Trying the Kentuckyaki (drunken teriyaki) marinade at Open Bottle Bistro

Friday night date-night brought us to the new Open Bottle Bistro in Shadyside on Ellsworth for our first visit.  We made reservations on OpenTable, but probably could have just walked right in.  We were able to sit on the cute patio off the back of the restaurants where we enjoyed a nice dinner.

Our waitress was great and very patient with us.  Though she listed off 5-6 special features of the evening, I decided to order from the menu.  Most of the specials seemed priced much higher than menu items, which also deterred me from ordering them.  Though it was nice to hear the price with each feature as it was read, because not all servers do that.

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To begin our meal, we shared a Medley of Spreads served with cucumbers and tomatoes.  Since the table service also included a refillable bread basket that we also took liberty to refill once. The medley was a white bean pâté , fava bean pâté & hummus – all good.  TasteBudA and I each favored different spreads, so it comes down to a matter of texture and preference.  I thought the portion of spread you received was great for only $9.

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I also ordered one of the Soups of the Day – a gazpacho with some saffron and fresh veggies.  It was lightly seasoned and of course served cold.  After having more bread than I should have I didn’t finish my soup.  It was missing just a little something, but I couldn’t really put my finger on it.

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I was torn between ordering the Filet Mignon Kabobs or the Steak Tartar of Prime Filet Mignon.  I went with the Filet Mignon Kabobs at the waitress’ suggestion.  They come marinated in a Kentuckyaki-sauce, a bourbon infused teriyaki. The kabob was in fact very delicious, though the teryaki didn’t have as strong a bourbon flavor as I was hoping to make it super special.  The meat was cooked as ordered and was plentiful on the skewers.

I decided to substitute the saffron rice for asparagus.  If you look at the photo above, you may miss the asparagus, because the substitution only got me 4 stems.  For a $20 entree, I was marginally underwhelmed. Perhaps my substitution was ill-advised.

Our service, however, was stellar.  Taylor, our waitress was attentive and very pleasant.  You could tell that she liked her job and was very knowledgeable about items coming from the kitchen.  I would go back, sit in Taylor’s section and certainly give Open Bottle another visit.  This visit would probably only get a 3.5/5 for me with most of the credit going to the service and the medley of spreads.  Next time, someone else gets to order for me.
Open Bottle Bistro on Urbanspoon

Avenue B for Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Winter 2014

During Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, Avenue B offered an unpublished lunch special of a “Main Dish” plus a “Beginning” or “Dessert” for $20.14.  Because many items on Avenue B’s lunch menu aren’t pricy, you could feasibly be under $20 without the special.  So in all honesty the $20.14 combination is subject to what you choose.  Today for lunch I chose to sit by the window which provided for great lighting for photographs.

Avenue B Lunch Menu
Avenue B Lunch Menu for January 15, 2014

My dining partner couldn’t resist ordering the Pork shoulder poutine as a beginning. She twisted my arm asking that I partake.  So as a good friend, I obliged. The pork was so tender and juicy as a result of the braising process. Like many of the other items on the menu, this is served with sweet potato fries which appear to have a light dusting of sea salt for seasoning.    The onion straws were better to eat with your hands as they didn’t wrangle easily with a fork.  If we knew the portion size, I may have likely ordered a smaller entree for lunch.  Definitely a steal for only $10.

Pork Shoulder Poutine from Avenue B
Pork shoulder poutine, BBQ Demi, cheddar and fried onions.

Though the poutine had my stomach beyond 50% capacity, the burger arrived looking stellar.  You can see from the pictures that plating is a strength of Avenue B.  Ordered medium, the burger arrived cooked well and still hot.  The juices poured from the burger with each bite.  Luckily the bun was soft because I needed to pinch the sandwich together to fit it in my mouth.  After having sweet potato fries with the poutine, I opted to pick lightly at them and save room for dessert.

Burger from Avenue B
Burger with cheddar, arugula, truffle aoili served with sweet potato fries

And the dessert …

Blondie Torte from Avenue B
Blondie Torte dessert with a salted pretzel ice cream and crisped apple slices and caramel sauce

A whole-hearted fan of blondie brownies, I enjoyed the deconstruction / reconstruction of the blondie elements into this sweet dessert.  Officially listed as a torte, the item was basically two squares of a caramel-chocolate-shortbread cookie with salted pretzel ice cream between served atop some crisped apples covered in a lighter caramel sauce.  Don’t you want to just eat the picture?  I didn’t leave a trace on the plate and immediately needed some water to wash it all down.  Ideally, this would replace my afternoon coffee if the sugars carry me through the day.

Avenue B on UrbanspoonIn the end, a very positive experience at Avenue B.  My dining companion shared an adversion to goat cheese and her flatbread was served with goat cheese, even though it wasn’t listed in the description.  The waitress gladly removed the item from the bill and offered to correct it.  Luckily the poutine was filling and our minds were tuned toward dessert, so she opted not to get another dish.  The flatbread was visually delicious, though I can’t speak to its taste.  The service was great, the food was great and the company was great.  Great new restaurant experiences is what Pittsburgh Restaurant Week is all about.

PhotoBlog: Girasole in Shadyside

As our 21st Wine Exchange fast approached, we felt the need to find a stellar place to host a fitting “21st Birthday” themed wine exchange. We found that place in Girasole. Take a photo tour of our dinner and join us for our next wine exchange on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. to discover why we fell in love with this cute little Italian restaurant just off of Walnut Street in Shadyside.

Mussels
Appetizer – Mussels. There was actual strips of freshly cooked bacon in the broth which added a slightly smoky accent to the mussels.
Black Truffle Ravioli
Black Truffle Ravioli – My ravioli were served with a creamy sauce with fresh tomatoes throughout. The ravs were tender and delicious.
Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli
Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli – TasteBudA got the ravioli with a creamy marinara sauce with his meal. He raved about the dish so much, that you can find it on the wine exchange menu.
Dessert
Caramel Mocha Gelato – Though at first, TasteBudA thought they brought the wrong flavor, he did not read close enough to know that it was caramel and chocolate with a hint of java flavor.

Interested in the wine exchange event on April 15?  Here is the menu for the event:


APPETIZER BAR
Mini filo cups with mushrooms and gruyere cheese

Polenta pizza topped with an assortment of meats, cheeses and vegetables

Antipasto bar with salamis, provolone and fontina cheese, roasted peppers, olives and artiichokes

SALAD
Girasole Salad – spring mix, carrots, tomatoes, kalamata olives, chick peas, gorgonzola, sunflower seeds, sunflower vinagrette
bread/butter

ENTREE
(Choice of one:)

SPINACH RAVIOLI
spinach and ricotta ravioli in a tomato cream sauce

MUSSELS
mussels with roasted red peppers, tomato and basil

SHORT RIBS
braised port and honey short ribs over creamy polenta

View the Menu and RSVP at:
http://www.thepittsburghtastebuds.com/upcoming-events/