Six Penn Kitchen in Pittsburgh
I got a mailer for them for my birthday for one free entree. We went about 2 weeks ago for our first time. I left feeling the place was good, but I was glad I got a free entree. It's definitely not stuffy, not exremely expensive, but also not extremely impressive. You'd likely be better off with Nine on Nine even though it's a bit more expensive. It's located in the same area as Six Penn Kitchen.
For the same kind of price and still a nice hip place, check out Kaya in the Strip District. www.bigburrito.com
You might want to check out the lunch menu and go there for lunch (if you happen to be in the vicinity at that time of day). I went for lunch a while back for the first time and found it interesting enough. It's not stuffy, not too pricey, and they make darned near everything in house and tout that fact. (House-made ketchup in the town of Heinz? Crazy, but true.) I was glad to have tried it at lunch, though, because I don't think I would have been as impressed at dinner. It is popular and has a cool upstairs bar space and in good weather, a rooftop terrace bar apparently, though I haven't seen it.
If I were having dinner in the Cultural District (that general area), I'd go a few blocks up to Sonoma Grille. I've been there before, and would go back again, one of our favorite dinner experiences ever in town. I might be tempted to try Nine on Nine, haven't been there yet. Both of these would probably cost a little more, but then again you could spend as much as some of these others in Six Penn depending upon what you get. I don't find Sonoma Grille stuffy, but I'm not sure what I would think of Nine on Nine. Peeking in the window it gives me sense that it's a little stuffier.
Heading down to Kaya in the strip seems like a good possibility too, or maybe Eleven, which is closer to the area (just a couple more blocks from Sonoma/Nine on Nine). Eleven is a little pricier than Kaya. Both are in the Big Burrito family linked above.
I had gone to Six Penn a couple months ago for a reception and then recently had a read a lot about their chef so I decided to give it a try for dinner a week or so ago. I happened to be there on a Monday which I found out they encourage you to bring your own wine for no corkage fee (I wish I knew this before I went!) I have to say that this was probably the best meal I have had in Pittsburgh in a long time! My friends had a pork shank which was absolutely amazing, and a really unique burger. I had a pink peppercon venison with gnocci which was outrageous. We shared an empanada and some smoked chicken wings. The wings were like none other that I have ever had around here, and will be going back specifically for those. We sat near the kitchen and ended up talking to the chef for awhile. He mentioned that the pork and venison were from two small western PA farms. He also said that he has started his own rooftop garden where he is going to grow some heirloom herbs, peppers, and a couple other things which he will use on the menu later this year. I really enjoyed talking food with him, very personable. I will definitely be going back often, I was amazed at the meal I had for really reasonable price.
Tried Six Penn a few weeks ago and enjoyed it very much. We tried the wings (excellent – smoky not greasy and a good portion to split) I’ve read that they take several days to make, marinade in tea etc… The fried artichoke appetizer was also quite tasty – 4 halves served over an Asian sauce. The special that night was soft shell crabs, which were good but a little heavy on the breading (think tempura) they were accompanied by a crab corn flan that was delicious. Decent wine selection. 2 appetizers, one salad, an entrée, bottle of wine and a double espresso for about $85 (including the $6 split plate fee).
I have to disagree with the poster about Sonoma Grille - I’ve had lunch and dinner there and was under whelmed, nothing terrible just nothing that would make me want to go back again – in fact I wouldn’t have gone back after the lunch if it hadn’t been someone else’s choice.
I would second Kaya in the Strip as a place to try and add maybe taking the incline from Station square for a walk and a drink on Mt. Washington to take in the view (most of the places with a good view are on the Duquesne incline side of the hill – the Mon incline, near to Station Square, gets you to the opposite end so you would have to walk 6-7 blocks to get to the hillside places but if it’s a nice night it’s worth it) Monterey Bay lounge area is a favorite for a great view of the point. A Cab is always a possibility as well, however Pgh is notoriously bad for cab service.