THE YARD

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The Yard Gastropub on Urbanspoon

After recently visiting Melt in Cleveland, some friends recommended The Yard in Shadyside. The Yard is described as an American Gastropub for Gourmet Pub Food & Craft Beer. The attraction at The Yard is their beer selection and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.

Going in and looking at the menu their were a couple items that sounded good but, when I came across “YINZ GUYS HUNGRY?” I honestly couldn’t pass up an item so closely associated with this blog. Yinz Guys Hungry is basically a Primanti’s style sandwich with Provolone / Steak / Cole Slaw / French Fries / Tomato. The bread the ingredients are sandwiched between is great, I’m guessing homemade but not sure about that. The sandwich itself let me down, I can only describe it as a poor man’s Primanti’s sandwich that lacked a lot of flavor. The plus side to this sandwich was that it wasn’t as monstrous as a Primanti’s sandwich but the downside was that each ingredient on the sandwich itself was very limited. For a gourmet grilled cheese the cheese really wasn’t a highlight. I’m not saying I won’t be back to The Yard but I know this won’t be a choice I will ever order again.

Usually the gourmet grilled cheese comes with tomato soup and fries, I upgraded the soup to the mac and cheese and got the parmesan garlic fries. The mac and cheese was similar to the sandwich, bland and could use more seasoning or any flavor whatsoever. The highlight of the meal was the parmesan garlic fries, they actually had proper seasoning on the fries and the parmesan garlic brought an extra flavor to them.

After we had all ate, we were talked into dessert. The table decided to try “CAUSE WE GOT HIGH” with Peanut Butter / Nutella / Bananas / Thick Cut Texas Toast / Battered / Deep Fried / Topped with Melted Marshmellow. WOW! It was good, don’t get me wrong as one of my friends put it the dish was American gluttony at its best, but I would recommend it if you need more food after having one of their sandwiches.

Pho Van

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IMG_4023Pho Van on Urbanspoon

Until I recently made a trip to Pho Van for lunch I hadn’t tried Vietnamese cuisine. I am always up for trying something new and Pho Van was a perfect choice. It was a cold day when I went, so the weather was fitting to have a warm bowl of Pho.

Going in we decided to order a couple appetizers, mostly I did this just because I wasn’t sure how large of a portion and how filling the Pho would be. We ordered the fried shrimp rolls and the chicken skewer. The chicken as you see in the picture above came out in pieces, which surprised me because of the name I expected chicken on a stick. Both were great starts, the chicken skewers had teriyaki sauce on them and made for a light appetizer to start.

My main dish was the Pho – well done brisket / Pho chin. When the bowl first arrived I was surprised how large of a portion you get with Pho. The brisket was on top and looked like a large portion as well, but as I moved the contents of the bowl around I noticed that it was mostly filled with rice noodles. The brisket was good and helped flavor the dish. I can honestly say after searching YouTube I’m not sure if there is a proper way to eat Pho, but I did my best. With the broth, noodles and brisket, by the time I finished my bowl of Pho I was filled and had warm soup belly.

I enjoyed my first try of Pho and look forward to trying different dishes in the future.

RUM RUNNERS

RR3RR1RR2 Rum Runners on Urbanspoon

Rum Runners in North Hills recently opened and is a restaurant & lounge, featuring live music & entertainment. Luckily I work very close to this location and have been anxiously awaiting their opening for a while. Since they have opened I’ve visited a few times and have been able to try a variety of items.

The first item I tried was the Bacon Cheddar Burger. It is a ½ LB Beef Patty, Cheddar Cheese, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Shredded Lettuce and Tomato. Served on a Grilled Brioche Roll. It also comes with a side of fries, which are fresh cut. One problem I have with fresh cut fries are that they are not always crispy. I was happy that these were pretty much perfect. The burger was cooked well and juicy and the grilled brioche roll paired nicely with it. On another trip I also tried the A1 Burger which is ½ LB Beef Patty, Cheddar & American Cheese, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Fried Onion Straws, A1 Mayo, Shredded Lettuce and Tomato. Served on a Grilled Brioche Roll. The A1 Mayo and Fried Onion Straws gave this version its own personality and flavor.

A few years ago I was in Hilton Head and got some of the best wings I’ve ever had, they were grilled wings and probably the most tender piece of chicken I’ve ever had. When I saw that Rum Runners had Hickory Smoked CharGrilled Wings I had to order them. You get 1.5LB served with Homemade Chips, Celery Sticks and Homemade Ranch Dressing with your Choice of Sauce on the Side (I went with Rum BBQ). The char and smokey flavor to the wing stands out, and when I paired it with the Rum BBQ sauce I enjoyed every bite. The Rum BBQ sauce had 3 levels of flavor to me, the BBQ sauce was a little sweet, the rum stood out on it’s own, and there was also a little kick to the sauce as well. Really a great BBQ sauce that can be great on just about anything. The next sauce I look forward to trying is the Gold Rush. The homemade chips were good, not as crispy as I would’ve liked but I’m sure that can vary from batch to batch.

Finally I went on the “healthy” side with the Grilled Chicken Salad. This is basically a traditional Pittsburgh Grilled Chicken Salad with Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast, Romaine & Iceberg Blend, Shredded Mozzarella & Provolone Cheese, Fresh Cut Fries, Hard Boiled Egg, Red Onion, and Grape Tomato. I got the homemade Ranch dressing on it, and if you are a fan of ranch and Pittsburgh Chicken salad’s you will not go home hungry with this portion. It is so big I started thinking about “The Big Salad” from Seinfeld…

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Rum Runners has 2 levels, the first level is a Bar and Restaurant, with plenty of TV’s to watch anything that is on. I can’t wait to check out a game on their very large TV in the dinning room along the fireplace, that thing is a monstrosity! Upstairs you will find another bar and more TV’s along with a stage for live entertainment and lighting to go along with the entertainment. Over the weekend I checked out Tres Lads performance and the place was packed. Rum Runners is owned by the North Park Lounge Restaurant Group, so if you are a fan of any of NPL’s other establishments I don’t think you will go home hungry or disappointed at Rum Runners.

Verona Village Inn

villageVerona Village Inn on Urbanspoon

I’ve probably said every time I’ve done an Italian food blog that Italian food is my favorite because it is what I grew up on. I can be very picky on my Italian restaurants. However for a while I have heard nothing but good things about Verona Village Inn. So when I went I was expecting the best. Well the Verona Village Inn lived up to the hype!

Let me start by saying the food quality was exceptional and the value was incredible. I ordered the Village Inn Sampler comes with 2 pieces of Chicken Parmigiana, 2 pieces of stuffed eggplant rotellini, a meatball and Fettuccini alfredo or side of pasta, I got the Fettuccini alfredo. BUT WAIT there is more… the dinners all come with soup, salad and toasted garlic bread. All of this for only $15.79. Most Italian restaurants would charge at least $25 for all of this. If you want good home style Italian food that brings the most bang for your buck, make sure you visit the Verona Village Inn.

We also ordered a few appetizers, not that they were needed but we just wanted to try them. Breaded Zucchini – Fresh zucchini, thinly sliced, lightly breaded, fried to a golden brown. Served with village sauce. Also an order of Stuffed Hot Peppers – Banana peppers stuffed with a zesty blend of beef, sausage and spices baked in our village sauce with melted cheese. Between the two I really liked the Stuffed Hot Peppers, they weren’t overpowering but just had a nice kick to them.

The menu at Verona Village Inn is pretty massive too, there is a lot that I want to try. It really isn’t an if I return but more of a when. The first thing on my list will be the lasagna, I saw a few people order it and it looked amazing.

Pamela’s P & G Diner (Millvale)

pg1 pg2 Pamela's P & G Diner on Urbanspoon

It’s been years since I’ve been to Pamela’s, so recently at work when it was brought up to go for lunch I was all about it. We actually made 2 trips recently which gave me more to talk about. The cool thing about Pamela’s in Millvale is that it sits inside the Lincoln Pharmacy which gives it that throwback diner feel. With it being so cold this month I wasn’t about to try a milkshake or anything from the soda fountain, but it will give me something to go back for when it warms up.

My first trip I ordered the P&G Diner Burger which is a 1/2 lb. burger topped with fried jalapeno, onion straws, lettuce, tomato, cheddar, ketchup & mayo on a Kaiser roll. The fried jalapeno and onion straws is what really convinced me to order this. It was ok, the burger had to of been a frozen patty because it looked and tasted that way. I enjoyed the shoe string french fries with it, too many places give crinkle cut fries anymore. I can’t say I would order this again.

The second trip I decided to try the Lincoln Breakfast which comes with 2 of Pamela’s famous crepe hotcakes, a helping of Lyonnaise Potatoes, eggs and bacon. It is rare for me to eat breakfast for any other meal except for in the morning. I am glad that I ordered this for lunch because I have become an instant fan of the hotcakes! Those crispy edges are what really sold me. They aren’t thick so you can eat a few of them and not hate yourself.

I can easily see why these are President Obama’s favorite pancakes! I don’t live too far from the Sq Hill location (and their new “Nu Modern Jewish Bistro” which I have to visit ASAP) so I have a feeling I will be visiting them in the not too far off future.

Mediterrano

photo 1 photo 2 photo Mediterrano on Urbanspoon

If you are looking for Rustic Greek Mediterranean Cuisine, Mediterrano is the place for you. Voted Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best Mediterranean Restaurant in 2012, Mediterrano has done so much in their 3 years in business. Entering Mediterrano you get a very warm feeling that helps by its small intimate surroundings.

The first thing we decided to order was the Hummus Sampler. This changes daily, that night we had classic, spicy and spinach. The Hummus Sampler is served with warm pita. All were great, of course as long as the classic hummus tastes good it can only go up from there. I’ve even ordered this a few times to go since my visit.

The Village salad is easily one of my favorite things on the menu. Vine-ripened tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, red onions, kalamata olives, feta, and Greek oregano, with garlic croutons, dressed with Mediterrano house vinaigrette. I ordered the smaller portion for this meal, but usually the larger portion is what I get. While this may be great by itself, add some lamb on top if you really want to make it a meal.

For my main event I had Moussaka, how much more traditional can you get. Layers of lightly sautéed eggplant, zucchini, and potato, with aromatic meat sauce and béchamel. Absolutely delicious and it will make you want to order it every time you visit Mediterrano (this wasn’t my first).

If you have never been to Mediterrano I highly suggest you schedule a visit ASAP! A little bonus tip for when you go, the spinach & feta pizza is fantastic!

BLUE LINE GRILLE

BLG1 BLG2 Blue Line Grille on Urbanspoon

Here we go, my final blog of 2013! I hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year! My goal was to blog at least once a month in 2013 and I accomplished that goal. I’m going to continue that in 2014 and hopefully add another goal to that list.

I tried to visit the Blue Line Grille a few weeks back when I went to see Jeff Dunham at Consol but there was a 2 hour wait. So I lucky enough to try again this past weekend when I went to the Three Rivers Classic. As I looked over the menu there are a bunch of things I want to try. I decided to try a few of the big items first. For the first period I went with the Montreal Poutine Frites, which are a BLG Signature Item, and are fries with fresh Canadian cheese curds with house made pan gravy. These were fantastic! I’ve been wanting to try Poutine for a while now and these were worth the wait. The fries were fresh cut but also crispy, that was a nice surprise for fresh cut fries and the cheese and gravy didn’t make them soggy. These will be ordered every time I visit BLG from now on!

The second period I got an order of the Boneless Pens Wings with Peruvian Chimichurri sauce. Our server gave this sauce recommendation and I was a big fan! The boneless wings were crispy and a surprise was the blue cheese dressing on the side. I don’t think I’ve ever had better blue cheese. So far BLG is 2 for 2!

The third period was the main event, I ordered “The Old Two-Niner” Burger and comes with pepper jack cheese, wild mushrooms and franks red hot. Since I already had fries as an appetizer I decided to try the buffalo slaw. I’m not a big coleslaw fan, but when I was told this had hot sauce and blue cheese so I figured I’d try it. I wasn’t crazy about the buffalo slaw, the hot sauce and blue cheese didn’t do enough for me. Plus the whole sidedish was overpowered by onion. The burger itself was good, I could’ve used some more hot sauce on the burger or possibly some of that blue cheese I was a fan of earlier. Now I know for my next trip.

I was a big fan of Blue Line Grille and really can’t wait for a return trip. I need to check out the website to see if they have a wing night because my friends would really like to check out the wings here for our monthly wing night.