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Dec 16, 2012 11:31 AM

PGH Birthday Dinner Question

Not locals, so don't get a lot of opportunity to eat out in PGH. Looking for a high quality, non-casual meal. OK with a fairly formal (even a little uppity) setting and price as long as it's worth paying for. From the DC area, so are used to high prices, but don't think high prices guarantee (or equate to) high quality/memorable meals.

If you had to choose one of the following, which would you pick (and why)?

Root 174
Legume Bistro
Salt of the Earth
(write in candidate)

PS Had a very favorable first impression of Cure, but thought it might be a bit too casual. Is this correct, or should I re-consider?

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  1. PS Have eaten at Eleven, Casbah, and Soba. Thought all were excellent restaurants, but would want to try a different high(er) end restaurant this time around.

    1. I've eaten at Spoon, and enjoyed crab cakes and other fish dishes. I like it so much, it keeps me from trying Root 174, and Legume was closed for awhile, and I've never gotten around to going to the new one.

      Salt is supposed to be good -- I bet it will be most respondents' first choice -- but I can never get beyond the menu. Every time there's something I like (let's say some kind of fish), it's paired with something I hate (tofu, miso, seitan, etc.)

      I would probably choose Legume or Spoon.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jay F

        Hah! I have the same reaction to Salt's menu. Seitan, chickpeas, hummus et al.

        1. re: sal_acid

          Have you eaten there? It's supposed to be the second coming, it is literally in walking distance, but I cannot get past the menu.

      2. Spoon is the most formal, but far from stuffy. I've never had anything I didn't like and I believe they have the best bread basket in all of PGH.

        If you're a bit more adventurous go with's a more casual atmosphere, also likely to be a bit busier. If you don't want to sit at communal tables make sure to put a reservation in with enough advance.

        If you like the excitement of something you haven't had/seen before...go with Salt. If you're not feeling as adventurous, go with Spoon.

        Spoon is more traditional but far from boring, Salt often adds the lesser-seen, seemingly unorthodox pairings, but half the fun is learning about how they're integrated into the dish.

        FWIW, I would have never ordered seitan - until I tried it at Salt.

        I've had some of my favorite dishes at both restaurants.

        Root 174 is also casual. The atmosphere actually reminds me a bit of Cure. Which wouldn't be too casual for me, I would be more focused on the quality of Severino's food, but the ambiance is a personal preference type thing.

        So..check the menus, or ask about doing a tasting.

        Salt, Spoon, Root, Cure - can't fail.

        Sorry I couldn't make a choice, but hopefully it will help with yours.

        1. Ended up going to Spoon and Legume back to back (we're not locals and the diet doesn't start until Jan 1, so why not).

          Spoon was extremely good. Enjoyed our pre-dinner cocktails and was impressed with the wine list's variety (which ran from solid frugal selections to high end luxury splurges) as well as its ample amount of quality by the glass options. No complaints about the food either. A solid cassoulet was followed by an great scallop and a marvelous venison two ways entree (the venison was best dish we ate) and two excellent desserts.

          Legume was superlative. Excellent cocktails, amazing vegetarian/non-vegetarian tasting menu with 2 wonderful (and remarkably affordable) wine pairings, and a kick-ass caramel pot du creme capped off the evening. Definitely one of the best price to quality meals we have had in a long while and we are both looking forward to coming back when we return to PGH.

          4 Replies
          1. re: crashr93

            Good to hear. I really have to try Legume. Here's last night's menu. It's, like, the opposite of Salt. There's nothing I don't want to try.


            1. re: Jay F

              new more talking about Salt until you go.

              1. re: Rodzilla

                Oh, that would be such a relief.

            2. Thanks for everyone's input. Next time we're in the burgh, we would really like to eat at Cure and we'll probably try to figure out a way to get back to Legume, even if it's just to eat the $10 one bowl supper at Butterjoint (

              Jay - you definitely need to get to Legume. Can't say enough good things about the place.

              Rodzilla - Now a lot more bummed Spoon's bread basket never showed up at our table (service was a bit disjointed when we first arrived and through the first portion of the meal; it wasn't their best night). Guess you can't have everything (or eat all of it in one sitting).