Birthday Dinner #1 at Morcilla

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A beautiful shot of the Morcilla sign that I captured around 7:30am on a Wednesday morning (after yoga practice in Lawrenceville)!

*DISCLAIMER*: Neither Justin Severino nor the management and staff of Morcilla asked me to write this post. i am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie and Yogini, whom enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others! Photos captured on an iPhone 5s, and were edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and Instagram.

Towards the beginning of November of last year, I celebrated my “30 & fabulous” birthday! Even though I have been DYING to dine at Morcilla (located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of the city of Pittsburgh), I knew I wanted to “save” dinner at Morcilla for my 30th & fabulous bday dinner #1!

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While my Mom and I waited for the food, I enjoyed this Tonic, with: chinchilla, lavender and cardamom. Sooooo good!

Since Morcilla is a Tapas bar, my Mom and I ordered a few “small plates” and shared them throughout the night:

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Picked Cauliflower Catalan– golden raisins, capers, garlic and sherry vinegar. I am a sucker for a good cauliflower dish, and I must say this was one of THE best ones I’ve EVER had!

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Jamon Iberico De Bellota– marcona almonds, four year aged Pata Negra, Castilla Leon, Spain. PEOPLE! I had Jamon (which my hero Anthony Bourdain says is THE best ham in the WORLD). Even though I prefer the taste of Prosciutto, I must say this ham was DAMN good! I really enjoyed wrapping up each slice around one of the Marcona Almonds. Take my word for it, splurge on the $25 appetizer and share it amongst your group!

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Morcilla (blood sausage)- although it’s currently not on the menu (hopefully, Morcilla will bring back its namesake dish), I just HAD to order some Morcilla! I’ve only had blood sausage once before at an Argentinian restaurant in Pittsburgh, and I must say this Morcilla (imported from Spain) was WAY better! I’m very glad that I ordered this dish!

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Who Cooks For You Farm “Rocky Balboa” Salad– also not currently on the menu. Even so, this was my FAVORITE dish of the night! Literally THE best salad I’ve had in my enter LIFE!

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Spring Creek Oysters (Barnstable, MA) half dozen– oh. My. GOSH! Theses were so good! I’ve never tried oysters before, and since Bourdain loves them, I decided to be bold and try them! They were so fresh, I swear you could taste the ocean water!

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As Rebel Wilson would say: “crushed it”! 

Since the staff learned it was my birthday, they brought out a complimentary Crema Catalana (the Catalan version of Creme Brûlée)! I also ordered a Cafe Americano from Commonplace Coffee (love them)!

Thank you to Justin Severino, Hilary Prescott Severino, Nate Hobart and staff for a WONDERFUL first dinner (and birthday) experience at Morcilla! I shall return!

Next up: birthday dinner #3 at Spoon!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Morcilla’s website

Morcilla’s Facebook page

Morcilla’s Twitter page

Morcilla’s Instagram page

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Dinner at Wild Rosemary

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The first appetizer of the evening at Wild Rosemary: beets with feta cheese!

*NOTE*: Neither Wild Rosemary nor its owners asked me to write this post. I am just a friendly Pittsburgh foodie and yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others. Photos were captured on an iPhone 5s;  they were edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended, and Instagram.

Last month, my Mom and I celebrated her birthday at Wild Rosemary (located in my neck of the woods, Upper St. Clair). I made the reservation WAY in advance (back in February), since I heard that Wild Rosemary books FAST, and has a loyal following.

Several people (from my hair dresser to the eatPGH ladies themselves) have RAVED about this place. Thus, it was time to give Wild Rosemary a try (and fulfill my Mom’s birthday request)! I made the reservation for 5:30pm on a Thursday night (Thursday being one of my two days off from work. Wild Rosemary usually does two seats: one at 5:30pm and the other at 8:30pm); l am so glad that I chose the earlier seating. When 6:00pm rolled around, the parking lot was PACKED- seriously not another spot left.

When you walk into Wild Rosemary, it has this lovely comfortable and homey (yet sophisticated- think Nancy Meyer’s movie set with an Italian influence)- I loved that. Shortly after we sat down, we were presented with a homemade flatbread and hummus (which were both fabulous, by the way) to nosh on, while we reviewed the dinner menu.

Although you may look at the dinner menu ahead of time (which changes one to two times a month. Although, the Scallop dish is a permanent fixture on the menu; the Branzino dish has been on the menu since at least April.), the appetizers (which I’m sure are ever-changing as well) options are presented to you at the table.

As you can tell, I chose to go with the beets and feta cheese dish:

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I loved the simplicity of this dish! I’m not sure if the beets were either raw or lightly-cooked,  but they were some of THE best beets I’ve ever had! The feta cheese paired with the beets transported me to a quaint cafe in the Mediterranean (in my mind, of course). Perfect!

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One last money shot of the beets and feta cheese! 😉

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My main course: Greek Isle Branzino with oven-roasted blistered asparagus, and Sundried Tomato Oil.

This was THE best fish dish I’ve EVER had! I really enjoyed a nice bite of the fish, asparagus and sun-dried tomato all together on my fork.

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Look at those beautiful vegetables!

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Hello my friend- you were my delicious dinner! As Bourdain would say: “your sacrifice was not made in vain” (especially since I ate almost all of you, not including the head, tail and bones).

I also had a “rocket salad”- which was an arugula salad a few vegetables and light dressing. Also very good! Since I ate this in between the beets and the fish, I scarfed it down so fast that I forgot to take a picture. X)

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Mom’s birthday dinner- lamp chops with onion, rosemary, lemon and pita bread. I tried a bite of the lamp- HEAVENLY !

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My dessert! This reminded me of a “Millionaire’s Shortbread”- shortbread on the bottom, next chocolate (I could tell that Wild Rosemary used REALLY good quality chocolate), then caramel and nuts. As you can probably tell, I had the option to dip my luscious dessert into mascarpone whipped cream (which I happily accepted). 😉

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Never mind me- I’ll just be here enjoying chocolate, caramel and mascarpone whipped cream!

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Mom’s dessert (and birthday cake): coconut cake! This reminded me of a coconut Angel Food Cake- very light, after Mom’s heavier dinner entree. Good choice, Mom!

Well there you have it, folks! Pittsburgh: if you are looking for a dinner with high-quality ingredients, friendly staff and a cozy atmosphere, look no further than Wild Rosemary!

 

Next Post- *Special Review*: The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park, Florida

 

Cheers to food & yoga,

 

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Wild Rosemary’s website

Wild Rosemary’s Facebook page

Dinner at Smallman Galley

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Ginger Peach Toast Pie from Jacqueline Wardle’s Josephine’s Toast (one of the four restaurants of the Smallman Galley)! 😀

*NOTE*: Neither the Smallman Galley nor its chefs asked me to write this blog post. I am a friendly Pittsburgh foodie & yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others. Photos captured with an iPhone 5s, and edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and Instagram.

The Smallman Galley opened in November 2015, and has already received praise from Zagat and The New York Times. This restaurant incubator (located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, what I call the ‘burgh’s international food hub) was founded by two U.S. Navy Lieutenants. The name Smallman Galley references both the street where the restaurant sits, and also the kitchen on a ship (a nod to the two owners’ days at sea). Having dined at food halls all over the world, these two gentlemen aimed to bring the food hall experience to Pittsburgh.

These two Navy Lieutenants also wanted to provide chefs with the opportunity to start up their own restaurants over the course of 18 months. After those 18 months are over, the goal is for each chef to have acquired investors for either his or her restaurant concept, and to open a brick-and-mortar space in Pittsburgh. Then, a new crop of chefs with be introduced to the Smallman Galley.

I visited the Smallman Galley for the first time on the last Wednesday in March, after an event at Wigle Whiskey. I wanted to try the food at the Smallman Galley for MONTHS; thus, my golden opportunity had FINALLY arrived!

How do you order food at the Smallman Galley? Walk up to the restaurant of your choice, place you order at the cash register, pay (and don’t forget to place a tip in the tip jar), and return to your seat. You will receive a text from the restaurant, informing you of when your food will be ready. The restaurant will call you, instructing you to pick up your food at the designated restaurant counter when it’s ready.

Since I aspired to dine from more than one restaurant in one night, I started the night with dessert. 😉 My dessert (pictured above) was a Ginger Peach Toast Pie with mascarpone whipped cream from Josephine’s Toast. WOW; this was INCREDIBLE! I really liked that I mainly tasted the peach and ginger within the pie; I didn’t feel like I was eating layers and layers of bread. The flaky layers of toast emulated layers of crust in a pie- PERFECTION! Of course, mascarpone is always a wonderful taste. ❤

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I had to get a better shot of those BEAUTIFUL layers of peach and toast crust!

I’m excited to return to Jacqueline’s restaurant endeavor sometime soon (ESPECIALLY  for brunch)! I’m already debating whether I would order either the Brioche French Toast, Smashed Avocado Toast with Flax Seed, or the Almond Butter Toast with preserves. ❤

Of course, I also had to order dinner food for dinner! I was torn over so many delectable dishes, but I finally decided on the Squash Grilled Cheese from Jessica Lewis Carota Cafe.

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My HANDSOME dinner for the evening- Squash Grilled Cheese, which contained: roasted squash, manchego cheese, oregano pesto, seedy bread with carrot “ketchup” and pickles. There’s also a small root salad on the side.

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Closeup of the Squash Grilled Cheese sandwich! As Bourdain would say: “you know you want it”! 😉

I thought my Mom made the best grilled cheese in the world. Well, she has be demoted to second-best grilled cheese (love you, Mom), and Jessica’s Squash Grilled Cheese has earned the coveted #1 spot! The squash tasted a lot like butternut squash (I LOVE butternut squash soup); also, I love cheese (this was my first time trying manchego cheese. It was very good!). Even since I tried the Hyeholde’s pesto during childhood, I have been a pesto fan. Pair that with an artisanal bread and root vegetables, and I’m in heaven HONEY! This was one hell-of-a-good sandwich, and I REALLY liked the carrot ketchup!

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One more money shot of the Squash Grilled Cheese (with the carrot ketchup and root salad)!

I also want to return to Chef Lewis’ restaurant! I really like her theme of the vegetables being the start, and meat (if used in the dishes) is presented more like a side dish. I can tell that Jessica is continuing what she learned at The Commoner, by sourcing as many local ingredients and proteins as possible. Carota Cafe works with several local farms, including Clarion River Organics and Churchview Farm (to name a few).

My biggest goal (regarding the Smallman Galley) is to also dine from Rafael Vencio‘s Aubergine Bistro and Stephen Eldridge‘s Provision PGH! Watch out, gentlemen; I’ll be dining at your restaurants soon (probably for brunch)!

Well there you have it, folks! Whether you’re either a yinzer or a tourist, I HIGHLY suggest dining at the Smallman Galley for either breakfast, lunch or dinner!

 

Next up on the blog: Mom’s birthday dinner at Wild Rosemary!

 

Cheers to good food and mindful eating in the ‘burgh,

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Smallman Galley’s website

Smallman Galley’s Facebook page

Smallman Galley’s Twitter page

Smallman Galley’s Instagram page

Josephine’s Toast Facebook page

Josephine’s Toast Twitter page

Jacqueline Wardle’s Twitter page

Josephine’s Toast Instagram page

Jacqueline Wardle’s Instagram page

Carota Cafe’s Facebook page

Carota Cafe’s Twitter page

Carota Cafe’s Instagram page

 

 

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Winter 2016: Dinner at Osteria 2350

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My lovely “Winter Sparkler” from Osteria 2350, made with: Absolut Citron, cranberry and Prosecco!

*NOTE*: Osteria 2350 did not ask me to review their restaurant. I am just a Friendly Fitness Foodie and Yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others. Photos captured on an iPhone 4s, and edited with Instagram an Adobe Photoshop Cs4 Extended.

The Winter 2016 Pittsburgh Restaurant Week started on Monday, January 11th and ended on Sunday, January 17th. I was lucky enough to dine at Osteria 2350 (located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District neighborhood) on Thursday, January 14th. I had wanted to dine her for many years; I knew that the eatPGH ladies had already given their prestigious endorsement of this lovely restaurant. Thus, it was time for me to make a reservation, and formulate my own opinion.

Even though my Mom and I arrived thirty minutes before our reservation, the restaurant was still able to graciously accommodate us. I loved the atmosphere and the design of the restaurant immediately, and it didn’t hurt that the gentlemen assisting us throughout the night was a cutie. 😉

I started off with the Winter Sparkler cocktail (pictured above). This was the perfect way to enjoy the night, but not fall flat on my butt when the night ended. X) Here is another photo of my gorgeous cocktail:

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Onwards to the food!

FYI: almost everything I ordered was from the special Pittsburgh Restaurant Week menu. Although, you’ll be able to find the last dish that I will mention on the restaurant’s regular dinner menu.

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Dish #1- Wild Mushroom Tart: Wild Mushroom Duxelle, Puff Pastry, and a Calabrian Chilli Aioli.

Everything about this dish was INCREDIBLE! The Puff pastry added another dimension to the wild mushrooms, while the chill aioli REALLY “kicked it up another notch”, as Emeril would say. 😀

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Another shot of the handsome Wild Mushroom Tart!

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Dish #2- Mediterranean Chicken Primavera: Grilled Chicken, Roasted Fennel, Sweet Onion, Spinach, Tomato, Kalamata Olives, Thyme & Garlic Sauce, and Trinette.

I absolutely LOVED this pasta dish! The pasta was so tasty and very unique; I’m wondering if it may’ve been homemade, since the website said that a majority of their pasta was homemade. I really appreciated all of the vegetables within this dish, as well as the grilled chicken. Such a healthy and light pasta dish!

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Dish #3- Warm Apply Phyllo: Rum Soaked Raisins, Almonds, Caramel Sauce, Spiced Rum house-made ice cream.

Somehow, Osteria 2350 made me forget about chocolate for dessert (lol). X) If you give me apples, caramel, and ice cream, I am a happy lady. Plus phyllo dough? As Bourdain would say “oh yeah, baby; the good stuff”.

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Another glamour shot of the Warm Apple Phyllo with the house-made ice cream!

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Bonus dish- Greens & Beans: Parmesan broth, escarole and white beans

This is the dish I mentioned earlier, that can be located under the regular dinner menu (under Antipasti & Ensalada). This was a bonus dish, kindly given to us by our server before the wild mushroom tart arrived. I must say: this was my FAVORITE dish of the night! 😀

This dish was healthy, light, TASTY and super Italian! Sometimes, simple is best.

 

Well there you have it, folks! I hope you enjoyed my Pittsburgh Restaurant Week review of Osteria 2350! Whether you either live in Pittsburgh or plan to visit soon, I highly recommend this restaurant!

 

Next Post: return to Amazing  Cafe!

 

Cheers to Food & Fitness,

 

-Friendly Fitness Foodie

 

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week’s website

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week’s Facebook page

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week’s Twitter page

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week’s Instagram page

Osteria 2350’s website

Osteria 2350’s Facebook page

Osteria 2350’s Twitter page

Osteria 2350’s Instagram page

Final #LauraLovesNYC Post: Dinner at Brasserie Les Halles Park Avenue

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Standing right in front of the ICONIC Brasserie Les Halles Park Avenue window, located on NYC’s Upper East Side

*NOTE*: Les Halles did not ask me to write this blog post. I am glad a Friendly Foodie & Yogini, who enjoys sharing her foodie and yoga adventures with others! Photos captured with an iPhone 5s, and were edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.

I saved the best post for last! The reason why I wanted to visit New York City in the first place: to dine at Brasserie Les Halles Park Avenue, where Anthony Bourdain used to be Executive Chef.

Eventually, he wrote an article in a newspaper, that earned him a book deal- the book was Kitchen Confidential. Next came a book tour, and then, his first T.V. show (A Cook’s Tour on Food Network. Yes, Bourdain was originally part of the network that he pokes fun of to this day). Then, it was Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and The Layover with Anthony Bourdain, both on Travel Channel. These two shows made him a bonafide Food and Travel Star.

Of course, Bourdain went on to star on The Taste on ABC and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN. Despite all his fame, he has never forgotten his job at Les Halles. The owner has been featured in both A Cook’s Tour and No Reservations. The dearly departed Carlos was featured several times, mainly on No Reservations, and once on The Layover.

Anywho- enough about Bourdain; time to talk food!

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The first two courses of my dinner at Les Halles! If you look in the upper right-hand corner, I shared a roasted brie crostini, with honey and black pepper. The main dish was duck, with fig, creme fruit and heirloom tomatoes (I think this might of been one of that night’s specials).

I must say, the crostini was amazing, and this duck dish was the best duck dish I’ve EVER had!

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Main course: P.E.I. Mussels with saffron!

Until this dinner, I had only had mussels at The Olive Garden; I am VERY happy to report that these mussels were MUCH better. As of matter of fact, they were THE best mussels I’ve EVER had!

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Close-up shot of the P.E.I. Mussels

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BEST French fries I’ve EVER had in my entire LIFE!

I know Bourdain thinks Bouchon makes better fries. Since I haven’t tried the French Fries at Bouchon, I can’t say if that’s true, but the French Fries at Les Halles were THE best French fries I’ve had at this point on my life. Also, they were perfectly paired with the mussel sauce!

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My dessert at Les Halles: frozen espresso mousse

Even though the presentation is impeccable, the taste was good, but not great.

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Close up of this beautiful dessert

 

Well there you go, folks! Thanks for reading my #LauraLovesNYC posts!

Next up on the blog: brunch at The Vandal, in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh!

 

-Friendly Fitness Foodie

 

Les Halles Park Avenue’s website

Les Halles Park Avenue’s Facebook page

Les Halles Park Avenues Twitter page

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Here’s my lovely plate of full from VegFeast (the first annual Vegan Thanksgiving dinner in Pittsburgh, that raised money for the PA Humane Society)!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I apologize for the big pause between #LauraLovesNYC post #3 and #4! I have been pretty busy with work, yoga teaching, being a yoga student, family, friends, and random appointments. Never fear, the next two posts are on their way!

Next two posts: Dinner at Les Halles, and Brunch at The Vandal.

Thanks everyone, for your continued patience and support!

 

 

-Friendly Fitness Foodie

 

Cocktails & Construction at Curtis Gamble’s Station

*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from neither Curtis Gamble, nor Station, nor any of my fellow Pittsburgh Blogger friends; I’m just a Pittsburgh Foodie & Fitness Fanatic, who enjoys sharing her adventures! Pictures captured with an iPhone 5s, and edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop Cs4 Extended.

The evening of Saturday, July 25th, Tasha of The Food Tasters, Amy of Running Om Green, John of YaJagoff, and Heidi of The Steel Trap and I, all attended the Cocktails & Construction, at Curtis Gamble‘s (formerly of The Frick Cafe and Grit & Grace) new restaurant, Station (located in Bloomfield).

Thanks to the eatPGH ladies advertising this event on their blog, my Foodie friends and I were able to attend!

This event was slated one week and one day, before the Grand opening of the restaurant! Just like the title suggests, all of us enjoyed a cocktail (or two, or three lol), while the tables and booths were still “under construction”. Also, there were six small course (including the cocktail) served throughout the evening.

I must warn you: before the event started, my phone battery died, and I missed the first two courses. For the sake of this blog, I brought my phone charger, commandeered one of the electrical sockets (lol), and charged my phone enough to take photos of the rest of the courses! Thanks Curtis; sorry that I had to do this, but it’s all for the sake of promoting your wonderful restaurant! 😉

Chicken Liver Mousse Bread Pudding
           Chicken Liver Mousse Bread Pudding. Sooooooooooo good!
The Vandal Restaurant in Lawrenceville
Special dish, from The Vandal in Lawrenceville (now, I want to visit this restaurant, and dine there): heirloom tomatoes, on top of creme fraiche, and toasted bread. PERFECTION!
Beef Tongue
Beef tongue, on top of an avocado spread, with broccoli, red peppers, and parmesan crisps, all sitting on grilled bread. My 2nd favorite dish of the night!

One of my favorite dishes of the night! I know why Bourdain likes beef tongue; good stuff! 😉

Fried Chicken Confit
My #1 favorite dinner of the night: Fried Chicken Confit, with wet napkins (I guess Curtis knew our hands would be sticky)!

Hands down, the best dish of the night! Incredibly tasty; I couldn’t stop raving about how much I loved this dish! I think I actually jumped up and down a few times in excitement (lol).

Crispy Chicken Confit has been one of my favorite dishes of the year, at any restaurant! 😀

Panacotta
Salted Caramel Panacotta, with Caramel Popcorn sprinkled on top! Heavenly dessert choice!

All of us LOVED this dish! Tasha, Amy & I loved it so much, we went back for seconds (lol). X)

What really impressed me most, was when Owner & Executive Chef Curtis Gamble introduced himself, and said: “thank you for coming to my restaurant; I truly appreciate it”! It might not sound like much, not not every chef thanks his patrons for dining at his restaurant. I really appreciated this special moment, between the Chef, and his dinner guests.

Whether you either live on the East End, or the South Hills (like I do), Station is worth the trek! The food is SPECTACULAR; the bar is REALLY impressive, and cocktails are sophisticated, and strong!

Namaste, yinz yogis & foodies,

-Friendly Fitness Foodie

Station’s website

Station’s Facebook page

Station’s Twitter page

Station’s Instagram page