Helpful ReplyHot!Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh)

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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/18 17:25:37 (permalink)
buffetbuster
Ralph-
Can you tell me a little more about your visit to Bistro Soul?  I have been curious about the place.

 
It's been a while and I don't remember it well. I'll try to visit it again soon. I don't think I can make it easily tonight, though.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/19 17:27:26 (permalink)
For Wednesday, I ended up working until 5:30, and I wanted to get home by 7:30 to see a Rick Sebak feature on local donut shops. Google Maps predicted that it would take an hour to get to Persichetti's or The Stuffed Pepper, and I forgot about the suggestion of Big Jim's. So I failed to take any of y'all's good suggestions.
 
Instead, I went to Kelley's Bar and Lounge in East Liberty, which I've heard good things about.
Untitled by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I think of Kelley's decor as aiming at a low-key 50s lounge feel, but I'm not sure of my characterization; I'm more familiar with diners from the 50s than with cocktail lounges. The accents of chrome and beveled glass particularly contribute to the effect.
Kelley's by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
Unfortunately, driving to Kelly's is perhaps not the best way for me to enjoy it, because Kelly's takes a particular interest in cocktails. The card on the table advertises LUPEC, Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails. I've never been to one of the LUPEC events, and I might be disqualified based on gender, but I'm charmed by the concept, and I expect the idea to please some of the ladies reading this. 
Untitled by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
LUPEC cocktails by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
The special cocktail of the day was a Rob Roy, which I felt would be too strong for me to drink before driving home. People at the next booth ordered them, and they were served from cocktail shakers at the table. Unfortunately, by the time I decided to ask to take a picture, the serveware had been taken away. Still, though, Kelly's seems like a charming place for a cocktail.
 
I ordered the Cajun meatloaf with mashed sweet potatoes, which turned out to be a very unphotogenic dish. The meatloaf was pretty spicy and somewhat vinegary; it didn't taste like a Buffalo wing, but it hit my tongue in a similar way. It didn't taste much like meat, though; I had expected to taste the meat and vegetables amongst the spices, and I didn't. 
I'm not a big fan of sweet potatoes. I don't heavily dislike them, but only exceptional sweet potatoes are good or bad enough to arouse much emotion in me. These mashed sweet potatoes were not exceptional. There was a nice variation in textures, but the flavor was uninteresting.
Cajun meatloaf, mashed sweet potatoes by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I'd heard recommendations for their mac and cheese, so I made sure to order a small ramekin. I was pleased to see that it had been broiled, and I was expecting to give it a great review. But I was disappointed, because the mac and cheese didn't have the rich cheesy flavor I expected. It did have a very strong taste of black pepper, which I did like, but the cheese wasn't strong enough to counterbalance the black pepper flavor.
Mac and cheese by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I noticed that I tasted the three items in different places: I tasted the meatloaf with lips and tonguetip, I tasted the mac and cheese with the back of my tongue, and I tasted the sweet potatoes with the edges of my tongue. I tried to combine these into a single taste all over my mouth, but I couldn't make that happen.
 
I liked Kelly's, especially for the attention to antique cocktails. But I would have to say that the food I ate was neither better or worse than an average restaurant.
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/19 20:51:47 (permalink)
Ralph, I am starting to notice a pattern.  As soon as Lori isn't around, you head straight to the bars!
 
Truthfully, I had never heard of Kelly's before.  This has been a very enjoyable idea and thread and I'm looking forward to reading about more of your adventures.
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/20 01:53:11 (permalink)
buffetbuster
Ralph, I am starting to notice a pattern.  As soon as Lori isn't around, you head straight to the bars!
Truthfully, I had never heard of Kelly's before.  This has been a very enjoyable idea and thread and I'm looking forward to reading about more of your adventures.

BB,
Since I've been married 52 years, (14 of them happily!) I feel qualified to explain the concept known as " While the Cat's away, the Mouse will play"!
Guys go places when free of the encumbrances of a female companion i.e "The Wife". That's because they would catch flack if they tried to take the Bride to a place that may go against what the woman thinks is proper.  Guys perspective of what's proper and worth the spirit of adventurous exploration is much more broader than a woman's perspective. Examples: Dive Bars, Biker Bars and Bars where Female Anatomy is exposed. It's a shedding of the shackles of female propriety and closed minded attitudes.
I'll be lecturing at the University Of Pittsburgh's Forum on the subject of " The Restraints of Female Domination and it's Effect on the Male Phyche". D]
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/24 17:48:27 (permalink)
I have hopes of posting about my trip to Persichetti's tonight. I regret the delay.
 
Another place for me to hit sometime: Szmidt's Old World Deli, of which I know only that it has a suitably Eastern European consonant-to-vowel ratio.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/24 17:57:19 (permalink)
buffetbuster

Ralph, I am starting to notice a pattern.  As soon as Lori isn't around, you head straight to the bars!
 
 
You have seen through me! Indeed, at every chance I get, I head to bars and don't drink. 
 
Part of the effect, though, is that Pittsburgh is one of those towns where there are a lot of bars, and a fair few of those bars are interesting bars.
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/24 17:59:55 (permalink)
Ralph Melton

buffetbuster

Ralph, I am starting to notice a pattern.  As soon as Lori isn't around, you head straight to the bars!
 

You have seen through me! Indeed, at every chance I get, I head to bars and don't drink. 

Part of the effect, though, is that Pittsburgh is one of those towns where there are a lot of bars, and a fair few of those bars are interesting bars.

 
Out of curiosty only Ralph, why go to the bar.  I go there to get some libation.  Why go there unless you want some libation?
 
Paul E. Smith
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/24 22:11:59 (permalink)
Because Pittsburgh bars can have interesting food. For example, Kelly's was well-regarded for the food, and the browned top was an attentive touch. And the restaurant where we got good German food for Friday's Eat 'n Greet was titled "... Tavern."
 
The Sterns' Two For the Road mentions that there are some places where good food is to be found in bars, with the particular example of St. Mary's County in Maryland. Pittsburgh is one of those places.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/25 01:00:44 (permalink)
On Thursday evening, I took the long drive down US-30 to Jeanette and Persichetti's. (I have an ambivalent relationship with US-30; I have a few fond food memories from that road, such as Vincent's Pizza Park and Chesterfield's, but I know that if we drive down US-30 looking for a good place to eat, we'll end up at some wretched cesspit like Casa D'Ice.)
 
Persichetti's may also qualify as a bar; there are neon beer signs in the front windows, and you have to pass the bar to get to the dining room at the back. But I'd call this "bar and restaurant", not just a bar, and the dining room didn't feel bar-like at all.
Persichetti's by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
Persichetti's by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I'll skim over the bread basket, and only mention of the salad that it included olives and pickled beets and homemade Italian dressing. 
Persichetti's Salad by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
The wedding soup was quite nice. It did not include as many greens as some wedding soups, but it had little meatballs, chicken, and carrots, and I liked the chew of the firm pastina.
Wedding Soup by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
For an entree, I ordered the Italian sampler: spaghetti, gnocchi, cheese ravioli, meat ravioli, lasagna, and a meatball. This reminded me in many ways of LoBello's in Coraopolis, which also served a very similar Italian sampler.
The spaghetti was very thick spaghetti noodles, cooked until they were super-soft. This was one of the points that reminded me particularly of LoBello's, which featured the same sort of thick, soft spaghetti; I wonder if there's some specific common heritage of these two restaurants that makes it so.
After tasting the spaghetti, I thought the gnocchi might be equally tender in the way that makes gnocchi really special, but it was dense and sturdy.
I am generally not a big fan of lasagna, because of a foodie quirk of my own: I really care about layered foods being structured so that you can get a good bite of every layer. As an example of something that fails this test, imagine a not-very-good ice cream sandwich, with a thick, tough cookie and a soft, melty filling, so that as you bite down, the ice cream squooshes out and leaves you with nothing but a bite of wet cookie and a stain on your shirt. Lasagna can fall into the same trap. But this did not; the noodles were so soft that my fork glided through the noodles as easily as through the ricotta layers between them.
The meatball and the meat ravioli had a very mild, delicate flavor. I tend to prefer my Italian food full of garlic and brio, but this mild style is good in its own way.
Italian Sampler by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I saw on the menu a mention of their fish sandwich with hot onion sauce, and I heard the waitress talking about the hot onion sauce with the folks at the next table. So I asked her about it, and she offered to bring me a sample. It was spicy and very oniony; I detected tomato, banana peppers, and lots of cooked-but-still-crunchy onions. I think it would overwhelm the taste of fish in a sandwich.
Hot onion sauce by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
 
On the way back, I stopped at Kerber's Ice Cream. (I learned another reason to stop by the dairy: they're installing a miniature golf course there.)
Untitled by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
This picture support's buffetbuster's claims of brightly colored ice creams:
Ice cream colors by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I got a double scoop of the Jamaican Me Happy flavor to take home to Lori, and I took care to get a picture that included both the description and the ice cream. I'm not sure how much of a stretch it is to call this "Jamaican"; I would have thought that a mango-and-coconut combination was as likely to be Filipino or Thai. It was very tasty, though; the coconut and strawberry filled out the sweet softness of the mango flavor.
Jamaican Me Happy by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/25 13:35:08 (permalink)
wanderingjew

[McDonald's]
??????

 
I've been holding off on replying to this in hopes of developing some splendidly witty rejoinder, but it appears that won't happen. (The same is true of ScreamingChicken's "Oddjob" remark.) So I'll give a straight answer and hope that I can be a straight man for others' humor.
 
I don't object to the idea of doing a report on McDonald's. One of my goals for this series of posts is to refine my skills of observing food and describing it through words and photography. McDonald's is as legitimate a target of those skills as anything else. There's even an argument that McDonald's is particularly interesting as an exercise, because it's so familiar that I tend to overlook it.
 
And I can find things to enjoy at McDonald's; I quite enjoy their grilled chicken sandwiches, for example. (The process behind their grilled chicken probably involves a mad scientist cackling in a storm-lashed tower, but it is nevertheless true that I'm far more likely to enjoy a grilled chicken breast at McDonald's than at Applebee's.)
 
But here's my sticking point: would a writeup of McDonald's have an interested audience? Most of the folks on this board have their own settled opinions of McDonald's, and would be unlikely to change that opinion much based on my report. So the only interesting part of such a report would be "what can Ralph find to say about McDonald's?" And I think that's less interesting than a report on a place that buffetbuster hasn't tried yet.
 
I'll take pictures the next time I go to McDonald's, and try to write a report, if only for myself as an exercise. But I won't make it a priority unless I think I hear sincere interest in my McDonald's experience.
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wanderingjew
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/25 14:23:51 (permalink)
Ralph Melton

wanderingjew

[McDonald's]
??????


I don't object to the idea of doing a report on McDonald's.


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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/25 14:36:51 (permalink)
Ralph-
Another excellent report!  Persichetti's is quite a distance away from me, but looks like it might be worth the drive.  That hot onion sauce was especially interesting.
 
Truthfully, the color of the ice cream at Kerber's makes it very unappealing to me.
 
#42
eruby
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/25 15:02:40 (permalink)
Bloody good show Ralph!
 
Persichetti's has both regular spaghetti and home-made spaghetti, and the Italian sampler comes with the thicker, home-made spaghetti.
 
You are right about the onion sauce overwhelming the fish sandwich.  I dipped a bite of sandwich in the sauce only once, and never had any sauce again.
 
I'm glad you liked Persichetti's. I've never had a bad meal there.
 
Tried to get into (the now closed) Chesterfield's once.  There was such a strong cigarette smell, we could not get past the vestibule.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/25 15:55:33 (permalink)
We chose Chesterfield's for our wedding reception; they had a water garden that was very nice, and we liked the oak-and-ivy decor of the room our reception was in. I don't remember a smoke smell.
 
Of course, it's now closed, razed, and replaced with a Walgreen's, so this is all irrelevant now.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/06/01 18:53:39 (permalink)
Lori was at a school function last night, so I took buffetbuster's suggestion and tried Smiling Banana Leaf. It's a very inconspicuous place; the only reason I knew I was in the right spot when I took this picture was that I'd looked up the phone number of the restaurant. (Once I got to the door, I saw a small sign there as well.)
Smiling Banana Leaf by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
The place is nicely decorated, but it's tiny; I counted eight tables in the place. My table was just behind the screen; it was fine for one person, but if there'd been another person there, our knees would have been clashing.
Smiling Banana Leaf by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I ordered the won ton soup as an appetizer. I really liked the broth, because it had a touch of spice that made it very rich and flavorful. But there was a wrong note somewhere in the flavor of the won tons; they weren't bad, but they were far worse than the rest of the soup.
Won Ton Soup by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I don't have a whole lot of experience with Thai food; there's only been one Thai restaurant that I've visited with any frequency. So my default order is what I really liked at that restaurant; that restaurant called it "spicy basil noodles"; Smiling Banana Leaf called it "pad kee mow". This started fairly sweet, but then defeloped a warm glow from the spices. But although it was good, I didn't like it quite as much as I had expected from my memory of the other Thai restaurant - I thought that perhaps I was expecting to taste more basil. But it's been years, and I have changed and my memory is suspect. 
Pad Kee Mow by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
One last note: there was something about the carriage and tone of the hostess that made me wonder if she had once been male. After deliberation, I decided that it was unlikely and of course of no consequence to me.
 
I'd cheerfully return to Smiling Banana Leaf.
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/06/01 19:10:37 (permalink)
Ralph-
Thanks for the report on Smiling Banana Leaf.  Since I suggested the place, Mariton and I have been back and we liked it even more the second time.  I got the pumpkin curry

and she got the pad thai.

Both winners.  What both of us really loved the most is the tom yum soup,

with the lemongrass, mushrooms and the spicy chilis.  I ordered it, Mariton ate half of it and I have already told her she has to get her own next time!
 
This has been a very enjoyable thread.  Looking forward to seeing where you go in upcoming weks. 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/06/01 19:11:59
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/06/01 23:33:22 (permalink)
It's not clear how many more times I'll be going out by myself soon, because Lori's class has ended. But there will be at least a few more occasions.
 
My current list from this thread:
Burgatory (visited, but not written up)
Bistro Soul (visited, but not written up, and asked about)
The Stuffed Pepper
Kelly O's Diner (not open for dinner)
Big Jim's (visited but not written up)
Winghart's Burger and Whiskey Bar
Interchange Lounge
India Garden (visited, but not written up)
Salem's Market (visited, but not written up)
Szmidt's Old World Deli
 
I'm very much influenced by statements of "I'm curious about <X>". I would have gone to Bistro Soul last night, because buffetbuster had asked about it - but it was 6:30 and their website says they close at 6. (I guess I'm even more influenced by statements of closing times.)
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/06/02 11:41:53 (permalink)
Another place I should check out some time: Smoke
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/06/02 12:07:01 (permalink)
Ralph Melton

Because Pittsburgh bars can have interesting food. For example, Kelly's was well-regarded for the food, and the browned top was an attentive touch. And the restaurant where we got good German food for Friday's Eat 'n Greet was titled "... Tavern."

The Sterns' Two For the Road mentions that there are some places where good food is to be found in bars, with the particular example of St. Mary's County in Maryland. Pittsburgh is one of those places.


For sure.  For instance, the best american-style, non-gourmet, Roadfood-type burgers around here are mostly in bars/taverns/pubs etc.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2014/07/21 15:23:47 (permalink)
I've finally finished writing up our Ireland trip, and I regret how often my memories are blurred by time so I can't give detailed descriptions. And Lori's taking a painting class this summer, so I'm on my own on Monday nights.
 
 
So I will revive this thread a bit. Where in Pittsburgh would you like me to eat and report on this evening?
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2014/07/21 15:36:54 (permalink)
Sharp Edge Creekside. The one place I remember from my time in Moon, but not for the food.
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2014/07/21 16:19:15 (permalink)
Ralph, I had what I thought were three really good suggestions.  And all three end up being closed on Mondays.  Mondays are tough in this town.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2014/07/21 16:26:56 (permalink)
I think I know what you mean, but I'm going to double-check: Sharp Edge Creekhouse?
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2014/07/22 13:57:44 (permalink)
So, where did you end up?  And if you don't mind, I may join you on one of these Monday nights.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2014/07/22 21:23:25 (permalink)
In twenty years of living in Pittsburgh, I'm not sure I've been to Crafton before. It's a pretty suburb, with nice Victorian houses and plenty of green space. The Victorian House of Sharp Edge CreekHouse fits right in.
Sharp Edge CreekHouse by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I checked from the parking lot that there was a creek nearby. It made sense, given the name, but I don't assume these things.
Sharp Edge CreekHouse by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I'd never been to this location, but I'd been to the Sharp Edge in Friendship. In the 90s, it was favored by my beer-connoisseur colleagues as one of the best places for a rich beer selection in Pittsburgh - but I did not care for the food  much. Pittsburgh has changed, the Sharp Edge has branched out into other locations, and there is now competition in the niche of bar-with-extensive-beer-selection - but the Sharp Edge is still near the top, particularly for Belgian beers.
Sharp Edge CreekHouse by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I wasn't planning to drink, but the waiter said that the beer special of the day was Palm, in honor of Belgium Independence Day, and I let myself succumb to temptation. (Since I was there alone, I consulted Wikipedia about Belgium Independence Day. It does not commemorate the beginning of Belgium's war for independence from the Netherlands, nor any battle in that war - it marks the day after the conclusion of that war when Belgium coronated a new king. As an American, I find that odd.) 
The beer was rich and mellow, a pleasure to drink.
The Sharp Edge is the sort of bar that has glassware to suit every beer it serves.
Sharp Edge CreekHouse by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I ordered hot wings because they were discounted on Monday nights. They were succulent and crispy, with a heat that hit "bold glow" but not "raging furnace"; I have not had wings that good in months. (And I cannot remember the last time I ate wings in a place with cloth napkins.)
Sharp Edge CreekHouse by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
To keep up the Belgian theme, I had the Belgian Burger - a patty of ground lamb, sirloin, shallot, and bacon, topped with smoked gouda and whole grain mustard sauce. This was clearly a burger cooked with skill and care, but it didn't delight me. I found the gaminess of the lamb immediately noticeable and not really to my taste - but it was mild enough that a lamb lover might prefer a burger with more lamb. The toasted bun seemed like a nice extra touch when I saw it on the plate, but in practice it meant that the bun maintained a reserved distance from the patty instead of snuggling up close to it.
The fries were rugged skin-on potato slices, but I would have preferred them to have more salt and a bit more crispness. 
Sharp Edge CreekHouse by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
I found out at the end of the meal that ordering the special beer entitled me to receive a free Belgium Independence Day t-shirt, which helps me maintain my wardrobe to its usual standards.
 
My conclusion: the Sharp Edge CreekHouse does several things well and some things very well. If I were a Belgian beer aficionado, it'd be one of the best places to go in Pittsburgh, and the wings were outstanding. But savoring the wings interferes somewhat with savoring the beer, and though the burger was made with obvious care, it didn't rise to the level of my favorite burgers in Pittsburgh. I will happily visit again when the occasion arises, but it may be a while before I cross Downtown to make that occasion.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2014/07/22 21:24:49 (permalink)
buffetbuster, I'd be happy for you to come along on one of these evenings. I'll try to make my plans early enough to include you.
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2014/07/22 21:38:42 (permalink)
Ralph, kudos for braving two tunnels for dinner, especially since many Pittsburghers won't even cross a river, unless it is a special occasion.  Those are some great looking wings!
 
I ate at that location several years ago and can not remember a single thing about the meal. 
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2014/07/22 23:35:24 (permalink)
Ralph
We will have to go there next trip to the 'Burgh.  My favorite beers are Belgian Trappist ales.....Chimay, Rochefort, Orval, etc. and I prefer lamb to beef.  Tunnels do not bother me.  I traveled through this one every weekend in the summer to get to the boat.  Longest combined rail/vehicle tunnel in North America.
https://www.google.com/search?q=anton+anderson+memorial+tunnel&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=YybPU5X-CMuHyATMkIHoDw&ved=0CDIQsAQ&biw=1093&bih=521
The wings do look very good!
If you want to be scared out of your mind, cross the Mackinac Bridge in winter when the winds are howling.  No bridge in Pittsburgh can come close to this one.
http://www.mackinacbridge.org/about-the-bridge-8/
 
 
 
#58
Bonk
Double Cheeseburger
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  • Location: Cincinnati, OH
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2014/07/23 00:47:10 (permalink)
Meat and Potatoes. My favorite restaurant ever.

Sharp Edge is awesome but can get expensive quick if you enjoy your beer. And I do.
post edited by Bonk - 2014/07/23 00:48:25
#59
JRPfeff
Filet Mignon
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2014/07/23 06:39:39 (permalink)
Ralph,

Thanks for honoring me by taking my suggestion. I'm glad the meal (mostly) worked out. I remember those Belgian beers, and a beef dish I had that was prepared with them.

Jim
#60
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