Pittsburgh Restaurant Week featured a food blogger dinner tonight, hosted by the Porch at Schenley Park. The Porch is a bistro-type eatery in Schenley Plaza that focuses on local fare. I only learned days ago that it has its own rooftop garden and beehive. Our price fixe meal special also included the opportunity to hike up to the roof and check out the garden!
We started the evening with refreshing blueberry lavender cocktails, featuring Wigle Whiskey. I’m not a huge blueberry fan, but these were great. I could spend hours sipping them at the Porch’s outdoor tables, as the sun slowly sinks.
The Porch offered a generous spread of fruit, cheese, and small eats (even oysters! but I didn’t snap a pictures of those).
The Porch’s executive chef came out and chatted with us about his philosophy, and his guiding principles in running the restaurant. He tends the rooftop gardens himself, and he also has a half-cow sent in monthly, which they butcher in house. In addition to butchering, creating menus, tending to customers, and cooking, the chef is also personally responsible for the rooftop garden. When does this guy sleep?
My friend Katy and I were lucky to share our table with Quelcy of With the Grains, and Ali (whose blog name I can’t remember! Ali, if you see this, tell me your blog name!!) We had great conversation and great food! The starter was a beef tartare dish that was ENORMOUS. I’ve only ever been served beef tartare in bite-sized portions. This was a lot of tartare. I liked the mix of olive and herbs with the meat, it gave it a nice salty, flavorful taste.
The main dish was a pork saltimbocca. I had no idea what saltimbocca was, but it is essentially a cooking technique that involves filling the meat with herbs and (in this case) proscioutto. The flavor was homey and accessible. I especially liked that it incorporated beans and tomatoes from the rooftop garden.
The dessert was a blueberry and chocolate tart accompanied by hazelnut brittle. I don’t much care for blueberry pie, and I considered requesting something else, but the chef did promise that it was AWESOME. He was right. The blueberries did not overtake the dish, and they complemented the chocolate beautifully. That was a darn good tart. I skipped the brittle, because after a childhood incident in which I ate an entire jar of Nutella (don’t do that), I can’t stomach the taste of hazelnuts. My dining companions, though, spoke highly of the brittle.
My dinner at the Porch was lovely. In a neighborhood stuffed with fast food campus fare, the Porch adds something just a little nicer. (Note to students moving in to the dorms in a couple weeks: Get your parents to take you to the Porch for a meal, while they and their wallets are still in town!)