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Aseoma in Squirrel Hill

Pittsburgh’s starting to finally get moving with food trucks, but our street food culture has a long way to go. Casual eats in this city aren’t nearly as creative or daring as ones offered in Los Angeles, Vancouver, or NYC. Aseoma seeks to shake up Pittsburgh’s street food scene, by offering Latin/Korean fusion type meals.

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On one of many tired and hungry nights, we selected Aseoma for take out. I loved that I was able to place my order online. I really do not like talking on the phone, and I’m much happier being able to place my order on the internet.  Because we have a little one, we tend to eat early.  I stopped by to pick up our meal around 6pm.  I was disappointed to see that at that point the dining room was empty.  I didn’t know what kind of ambiance to expect from the fairly boring storefront, but it is really cool and stylish in there.  I’m not 100% on this, but I think it is BYOB.  It seemed like a nice little joint to have a fun evening out with some friends.

I ordered the Fire Beef tacos.  I have a VERY low tolerance for spicy foods, and these were just spicy enough to be flavorful.  The heat did not overwhelm the dish.  The tacos came with a few french fries on the side, which didn’t seem necessary for the meal.  My kid was happy to gobble them down, though…she loves fries!  I also had the bacon kimchi fried rice, which was a tasty twist on an old reliable favorite.

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I like that Aseoma has predictable offerings like pho, and also more unpredictable/unique fare. I thought Aseoma was simply awesome, and I hope that the empty dining room when I stopped by is a function of timing. It would be a shame if Aseoma’s tasty food went unacknowledged.  We’re keeping Aseoma on the short list for our quick-inner needs!
Aseoma on Urbanspoon

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Girls’ Night!

Mr. Beez is in New York on business, so for tonight it is just me and Baby Beez. I have the good/bad problem of being interested in WAY to many things, and being in a city that is immensely full of fantastic and interesting opportunities, so I’m constantly filling my schedule with after work things. This week’s after-work schedule, however, is blissfully empty.

I wanted to keep up with my jogging, but that’s not much of an option when it’s just Baby Beez and me. She’s a nightmare in the stroller (she gets bored after about 10 minutes) and my gym does not offer babysitting for nighttime workouts.

I came up with an idea! The weather was gorgeous and clear tonight– a perfect night for a walk! So I strapped that toddler in the baby carrier, and off we went for a long stroll through Greenfield, Schenley Park, and Squirrel Hill. The rolling hills of these neighborhoods are plenty of a workout, then strap a 25 lb squirming toddler to your back, and it’s PLENTY of exercise!  We had fun seeing deer munching on grass in the park, counting buses, and pointing out the color of cars.

Now it’s time for some Pajanimals before bedtime, zzzzzzzzz

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The chronic-whut-cles of Waffall-o-nia

On Sunday I asked for brunch recommendations on facebook, and got multiple glowing recommendations for Waffallonia. Sadly that was not to be for Sunday, since Waffallonia doesn’t have the seating accomodations we were looking for, and also I had already been there five days prior. With all that sugar and deliciousness, I’d probably die if I ate there twice in one week.

Our visit to Waffallonia was unplanned. I was proudly making a cabbage casserole for dinner (like stuffed cabbage, just in casserole form), but it FAILED miserably. The rice didn’t cook at all. It physically pains me to dump out food, but unless we planned to break our teeth, this had to be done.

Naturally, the only remedy for this tragedy was to gorge ourselves on Liege waffles and ice cream instead.

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I’d visit Waffallonia for their ice cream selection alone. It’s a small selection, but it’s Dave & Andy’s (the BEST), and all flavors that I love, including Chocolate, cinnamon, and speculoos (an amazing gingerbready-cookie type ice cream).

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They make the glorious sweet-with-pearl-sugar waffles while you wait. Waffallonia smells like heaven. Then the hot waffles are topped with your choice of ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, or other fruit or syrup toppings. It’s simple. It’s perfect.

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Someone was very excited about the “ICE CREAAAAAAAAAAAM!”

Almost enough for me to want to ruin another dinner, so we can go back…

Waffallonia on Urbanspoon

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Curry on Murray

I try to keep it positive on this blog, and most of the time I’m very lucky to have fantastic dining experiences.  Every once in a while, though, things go south.  By being less than 100% positive, I’m not seeking to shame a restaurant. I’d like to see places get their ducks in a row,  fix the problems, and succeed.

Curry on Murray just opened up July 12.  It’s on Murray Avenue, in one of those unfortunate storefronts that seems to be a revolving door for small restaurants.  Sababa Mediterranean Grill was there for a while, before that was a bakery/coffee shop that I think was called Rolladin’s (or something like that), and I can’t even remember the other several eateries that came and went before that.  For only being open 2 weeks, Curry on Murray managed to get several favorable reviews on Yelp.   Always up for a new eatery, I suggested that we get take out.

I ordered the Panang Curry, Mr. Beez went for Pad Mee Mow and wonton soup,  my mom ordered Pineapple Curry, and Baby Beez had dumplings.  We all agreed that the food was good.  It wasn’t exceptional, but it did not fall short either.  It was perfectly adequate to feed that thai take out craving.  

They know what they’re doing with the food, but it’s the operational side of the restaurant that is holding them back.  First, their pricing needs to be fixed.  The entrees are priced fairly consistently with other Thai places, around $11-13 per entree.  While the portion sizes of Pad Mee Mow and Pineapple Curry were consistent with other Thai places, my Panang Curry serving size was noticeably and inexplicably smaller (even in a smaller takeout container).  Either the portion size of that needs to be upped, or the price needs to be dropped.  The appetizers and soups are also priced inappropriately.  Mr. Beez asked for wonton soup.  It was priced at $5.95.  I expected that it would be a very large soup portion, maybe to feed 2 or 3. Nope. It was a single serving of wonton soup. For $5.95.  That price needs to be sliced in half.  Also, Baby Beez’s dumplings were around $6, and we’re not talking a huge plate of dumplings.  These were 5 very small dumplings.  A couple bucks should be shaved off that price as well.

The second issue was the wait time.  They told me to pick up the order in 25 minutes.  I got there around 20 minutes after placing the order. Then I had to wait another half hour, because the order was not done.  45+ minutes waiting for take out is unacceptable.  This is not a situation where the staff is overwhelmed, the dining room was only about 1/3 full, and there was only 1 other take out order at the time.  This is a timing and logistics problem that needs to be addressed.  The hostess/waitress on duty at the time was apologetic, but she did not seem like she had much experience at all working in a restaurant.  She kept wandering around, as though she did not know what to do.  She needs some training.

The other issue I noticed is that there is a lot of operations “stuff” on tables in the dining room.  One table appeared to be the owner’s makeshift office, covered in a laptop and papers.  Another table was being used as a napkin folding station.  Another table was the storage space for artwork waiting to be hung up.  This clutter conveys to me that they don’t have their act together, and are not yet guest focused.

I hate to see a family restaurant fail, and these revolving-door storefronts seem to bring with them gloom and doom.  I don’t point out these shortfalls to be punitive, or to encourage other guests to stay away.  I point them out with the hope that the restaurant gets their act together, fixes the problem, and thrives.
Curry On Murray on Urbanspoon