Help a NYC Chowhound out in Pittsburgh!
I have never been to the city, and am coming along with husband at conference--I am the NYC foodie for lack of a better word, so they have put me in charge of the ONLY night we have out in town, this Thursday. 10 people most likely, we are staying at WIndham downtown, and I like to find what locals consider the very best (that doesn't mean most high-end or expensive). Would love to be able to walk or easy (two) cabs there --what is a not-miss?
And please let me know if I can help you in NYC.
Take a look at this first: http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/Pit...
Of those 25, four are more or less walkable from your hotel (Meat & Potatoes, Nine on Nine, Penn Av. Fish, Eleven). Some of these are several blocks away, so your party might want to cab it anyway. All should be able to handle a party of 10 on a Thursday.
The most celebrated restaurant in Pgh is Salt of the Earth. That's a cab. It's not very expensive and they can certainly handle large parties as it's mostly communal tables. Apps are around $10, most entrees low $20s, short wine list, short beer list (all microbrews), short list of designer cocktails (not really a call-your-own-booze place). It's a chef-driven no substitution place with unusual and creative uses of ingredients, so if any of your party is a fussy eater, you'll probably want to look elsewhere (although they'll work with allergies and vegans).
Legume is a little closer in Oakland (still a cab) but also a very good choice. Root 174, Spoon and Cure are the current hotness - If one strikes your fancy, call ahead to see if they can take a 10 person party. Casbah, Umi & Soba are all fairly spacious, although you can do better in NY in each style.
As I used to live out your way, my other thought was "what would impress a jaded NYer?" and the funny thing is none of those 25 came up - I'd actually suggest a pigout at Union Pig & Chicken (owned/operated by same chef as Salt of the Earth). Barbecue in Manhattan is way too pricey and UP&C is as good/better than Blue Smoke or Virgil's. :-)
Panini's choices are all very good. I just wanted to mention that you may want to confirm your transportation in advance. Unfortutantly, Pittsburgh cabs are lacking. You won't have a problem getting one at the hotel, but you won't be able to just flag one down when you leave the restaurant. It shouldn't be a problem to make arrangements, just be aware!
My vote would be for Spoon, if they can accommodate your group. Last two meals there have been excellent, and that includes the cocktails. Service was also really good. I like Salt, but think it's a little overrated.
I would have said Cure, but doubt they could handle a group of that size and it's still BYOB, although that's apparently going to be changing soon. That said, it's worth a call to see if they could do a group of 10.
Enjoy the 'burgh!
Thanks to Chowhounders for such excellent suggestions....I really enjoyed Pittsburgh and all the mid-century architecture, very nice people (almost unreal-ly nice) and walkability downtown where we stayed.
We ended up taking a big group (10) to Salt of The Earth which worked PERFECTLY with those trestle tables. I found the food mostly fabulous....a little bit of attitude which I secretly smiled at (come on--several of us were NYers; we know from attitude) but loved the layout and vibe.
I found the blackboard kind of difficult to see, and thought the way the dishes were listed on that board odd--I almost didn't order the duck dish because it listed shiso so prominently and I don't love that flavor but it was a very minor note.
Loved the wines by the glass selections....and those who had cocktails were very happy (they looked great).
Food was, as said above, terrific--the duck dish with flageolets and persimmons was MAJOR WINNER as was the crab appetizer. The highly-touted "30-hour short ribs"--not so much. Very DRY, which seems hard to believe if it was braised for 30 hours (it WAS soft). Where was all that good braising liquid or gravy? Odd.....and dry. Also worth mentioning was the strange soup bowls which made the portion of soup look so miniscule.
Desserts tasted far better than they sounded on the board. Curry? In my chocolate? It actually worked but so, so odd to feature it so prominently in the listing. Well worth the money and a nice ride to get there.
"The highly-touted "30-hour short ribs"--not so much. Very DRY, which seems hard to believe if it was braised for 30 hours (it WAS soft). Where was all that good braising liquid or gravy?"
I haven't tried the dish, but the short ribs were almost certainly cooked sous vide, and probably without liquid.
We have eaten at Salt just once and the food was terrific. We also loved the ambiance and the room. I agree the chalkboard was difficult and somewhat awkward to read. Since we had reservations for upstairs, we had to stand by another table to look it over. I prefer to peruse a menu with a cocktail or glass of wine. However, this was one small issue out of an overall wonderful evening.