Bistro 19 was packed on a Wednesday night. Is it because of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week?
Sure, we may be a couple a boys living on the northside, but we have no qualms about traversing bridges or tunnels, especially for a great meal during Pittsburgh Restaurant Week. For my fifth meal of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Winter 2013 we went to Bistro 19 in Mt. Lebanon. The restaurant is located nicely across from a public parking garage, and there is surrounding street parking. Upon walking in, we noticed why street parking wasn’t an option on this Wednesday night – we arrived to a packed house!
After enjoying a glass of Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc (California) wine at the bar, we were seated at a table for two and greeted by a wonderful waitress. She promoted the restaurant week special menu well and talked me into getting the wine pairing – okay, let’s face it, I had been eyeing it up since they said they would be offering it. While my before dinner wine was white, all of the wine through the courses were red. I wish I would have taken closer notes on what they were by name. I thought it was slightly odd that the wine selection was not dependent on your menu item selection, but rather presented as a pre-set discounted wine flight through the meal.
PghTasteBudB Appetizer: Braised Pork Mac and Cheese
Despite having tweeted leading up to restaurant week that I was going to have the three coffee courses of (1) Pumpkin cappuccino bisque, (2) Coffee rubbed mahi mahi w yucca purée, coconut rice and candied kumquats and (3) Coffee panna cotta, I made the split second change after I was seated. Suddenly, I wanted to try the Braised Pork Mac and Cheese for my first course. The course was extremely savory and paired with a very strong, full-bodied red.
PghTasteBudA Appetizer: Pan seared scallop with local golden beets, leek fondue and toasted hazelnuts
TasteBudA opted for the pan seared scallop and was immediately jealous of my appetizer. Though his was cooked well, he didn’t feel the delicate scallop paired well with his bold wine.
The ambiance was wonderful, despite being so crowded. PghTasteBudA was very happy with our table location because it put him in perfect view of the Pittsburgh Penguins Black and Gold scrimmage.
PghTasteBuB Entree: White balsamic marinated chicken breasts w red wine rosemary risotto and truffle butter
My entree was a white balsamic marinated chicken breast with red wine rosemary risotto and truffle butter. The risotto was divine, but the chicken came out blackened and a little dry. I wished there was some white balsamic on the plate to add back to the chicken and give it some moisture. Eating risotto and chicken in one bite took away from the beautiful risotto. The vegetable that I received with it was some well grilled zucchini. I noticed looking around that some folks appeared to get some asparagus.
PghTasteBudA Entree: Roasted lamb gnocchi w braised vegetables and sage butter
TasteBudA got a lamb gnocchi. My guess is because of the Penguins game, he was a man of few words, but he seemed quite happy with the lamb. I don’t recall anything left on the plate when he finished, so Chef Jessica Bauer should consider that a success! The wine with the second course was a much more delicate red wine. Personally, I would have swapped the first course and second course wines to achieve a different progression.
PghTasteBudB Dessert: Coffee panna cotta
For dessert, the wine was a very sweet port wine. It made me laugh when TasteBudA took a hefty first sip and almost choked on it. Don’t worry, he lived. As he ate his rice pudding, I think the wine provided the desired sweetness from the dessert, while the rice pudding was a nice smooth finish to his meal.
PghTasteBudA; Butterscotch rice pudding
Because I couldn’t completely give up on my original goal of three coffee courses, I did get the Coffee Panna Cotta as my dessert. It was a wonderful creamy dessert, which looked and tasted like heaven. To my own demise, I thought it was so delicious, I ate it very slowly and ended up feeling too full before I could finish it. TasteBudA helped put a larger dent in the dessert with “just one bite” which turned into several because he too couldn’t resist.
Bistro 19 was a great restaurant week meal, and the classy atmosphere would be perfect for a romantic engagement, birthday or anniversary. Weekdays are usually much more calm for the after-work crowd. When I asked the waitress if it was normally packed on a Wednesday, she said “No, it’s restaurant week. I wish every week was restaurant week.”