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Oct 25, 2011 10:45 AM

Notion looking to move to East Libert

From Notion's Facebook page earlier today

"We are looking for investors to help us move to East Liberty and become part of the Pittsburgh food movement. If you have interest or know of anyone who might, let me know."

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  1. And Notion is located where now, out in Shkibbutzkyville?

    2 Replies
    1. Other than Dave, who didn't know months ago that Notion could not possibly succeed in Oakmont?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Panini Guy

        No kidding! Never could figure out why he opened that kind of place there. It never had to be in the highest rent district of the city, either. Sousa certainly proved that. But more central and in the city, as opposed to Oakmont (which is actually kind of a pain to get to for the city dwellers) would certainly make a lot more sense.

        I'm guessing you might know a thing or few about being in the wrong sort of location, unfortunately....

      2. I found it odd, that this type of place opened in Oakmont. This style place is Risky for Western PA in general. Even though Oakmont is about 20 min outside Downtown..,

        9 Replies
        1. re: Augie6

          I always thought the location to be an odd choice, as well, Augie. I've never been but have gotten fairly mixed reviews from a number of friends that have. I remember remarking back when they just opened that I'd give it a shot if it stuck around a year or two...

          1. re: MonMauler

            You really won't get anything similar in Pittsburgh, I think the negative reviews mostly came from people who didn't know what to expect.

            Salt is adventurous, and fun - but still caters to the Pittsburgh demographic with a moderately low price point and sizable portions. Notion is more in line with some modern places in bigger dining cities..without trying to sound douchey, it's more the type of place where you go to appreciate all aspects of cooking as an art, rather than just "get your fill".


            1. re: Rodzilla

              I agree, you won't find anything similar to Notion in Pittsburgh. And I agree with all that you say about Salt.

              The reviews that I've given credence to re: Notion come from eight friends - four couples - that have all dined there. (I learned to stop paying attention to the Trib and PG reviews long ago.) Anyway, I would say that about half of my friends that dined there loved it and were very impressed. The other half thought it was average, at best. My one friend called his meal "egotistical."

              Re: Notion. You said, "it's more the type of place where you go to appreciate all aspects of cooking as an art," and that was (and remains) my hang-up with potential patronage. I dine out most nights, but I have never once thought of food as art. Sure, I appreciate a pretty plate as much as the next guy, and when I cook for others I always try to give them a dish that is aesthetically pleasing as well as delicious, but most of the molecular gastronomy type places I've tried in Philly, NYC, Chicago and DC have generally been a disappointment at the given price point.

              Food should be art for my tummy, not my eyes.

              1. re: MonMauler

                Well I definitely see where you're coming from.

                I agree the most important aspect should and will always be taste. Only then should the other aspects come into consideration and that's where personal preference comes in..

                I'd liken some higher-end tasting menus to going to an art show or concert. They really are events more so that just going out to eat..Places that are even a bit more modern like Next and Alinea take those aspects to another level.

                Now granted, Notion isn't quite on that level - but they are much more in line with those types of restaurants than the old school upscale surf and turf, or even contemporary comfort food found around Pitt.

                There are perfectly "good" a la carte dishes, but if you aren't so much into the aspects of a dish beyond taste, and presentation, inventive combinations/techniques aren't terribly exciting for you - it's probably not your cup of tea.

                I think I'll mention this the next time I go down for a review.

                1. re: Rodzilla

                  Rod.... Being on a moderate income I tend to treat going out to eat as being more of an event as just grabbing food for the most part..

                  You are much more adventourous of an eater than I am -- especially with seafood. I do not eat any type ( shrimp if I am forced too) What is your honestly opinion about an average eater in this area giving Notion a try I am not talking about portion size , price .. just the meals..

                  1. re: Augie6

                    I treat dining out the same way Augie. Maybe it would have been clearer if I said "seeing this more as a show, MORE than just the event of going out to eat" I'm sure plenty of different types of people can enjoy meals at such places, but those who are really excited by all aspects of the cooking, pairing, technique, presentation, etc, etc. are the ones who are really going to like it.

                    I've only been there twice, and planning another visit very soon. I've been having a tough time getting away from schoolwork mid semester.

                    The tasting menu had some items that I still remember as favorites - there was really only one dish that had a component I did not actually care for (sesame sponge brownie). My A la carte experience was also enjoyable,

                    but again, I don't think I can stress my points enough from earlier. I hate to try and carve out a niche for the restaurant, and I really would like more of Pittbsburgh to give it a try..but here are my thoughts again. It will depend on what you're looking for, everything I have had has tasted good, but the combination of technique and presentation excites me, if that part of the meal is as important to you - it will be much less appealing.

                    The service is great, but that almost goes without question. Our server Donnie, knew the menu like he prepped it himself. Then again, you say you aren't "adventurous" if you like relatively straight forward steak and potato type dishes, it may not be YOUR place.

                    1. re: Rodzilla

                      when I said i was not adventrous .. I meant more along the lines of Seafood (do not eat at all) and "sweetbreads" etc.

                      Am I able to get a meal without seafood and off cuts of meats? If so I will be sure to check Notion out sooner than later

                      1. re: Augie6

                        oh absolutely, I would just call ahead to ask about the menu - and if their were a place to try something you usually attest to, this would be it.

                        I'll be really curious to hear your thoughts when you make it down. Just out of curiousity Aug, what are some of your favorite restaurants in the PGH area?

                        1. re: Rodzilla

                          I work about 10 min from Oakmont and can't wait to give Notion a try.. I am very open to try to arrangment of flavor combinatino .. Seafood is my krypotnite-- and it seems most places use seafood as main thrill .. (including Salt, which I plan on trying nextymonth)

                          As of now , Eleven (wish I got to go more often) , Dish (S south) has been my latest loves. However, to be fair I do not live in Pittsburgh city proper. rather the suburbs.. and still haven't been to a fair share of the top notch places. The combination of finding someone willing to give the place a try along with certain amonth of disc. income makes it a struggle at times. I would not pass up a meal an Dinnette , but must be in the mood. Enrico's Cafe in the Strip also is a go to for lunch

        2. I've never eaten there, but for those that have, do you think a new location is what it really needs or is the food just not as good as it needs to be? I look at Alla Famiglia in one of the absolute worst parts of town and they seem to be doing very well . . .

          7 Replies
          1. re: Rick

            Traditional Italian is an easier sell to the Pittsburgh demographic. The food is very good., but it's not what Pittsburgh is used to.

            Most of the newer "contemporary" places around Pittsburgh are a bit more causal, and therefore more approachable.

            Fine dining up to this point in Pittsburgh has been pretty traditional, steak and sea places with pretty standard albeit expensive items. Other "upper-scale" places like Spoon and Eleven do offer tasting menus and have some inventive items, but you can still get a burger and fries if you feel like it.

            Notion is pretty novel, more in line with some of the places on the West Coast or NYC. I think they would generate a pretty big buzz in other cities..I'm just hoping it can catch on here.

            1. re: Rodzilla

              I've never eaten at Notion, but I'll take the word of some chefs whom I know who will state uncategorically that Notion delivers the goods.

              However, Rick's post got me to thinking that maybe the market for what Notion does is far too small. Chef Sousa was doing Alchemy at Bigelow 4-5 years ago and only for 12 diners per night max. Those who appreciate and can afford an Achatz/Dufresne-type meal could easily go to Alinea in Chicago or WD50 in NY. This isn't the kind of dining one does regularly.

              Taking that into account, odds are good that the best source for customers for Notion would be well-heeled out-of-towners. And Oakmont is really a PITA to get to if you're staying in the city. A move to ELib should at least give Racicot a fighting change for some staying power.

              1. re: Panini Guy

                I find it hard to believe that a little drive to Oakmont is to far. It is only 20 minutes from Downtown. Cut me a break.

                  1. re: Effort

                    I agree... I made it from Oakmont to the convention center in 17 min. However, do not forgot that Pittsburgh restaurnts draws ALOT from the subarbs. I live in Westmoreland county about 30 -40 min away from the city. It is much more of a draw to head into the city, ie Downtown, Strip, SouthSide, ShadySide, East lib than Oakmont. People are more willing to spends $200-300 for a "upscale city" resturant, not one in oakmont

                    1. re: Augie6

                      Agreed. Further, it is much closer to the city's event venues, etc.

            2. From the Notion Blog

              "the future of notion
              In November 2010, I took ownership of, what was then, the Boulevard Bistro at 314 Allegheny River Boulevard in Oakmont PA. Certainly I knew the risks associated with operating a restaurant. Especially one in a small community and even more so with our style of food and service. Knowing the challenges we would face as a team, we moved forward.

              Before the doors opened, we had a plan in place that would allow us to move notion to a more suitable location but still stay in the city we love. In every conversation in the last year about our future we talked about "when we move". For us the plan was always moving forward, since day 1. Our plan was simple;

              -Don't over do it
              -Introduce ourselves to the city
              -Make a good name for the future of notion
              -Make a positive impact (no matter how small) on the rapidly progressing food scene

              Simple, and we knew if we executed, it would work.

              With that said, I am happy and excited to tell you that in anticipation of a May 2012 opening in East Liberty, our last dinner service at notion will be Saturday, December 17, 2011. (Yes, read it again)

              In its place, we will open "314 Pasta and Prime" on January 16, 2012 . 314 Pasta and Prime is going to be a community restaurant. Plain and simple. All you can eat salad and bread, pastas, prime steaks. We are even going to have a 10ft by 30ft chalkboard wall for our little artists to draw on. This place is going to be great for us and offer a service to the community. We are really looking forward to getting to know our neighbors. I love Oakmont. I love living here. I love that my kids walk to school. This is our way of becoming part of the community that I have chosen to call home.

              As for notion, we have a plan for the future in place, and a lot of it is already taking shape. Are there still a lot of uncertainties? Sure. I can think of 500,000 of them. The money, the space, the investors, all up in the air. Even so, I am confident that I will be able to build a dramatic, emotion space that allows us to be creative and work at a high level everyday. I am confident that by May, notion will resurface in East Liberty as the restaurant it is meant to be. But even in my confidence there lies a chance that notion never opens. Its hard to imagine, and it has been a difficult decision to make, but it is a risk I have to take.

              Theres so much more to be said, but I think this sums it up. So if you haven't eaten at notion and want to, better act fast, December 3 through December 17 could be your last chance for a while.

              Id like to thank everyone who has supported us for the last year. It has been an amazing ride and without your support, Id never have the nerve to take this leap of faith. You are all such a huge part of the success, and future success of the my company and the notion family. Thank you all. "

              Boulevard Bistro
              314 Allegheny River Blvd, Oakmont, PA 15139