Sushi from Original Fish Market

Downtown Pittsburgh Sushi from the Original Fish Market

Sushi from the Original Fish Market
Sushi from the Original Fish Market

When I’m craving sushi before a Pittsburgh Penguins game or a show in the Cultural District, I typically get discouraged and table my sushi cravings for another night, because when I think of sushi it usually means going to a Japanese or Chinese restaurant – neither of which are prevalent in downtown Pittsburgh.  Thus my mind passes over The Original Fish Market and Penn Avenue Fish Company – both which would also have access to fresh, high-quality fish on a daily basis.

Updated Post or Revisit:
May 7, 2012 – Hook, Line and Sinker – The Original Fish Market making a comeback

So before going to a recent Penguin’s playoff game, TasteBudA and I ventured into OFM and had sushi and beverages to gear up for the game.  Heck – if you are going to watch penguins, why not eat like one! On the heels of going to Sushi Tomo, we had a fresh sushi mindset.  Looking at the picture – you can see we ordered the OFM Roll with spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber(top left), Alaskan Roll with salmon, crab, ikura, tobiko (top right) and the Rainbow Roll with crab, avocado, and 5 types of fish.  The OFM Roll at only $8 per roll was the highlight of the spread.  The tuna was spicy, so I caution anyone sensitive to spice.  The Alaskan Roll was good, but the texture of the roe wasn’t something I particularly liked.  The Rainbow Roll was good, but not as good as the rainbow roll from Sushi Tomo.

Our service was great and there was even an interesting table to people-watch.  I recommend sitting in the area off the bar-section and not in the main dining room, because it is more bright and inviting.  We had a nice time, and it wasn’t busy.  If I were in the area and in the mood for seafood, I would go back, but since Sushi Tomo is closer to home – it will likely be more of a go-to place for us.

Christmas Eve Cioppino 2012

P(Gh)osts of Christmas Pasts

Christmas Eve Cioppino 2012As I searched the Pittsburgh TasteBuds blog history today for the recipe that I used for our traditional “Feast of Seven Fishes” Cioppino that TasteBudA and I have adopted as our Christmas Eve tradition.  The only remnant was The Making of a Christmas Eve Dinner Tradition. I’m puzzled. I have taken pictures of our Cioppino each and every year.  Have I been slacking that much?  Apparently, yes.

Each year I think I’ve gone through the same motions: Find recipe.  CHECK! Select 7 fishes. CHECK!  Combine and cook. CHECK!  Take a photo. CHECK!  Post about it.  Oops.

This year will mark the 4th year that we will have made our Cioppino, but apparently we never really blogged about our experience making it.  As I go back through the timewarp that is my photos folder, I share with you what little I found today.

XmasCioppino2012XmasEveCioppino2011

Hook, Line and Sinker – The Original Fish Market making a comeback

The Original Fish Market offers Outdoor Dining off the back patio
The Original Fish Market offers Outdoor Dining off the back patio

Remaking a classic isn’t always easy, but that is what the Original Fish Market is about to do in Downtown Pittsburgh.  In its hay-day, OFM used to be listed among the premier seafood restaurants in Pittsburgh.  Sadly, they have been challenged to keep up with the times and their name has slowly been left out of those rankings over recent years, but it appears that the winds are starting to change and the restaurant is vying to regain its distinction among Steel City seafood restaurants.

Updated Post or Revisit:
April 29, 2014 – Downtown Pittsburgh Sushi from the Original Fish Market

If you’ve ever been to the OFM, it is clear that they are inside of the Westin hotel, however many folks are interested to know that though they are physically inside the hotel, the are not the “hotel restaurant”.

Crab Bisque
A cup of Crab Bisque

Recently, before saying so-long to a fellow employee, I took a gaggle of co-workers out for lunch to enjoy some of the fishy lunch items on the OFM menu.  To my surprise, I was the only person in the group who had eaten at the OFM in quite some time.  After making a reservation on OpenTable, we were greeted and sat promptly.

Being in the “in-foodie-crowd,” I’d recently discovered that OFM had a new executive chef at the helm and it wasn’t difficult to see that he has already started making his mark on the menu.  The OFM menu tends to change daily with the available ingredients, but I was pleased to discover that the verbal special from my previous visit just a few weeks prior had made it onto the printed menu.  And, I wasted no time ordering it again – the Tilapia Bahn Mi Sandwich with Old Bay french fries.  The sandwich is a seafood spin on the Vietnamese staple.  Having the sandwich for the second time, I found it to be less spicy than before – frankly I missed the spice.

Tilapia Bahn Mi with old bay french fries
Tilapia Bahn Mi with old bay french fries

It was nice to go to lunch, have a great meal with pleasant service and get back to my co-workers back to work within the lunch hour.  I look forward to my next visit to OFM when they open up their back patio.  I hope that they do something fun with kabobs and drinks for a happy hour so I can nibble and sip my way into the start of a summer weekend.

Original Fish Market on Urbanspoon

Roland’s Famous Lobster Roll falls flat, poor service

Roland's Seafood Grill on UrbanspoonLast evening we began a celebration for a close friend’s birthday with a dinner at Roland’s Seafood Grill in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.  I had never been to Roland’s and was excited to go to what some call a staple in Pittsburgh. 

It was a big group of people for the birthday dinner, about 20 people and I was one of the last guests to arrive.  As I was saying my hellos I could tell the server seemed overwhelmed with a party of our size.

The first thing that I was annoyed about was the other end of the table said they didn’t want any appetizers, so she started taking the dinner orders, and when she got to us she said “That end of the table doesn’t want appetizers so you guys are out of luck, what would you like for dinner?” As the evening continued, our waitress was forgetting people’s soups or salads, even forgot to put bring out somone’s dinner, stating that “Someone in the kitchen must have taken your plate.”   Meanwhile, the restaurant wasn’t busy, even the the main bar wasn’t full.  

I got the New England Clam Chowder, which was served hot and hearty.  TasteBudB got the Maryland Crab Chowder which had an overwhelming aroma of Old Bay the whole table could smell, but he said it was delicious.  Both TasteBudB and I both ordered “Roland’s Famous Lobster Roll“.  Sauteed lobster and garlic on grilled mancini’s bread with french fries and coleslaw…14.99.  Sadly, it was anything but hot.  The roll was warm but the lobster was kind of cold which doesn’t taste well together.   I would have told this to our waitress to see if I could get the lobster heated up a bit, though I decided not to when I overheard her mention to a friend 2 seats down that “We have been the most stressful table she has had all night…”   Yup, and that is a quote!  

Overall, neither the food or service was impressive.  There was a good beer selection, but that can only make up for so much.  The menu appeared to have a good selection, but we were left disappointed with their most popular item.  The waitress didn’t give us much confidence in the overall service quality of the restaurant.  Let’s just say she is lucky I gave her the 10 percent tip that I did. 

Cioppino in the Strip

A few of us decided to try Cioppino in Pittsburgh famous Strip District.  I had heard so many good things about this place that I was highly excited to give it a try.   But, for me, I only saw a lot of negatives and not many positives.

I’ll start off with the positives:  Excellent Service.  Our server was really great, very friendly, highly informative about the food, well prepared for any questions we may have had and paid good attention to when our water or wine glasses needed filled.

Nice atmosphere. Cioppino offers a nice atmosphere while dining.  Its comfortable, relaxed and a nice place to enjoy a meal.

Presentation: Everything we ordered was presented nicely to us and looked amazing.

Now the negatives:  When entering, you enter in between the dining area and the bar.  The bar had a band playing which was nice music but way too loud.  I’m not sure how anyone was able to even sit and enjoy a drink in the bar with the music that loud.  The sound carried into the dining area but wasn’t too bad in there.

The Food:  All in all, the food was just OKAY.  As a table we started off with the Antipasti Platter, we had a nice mix of meats, cheeses, redpeppers and olives.  This was really good and a nice way to start of dinner.

Then, we all took a little of our friends Caesar Salad that was also very nice and refreshing.  The dressing wasn’t overly strong and was good as well.
Then the disaster came.  I ordered the Scallops that came with risotto and a lobster cream.  Sounds amazing, right?   Wrong!  It was so salty!  I had to down water and my wine in order to finish my dinner.  Seafood is salty to begin with, we all know this, but to add more salt and seasoning than needed is overkill.  Even the risotto was highly seasoned and hard to get down at times.
The major disapointment with this is the fact that Cioppino is know heavly for their seafood.  I was expecting something so much better and satisfing.

Cioppino on Urbanspoon

All in all, I still believe that Cioppino is a cool place to go, but ill probably just go for happy hour for a drink and go someplace else for dinner afterward.   For the price you pay I would be very cautious on going to Cioppino.