Italy.

So far- good atmosphere & good gelati! 🙂 The maitre’d was INCREDIBLE (and so cute- I swear, he was a Prince Harry look-a-like!); he was very knowledgeable of all of the food and the wine. Very friendly and very attentive to our table (more so than our lackluster waiter).

Pancetta and Goat Cheese Pizza
Pancetta and Goat Cheese Pizza from Otto Las Vegas

Moving on to my dinner: pancetta and goat cheese pizza! This pizza was absolutely MIND-BLOWING! Almost as good as II Pizzaiolo in Pittsburgh (almost). You can’t go wrong with pancetta, goat cheese, good tomato sauce and a good crust! I was a very happy dinner! Also, I wish you all had “smell-o-vision” (as Emeril would say), cuz this dish smelled INCREDIBLE!

If you’re looking for a leisurely & special dinner in Vegas, I recommend Mario Batali’s Otto!

Three cheers to good food, fabulous art & cultural events,

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Otto’s Las Vegas website

Otto Las Vegas’ Facebook page

Mario Batali’s Twitter page