Brunch at The Vandal

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Mom and I enjoyed this GLORIOUS brunch spread on one fateful Sunday in August (after I experienced some #MysoreMagic at The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga Yoga)! The dish in the middle was a special side dish that is normally only on the breakfast menu: Frangipane with griddled sourdough bread and fruit preserves!

*NOTE*: Neither Joey Hilty, Csilla Thackray, nor The Vandal 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 and Instagram!

One fateful Sunday in August, I actually had “a Sunday off” (meaning I didn’t have to teach yoga). Thus, I decided to treat myself to my first EVER Beginner’s Mysore class at The Shala of Pittsburgh Ashtanga (in Lawrenceville), and brunch at The Vandal (which is conveniently right across the street from The Shala)!

Thanks to articles in Zagat, the New York Times, and even local publications such as NextPittsburgh and the City Paper, The Vandal has certainly become a “foodie” destination in Pittsburgh! Thus, the first time we stopped by for brunch this day, there was a 30-45 minute wait. Not a problem! I had been wanting to visit the Butterwood Bake Consortium for months! Thus, my Mom and I drove down and treated ourselves to dessert first!

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I enjoyed the Vegan Chocolate Pudding with almonds! So good that if I didn’t already know this was Vegan, I wouldn’t have know the difference! I love the vibe at Butterwood- I felt like I was attending a fancy Victorian Tea (which harkens back to the days of when I loved the American Girl dolls! Samantha was my favorite)!

Once Mom and I had finished dessert, 30 minutes had passed and the co-owner Joey (Hilty) had acquired seats for us! While we waited I enjoyed DELICIOUS coffee (The Vandal gets it coffee from Parlor Coffee, based in Brooklyn) out of a quirky coffee mug! Soon afterwards, it was time for BRUNCH!

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Course #1: Csilla’s Granola! Naturi Yogurt, nuts (almonds, pecans and cashews) in honey, and rhubarb (the summer flavor). INCREDIBLE! Just like last time, the Yogurt and Granola dish at The Vandal is my FAVORITE brunch dish! Every bite was enjoyable- from the savoriness of the nuts an rhubarb, to the sweetness of the honey and yogurt. Nice job, Csilla and kitchen crew!

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Mom’s brunch course: Beignets with Blueberry Compote (the summer compote)! These were VERY good! Even though I haven’t been to Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans yet, this is what I would image the Beignets would taste like there!

There you have it, folks!

If you’re looking for locally-sourced, highly quality ingredients, good food, coffee, and conversation (I must admit, Joey does a good job being the host of The Vandal), The Vandal is your weekend brunch spot!

 

Next on the blog: Mom’s first dinner at Bar Marco!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

The Butterwood Bake Consortium’s website

The Vandal’s website

The Vandal’s Facebook page

The Vandal’s Twitter page

The Vandal’s Instagram page

Dinner at The Vandal in Lawrenceville

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The Vandal‘s FABULOUS Summer dinner menu (which was carefully crafted by Executive Chef Csilla Thackray and her team of chefs)!

*DISCLAIMER*: Neither Joey Hilty, Csilla Thackray, nor The Vandal asked me to write this blog post. I am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie (and yogini), who enjoys sharing her foodie adventures with others. Photos captured on an iPhone 5s, and edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and Instagram.

The first Saturday of August, I took one of my best friends from high school to dinner at The Vandal. When I walked in, the Co-Owner and  Proprietor Joey Hilty asked me: “what brings you to The Vandal”? I told him: “my best friend (*insert her first name here*) from high school just got a new job and is moving. I wanted to celebrate by taking her to one of my favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh”! Celebrate we did!

Although I had been to brunch at The Vandal twice (and now three times), this would mark my first dinner experience at the restaurant.

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Another look at The Vandal’s Summer menu!

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The first course was this off-menu treat from Joey, Csilla and the kitchen staff that my friend and I shared (and both enjoyed): Lamb Grape Leaves! Sooooo good!

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Course #2: Summer Salad (confit carrot, pickled green beans, old goat cheese, vin). This was REALLY good!  I love that The Vandal sources most of its ingredients locally (and they are high QUALITY ingredients)!

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Close up of this BEAUTY!

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My friend’s main course: Friend Green Tomatoes! Carmen sweet pepper gele, goat’s milk custard, and lemon shishito-oil. I tried a bite- FABULOUS!

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My main course: Vandal Cheeseburger! Cheddar, pickles, marrow, tomato mayo and fries. PERFECTION! Thrillist.com recently named The Vandal’s Cheeseburger as one of THE best burgers in Pittsburgh. Now, I can understand why. ❤ The Vandal gets their buns from Mediterra Bakehouse (my second favorite Pittsburgh bread making bakery. First one is La Gourmandine), and the meat comes from Butcher on Butler (also in Lawrenceville, whom sources its meat from Elysian Farm and Hop Brew Farm). Plus, those heavenly fries paired with the Tomato Mayo? Oh yeah, baby! You are talking my language! 😉

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A sight of beauty!

Well there you have it, folks! Whether you’re visiting Lawrenceville either for brunch, lunch or dinner, PLEASE go to The Vandal (and say hi to the owner Joey for me)!

 

Next post- Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Summer 2016 Dinner #1: Revel and Roost!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

The Vandal’s website

The Vandal’s Facebook page

The Vandal’s Twitter page

The Vandal’s Instagram page

Brunch with Foodie Friends at Station

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The GORGEOUS Bloody Mary I enjoyed during brunch with foodie friends at Station!

*NOTE*: Neither Curtis Gamble nor Station 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 captures with an iPhone 5s, and edited with Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended and Instagram.

The first Sunday of July (3rd), I gathered with a few foodie friends to celebrate a blogger’s birthday, brunch and life. My fearless brunch companions were Tasha of The Food Tasters, YaJagoff! Podcast, the Allegheny Inn and Eat Local Shop Small; Robert of Downtown Pittsburgh Concierge and the Allegheny Inn, and Amanda of Bold Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Podcamp. This particular Sunday, we were celebrating Amanda’s birthday! 😀

If you didn’t get a chance to read my review of Station’s Cocktail and Construction event, please do so by clicking here.

What better way to do so than with brunch at Station (Curtis Gamble‘s Modern American restaurant that opened last August in Bloomfield). I had been to Station once for its Cocktails and Construction Preview party last year, and have been DYING to return for brunch (especially after the eatPGH ladies and Heidi of The Steel Trap wrote raving review of Station’s brunch)!

So here we are during the 4th of July holiday weekend! I received a warm welcome from Justin (General Manager at Station)! Such a nice guy; he did a great job with helping to coordinate this blogger meet-up!

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Since I knew I would be having savory food at brunch, I ordered a Bloody Mary! During the month of July, all Bloody Marys and Mimosas were only $5 during Sunday brunch! Don’t mind if I do! 😉

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Hello lover!

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I had to take a picture of the $5 Bloody Marys and Mimosas deal in July! 😉

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The main courses offered during the month of July at Station’s Sunday brunch!

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An extended look at the menu for Sunday Brunch at Station!

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This was one of the dishes that Tasha order that everyone shared: Fried Brioche Pudding! This came with Creme Fraiche, Powdered Sugar, Pomegranate Curd and Honey. INCREDIBLE! One of the best dishes at brunch!

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Truly a sight of beauty!

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Another dish that we all shared: Olive Oil Poached Cobia (which is a type of fish)! Creme Fraiche, Country Seed Bread, Coriander Mustard and Pickles! I love this fresh take on toast at either brunch or breakfast!

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The Birthday Lady’s brunch: Farmer’s Breakfast! BBQ Lentils, Egg, Chicken Sausage, and Canadian Bacon. This looked FABULOUS (and Amanda said it was REALLY good)!

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Tasha’s main course: Crispy Fried Chicken Thigh! Grits, Chicken Jus, and an One hour Egg! Tasha said it was one of THE best chicken dishes she’s EVER had! I tried some of the chicken, and I must say that I agree!

I didn’t get a good picture of Robert‘s main course, but he ordered the Shaved Pork Shoulder on Brioche (fashioned like a burger)! This arrived with an Egg Patty, American Cheese Wiz, and Potato Chips! I tried some of the Potato Chips- best I’ve ever had!  I could tell they were made in-house! Robert said the Shaved Pork should was very tasty (especially on the Brioche bun)!

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My first course at brunch: Housemade Yogurt! This was paired with Sunflower seed granola, and dried plum. This dish is tied with The Vandal for the best yogurt and granola dish I’ve had at ANY restaurant!

I forgot to take a picture of my main course (which is sad because it was beautifully plated): Crispy Tofu! This dish came with Green Curry Coconut, Vegan Scramble, and Petite Greens! I love Vegan dishes that are so good that if you didn’t already know it was Vegan, you would think it’s just a “regular” dish. This was definitely the case, but nothing about this dish was ordinary! Elegantly plated- I loved dipping the perfectly cooked Crispy Tofu in the Green Coconut Curry, and also adding some of the Vegan Scramble to my fork for THE perfect bite! Great job, Curtis and crew!

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One of the dessert dishes all of us shared: Popcorn Panna Cotta! This was plated with Caramel Corn and Salted Caramel! Tasha and I had this dish at Station’s Cocktail and Construction party and absolutely LOVED it (so much so that we had a second one at the party)! Everyone at brunch loved it as well! This is tied with Meat & Potatoes’ Panna Cotta for THE best Panna Cotta in the city!

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Another dessert dish that we all shared: Lavender Pound Cake! This was paired with Coconut Pudding and Pineapple! This dish was truly exceptional! The Pound Cake was nice and moist, and the Lavender was not overpowering (which is great! It should be subtle). Dipping some of the pound cake in the coconut pudding made you feel like you were floating on a marshmallow cloud! So tasty! The pineapple was the perfect fruity punch to this dish!

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I love Station’s logo! Simple yet so effective! Right away, you know by looking at it that this is Contemporary American Restaurant!

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Thanks again to Curtis, Justin, Jesse (our waiter extraordinaire) and staff for a truly WONDERFUL brunch! Top-knotch hospitality, good vibes and incredible food! Plus, I was surrounded by lovely company! How could I ask for more?

Whether you either live in or near Pittsburgh or will be visiting soon, PLEASE make sure you get to Station for either dinner or brunch! Trust me when I say it’s one of THE best restaurants in Pittsburgh!

 

Next post: dinner at The Vandal!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Station’s website

Station’s Facebook page

Station’s Twitter page

Station’s Instagram page

Brunch and Lunch at Smallman Galley

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies from Josephine’s Toast (one of the four restaurant incubators inside the Smallman Galley)!

*Note*: Neither Smallman Galley, Provision PGH, Aubergine Bistro, Carota Cafe nor Josephine’s Toast asked me to write this blog post. I am just a Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie (and Yogini), who enjoys sharing her Foodie adventures with others! Photos captures with an iPhone 5s, and edited with Instagram!

First: if you didn’t read my first article on Smallman Galley, please make sure you do: Dinner at Smallman Galley. This previous blog post goes in more depth about how the Smallman Galley came into being, and also Carota Cafe!

Either towards the end of May or early June, my Mom and I visited Smallman Galley in the Strip District for lunch. Since my Mom had not been to Smallman Galley yet, I had to make sure that she experienced this lovely establishment. The two of us mainly dined from Provision PGH and Josephine’s Toast!

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My first lunch course from Provision PGH: Simple Greens! Seasonal Lettuces, Snap Peas, and Roast Shallot Dressing! This was sooooo good (and so healthy)!

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Mom’s lunch (also from Provision PGH): Burger! Beef Pattie, Simple Greens, Parmesan Frica, Umami Aioli, Smoked Mushrooms, Cheddar and Challah! I tried a bite of this burger (and it was FANTASTIC)! These fries were INCREDIBLE! They might just be as good as the fries I had at Les Halles Park Avenue in New York!

The owner of Provision PGH (Stephen Eldridge) was very nice to us! He’s very engaged in Social Media as well. I thought it was nice that he even took the time to speak to my Mom about how he makes his fries (which we both loved- I probably consumed half of them lol) and his Umami Aioli sauce!

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My “in between” course: Cookie du Jour (Seeded Dark Chocolate Chip) from Carota Cafe! The owner of Carota Cafe (Jessica Lewis) is also very nice, and engaged in Social Media!

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While I enjoyed my Seeded Dark Chocolate Cookie from Carota Cafe, I also delighted in a lovely cup of coffee (with Almond Milk) provided by Commonplace Coffee! I’m so glad that the Smallman Galley sells and serves this coffee. It’s very close to being the best coffee I’ve EVER had in Pittsburgh!

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My Second Lunch Course: Smashed Avocado Toast! Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Toasted Flax Seed, and Fresh Cilantro! Ever since Jacqueline Wardle opened up Josephine’s Toast, I’ve been wanted to try this toast (and this lunch was my chance). I must say I liked this toast a LOT better than the Avocado Toast I had at B52! Nice work, Jacqueline!

The very last Sunday of July, I met Robert of Pittsburgh Concierge and the Allegheny Inn, and Tasha of The Food Tasters, Eat Local Shop Small, The Allegheny Inn and Ya Jagoff! Podcast for brunch at Smallman Galley! Both Tasha and Robert were dining at Smallman Galley for the first time! Thus,  I was excited to hear about their opinions!

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Robert’s Brunch dish: Two Eggs in a Whole with Cheddar and a Side of Bacon! This looked and smelled sooooo good! Robert really enjoyed it! Jacqueline (of Josephine’s Toast) was nice enough to bring this dish over to Robert and chatted with us for a while. She is so nice! Jacqueline also does a great with keeping in touch with restaurant patrons through Social Media!

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Tasha’s First Brunch Course (also from Josephine’s Toast): Cottage Cheese Toast with Peaches, Seeds and Honey! Tasha was really raving about how much she loved this dish! It looks so pretty!

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Tasha’s Second Brunch Course: Burger from Provision PGH! Robert and I DEVOURED the fries (too good to resist), and Tasha took the Burger home for dinner! 😉

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My brunch dish of choice: Shrimp & Grits from Aubergine Bistro! I made it my personal mission to have a brunch dish from Aubergine Bistro, since that was the only restaurant from Smallman Galley that I still had to try. The owner (Rafael Vencio) is originally from the Philippines and moved here to the United States at age 19. He has worked as a chef all over the United States (in Pittsburgh, most prominently The Hyeholde and Legume). I must say his take on Shrimp & Grits was pretty wonderful! Good job, chef!

 

Well there you have it, folks! If you choose a restaurant (or restaurants) that uses good qualify (and local) ingredients and cooks from the heart, you can’t go wrong! Also make sure to bring a dining companion (or companions) along with you!

 

Next blog post: brunch with Foodie friends at Station!

 

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

 

Smallman Galley’s website

Smallman Galley’s Facebook page

Smallman Galley’s Twitter page

Smallman Galley’s Instagram page

 

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

Good Company, Good Food & Good Drinks at Bar Marco

Menu Bar Marco
Friday, June 19th’s Bar Dinner Menu at Bar Marco

*DISCLAIMER*: I do not seek monetary benefits from neither Bar Marco, nor any of these Pittsburgh Bloggers. I’m just a Pittsburgh Foodie, who enjoys sharing her Foodie adventures! Pictures were taken with an iPhone 5s, and were edited with Instagram and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.

Last Friday, I had the WONDERFUL honor of dining with Tasha (of The Food Tasters), Terri (Parmesan Princess), Alberto (PR/Events Manager of Gaucho), Robert (Downtown Pittsburgh Concierge), Nadine (Pittsburgh Mommy Blog) and Michael Pellas and Jessica Fink (husband/wife team behind the Why We Live in Downtown Pittsburgh blog)!

We decided to meet for dinner and drinks at Bar Marco, located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District neighborhood. I had been there one time for brunch, but never for dinner. I was looking forward to spending a fabulous evening with good friends and good food!

*TIP*: every evening from 5-6pm, Bar Marco does a “Happy Hour”, where you can order all Bar Menu food and drinks at half price! The Pittsburgh Bloggers and I DEFINITELY utilized this strategy for our meet-up!

Menu Bar Marco
Close up of the Bar Menu at Bar Marco!
Bar Marco's Dessert Menu
Bar Marco’s Dessert Menu

The dessert menu looked REALLY good! Next time, I will have to get the chocolate and coffee flourless cake!

Drink Bar Marco
My first drink of the night at Bar Marco! This drink contained: sparkling wine, lemon and lavender!

This was DELICIOUS! The waitress brought an extra one of Terri’s drinks, and was kind enough to give it to me. 😛

The Food Tasters' Signature Cocktail
The Food Tasters’ signature drink of the night, which contained: orange liquer, lemons. ginger, and other ingredients that I do not remember lol. X)

The Food Tasters’ donated generously to Bar Marco’s Food Revolution Club in 2014. Thus, for the night, Bar Marco crafted a drink in her honor! This was INCREDIBLE! 😀

Shrimp Empanada from Bar Marco
Shrimp Empanada = HEAVEN

Alberto and I both shared shrimp empanadas, sitting on a bed of cilantro cream. Soooooooooo scrumptious! Loved this dish; heaven on a plate!

Confit Chicken Bar Marco
My main course: Confit Chicken, with rice grits, black beans and corn, and plantain. Best dish of the night!

Here’s my main dish: confit chicken! Let met tell you: one of the best chicken dishes I’ve EVER had in my entire LIFE! Also, one of the best dinners of my life! I also enjoyed the rice grits, black beans and corn, and plantain (my first time trying plantain)!

The main aspects of these dishes that I really appreciated: I experience a glimpse into the Executive Chef’s (Jamilka Borges) upbringing and cuisine! She’s originally from Puerto Rico; thus, I really felt that I was tasting the dishes that her grandparents and parents made for her, the recipes conducted from Jamilka’s childhood memories. What a delight!

Whether you visit Bar Marco for brunch, dinner, the wine room experience, or just a few drinks, you will NOT be disappointed! There’s a reason why big foodie sites (such as Eater.com) have featured this revolutionary restaurant!

Speaking of revolution: Bar Marco no longer accepts gratuity, since all of its staff is now full time & salaried, with health care and paid vacations. In my opinion, every restaurant around the world should follow in Bar Marco’s footsteps; happy employees equals a happy restaurant!

Also: if you do leave any extra money on the table, all of the proceeds go towards Bar Marco’s Pittsburgh Food Revolution Club, which teaches children in East Liberty about farming, growing and cooking food. Make sure to leave some money behind for this AMAZING food club!

In short: Bar Marco, I love you!

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

-Friendly Pittsburgh Foodie

Bar Marco’s website

Bar Marco’s Facebook page

Bar Marco’s Twitter page

Bar Marco’s Instagram page

The Food Tasters’s Twitter page

Parmesan Princess’ Twitter page

Downtown Pittsburgh Concierge’s Twitter page

Alberto from Gaucho’s Twitter page

Michael Pellas’s Twitter page

Jessica Fink’s Twitter page

Nadine’s Twitter page