My Favorite Pittsburgh Restaurant
My Favorite Pittsburgh Restaurant
If you’ve visited our blog, cooksandeats.com, you may have noticed that we’ve been to over 130 restaurants in and around Pittsburgh. Some have been good, others not so much. We’ve enjoyed great service, have been yelled at by owners, (only once at Dell’s) and have experienced a myriad of different cuisines. In the past two years it’s been a fun journey exploring the Pittsburgh culinary scene.
After spending time in all of these different eating establishments, I’ve come across several restaurants that I like to frequent. One such eatery is Spoon in East Liberty. Of course Spoon has great service, a nice atmosphere and an extensive wine list, but most importantly, the food is exceptional. Chef Brian Pekarcik frequently proclaims to have a love-affair with “all things pork,” he also is quite capable at preparing duck (and other fowl), fresh seafood, and beef, seasonal veggies, desserts, etc. Chef Brian’s food can be described as unpretentious and uncomplicated. You won’t see molecular gastronomy at Spoon; you will however, experience perfectly prepared food that is delicious and satisfying.
Our evening started with Spring Pea Soup. Two bowls of bright green deliciousness arrived at our table. In addition to the velvety-smooth fresh puree of peas and lemon crème fraiche, there was feta cheese, lobster, and bacon lardons; micro greens completed the dish. The freshness of the soup was intoxicating. Huge chunks of sweet, tender lobster added texture, while the feta cheese and micro-greens cut sweetness. The soup wasn’t overly-seasoned; the peas were truly the star of the soup. Although licking the bowl would have been frowned upon, we seriously considered it.
Our next courses were a Caesar salad with blonde anchovies and homemade croutons, and one of the Chef’s signature dishes, a gorgonzola soufflé with baby artichokes and baby asparagus. A small salad with sweet vinaigrette accompanied the savory baked treat. The soufflé had a strong, but not overwhelming flavor. Alternating bites of the blue cheese and salad with honey dressing made for a delectable flavor exchange.
Korean style pork belly was next. A large slab of what looked like thick-cut bacon arrived with dashi, kimshi and a deep-fried oyster with a spicy aioli. The pork was flavorful and tender. The fried oyster was perfectly fresh with an orange dollop of emulsified heat.
The soba noodles with sous-vide duck breast were equally delicious. We had fun using our chopsticks to lap up the tangy noodles and seared sea scallop. Our oversized porcelain spoons were used to drink the broth and orange-chili vinaigrette. The over-easy quail egg that sat atop the noodles added yet another flavor to this already great dish.
Wild Pacific halibut with crab cake stuffed shrimp, potato rosti, sautéed asparagus, jalapeno hollandaise; pineapple + fava bean + Andouille sausage relish was next. My dinner mate chose the duck (medium-rare) prepared with duck fat fried almonds, and a port wine reduction. My fish was cooked properly (medium) and sweet. The potato rostis were crispy and fun to eat (like a tater-tots) and the large shrimp, crab, and buttery hollandaise made for a seafood fiesta.
The duck was tender and juicy- the almonds were rich and intense. Port wine sauce cut the richness of the fowl just a tad.
After eight courses of food, we were ready to call it a night, but Chef Brian insisted that we have some dessert, “Just a little something to complete the meal…” he said. OK, if you insist.
The plate of homemade raspberry sorbet with gluten-free almond cake looked amazing. Macerated summer berries, white chocolate mousse, and a thick ribbon of a homemade fruit roll-up completed the dessert.
We left Spoon satiated, but not too full. As we drove home we continued to go over the evening’s fare. Everything we sampled (without exception) was perfection. So I’m going to say it- Spoon is my favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh. If you haven’t made it yet, hopefully this review will point you in the right direction.
Chef Chuck Kerber