Round Corner Cantina

corner Round Corner Cantina on Urbanspoon

I have visited Round Corner Cantina in the past just for happy hour or something but I recently made my first trip to Round Corner Cantina just for the food. I haven’t ventured to too many restaurants in Lawrenceville yet, that will be on my to do list in 2014. However, I wasn’t that impressed with my trip to Round Corner Cantina.

We ordered some chips and guacamole to start, I wasn’t crazy about the guacamole. To me it really lacked flavor. They give you a dish of it with lime and jalapeno but it just did nothing for me. I stuck with the salsa and that was pretty much forgettable.

Onto the main event, I ordered 2 types of tacos: Carnitas and Chorizo. Each order comes with 2 tacos. Carnitas – Slow roast pork, cucumber, onion, radish, cilantro. My sister told us this was her favorite and we should try it. This was my least favorite. What really ruined the dish for me was the cucumber. I like cucumber but it tasted like the cucumber had been pickled and well pickles just don’t go well with tacos. It was too overpowering for my taste. I didn’t care much for the pork by itself either, it was under seasoned and I think they were trying to cover that up with the cucumber, onion, radish and cilantro.

I also ordered the Chorizo Con Papas – House made chorizo, onion, radish, cilantro. The chorizo wasn’t bad, I thought it had a decent flavor to it. However, like the first one there wasn’t really anything special about it.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend the food unless you are planning on drinking at the bar in the front and just need something in your stomach. I doubt I will ever go back for the food again.

Advertisements

The Pub Chip Shop

tpcs1 tpcs2 tpcs3   The Pub Chip Shop on Urbanspoon

 

I am a big fan of Piper’s Pub down in the South Side and when I heard they were opening up another place right next store I was very excited! The new place “The Pub Chip Shop” is a British restaurant described as a proper takeaway and pie shop. When I arrived I was very surprised at the style of The Pub Chip Shop. You walk in and the menu is above the register and after you order you can either eat in or take it to go. The night I went were only 8 bar stools inside, so I would probably recommend planning on taking it to go unless seats are available when you arrive. Just because of how Piper’s Pub is a full service restaurant that was my original though going into TPCS.

I ordered a small Steak & Ale pie along with an order of Fish & Chips. The Steak & Ale pie is steak, mushrooms, brown ale infused stock. The steak and ale pie could be best described as a stew pot pie. It was good, nothing wrong with it, but just nothing that I would go crazy for.

The Fish & Chips come with two pieces of hand dipped beer battered haddock and a side of fries. The “chips” weren’t for me, I like fries that are thin and crispy. These were more fat fresh cut fries. The haddock was cooked excellent and I wouldn’t mind getting that again. If that was a fish sandwich I would order it every time.

There are a few other things on the menu that I would like to try on another visit, but I can’t say I will be rushing back to The Pub Chip Shop anytime soon.

Nied’s Hotel

neids Nied's Hotel on Urbanspoon

Nied’s Hotel has been on the top of my list for fish sandwiches for a few years now, finally I was able to stop down last week! I have to say that besides the food, the service was incredible! First, I called just to make sure they served lunch. I was told on the phone that yes they are open and that they are “serving up delicious fish sandwiches!”. Well if I wasn’t planning on ordering the fish to start I was definitely sold on it now! We walk in the door to the bar and the bartender let’s us know if we want a table we can walk around to the dinning room side. We walk over to the dinning room and a gentleman (who I later find out is the owner) tells us to come on in the water is fine!

We sit down, check out the menu a few minutes. I decide to go with the fish sandwich with cheese. While we wait for our food the owner, Jimmy, stops over to our table and begins chatting. He begins telling us about the history of Nied’s along with the Nied’s Hotel Band and their upcoming show. We tell him we have been wanting to come during lent and he tells us during lent it’s a madhouse, that we picked a good time to come.

The fish sandwich was excellent! For a fried fish sandwich, it was very light. The breading had a nice crisp crunch when you bite into it. I can really see why this has been such a popular fish sandwich in Pittsburgh all these years. Between the great fish sandwich and the polite company of Jimmy and our server, this was one of the best first experiences at a restaurant I have had in a long time! Just stopping in for lunch we were all treated like family and I think that is one of the best things I can say about any place I can go. So if you haven’t gone to Nied’s Hotel, this is a must try! I can see why urbanspoon lists them at a 95% approval rating!

Jim’s Drive In

jims Jim's Drive in on Urbanspoon

There are some places that I go to so regularly that when I think back if I’ve blogged them or not I get surprised when I haven’t. Jim’s Drive In is one of those places that I have been going to for years and can’t believe I haven’t done a blog on them yet. I have been going to Jim’s Drive In for as long as I can remember, my dad has taken me there for years and he has been going even longer. Jim’s is a great find if you take the time to look for it. When you find Jim’s you park your car and walk up to the window to place your order. There are some picnic tables outside to sit or you can eat in your car, but we usually just take it home to eat.

My usual order is a Cheeseburger and Cheese Dog both with Jim’s special sauce and onions. I didn’t know until today when I was checking out their website that the cheese dog with sauce and onions is called “Jim’s Special Hot Dog”. The special sauce is great, it has a tomato paste base and a blend of spices that provide a nice little kick to the hot dog and cheeseburger. As much as I do love the sauce, what really makes the food for me is the cheese that melts under the broiler! When put under the broiler it not only toasts the buns to perfection but the cheese melts and really grips the hot dog bun and locks all the flavor of the sauce and onion inside. You haven’t had a great hot dog experience in Pittsburgh until you have visited Jim’s Drive In!

If you want to learn more about Jim’s or their Famous Sauce, check out their website – http://jimsfamoussauce.com/jimsfamoussauce.php

Szmidt’s Old World Deli

szmidts Szmidt's Old World Deli on Urbanspoon

The other day I was online and saw someone post a picture of a sandwich at Szmidt’s. I did a quick google search to see where Szmidt’s is and luckily found out it isn’t too far from me in Greenfield. Over the weekend I decided to take a quick trip over and have lunch.

I pulled up and noticed Szmidt’s has some outdoor seating and even had a chalkboard outside with the day’s specials. I walk in and the inside is small, they have a high top table and then seating around a counter along the window. They have a big menu board above the deli case and cashier. TONS of items on the menu!

I ordered the “Joe” which is grilled pastrami and corned beef, swiss cheese and Szmidt’s mustard on homemade grilled rye. I also ordered a side of 2 “Thanksgiving” pierogies. The “Joe” was incredible! I hate ordering a pastrami or corned beef sandwich that is dried out, but this sandwich was juicy and flavorful. The mustard paired nicely with the pastrami to provide an extra kick to the sandwich. When I think of a deli sandwich this really is what you should expect. Plus the corned beef and pastrami were pilled on high, you won’t go home hungry after eating this!

The “Thanksgiving” pierogies caught my attention on their “New World” selection. Inside was turkey and stuffing and they came with a side of gravy. I would definitely have these again and would like to try some of their other selections. It’s now fall which means Thanksgiving is right around the corner, if you need a quick fix before the holiday I recommend a quick trip to Szmidt’s for these pierogies!

The staff was very quick with getting the food out and were very friendly. Everyone that worked behind the counter made sure to ask how the food was and see if we were doing alright. For the quick 10 minute drive it takes me to get to Szmidt’s I can see myself having lunch on the weekends their a lot more.

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

2 3

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

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!