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Jan 28, 2008 08:27 AM

Anyone tried Passport Cafe in northern Pgh burbs?

I've driven by it several times now, but have yet to try Passport Cafe. I'm not scared off by the prices, but I'm hesitant to waste even one adults-only evening (doesn't seem like a kid kind of place) at a North Hills eatery when there are many others downtown/south side, etc. where I know I can get a great meal.

I'm encouraged by the fact that the restaurant seems to support local food, although I don't see any local farms that do chicken/pork/beef listed on the Web site, so I'm not sure just how much actual product they are getting locally.

And, to go off topic in my own post, I think I'm officially done with Thai Place in that same plaza. They do an OK job, but I think I got all of 4 shrimp in my tiger prawns dish the other night and the other fish, pla prig king, I believe, seriously had the taste of dirt. Every time we have ordered from there, it's always something. I can make it better myself:

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  1. Ouch. My first Google search did not turn this up. But maybe my question's been answered:

    4 Replies
    1. re: Whigsboy

      Yeah, she didn't like it much. I read that a while back too.

      We drive by that often enough but haven't brought ourselves to try it for the same reason you've mentioned.

      As for Thai Place, we go there every couple weeks. I stay away from the seafood though, just not my thing in the Thai food that much. Tiger prawns is always a small number of very large shrimp with a large price to match. We pretty much eat pad thai and panang and that's about it ;-) with either chicken (me) or tofu (SO). I try to vary mine occasionally, but there's only so many things I'm interested in on that menu. It may or may not help that we are recognized when we go in. We've been going there fairly regularly since it opened. It satisfies a Thai food craving close to home. It's no fantastic example of the fare or fantastic bargain either. (Can't imagine the rent in that plaza is very cheap.)

      1. re: CrazyOne

        You're probably right. We'll end up going back to Thai Place because I just don't always have the time or the ingredients needed to make it ourselves (particularly lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves) and you're smart to stick to the basics. The pad thai is good, and I have enjoyed the eggplant basil and some other dishes.

        I think rent is a big problem. If you've ever tried Taipei on rt. 228 in Cranberry (I guess that's it's official location), the prices are really high for what you get. More than a year ago, my wife and I were at 6 Penn Kitchen downtown on the roof top bar and started talking to another couple, one of whom knew somebody who knew the Taipei folks, blah, blah, and said the rent was something like $10k/month. If that's the case, it's no wonder!

        1. re: Whigsboy

          Yeah, we only tried Tai Pei over on 228 once, not long after it opened. Seems like they are testing if they can have nicer furnishings and charge more. I suppose it wasn't horrible, but we haven't been back. Neither they nor Thai Place are in a plaza that has huge retail draws or anything, but they are newish spaces (very new at Tai Pei) and have the top visibility from major roads. I'm sure that commands a few bucks.

          I don't think I have the equipment or really the inclination to make something that approximates Thai restaurant food at home. And anyway, I think of it more like a local place. The stuff that's close to home doesn't always have to be top notch food. It just has to be comfortable and familiar.

          There's one more draw to Thai Place for us: even if it's Friday or Saturday night at 7pm and we feel like going, we never have had to wait (at least not more than a few minutes). This is both good and bad, I suppose. Good because it's nice if we feel like heading over there even on a busy night we don't have to wait around to get started. Bad because I worry they are not getting enough business in there to justify what the rent must be for the highly visible location.

        2. re: CrazyOne

          There's a lively discussion going on about the Post-Gazette's food critic on the Food Media and News Board here, called "Pittsburgh Dining Reviews"
          Feel free to chime in if you care to.

      2. We had a wonderful meal at the Passport Cafe. We were a party of 4 and we each ordered a different entree - each one better than the other. The pasta, steak and seafood were all fresh and prepared perfectly. From appetizers to dessert everything was delicious.
        I was questioning your comment about local farms and so I went to the website and I know that Eichner's sells chicken and eggs and Penns Corners Farm Alliance sells meat and vegetables.
        I highly recommend an adult evening out at this restaurant

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jmarieb

          Perhaps I'll try it for lunch first and see what kind of impression I get. Our next two adult nights out will likely be Dish on the South Side and Mio in Aspinwall.

        2. My husband and I really like the Passport Cafe. We have had excellent food there every time we have visited (4 or 5 times at least). The food is all well prepared, fresh and flavorful. I know that Eichner's farm sells excellent pork and poultry products so they could be getting some of their items from there. I think it is worth a try!

          1. I'm not from Pittsburgh and live in Boston, but my time at the Passport Cafe (I've eaten there three or four times by now), has been excellent. I would highly recommend the stuffed pepper salad, the calamari is amazing (and I normally don't like calamari!), loved the beef tenderloin and I think their claim to fame will be their fish dishes, cooked and seasoned really well. I also love their lunch menu - affordable and great portion sizes. Highly recommend getting the bacon burger with cheese....heaven...

            There's also a great wine selection - and the wine bar is set up pretty nicely, good place to relax with a glass of pinot after work.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kelleydn

              sounds like I must at least try lunch.