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I kind of love this place @ProperPGH

I kind of love this place @ProperPGH

A dining spot that offers a mid-level option between fast food and super fancy food is always a welcome addition to dahntahn. Proper Brick Oven and Tap Room has been getting some buzz for it’s excellent list of craft beers on tap (30 to choose from!). Although craft beer isn’t an option for a workday lunch option, I’ve heard the food is good too. Proper was a great choice for a casual lunch with my friend, Kruti, with whom I was long-overdue for catching up.

We started things off with the house salad. I was very happy to see that it wasn’t the usual iceberg-and-tomatoes, but rather was soft bibb lettuce, with pears, walnuts, goat cheese and a tangy vinegarette. The salad was a fresh way to kick off the meal.

Proper House Salad

Although when it comes to pizza, I can probably chow down on a whole pie myself, on this particular visit I restrained myself to the appetite of a civilized person. We shared the “Forest Pizza,” topped with caramelized mushrooms, roasted shallots and a balsalmic glaze. It was so crazy good.

Proper Forest Pizza

Proper is high up on my “to go” list for upcoming hours. The beer options are excellent, and with the variety of pizza they have, there’s bound to be something on the menu everyone will want to snack on. During the winter months I probably would have complained that Proper is across Dahntahn from my office, but now that the weather is lovely again, that stroll sounds great to me!

With the upcoming Children’s International Festival in dahntahn this May, Proper also has the right kind of feel for a family meal. For the parents, there’s good food and good drink, but it’s relaxed enough to be appropriate to bring the kids along. Lately, we’ve been going out to dinner on Friday nights. By Friday night I’m just too tired to do the cooking. Proper’s going on our list of “go to” places for Friday night family meals. You can never go wrong when you finish the week with a brew and a slice.

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Tartine: A Darling Brunch Spot in the West End

Tartine: A Darling Brunch Spot in the West End

Today is Easter Sunday, and Easter is always a good day to talk brunch! I’m at my in-laws today, and we’re having home cooked food, but given how Easter, springtime and brunch go so nicely together, I thought it a good time to talk about a new darling brunch spot in the West End neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

When my friend Amy invited me to brunch, how could I resist? Brunch is the best. The. Best. And with more and more restaurants opening up on Sunday mornings, my “to brunch” list is ever-growing. I’m always up for French baked goods, so I was eager to propose Tartine as our brunching spot.
Tartine

There are some important things to remember about Tartine:

1. It is very small. Going earlier is better, as near the end of our brunch the place was totally packed, and there were plenty of people waiting to be seated. Being small, it’s a better option for parties of 6 or fewer. The space limitations make it hard to accommodate huge groups.

2. It is cash only. I, however, never carry cash on me. So I had to make a quick (and embarrass) run up the street to an ATM. Plan better than me, folks.

3. They do not serve liquor, meaning if you are having a hankering for a brunch time mimosa, they cannot deliver (I am not sure whether you can BYOB. If you can, this may not be an ideal option).

4. The food is excellent. Keep 1-3 in mind, and you will be in for a fantastic meal.

Tartine Quiche

Quiche, a quintessentially French dish, is permanently on the menu at Tartine. Baby Beez loves quiche, so this gives Tartine extra points in picking a place for family brunch. Tartine’s potatoes are very similar to the kinds my dad would make for us on Sunday mornings, so this meal was served for us with a side of nostalgia.

Tartine Eggs Florentine

I picked the Tartine Eggs Florentine, which is an eggs benedict with spinach, and tomatoes subbed in for the English Muffin. The tomatoes took away the usual heaviness of the dish, so I enjoyed the tasty dish without a post-meal food coma.

Tartine Raspberry Torte

We absolutely could not resist completing our meal with Tartine’s gorgeous desserts. The Raspberry Torte was simply gorgeous, sweet and light, and perfect.

Tartine is one of Pittsburgh’s best-kept secrets. Selfishly, I hope it stays a secret, because I don’t want to fight a crowd when I’m in the mood for a lovely brunch. But really, it’s a wonderful place and worth a visit.

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Essential Pittsburgh Outings and @PageDairyMart

Essential Pittsburgh Outings and @PageDairyMart

My recent hankering for a hot fudge sundae reached an apex yesterday, and I could no longer stand to go without. An after-dinner ice cream outing was essential. Baby Beez, having not fallen far from the tree, was equally excited for ice cream. So excited that she complied with my order to eat all her green beans at dinner, with little complaint.

I have long preferred hard-scooped ice cream over soft serve, but this may be due to a lack of exposure to proper soft serve. Up until a few years ago, the only soft serve I knew was from McDonalds or Costco, each worth every penny of their paltry $1.49 price. I suppose anyone would be ambivalent about soft serve given that limited exposure.

While pregnant with Baby Beez, I had my first taste of real soft serve, with a late afternoon sprinkle-rolled cone from Wiener World. Now that was some good ice cream, and I realized that I may have been misled.

So last night we ventured to the local mainstay of all things soft serve, Page Dairy Mart.  Page has cultlike devotees, and quite frankly, I felt shame for never having visited before, because it’s one of those quintessentially Pittsburgh places. I intended to get a simple hot fudge sundae, but when I saw the Hot Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae (featuring Nancy B’s cookies!) I could not help myself. Gluttony it must be.

Page Dairy mart Chocolate Chip Sundae

The sundae was enormous. Usually I am one to finish every last bite, even if it makes me sick, but this sundae simply defeated me. I got about 2/3 of the way through and declared “Uncle!” But every bite on the way to that sugar coma was decadent. The members of the Page Dairy Mart cult certainly know good ice cream.

Page Dairy Mart

Baby Beez was thrilled with her simple chocolate soft serve. It’s nice that they offer a wide range of sizes, and I was able to get her an “Xtra Small” which was just perfect for her 3 year old appetite.

Given the ridiculous prices I’m used to paying at other ice cream outlets, it was a thrill that our entire bill came to $6. ONLY SIX DOLLARS, and this isn’t for pathetic icy-milk, this is for delicious frozen confections. What a treat.

Today I’m continuing on the theme of Pittsburgh Mainstays with lunch at Fiori’s Pizza. It, too, has a firmly entrenched following that rivals the Mineo’s aficionados (personally I’m a Jioio’s girl).

My colleague, Tania, recently moved to Pittsburgh. She asked me yesterday about essential Pittsburgh experiences (for new residents, not just for a quick visit), and I sort of surprised myself that I didn’t have a list at the ready. These are the things I’ve thought of so far.

  • Shopping & snacks in the Strip District
  • Burgers at Tessaro’s
  • Dessert at Oakmont Bakery
  • Prantl’s Burnt Almond Torte
  • Primanti’s
  • Movies on Flagstaff Hill
  • Pirates game on Skyblast night
  • Dave & Andy’s ice cream
  • Three Rivers Arts Festival
  • Kennywood visit! Complete with Potato Patch Fries
  • Riding the Incline
  • Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning
  • A hike through Homewood Cemetery
  • The Warhol Museum
  • (not Pgh but close enough) Fallingwater
  • St Anthony’s Church in Troy Hill
  • Lunch at a Pittsburgh Fish Fry
  • Get yourself invited to a wedding and chow down at the cookie table
  • Thumbprint cookies from the Arcade Bakery at the-Macys-formerly-known-as-Kaufmanns
  • Visiting the Christmas Windows at the-Macys-formerly-known-as-Kaufmanns
  • Sunday brunch and breadmaking at Enrico’s in the Strip (h/t Randy)
  • A visit to the Point State Park fountain (h/t Sonia)
  • Indulging at Fat Heads (h/t Sonia)
  • A Vinnie Pie from Vincent’s Pizza Park (h/t Peter)

What else should we add?

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A Square Meal with @TheSquareCafe

A Square Meal with @TheSquareCafe

Square Cafe has long been a favorite of mine in the East End, but on weekends has an inescapably long line. This is not such a problem when you’re with a group of grown ups (plus- you can order your coffee drinks a la carte at the coffee bar while you wait), but it’s a dealbreaker when you have small ones in tow. The only thing worse than waiting in line is waiting in line with a small kid. I, as per usual, saw Square Cafe’s deal on Groupon and decided OMG I MUST HAVE THIS. But when it came down to using the Groupon, I realized that weekends were just not workable.

Luckily, I have a lot of flexibility in my job, and was able to work out a weekday where I could venture out for breakfast and show up in the office a little late (which is a nice trade-off considering how many nights my work keeps me tied to my laptop late at night). Since Sandy of OrangeChairBlog and I share a love for all things brunch, and our daughters are good buddies, we were naturally a perfect match for this breakfast date.

Square Cafe in Regent Square

Square Cafe is a go-to spot for the GLBTQ community, and during our visit, their walls were adorned with simply gorgeous GLBTQ family portraits. The artwork itself was worth the visit, the portraits were just lovely. Square Cafe is truly a neighborhood restaurant. The owners foster a sense of community, and more than anything, they want their visitors to have a lovely visit.

The breakfast menu is ample, but every time I’ve been there my attention immediately gravitates to the 2 hash dishes offered: a brussels sprouts hash and a butternut squash hash. I picked the brussels sprouts hash for this visit, and it was so salty and filling and all things amazing. Underneath that egg is a bed of cheesy grits. Basically it is everything I love in a breakfast, on one plate. So good. Square also has an ample coffee bar menu, with all kinds of flavored lattes and other caffeinated treats. The gingerbread latte is my usual go-to. It is exactly as it sounds and simply delightful.

The Brilliant Brussels Sprouts Hash at The Square CafeSandy went for the special of the day, which was a ricotta-filled blood orange crepe. I generally do not order crepes of any sort, because I am a HUNGRY LASS, and crepes are a surefire recipe for me to be hungry about 20 minutes after breakfast is over. Sandy reported that the crepe was delicious and filling, and she was extremely happy with it.

Blood Orange Crepes at The Square Cafe

Breakfast is reliably a good meal to take Baby Beez to a restaurant, because she sure as heck likes eggs, pancakes, cottage cheese, pretty much every breakfast food. Square Cafe is very skilled in serving kids– their meals are served on plastic plates with favorite cartoon characters and their meals always come out quickly. Rachel had plenty of scrambled eggs, bacon and cottage cheese and she was quite a happy girl.
Square Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Hello, Monday

Hello World. It is Monday. I have lots to do this week! Bring on the coffee!

First up, we’re counting down to this week’s Breakfast and Blogging here at Clark Hill! There is still time to RSVP to join us for a bagel and to chat about the law! The other panelists and I sat down last week and worked through a lot of the program, and I’m really excited for this event. I think there are a lot of bloggers/social media enthusiasts out there who have a vague idea of how the law impacts them, but would like to learn more. This is a great opportunity to ask your questions and get some great feedback, and best yet– the program is free!

breakfast and blogging

On Friday, I was crazy excited to get my April/May issue of Edible Allegheny, where yours truly was featured in the Online Dish column! What a sweet pic of Baby Beez!

edibleallegheny

Finally, even though there is snow still in the weather forecast, I’ve decided that it’s full-on spring round these parts. Mr. Beez thinks that lawyers generally should have more grown-up manicures, but I say that the gloomy weather gives me no option. We need some COLOR up in herrrre!

spring nails

Wishin’ all yinz a fun & sunny week!