Author: mrbtarr

Dobrá Tea

Dobra Tea on Urbanspoon 1

Dobrá Tea lies at the intersection of Beacon Street and Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill, but amazingly upon crossing the threshold, you are immediately transported to a foreign land (one can only hope a HIPSTER-FREE ZONE). Dobrá may be only a few months old in Pittsburgh but they have other locations across these wonderful United States.

The ambiance of the establishment is the first thing that is striking. The colors and room decor provide a warm environment which dances beautifully with the profound aroma of tea emanating from every corner. Combine this aesthetic with world music emitting loudly from the speakers and you soon realize that instead of just going to a restaurant, you are going to enjoy an experience, a tea experience. Blake does not really understand Ying or Yang or meditation, but the environment almost inspired me to whip out a mat, find a few patrons and work on my downward-facing dog.

This institution provides a full serve; once you select your seat the staff provides a bell and the menu; if you need anything simply ring the bell.

(*** Note: Due to attention-span issues very few mammals love bells as much as Blake: kittens with a bell necklace, circa-1985 LL Cool J, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Prince Adam from Beauty and the Beast)

About this menu, at the time of this review it was over 64 pages. I repeat over 60 pages. Literally less than a tenth of these pages are food. What could possibly make up the remaining 90+% of the menu? Tea! Are you bleeping kidding me? No I am not. They have literally hundreds of types and mixes of tea. Black, White, Chai, Green, Herbal, Organic, Blends, Tea Cocktails (yes I said tea cocktails).  Who can possibly love tea this much? {Insert your own pity the fool joke here}

What did I choose? Staroborshov – chilled tea, dark oolong tea is shaken with fruit sugar to produce a frothy “head” like a draft beer. Hummus Plate – chickpea, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil, sprinkled with Zaatar and served with warmed, local pita and slices of fresh vegetables, Capetown Kiss – Naturally caffeine-free, this Rooisbos cocktail has a taste reminiscent of cold apple cider. It is made from coconut water, cinnamon, anise, honey, and a secret ingredient to tantalize your taste buds to the last drop. Lemon Bread – Made by Allegro Hearth Bakery, Baklava – Made by Stamoolis Bakery, Chocolate Medicine Ball – Made by Silvermoon Chocolates

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Blake will spare you a review of the tea, because before this experience Blake’s idea of a gourmet tea outing was Pittsburgh’s own Turner Tea next to a Vinnie Pie or a Primanti sandwich on an incline, so I will stay in my lane. What is clear is that the food here (called snacks) is clearly an afterthought. So much so that little is actually made or even assembled in house. Again tea is the John Lennon here, while all the food can only be compared to Pete Best. Thus I hesitate to criticize on something they do not specialize in. The hummus platter was very clumsy in my opinion. While the hummus itself was tasty, everything else dropped the ball more than Limas Sweed. The vegetables while fresh and cut on bias were much too thick for enjoyable eating. The pita was advertised in the menu as warm. They were not. They were lifeless. They were disappointing.  I will not comment on the Lemon Bread, Chocolate Medicine Ball or Baklava again because they are not made by the teahouse but I will say in general, come here for the tea.

This place is all about the experience. The staff is friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. Dobrá hosts various events like Belly-dancing, Poetry Readings, and Tarot card readings on various nights.  This place is Bohemian to the core, not hipster (THANK YOU!) While the tea claims to be the center attraction, you are paying for the Dobrá Tea unique experience, either to get work done or meditate on the life-cycle of butterflies; it is that experience which Blake deems worth every dollar.

 HIPSTER SCALE RATING :  1/5 w

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Blake Tarr (The Return….. from culinary purgatory!!!!) [Pittsburgh Coffee/Tea Shop Reviews]

It has been awhile since I have had the pleasure of giving feedback at Yinz Hungry?, thus I hope that absence truly does makes heart grow fonder.

‘Where was Blake?’ many of you may ask. You see, Blake loves “food!” Real “food;” not your ‘let me make your plate pretty with an inedible herbivore garnish’ which was never meant to be ingested by anything under the homo sapiens classification, adding a pleasant aesthetic food, but real ‘let me die happy with steak and glass of ‘Merican Bourbon “food!”’  Culinary striking delicate masterpieces take a backseat to quality cuisine served out aluminum foil by a man named ‘Bo’ who lost a finger or two in a pig roast accident in ’73. If the portion size is only fit to satisfy a stomach the size of a tufted titmouse then “Houston, we have a problem.”

Thus while Pittsburgh is currently experiencing a culinary revolution, expert cuisine from all regions of the globe, Blake is standing in the field the “The Last Samurai” waiting to commit seppuku with a plate of cheesy curly fries and a Reuben when asked ‘Would I like a side of lemongrass and a PBR?’ Ok truth comes out, Blake distains hipsters!

Management (cough….cough), feels Yinz Hungry? needs to be a bias-free environment where we help our readers understand the great landscape and explore Pittsburgh cuisine, thus Blake gets sent to the dreaded “field-duty”…. culinary purgatory, while I learn to appreciate food. Here is what we will be doing. As this summer ends, we have begun to survey and review various coffeeshops and teahouses around the Pittsburgh region. We will then provide “unbiased” analysis. Thus please don’t hesitate to send us your favorite cozy coffee locations and we shall do our best to provide you with the Yinz Hungry? touch. Of course if they serve food it is a bonus but not required. Yes, management finds it amusing to send Blake to coffeeshops … . the place where hipsters spawn like salmon. Call it sensitivity training if you will.

Note from “Management”: Blake’s blogs will be featured in our new “Yinz Thirsty?” section. Be on the look out for Blake’s blogs and all the new “Yinz Thirsty?” blogs in the near future!

Mediterranean Grill – By Guest Blogger Blake Tarr

Sometimes even the best of us rib eating, hamburger chomping, red meat engulfing, hot dog swallowing, “if it ain’t once move it ain’t getting eating” American needs a slight change of pace. This is what brought me to the Mediterranean Grille in Squirrel Hill. Before I begin my analysis of the food on I would like to be quite frank. “I don’t like food, I love it. If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow, I will return tomorrow night with high expectations…pray you don’t disappoint me.” This quote is from the character Anton Ego from the movie Ratatouille. THAT’S NOT HOW BLAKE ROLLS! This holier than now approach to food makes me sick; foodies go suck on a celery glazed lemon compote with a beautiful chiffonade of greens and truffles picked from a garden when magical unicorns and happy Smurfs attempt to avoid Gargamel.

Blake likes food if the food tastes good! Simply and plain, and the Mediterranean Grille has good food. I went on that rant because I am no expert in Mediterranean cuisine. I don’t pretend to be. If you have a Ph.D. in hummus and can tell the subtly tones left behind after sampling an order of tabouli, this review is not for you. All I know is when my taste buds command my hands to bring some more of that grub back up to my gullet; I have found a place I will be returning to.

The first thing you notice at the Mediterranean Grille (MG) is that you may need Navy Seal Team 6 to find this place. The storefront resides on Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill, which is becoming hotbed for international cuisine catering to a bustling college crowd eager to prove they are more cultured than their coal-mining parents. A neon sign in the window is the only landmark that can lead you to this hidden gem. When you walk in the dark hallway, you are immediately forced downstairs to an area which contains multiple offices, yes; we are dining in an office building. My first trip to the MG, I was sure a doll on a tricycle was going to come out and ask me “Would you like to play a game?” But then ahead of me resided my holy grail.

In a room that resembled more of a dance studio than restaurant, you sit down in a pretty cramp room which has mirrors all over the walls. Now one thing about Blake is as much as Blake loves food, he loves Blake even more, so being able to watch Blake as Blake ate, stupendous. After waiting a bit to be seated, it was clear that there were not many people staffed in this establishment. After a nice talk with one of the waitresses, who while maybe not the most expeditious server, made up for it with sheer hospitality! I was given the back story of the place without even asking. Apparently the restaurant is a family owned endeavor ran by a mother and her daughters please cue the song “Family Affair” by Sly and the Family Stone, while you read the rest of this review. Blake absolutely has a soft spot for family owned establishments.

My introduction to the food involved the Mezza platter. This hefty platter is meant to be shared! It contains hummus, baba ghannouj, tabouli, feta cheese, and calamata olives. Opa! The exciting thing about this platter is not the components, even though they accompanied each other nicely. It was the pita! The pita was soft and warm when it arrived at the table, clearly just prepared, not sitting in the back of the kitchen pleading and hoping it gets selected like a puppy at the kennel. My personal taste does not favor baba ghannouj, but everything else was delicious.

My next choice was the artichoke heart salad. The description of this tasty morsel states artichoke hearts smothered with a sesame tahini sauce, and fresh lemon. Smothered, was definitely an accurate description. If you like tahini sauce, you will love this, which almost was a tahini soup with as much sauce as was used, but Blake screams, “This was scrumptious!” The artichoke hearts meshed well with the sauce for a refreshing taste on my tongue that made me crave my entrée. Based on the size of this dish I can only assume it was meant for sharing because you are provided with an overabundance of food on this dish also.

Lastly, I finished with a few wraps to end the meal. The Gyro Wrap consists of your standard toppings of lettuce, tomato, onion, in a wrap with a sour cream sauce. The Falafel Wrap consists of falafel with again the same toppings as the gyro wrap but the tahini sauce is the closer, telling the sour cream sauce, you had a good run, hit the showers buddy. There was nothing special about either wrap, good but not great….hmmm maybe I do have a little Anton Ego in me……a little. Both wraps held true to the restaurants theme of huge portions, but flavor wise, if you have had a gyro or falafel before, there is nothing novel here.

In summary, I enjoyed my trip to the Mediterranean Grille, if you can find a Sherpa to take you there, I would say go. The establishment is reasonably priced with their main plates between $12 -20. This is not going to be life changing, life inspiring, culinary transcendent food which leaves your taste buds in a mind blowing speechless haze. It is a wonderful change a pace to all of us who are half caveman and typically only dine on unsuspecting animals found in The Jungle Book. Blake just liked the food, and that is absolutely okay for me!

Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

BRGR – April 13, 2011 (Guest Blog by Blake Tarr)

*DISCLAIMER: FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER AT YINZ HUNGRY WE HAVE A GUEST BLOGGER! BLAKE TARR IS GOING TO GIVE HIS OPINIONS ON A RECENT TRIP TO BRGR. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY BLAKE TARR DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT THE OPINIONS OF YINZ HUNGRY… SO WITHOUT ANY FURTHER DELAY, INTRODUCING BLAKE TARR…*

Oh the burger revolution, with the ongoing advent of Foodie culture, there has been a movement to the appreciation of food to degrees unseen before; your typical hot dog can becomes a work of art which belongs in an art gallery instead of your large intestine. Thus you can purchase a gourmet burger, I repeat gourmet burgers, the concept really boggles my mind! Burgers are meant to be delicious, simple and delicious. An unhealthy guilty pleasure where a man can relive his prehistoric roots and engulf an animal that has roamed the purple mountain majesties above the fruited plains!  Taking a burger to fine dining just strikes me as generally wrong; if a chain smoking waitress named sue with a blue apron isn’t asking me “Would you like fries sugar?” I feel I am missing something!

With that being said back to BRGR, I went into the establishment after work and the first think I noticed looking at the decor was I felt underdressed!  Again, I just came from work so when business casual is underdressed for a burger joint let’s just say it gave me pause. The inside of the establishment resembled an apartment of a hipster and yuppie cohabiting a new york loft. If this seems like the location that you want to ingest grade A angus beef go right ahead, I was still looking for Sue to come around. The inside: trendy, elegant, refined (everything a burger should not be)  We got offered to sit on the rooftop which the host said was beautiful, again when I am attempting to ingest butchered cow, beautiful isn’t exactly what I am intending.

When reaching upstairs, they had a nice rooftop enclosure which was heated, since the day was slightly chilly. There was no dedicated bartender upstairs so if you wanted a beer on draft you could only order one downstairs (Alcoholic Milkshakes, and Beer Bottles were offered upstairs). Burger with no draft beer, I was about to throw a shoe at the wonderful waitress. Sitting down and calming myself I noticed this seemed like a comfortable place to eat a burger, not as stuffy and metro as downstairs.  I ordered a chocolate covered cherry spiked milkshake, which had cherry vodka, cherries and grated dark chocolate, I gotta say not bad! You tasted every flavor present, and definitely tasted the vodka. It was a nice novelty, maybe this place would start to grow on me.  We ordered fries, which had Parmesan cheese and herbs on top and they were quite tasty, we added the truffle cheese whiz which was a delicious dipping sauce!  (Warning: As you know I am lactose intolerant, so after ingesting the milkshake and cheese fries I began to second guess my dining options, but the food was so tasty, it was something I was willing to pay for!)

Now what you are curious about, the burger. first and foremost, my expectations were a place that you could build your own burger, this was not the case. For a place that specializes in burgers the options are relatively limited.  6 angus beef burgers, 1 salmon burger, 1 turkey burger, 1 veggie burger, 1 pork burger, 1 kobe beef burger, and a few other options. No substitutions is written in big bold letters! Even at Wendy’s I can have it my way! A burger place where I can’t customize my order, oh no BRGR we have a problem ( and where are the vowels in the name, I understand the general rules of the English language!)

I orderd the Shroomz Angus Burger cooked medium, that is what I received! The burger itself was cooked perfectly, the flavors were sadly one note, a tasty burger yes, was I transported to anywhere other than a rooftop in East Liberty, no! No flavor really came out at me, the brie cheese, the mushrooms, the carmelized onions, the mustard aioli. Not bad, flavors were muddled, you could say harmonized if you want, I will say it was just a good burger. The only criticism with the burger was the bun. Soft and delicious but my bun started to fall apart a bit upon tooth destruction of my burger. I would have liked a more hearty bun.

BRGR (where are the freaking vowels!) service was nice and quick, we had a nice conversation with one of our waitresses, but alas, I don’t think I will be returning, while it was a ok time, paying for gourmet prices for an OK time is simply not ok. In Pittsburgh there are a plethora of gourmet burger joints (Burgatory, The Pittsburgh Burger Company, Fat Heads) sadly BRGR you don’t cut the mustard….

Location
5997 Penn Circle South
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Phone- 412-362-BEEF(2333)
Web- http://www.brgrpgh.com/
Facebook –
http://www.facebook.com/pages/BRGR-Pittsburgh/107663902634152

BRGR on Urbanspoon