Month: August 2011

Church Brew Works – August 27, 2011

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Church Brew Works has been on my list of places to visit for quite some time now and this past Saturday I finally got the chance to visit. I think the atmosphere when you walk in is pretty awesome, just seeing the majority of the old church still intact with a lot of additions around it. When you are getting ready to be seated to the left is the bar area and to the right is just regular seating. As we sat down I looked at the beer menu, can’t go to a brewery without trying a beer right? The one that caught my eye early on was the Cherry Quadzilla. Here is the description from Church Brew Works – “The Cherry Quadzilla is a full-bodied Belgian ale that is amber in color with some red hues. You will notice lots of fruit-like esters and a bread-like maltiness with a lingering caramel sweetness. As the beer finishes, a slight bitterness and an alcohol warming take effect. As the Cherry Quadzilla warms, the complexity increases and the flavor becomes fuller.” I did notice the early tastes of the Belgian ale, but the thing that lacked from the beer was the cherry flavor. The cherries seemed to give the beer its “red hues” more than flavor and taste.

As for the food portion of the evening, our meal started with some Untraditional Pierogies and the filling of the night was a buffalo chicken and the pierogie was then deep-fried. I don’t think I have ever had a pierogie deep-fried?! YES PLEASE! The filling was a buffalo chicken and jack cheese, it was good but I wouldn’t say great. I think the thing that lacked the most was seasoning, because I didn’t get hit with a lot of flavor.

For my main event I had the Buffalo & Wild Mushroom Meatloaf. I am usually the first one to pass over meatloaf when I see it on a menu at a restaurant because I usually feel like all restaurant meatloafs are made the same. I do love meatloaf when made at home, it is probably my favorite meal. Church Brew Works lists the Buffalo & Wild Mushroom Meatloaf as Oven roasted and served with 5-herb mashed potatoes, sautéed medley of spinach, carrots, and leeks and roasted tomato demi-glace. I wasn’t impressed with my dinner. I decided to order it because I have heard such good things about Church Brew Works and thought maybe they could prove me wrong on my fear of restaurant meatloaf. They didn’t. The meatloaf was average and for it being a mushroom meatloaf I had very little mushroom in the dish. The brown beef gravy over it is what always covers up meatloaf in restaurants and just is way too overpowering. If the meatloaf itself is good, give it something that accents the flavors and doesn’t cover it up. The 5-herb mashed potatoes were dry for the most part and I really couldn’t get the flavor of the 5-herbs, that brown gravy was overpowering them too. The sautéed medley of spinach, carrots, and leeks was very bitter and really wasn’t needed, it was more a side spinach salad. I would’ve rather had a side of vegetables instead of the ‘salad’.

I will say that I will be back to Church Brew Works, I ordered something I wanted to be proved wrong about and wasn’t. My mistake. I will go back and try some of the other dishes that caught my eye that night. I also have a few beers in mind for the next time I go as well.

Sharp Edge Beer Emporium – August 26, 2011

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After the past couple of weeks I’ve been in a real need for a good beer, so my buddy Vic and I decided to grab a drink and some food this past Friday night. We originally wanted to go to some place closer to us but after a quick try we realized the place we wanted to go wasn’t exactly what were looking for. So after some deliberation we chose to go to the Sharp Edge, neither of us had been yet and it was the perfect opportunity. I will say even before we go into this blog, I was highly impressed with Sharp Edge. The overall food quality along with the beer was exactly what I was looking for.

Of course when Vic and I go to eat we gotta try a few things lol, we started with the Belgian Style Pomme Frittes – A pile of crispy hand cut yukon gold frittes with a trio of homemade dipping sauces. The Pomme Frittes were very crispy french fries, and exactly what I am looking for in a fry. The dipping sauces along with it went over well. I was partial to the horseradish, they also offered ketchup, whole grain mustard, and the last sauce was something good but we had no real idea what was in it. Vic and I both settled that there was some peanut butter in it but could get too much. If anyone from the sharp edge is reading this, please let me know what was in there.

Next were the Buffalo Bleu Buffalo Bites, if you want a quick explanation they were like boneless wings but better! From the menu – A Sharp Edge Original! Tender bites of hand breaded all white meat
chicken fried golden brown, tossed in your choice of sauce with celery & bleu cheese or ranch. These were better than normal boneless wings because you could taste the quality, the breading wasn’t overdone and crunchy and the sauce complemented everything well. As we were leaving Sharp Edge we noticed they have 45 cent wing and buffalo bite nights and I wouldn’t mind going down for that one night in the future.

The main event of the evening was the Belgian Burger – A blend of fresh lamb & sirloin with minced shallot and crumbled bacon with whole grain mustard sauce & smoked gouda. OMG was this delicious. The burger had so much flavor to it, if you have read previous burger posts of mine you know I have said I can’t find different taste quality. The Belgian Burger had a unique flavor to it outside of any burger I have had in a long time. The smoked gouda was such a great compliment on top of everything else. The burger came with a side of fresh cut fries, but after having the Pomme Frittes earlier I was spoiled and didn’t eat too many of the fresh cut fries.

I chose to go with the “Over the Edge” belgian beer to compliment my dinner and if I remember correctly the beer had about 9.5% volume to it, the flavor was good, wasn’t anything too unique but the volume is what would make me want that again!

Rick’s Sports Bar & Grill – August 21, 2011

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This past Sunday Jerome McButters and I made our way out to Rick’s Sports Bar after a quick day trip to PSU. For the past 2 years we have driven by Rick’s and wondered what it was like, so we finally decided to stop in. From the outside Rick’s looks huge and usually has a packed parking lot, on the inside is a huge dinning area and looks like a great place to watch a game. The bar has flat screens going all around it and numerous flat screens through out the place, even personal tv’s in booths. The overall look of Rick’s is your typical local sports bar look but magnified because of the huge restaurant. You know me by now, I’m not into a place just because of the look, the food is the most important part.

Since it was my first trip I wanted to try a couple of things so Jerome and I started with 6 of the Jumbo Wings with Hot BBQ sauce. I will give Rick’s credit on the wings, they had a nice crisp fry to them and the sauce was tasty too. If you can tell from the picture the sauce was poured over the wings, I would’ve preferred the wings to be tossed in the sauce to get a nice coating, but as I said they were tasty. Next came my dinner, the Beef Brisket Sandwich. I’m a brisket fan and had a craving for it lately, so I just had to try it. AWFUL! This was probably the worst brisket I have ever had. The brisket itself was completely dry, no juiciness to it whatsoever. The roll it came on was toasted so it didn’t have much flavor to it either and was pretty dry itself. That’s it, nothing else on the sandwich except for the brisket and roll. I was upset, for a place I have been wanting to try it really let me down. This is when I was happy I ordered the wings and that they had a lot of sauce poured on them because I tried to scoop up as much Hot BBQ sauce as I could and put it on the brisket just to add something that would help out the dryness and give some flavor. I ordered the fries with the sandwich as a side, I was happy with the fries but at this point the meal was ruined for me. I am still flabbergasted that the brisket was so dry…

I am not sure if I would want to make another trip to Rick’s, but for the hype I have heard I really want some of you who have been to let me know exactly what it is that brings you back to Rick’s over and over again. Maybe its just the bar? If you visit the website to look at the menu, you will notice how many appetizers Rick’s offers and that surprised me, I’ve never seen so many appetizers on a menu before. They pretty much dominated the menu. Maybe that’s the key to eating at Rick’s just eat appetizers.

Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen – August 18, 2011

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Regent Square is really starting to take off more than ever, 3 new restaurants have opened this summer Cibo, Root 174 and now Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen. I have been looking forward to visiting Alma since they opened since I live very close by and this year for my birthday my sister got me a gift card for each new restaurant in Regent Square to try. So for my birthday dinner my mom, sister and I chose Alma for something new. My mom and sister are not too adventurous when it comes to food, but after our meal I think they were both very happy with their dinner selection and that is what mattered most to me.

As for my experience, walking into Alma it didn’t look like a whole lot changed inside as for the look of the restaurant from its previous tenant Callie’s. That soon changed once we tried the food. Our server, Abbie, was wonderful the whole night. She was very personable, energetic and knew the menu well. If she didn’t know something specific she had no problem asking what it was first and coming back to us with an answer, to me that little extra goes a long way! The empanadas were recommended for an appetizer and were told that the nights filling was queso fresco. The empanadas were a hit at our table, the dough was light and flakey, while the queso fresco filling had a nice taste and texture. Something else we all enjoyed was the tomatillo salsa on the plate and I hope that is there for every empanada dish, VERY flavorful.

The main event for me was the Chuletas de puerco con pina y batata. I’m glad they have english descriptions on the menu so I knew exactly what it was – Grilled pork loin with pineapple and white sweet potato puree. I thought my pork loin was cooked perfect, slightly pink and very juicy. The seasoning was perfect, which had a little bite to it. The white sweet potato puree was new to me and I enjoyed that, and the grilled pineapple added an extra element to the dish. I liked the grilled pineapple and thought it stood out, by grilling it, the pineapple lost a lot of the harsh bite fresh pineapple has and was just nice and sweet. All three elements together made a phenomenal and delicious dish. For garnish in the sweet potato puree there was a plantain chip, I’m not sure right now if Alma has plantain chips as an appetizer, but if they don’t I hope someone is reading this and try it out because I think they would be a great addition.

An area I didn’t ask about that Callie’s once had was a bar in the back/side of the restaurant. If Alma has that additional bar as well I think that will help with repeat customers. I know I was highly impressed during my visit and am looking forward to my return in the near future.

Pasta Too

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My family and I went to Pasta Too this past Sunday for my Nunnies birthday (and mine too!) and was the first time the majority of us have ever been to the restaurant. My cousin has gotten us food from there before and we all have liked what we have had and figured it was about time to see the place up close. My cousin was telling us that if you get to the restaurant after 5pm that there is usually a line out the door so we got to the place around 3:30-4 and we still waited a little bit for a table but wasn’t too bad. When I originally heard that there could be a line out the door I expected a small restaurant, but it is anything but. The dinning room is a great size and can seat many large or small parties. I love the lighting the in middle of the restaurant with the blue sky! When we sat down so many good options on the menu, and we were greated with fresh warm italian bread and dipping oil on the table. We then ordered some fried zucchini and stuffed spinach and cheese breadsticks. I am very picky about my fried zucchini and I will say this was better than most because they actually gave you a thick cut of zucchini compared to the normal breading with a thin slice. I still prefer horseradish over sauce, but I sucked it up and used the sauce. I did like the stuffed spinach and cheese breadstick over the fried zucchini. The next course was a salad that came with my meal, a typical house salad and at this point I was already starting to get full. If you look at the pictures above I have 2, the first is the full order of Chicken Parm that I ordered, the second picture shows everything I could eat of the Chicken Parm plus a side of Gnocchi that I had on the side (which was barely touched until the next night for dinner). Our waitress was very nice, and did a great job of keeping up with a party of 9. I enjoyed the meal, but the trip out to Pasta Too was a little bit of a drive and I’m not sure I would want to keep making the trip out each time I am in the mood for italian. I guess I will just have to wait and see if I start craving Pasta Too in the future. I still haven’t found a local italian place by me that makes me want to go back over and over again.

Razzy Fresh

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This I believe is a first for Yinz Hungry, a strictly FroYo blog! lol. A few weeks back I finally noticed something new in Sq Hill as I was driving by and it was Razzy Fresh. I was looking forward to giving it a try because sometimes I want something healthier/lighter than ice cream. Last week when I walked in Razzy Fresh the first thing noticed is that its not very big inside. You walk in and there are about 3 tables and I think about 10 different kinds of FroYo. Each machine has 2 types of Frozen Yogurt (most being non-fat!) so you can either mix them seperate or even together. 3 kinds that I have tried are Mango, Vanilla, and Cherry Amaretto. The Cherry Amaretto is my favorite so far! After you take your container of FroYo, you move onto the topping bar that has a very wide assortment from candy to fresh fruit. If I’m going healthy, I’m going healthy all the way so I like the Fresh Fruit. I like the assortment of fruit, my favorites being Mango & Kiwi, you can check out razzyfresh.com for the listing of all flavors of froyo and toppings! When you check out, your container gets weighed and is weighed at a cost per ounce, which is a little expensive but I think totally worth it! Plus they have a rewards punch card, for every 10 you buy you get 1 free.

Thai Me Up

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The first word that comes to my mind when I hear “Thai Me Up” is Giggity! Sorry, I’ve been watching too much Family Guy, lol. Anyway, I went to Thai Me Up last week for lunch with my buddy Vic who has been there before. I don’t eat too much thai, but I always enjoy it when I do. Thai Me Up is a small place in the South Side and it probably doesn’t sit much more than 20 people at a time. Vic mentioned that he usually orders off of the lunch menu so I did the same and went with a classic, Pad Thai. It also came with a side of either a spring roll or soup, I don’t eat soup in the summer so I went with the spring roll. The spring roll was light and crispy, and the only thing that I was unsure of was the sauce on the side. It was clear with some red drops and really had no flavor and didn’t accent the spring roll in anyway. The spring roll was fine just by itself. The main event of my meal as I said was Pad Thai and I added chicken and beef to it. For lunch I thought they gave a very generous portion, an oval plate that was filled and no garnish! My only real concern with the look of my meal was that the liquid at the bottom of the plate had a charcoal coloring to it, that wasn’t so great but I powered through. When I first saw the plate I thought I would have something for later, but the meal was so light that I finished the whole dish. The Pad Thai had that perfect combination of hot, salty, sweet and sour that a good Pad Thai should have. Overall I was impressed with Thai Me Up and look forward to a return trip.