This time of year is quite busy in my line of work (taxes – woohoo!). Therefore, my baking and cooking has slowed. However, I have still managed a few meals out. Here are some ‘mini’ reviews of places I have been recently.
Plum – Located in the former Richard Chen spot, Plum is a trendy Pan-Asian joint located in the East End/East Liberty on the corner of South Highland and Centre. It is quite close to where I live and a nice spot for a trendy, fun night out. I happen to really like the sushi. I love the veggie based ‘skinny roll’. However, Plum is not without its faults. I have found some of the main entrees (and the service) hit or miss. On a recent visit, some members of my party raved about their meat based dishes. However, my pad thai was kind of bland and so-so. Also, service has been spotty and unpolished. I would hesitate to really recommend this place as a dining destination. Yet, I think it adds to the dining scene in the East End and I will likely return.
Casbah – Here is another Shadyside haunt that leaves me with mixed feelings. To note, Casbah is part of the Big Burrito group of restaurants – this group includes Eleven, Umi, Soba, Casbah, Kaya, and Mad Mex. In general, I don’t think you can go wrong with a Big Burrito spot for a night out. The restaurants range a bit in focus and price point so check out the Big Burrito website if you are unfamiliar with the group.
Back to Casbah. I do love the bar here. It is never overly crowded and the perfect spot to grab a drink on a weeknight. In fact, this is my usual reason for visiting Casbah – I have only visited for dinner twice, one visit being a few weeks ago.
During my recent visit, I had the winter margarita (rosemary infused tequila, lemonade, possibly one other ingredient that escapes me). While I enjoyed it, I found the rosemary odd, as if it were fighting against the other ingredients of the cocktail. For dinner, I had the short rib ravioli. This is not something I would normally order – however, it was quite lovely. The dish was rich, satisfying, and dressed in a shallot and mushroom beef broth based sauce. This particular visit left me feeling cozy and satisfied. However, the price point at Casbah is a bit high (I believe my ravioli were somewhere in the $20-$25 range). Casbah is certainly nice inside and the service is quite attentive – the price point just leaves me wanting a little more for some reason.
Regardless, I think Casbah is dependably delicious and the menu incorporates some great seasonal ingredients. I would feel confident that a group of diners here would have little to complain about.
17th Street Cafe – Located in the Southside, I have come to love this little place over the years. An old college friend of mine works the bar and waits tables and my family always requests this spot for special occasions or dinners out. The menu is seasonal and you will not leave hungry. Nothing too innovative or fusion-y or anything like that here – just good food cooked well. On a recent visit, I had the prosciutto wrapped salmon over spaghetti squash. Lovely. The fried zucchini here is also pretty amazing. So it the homemade balsamic dressing. This place is always in the Entertainment and/or Enjoyment books. Check out this solid Pittsburgh spot.