Helpful ReplyHot!Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh)

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Ralph Melton
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2011/05/12 13:40:51 (permalink)

Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh)

Lori's busy tonight, so I'm on my own for dinner. And I don't have the New Orleans trip report hanging over my head anymore. And I'm feeling experimental.
 
So: pick a place in the greater Pittsburgh area, and I'll visit there tonight and write up the trip. With luck, I'll be able to do a more vivid report with the advantage of writing it up immediately.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 13:47:41 (permalink)
To clarify: this doesn't have to be a Roadfood-listed place.
This is of course subject to veto according to my arbitrary and inscrutable whims, but I'm fairly open to a great many things.
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wanderingjew
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 13:56:53 (permalink)

 
 
??????
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 14:16:26 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby younusjavaid 2014/08/12 16:10:41
Ralph, I googled Pittsburgh Restaurants, and after skipping Primanti Brothers the first one to catch my eye was Burgatory Bar. I hope you like it.
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buffetbuster
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 14:17:18 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby younusjavaid 2014/08/27 10:31:07
Ralph-
I have had a place in mind for a while, ever since Munch of the PG wrote it up.  It is apparently a soul food restaurant on the North Side called Bistro Soul.  Most likely, you probably saw the review, too.  Warning, they are only open until 7:00, if you decide to go this route.
 
Mariton and I also recently had a terrific Thai meal at The Smiling Banana Leaf in Highland Park.
 
And have you been to Gooski's, the bar with homemade Polish food on Polish Hill?  I haven't and I am very curious about it.
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eruby
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 14:18:01 (permalink)
Never had a bad meal at Persichetti's in Jeanette.  And after, there's a Kerber Dairy just past the Turnpike on Rt 30 in Irwin.
 
http://persichettis.com/
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 14:21:58 (permalink)
eruby-
How is Kerber's Dairy?  I was only there once years ago and what I remember more than the ice cream was how brightly colored all the ice cream was.  They must go through a ton of food coloring.
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 14:26:52 (permalink)
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eruby
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 14:31:53 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby younusjavaid 2014/08/27 10:32:10
buffetbuster

eruby-
How is Kerber's Dairy?  I was only there once years ago and what I remember more than the ice cream was how brightly colored all the ice cream was.  They must go through a ton of food coloring.
I like it quite a bit.  I must get the 'nuetral' color ice creams as I've never noticed the bright colors.  I particularly like the 'Muddy Sneaker'. 
 
Sometimes, we'll drive the extra few miles to the actual dairy where you can feed the llamas, but mostly, for convenience, we hit the dairy store right off the Turnpike.

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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 15:32:10 (permalink)
What great responses!
 
I've enjoyed Burgatory a lot on my one visit there; the same is true of Bistro Soul. I do look forward to returning to both places.
 
We've enjoyed Kerber's Dairy, but I'm not sure I'd call it exceptional. We've visited the actual dairy, and found little reason to go there instead of the dairy store on Route 30.
 
Current leaders are the Smiling Banana Leaf, Gooski's, Persichetti's, and The Stuffed Pepper. What I can't get to tonight, I'll try to visit another time.
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Hepcat
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 15:58:40 (permalink)
Kelly O's Diner or Big Jim's.
 

 
 
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 16:58:33 (permalink)
Kelly O's looks interesting, but I'm going to use my "veto according to my arbitrary and inscrutable whims" prerogative and reject it, because they close at 3pm.
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buffetbuster
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 17:00:40 (permalink)
I'm guessing Hepcat saw both places on DD & D.
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Hepcat
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 19:46:46 (permalink)
Sort of. I went on the D, D and D website and looked for Pittsburgh establishments!
 

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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/12 23:09:12 (permalink)
I don't have much experience with dive bars, but I'll rearrange my concept of dive bars to put Gooski's right at the center. Note the graffiti covering the right door; this sort of graffiti was everywhere inside.
IMG_2527 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
Gooski's was very dark; the only illumination was two tinted windows at the front, a line of red bulbs behind the bar, a TV, and a black light somewhere. After my eyes adjusted a bit, the first thing I saw was a poster of Johnny Cash flipping the bird to the camera.
 
Gooski's is a venue where a bunch of punk and metal bands play, and it's definitely copping a punk attitude. For example, this menu board says at the bottom, "Prices do not include tax (money paid to the gov't for the privilege of eating)".
 
IMG_2529 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
A sign scrawled at the bar said, "Pay when you order. Have your money ready. Don't make us kill you." The sign and the darkness definitely inhibited me from taking lots of pictures. I felt very much out of my depth. But there was some little hints of former propriety, such as a semi-ornate mirror advertising Harp that was now covered with graffiti; these hints made me think of a punk who was once a preppie.
 
I ordered kielbasa and kraut and pierogies from the section of the menu board labeled "Pseudo-ethnic", and an order of wings from the "Yinzer Gooski's Meal" section, and took a seat at one of the two little tables that captured a bit of light from the windows. Even next to the windows, my photos were very dark; I've had to edit my pictures very heavily to get some modicum of visibility.
 
Frankly, I was prepared to feel scornful towards my food, just because I didn't fit in so strongly. But the kielbasa in my kielbasa and kraut was really pretty good. I did feel it was grilled too long, though; it was definitely tough enough that I could feel it in my jaws hours later.
IMG_2531 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
The sauce on the Buffalo wings had a dark, surly undercurrent of flavor, more like a caterwauling electric guitar than the bright clear brass of a typical wing sauce. I am, of course, transferring my feelings about the restaurant onto the wings - but there certainly were black specks in the sauce that made it possible for me to make that transfer.
IMG_2533 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
The pierogies were plump and buttery. Perhaps not the best pierogies I've had, but pretty tasty.
IMG_2532 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
One last detail about the Gooski's: there was a group of guys gathering at the bar near me with tattoos and leather jackets. I thought that they looked like bikers, and then reproached myself for yielding so to judging by stereotype. But then as I left, I saw a line of six motorcycles parked outside, and I said to myself, "Hah! Told you!". But my reproachful side has a point - these guys looked much more like stereotypical bikers than most motorcyclists do. They did provide a Pittsburgh touch, though: I overheard one of them talking about "gumbands", which is a bit of Pittsburgh dialect that I rarely hear. (No photo of the bikers; I was inhibited.)
 
The food was reasonably good, on the whole. I could learn to become comfortable in Gooski's, but I'm not convinced that I want to expend the effort to do so. There's a lot to be said for a dining experience with a less offputting atmosphere, where staff might ask if I want anything to drink.
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buffetbuster
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/13 05:51:19 (permalink)
So what you are saying is that we won't be having a Roadfood get together there anytime soon.....
 
Now I feel bad for suggesting it.  As a non-drinker, I can feel uncomfortable at times in bars, too.  This thread was a really good idea and thanks for making the effort to report back.
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eruby
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/13 08:02:31 (permalink)
Ralph Melton.... We've enjoyed Kerber's Dairy, but I'm not sure I'd call it exceptional. We've visited the actual dairy, and found little reason to go there instead of the dairy store on Route 30. ..... 
Neither would I, good but not exceptional.  If not for the llamas, I'd never go to the dairy.
 
Great report on Gooski's.  Some places just don't give 'non-regulars' a good vibe, and I can see where you felt as you did.  But it sounds like not a bad meal overall.  Well done Ralph!

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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/13 10:21:05 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby younusjavaid 2014/08/12 16:16:46
Good work Ralph! I've eaten in my share of dingy bars myself - even though I don't drink. Something about that type of establishment speaks to me.
 
Interesting though the experience I had on a trip to Lithuania four years ago. Lithuania's largest city and capital is Vilnius which is a bustling tourist town these days. Sixty miles away to the west is Lithuania's second largest city Kaunas, which is more of a working class town and has fallen behind the pace of modernization that has swept Vilnius. Now people in Vilnius will tell you that Kaunas is a "rough" town. (Mind you their definition of rough is more closely akin to Hamilton, Ontario than it is to Detroit.)
 
So we'd read in the Kaunas in Your Pocket tourist guide booklet that the tavern Antis (meaning Duck in English) had a nice atmosphere and really good fried bread which is a Lithuanian snack served in bars consisting of cubed bread flavoured with onions and garlic and fried in oil. Now Antis turned out to be on the very southern edge of the tourist area of Kaunas which is the Old Town that dates back three to five hundred years. The place was below street level and you did indeed have to "duck" as you descended the stairs to get through the doorway! It turned out to be rather nicely furnished inside. On a weekday at about 9:00 PM it was empty though. So we ordered our fried bread, and it turned out to be absolutely scrumptious and a taste sensation that would cause us to return.
 
Shortly after we got our fried bread though, a couple of regulars appeared - two tough looking young fellows wearing leather jackets, bandanas and carrying pool cues. Sports enthusiasts of the kind they warned us about in Vilnius we presumed. So what did they order? A pitcher of beer and fried bread? Boilermakers? Straight vodka? None of the above. They'd come in for a cup of tea and a bowl of ice cream.
 

post edited by Hepcat - 2014/08/13 09:36:50
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/13 12:07:56 (permalink)
buffetbuster
So what you are saying is that we won't be having a Roadfood get together there anytime soon.....

Now I feel bad for suggesting it.  As a non-drinker, I can feel uncomfortable at times in bars, too.  This thread was a really good idea and thanks for making the effort to report back.

 
I don't know that we won't have a Roadfood get-together any time soon—but if we do, we'll be challenged to take good pictures of the occasion. (If we want a Polish food gathering, I'd suggest Bloomfield Bridge Tavern or perhaps S&D Polish Deli.)
 
You should not feel bad for suggesting it, though. I'd been curious about it myself, and though I felt my outsider status very keenly, nothing bad happened, and I left with a petty good story and a pretty good meal. I have no regrets at all.
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ScreamingChicken
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/13 12:27:05 (permalink)
Ralph Melton
I'd been curious about it myself, and though I felt my outsider status very keenly, nothing bad happened, and I left with a petty good story and a pretty good meal. I have no regrets at all.

 
Were you prepared to go  Oddjob if necessary?
 
Brad
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/13 12:39:50 (permalink)
eruby

Great report on Gooski's.  Some places just don't give 'non-regulars' a good vibe, and I can see where you felt as you did.  But it sounds like not a bad meal overall.  Well done Ralph!

 
I can imagine that it would be a really great place to hang out if you were an insider and enjoyed the punk bands. Another commenter said "Although you might have to ask to get a drink, you probably won't have to tell them "what" more than once." But it's a place that does put in a certain curb to jump to become an insider.
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/13 12:53:48 (permalink)
I'll add to my own list for future dinners: Winghart's Burger And Whiskey Bar
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gregys
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/13 19:30:10 (permalink)
I would check when posting links that road food properly handles it.

I got a place near me.....
http://www.interchangelounge.com/

Greg
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gregys
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/13 19:56:15 (permalink)
When I worked in Oakland, the lunch buffet at India Garden was so good. I would not know what to order for dinner. I wish there were more Indian food places.

Greg
post edited by gregys - 2011/05/13 19:57:17
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/17 17:11:43 (permalink)
I'm very fond of the lunch buffet at India Garden myself.
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Kenny Joe
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/17 20:49:33 (permalink)
Thanks for the report on Gooski's. I have been there several times for the music. I like to get to shows early, so I have killed some time in the bar waiting for the back room to open up.  I don't recall seeing anyone actually eating the times I have been there. 
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/18 00:15:43 (permalink)
On Wednesday, May 18, I'm eating alone again. Where would y'all like a report this time?
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buffetbuster
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/18 05:46:41 (permalink)
Ralph-
Can you tell me a little more about your visit to Bistro Soul?  I have been curious about the place.
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Kenny Joe
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/18 08:07:05 (permalink)
Have you tried Salem's Market & Grille on Penn between 29th & 30th? I think it may close around 7, so it have to be an early dinner if you went.  If you pass on the Middle Eastern desserts, you could finish your meal off at Klavon's, which should have summer evening hours by now. 
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Ralph Melton
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Re:Pick My Dinner (in Pittsburgh) 2011/05/18 13:07:26 (permalink)
I haven't tried Salem's in the new location. I have tried Salem's in the Oakland location, and found it pretty tasty. I'm not very familiar with Middle Eastern food, so I said "What's good?" In response, the guy made me a custom sampler platter with a bit of everything. It was all tasty, and I was pleased with the service.
 
I should go more often, but the location is a little awkward; it's long enough to walk to that I think twice about it, but not long enough that I feel I've gotten a satisfying long walk.
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