3

Ramen Lunch for a Dreary Day .@FukudaPgh .@PghRestaurantWk

I have a ton of posts waiting in the hopper, but decided to go with this one first, because it is Pittsburgh Restaurant Week right now, and I want to encourage yinz to try something new! Fukuda is a new sushi joint in Bloomfield, and it prides itself on fresh, inventive and authentic dishes. I’ve been wanting to try their sushi, but haven’t gotten a chance. Today I happened to have the very unusual opportunity to actually get lunch with my husband. I saw a mention of Ramen pop up in my facebook feed, and I told him “WE MUST GO THERE.” Mr. Beez particularly likes ramen, and I particularly like food, so it was a good choice.

20130111-210452.jpg

Fukuda is very very very small.  There are maybe 10 seats at the sushi bar, and another fourteen or so seats at tables.  This place is tiny.  I’m not sure if Fukuda takes reservations, but if they do, you should make a reso before heading over.  It’s itty bitty, and the restaurant is generating big buzz.  It’s been getting particular attention because it is one of the very few establishments in the city offering a late night menu (that doesn’t also offer smiley cookies).

20130111-210458.jpg

This stuff was so good.  This ain’t Oodles o’ Noodles.  The Ramen lunch menu is small. They offer edamame, ramen, miso ramen (vegetarian), and seafood ramen.  You better want ramen if you show up.  We picked the regular ramen.  It had a savory but not-too-salty broth that was rich and filling.  It also had thick chunks of pork belly, ramen (obviously), various vegetables, and a poached egg.  Poached egg is not Mr. Beez’ style, so he ordered it without.  But I thought that the poached egg was a perfect touch.  It (alongside the pork belly) made the soup substantial enough for a satisfying lunch.

Fukuda, along with other 50 other Pittsburgh restaurants are running specials this week for Pittsburgh Restaurant Week.  Go try something new!

Fukuda on Urbanspoon

2

Alma Restaurant

Mr. Beez and I went on a double date with our foodie friends, Christine and Trav, to Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen. Alma is in the Regent Square neighborhood, and offers a “latin fusion” type menu. They are participating in Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, and have offered a special price fixe menu for the occasion. Alma has been talked up significantly lately (see for example praise from Pittsburgh Magazine’s Brazen Kitchen), and I’ve heard nothing but good things from friends who have visited there.

Alma has a diverse cocktail menu and a manageable wine list (there’s variety, but it’s not overwhelming). I started off with a capirinhia, which was nice and citrusy. We also kicked off the meal with their much-acclaimed empanadas. The empanada filling changes frequently, and for our visit it was oxtail.

20120818-204504.jpg

The empanadas were smaller than I expected, and the pastry was hard (they were freshly fried, so it’s not like they got cold and hard, I was just expecting a soft pastry).  They had a nice meaty taste, but I was expecting a little more kick from them.  I suspect that Alma truly shines in some of their empanadas varieties, but I think the oxtail wasn’t their strongest.  I suppose I had a pretty particular idea in my head of what this dish would be, and it was different, so I was a little confused.  It wasn’t bad, though, and I would try out their empanadas again.

20120818-204457.jpg

The difficulty of visiting a new restaurant is that sometimes your expectations, and its reputation, get ahead of you.  I ordered the brisket on the price fixe menu.  The brisket was tender, flavorful, and very generously portioned.  The trouble was that my expectations were set on a more innovative menu, and this dish was closer to a classic ropa vieja.  It was delicious, just not the kind of dish this restaurants’ reputation led me to expect.

I briefly glanced at the standard menu before deciding on the price fixe, so I don’t know if this is on their standard menu.  I would hope that it is, because it was very tasty.  I would like to try dishes that follow more closely Alma’s reputation for innovation, so for those of you who have been there, point me to the right place on the menu!

20120818-204512.jpg

For dessert I had the berry sorbet. It had the right balance of creaminess and sweetness, without making your teeth hurt.  This kind of sorbet makes me want to get my own ice cream maker, so I can eat all the sorbet I want!

Final Verdict: I liked it a lot.  The food was delicious, just not what I was expecting.  I would definitely go back, either with adjusted expectations, or with more education on the specific menu options.

I’m sad that Pittsburgh Restaurant Week is over now.  It was a fun run. Until next time!
Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen on Urbanspoon

2

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Blogger Dinner: The Porch at Schenley Park

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!

20120814-231034.jpg

Rooftop plants that insulate the restaurant’s roof (and Pitt’s beautiful Cathedral of Learning of course!)

20120814-231041.jpg

20120814-231047.jpg

Beehives!

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.

20120814-231000.jpg

The Porch offered a generous spread of fruit, cheese, and small eats (even oysters! but I didn’t snap a pictures of those).

20120814-231010.jpg

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?

20120814-231019.jpg

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.

20120814-231027.jpg

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.

20120814-231056.jpg

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.

20120814-231103.jpg

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!)

The Porch at Schenley on Urbanspoon