Kicking off Pittsburgh Restaurant Week at Habitat

Habitat on UrbanspoonFor any Pittsburghers looking for Habitat Restaurant, it is located on the second floor of the new building known as PNC 3.  Also known as the Reed Smith building (due to their naming rights) and on the second floor of the Fairmont Hotel.  Depending on who you talk to, they may tell you any of those three.  But, just because it’s location is somewhat mysteriously vague, the food at lunchtime is anything but.

To kickoff Pittsburgh Restaurant Week (Winter 2012) on January 16, 2012, I corralled several coworkers, made reservations and went to Habitat to try their “Executive Express” lunch, which is four courses on one plate – usually $16, but offered for only $10 during Pittsburgh Restaurant Week.  The restaurants has many 2- and 4-seat tables, but not many for more than that, so I highly recommend lunchtime reservations for any more than 4 people.

The heart of the dining room is also the heart of the kitchen.  The open kitchen allows diners to see their food being prepared and provides a nice clean atmosphere to dine.  The kitchen counter is also plentiful with pots of fresh herbs which I loved to see.  Five at our table ordered the Express lunch and the chefs created an assembly line for preparation of our meals.  Each day the Express Lunch has half a sandwich, a side salad and a cup of soup, plus dessert – served all together, creating a four-course one-plate meal.

The items on the Express vary daily, and no, there aren’t options to choose from.  They are a set lunch combination.  Not knowing the proper ettiquette for this sort of meal, I decided to start to the left of my dessert and work my way around.  First, I enjoyed a very filling turkey club wrap which was hearty and full of fresh veggies.  Secondly, I spooned a creamy potato, corn and crab soup.  The soup was creamy but not heavy, with only light hints of crab so as not to be fishy.  The salad was a frisee salad with cubed cheese and a vinaigrette dressing.  The dessert was a chocolate mousse cake with a rich fudgy top, garnished with gold foil.  I eagerly enjoyed each course though some of my co-workers took the dessert with them to-go as an afternoon snack.

Lunchtime at Habitat is a very pleasant experience.  I urge you to give the restaurant a try for lunch, despite the low approval rating on Urbanspoon.  I plan on visiting again for lunch, maybe even during Restaurant Week before the $10 special ends.

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