This is for a 2015 trip to Pittsburgh including:
The Commoner, Hotel Monaco, Meat & Potatoes, Primanti Brothers, Steel Cactus, and Waffles Incaffeinated.
If there was one place I wanted to try in Pittsburgh, it was Meat & Potatoes. As Pittsburgh's first gastropub, Chef Richard DeShantz knocked it out of the park by featuring a veritable montage of some of my favorite foods. And since the 2011 opening of Meat & Potatoes, he's taken over the Downtown Pittsburgh scene by opening up Butcher & the Rye and Tako, in addition to his bistro, Nine on Nine.
Meat & Potatoes features a bustling, yet cozy space with a central bar as the focal point. The GF and I met up with some friends and grabbed a drink at the bar while we waited for our reservation. After waiting an extra 10 or 15 minutes past our time, we were graciously offered a private dining room.
But as we were about to head to our table, a perfect table for 4 by the corner opened up so we could enjoy the animated atmosphere.
Cameron's Kick [$10]
Chivas Regal 12 year scotch, Irishman whiskey, orgeat, lemon, nutmeg
I started off the night with the Cameron's Kick, which featured smooth Chivas Regal and the kick of Irishman whiskey. The orgeat syrup imparted nice undertones to complement the scotch and in combination with the lemon and nutmeg, this was a surprisingly light and subtly sweet tipple.
Fried Pickles [$5]
For our meal proper, we began with the fried pickles, which were spot on. A pet peeve of mine is when fried pickles come in spear form. Clearly, they're meant to be in chip form. These had a great crunch and a nice brininess that was accented by the spicy ranch.
Kobe Corn Dog [$7]
Wasabi aioli, spicy ketchup, radish, sesame seeds
The kobe corn dog had a nice cornmeal crust that had a sweetness that was balanced by the richness of the beef dog. The light crunch of radish added some levity, with the wasabi aioli providing some spice. The ketchup had just the right amount of kick to provide some brightness to each bite as well.
Braised Pork Belly [$18]
Carrots, English peas, pork jus, baby turnips, pea tendrils
On special for the day was the braised pork belly. So obviously, this was a must order and I'm so glad I did. The pork was unctuous, well-braised, and had a nice final crisp to provide some texture. Three huge hunks provided triple the pleasure. But not to be outdone, the English peas and gorgeous carrots had a wonderful sweetness that provided that countervailing element to balance out the heft of the pork belly. The baby turnips provided some starch and additional texture, with the pea tendrils adding an herbaceous element to each bite. This isn't just meat and potatoes people. Pittsburgh can cook!
34 oz ribeye, confit steak fries, mushroom ragu, housemade steak sauce, bone marrow gratin
But the main reason I was here? Behold the hallmark dish - meat and potatoes for two. A huge 34 ounce long-bone ribeye is featured, though I'm fairly certain there was more than 34 ounces of beef on this particular night. Though I could have used a bit more of a salt-seasoned crust, it was cooked perfectly medium-rare. And more importantly, the beef cut and ate like filet. In fact, I don't remember the last time I had ribeye so tender. This was all topped by a mushroom ragu that provided earthy heft to each bite. The gratin provided wonderful texture to the fatty bits of marrow - easily a cup's worth of God's butter. The confit potatoes were perfect - a light crunch on the outside with creamy tenderness within. Perfect to dip with either the spicy ketchup or the housemade steak sauce. This dish can easily be shared by 4. Safe to say, there were leftovers, even for me.
Lobster Mac n Cheese [$16]
Taleggio, white cheddar, Doritos, truffle
You don't think I stopped there did you? I had to get the lobster mac, which featured the delicious combo of taleggio, white cheddar, black truffles, and yes, Doritos. The cavatappi was al dente and had great bite. The cheese sauce was a bit soupier than I typically like, but the earthiness of the truffle and the salty of the Doritos definitely came through.
Lemon Berry Pie [$7]
And since we were celebrating the GF's birthday weekend, we had to end with some dessert. The lemon berry pie was layered in a mason jar. Light, sweet, tart, and tangy, it was the perfect palate cleaner.
It's safe to say that Meat & Potatoes is a must if you're visiting Pittsburgh. Service was helpful and on top of things, despite it being a busy night as well. Not only are the dishes well-executed and delicious, I also couldn't believe the price point of the meal. It's not to say the meal was cheap and I'm sure there's the element of cost of living when compared to Philly or NYC, but I would have gladly paid more. The next time I'm in town, I know I'll need to check out Butcher & the Rye and Tako. But I know a part of me that will feel the urge to simply return to Meat & Potatoes.