When we moved to Mt Washington nearly a year ago, visiting Kavsar was at the top of our “to try” list. What can I say, there’s a lot of stuff on that list, so it took us a long time to get there. Before visiting this restaurant, here’s a list of all the things I knew about Uzbek food:
Ok, so I had heard it has a lot of Russian influence. But the only thing I know about Russian food is borscht, and I’ve never even eaten that. So it’s fair to say this was totally new territory for me.
BTW, if you don’t know where Uzbekistan is, here is a map. It’s the pink country. It’s far away from Pittsburgh.
One thing I learned is that Uzbekistan is a Muslim country. Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, so they do not serve alcohol there, nor are they BYOB. No drinking at all. Which was actually a nice change of things. Sometimes we spend too much attention on the wine or beer, which dulls our senses to the food, so it wasn’t so bad opting for green tea alongside my meal.
Kavsar is well aware that Pittsburgh isn’t familiar with Uzbek food, so there are plenty of helpful descriptions in the menu. Most of the dishes are variations on meat-and-carbs. Lots of potatoes, lots of grilled meat, lots of sour cream. Love it.
We started things off with the pickled vegetables (banana peppers, mushrooms, cabbage and cornichons), which were pretty standard from the jar pickled things, but added nice crunch and zing to our dishes. If I were smart, I would have taken notes at the time…but I didn’t, so you’ll have to bear with my descriptions of the dishes. The upper left were, I believe, called rolled pancakes. They were similar to blintzes, filled with mashed potatoes and served with sour cream. In the front, were the “pancake bags” filled with beef, a sour cream sauce and mushrooms. These pancake bags were the stand-out stars of the meal. I’m still thinking of them. They were the ultimate comfort food.
We shared the traditional bread, which had a fluffy crust on the outside, with the middle being denser and chewier. I liked having both of these textures together, and the bread had a nice hearty flavor.
I had a potato dumpling dish as my entree (again, the name fails me…). These are cousins to Pixburgh’s beloved pierogi, except the dumpling dough is much thinner and lighter, and the dill was surprising and refreshing.
Mr. Beez had a delicious noodle dish, full of chunky vegetables and chicken and a rich sauce. This dish too used a lot of dill. Personally, I like dill a lot, but don’t know of too many uses for it. I liked these unique approaches to its use, and it brought an interesting depth of flavor.
Although Uzbek food is very meat-focused, Kavsar does have a vegetarian menu. For kids (or just picky eaters), there is plenty on the menu that is similar enough to familiar dishes that Kavsar would make a good option for both adventurous and less-adventurous eaters. Baby Beez is pretty good with trying new things, but she has her moments, and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with her being difficult. She enjoyed the mashed potato pancakes, a chicken kebab and rice.
Kavsar has been getting a lot of well-deserved. good press. They were featured in the March issue of Pittsburgh Magazine, as well a write up in the City Paper last year. When we first arrived at the restaurant, we were the only folks there, but the place was quite full by the time we were heading out. This made me glad, as I am happy to see this family restaurant getting support and attention from the community.
We grabbed a menu on the way out, because Kavsar is definitely going to be on our takeout short list. We liked the experience of going there of course, but it is also close to where we live, the prices are good and the portions are generous, and the food is nice and belly-filling for those hungry days when you can’t get it together to cook and take out is so necessary.