For once, I let Mr. Beez pick a restaurant. His selection: Nu Modern Bistro, a Squirrel Hill Deli with a contemporary twist. My attitude was ambivalent, but hey, a sandwich is a sandwich, so I went along without complaint.
Our outing was on a snowy winter night. I can’t remember a night in these parts when it wasn’t snowing, but the old folks tell me there was a time, long ago, where the temperature was above 40 degrees. Seeing as we have descended to the next ice age, soup was a necessity, and we selected Nu’s signature “Jewish penicillin.”
A couple local dining reviews have raved over the soup. I thought the fried wontons were a fun twist, but overall it was good enough. I was brought up with matzoh ball soup that is full of chunky vegetables and chicken, so Nu’s version felt sparse. Still, I considered it decent.
We ordered the Latke Tots for Baby Beez, because she has been very three lately, and three year olds will (usually) reliably eat fried potatoes, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, chocolate, and the tears of their frustrated parents. On this particular evening, Baby Beez was only interested in the tears, so we invited ourselves to sample her Latke Tots. I found them to be fairly typical fried potatoes. They were more latke than tot (meaning that the texture was shredded, not chopped), but otherwise they were salty and greasy and exactly what you expected. That is a good thing, but not a particularly “modern” thing.
This review so far has been rather boring, but then we got to my main course:
DANG THAT’S A GOOD SANDWICH. I got the Upstreet Dip, heavy with brisket, caramelized onions, horseradish sauce and jus for dipping. The bread was soft but crusty. The meat just the perfect level of salty and fatty and so full of flavor. OMG THAT SANDWICH. I didn’t even bother with the pickle or coleslaw, because I was enjoying that sandwich so stupid much that I did not want to sully my tastebuds with any other flavor.
Would I return to Nu? It wouldn’t be the place I’d use as a Pittsburgh introduction for out of towners, but I sure as heck would stop in for that sandwich. Their Montreal-style brined meat also seems like it could be good, and although I usually like to try all different things on a menu, I loved the Upstreet Dip so much that I can’t see myself straying from it. Nu has some work to do to get itself more widely on the dining radar. There were several aspects of the experience that I found to be just “ok”, including the service and the ambiance. But even with those weaker aspects, if they can get a following for a few of their excellent and special menu items, the place could have long-term promise.