On occasion, someone actually stumbles across this little blog and finds it worthwhile to contact me. Sometimes I get press releases about things happening in Pittsburgh and sometimes I get invites to small events. I feel like a bit of an imposter reading through these items. I am by no means an authoritative voice on anything food related. However, if someone offers me food, I am probably going to show up 🙂
A few weeks ago, I was invited to come into the downtown Pittsburgh restaurant, The Sonoma Grille (947 Penn Ave) for a tasting. Of course I was overly excited by this and quickly grabbed up two of my best friends to accompany me.
Sonoma Grille bills itself as a ‘West Coast kitchen and wine bar’. The décor is fairly classic – not stuffy, not too modern. The night I dined at Sonoma Grille coincided with a Gallery Crawl happening throughout the Cultural District. I am not sure if this caused Sonoma Grille to be more crowded than usual. Regardless, the place was quite full when we arrived.
After being briefed on the menu by our very knowledgeable waiter, we started the meal by trying both the beet salad and a mache salad. We were poured a De Sante Savignon Blanc (Napa) to enjoy with the course. Looking back, the salads may have been my favorite part of the meal. They were well executed, lightly dressed, and fresh. Our server was sure to point out the locality of some of the vegetables and greens used. We loved the play between the beets and feta cheese in the beet salad and and the hericot vert and lightly fried potato chip garnish on the mache salad.
We next moved onto a Violeta Cabernet Franc and a plate of prosciutto wrapped scallops nestled on a bed of squash puree and cilantro pesto. Although I am not sure the prosciutto added much to the dish, the scallops were perfectly cooked and everyone happily gobbled up the tender shellfish.
At this point, I began to realize my night was going to be a bit hazy. Every wine we tasted was better than the last and paired nicely with our food. To note, everything we tasted was available by the glass. Sonoma Grille has quite a wine list and I was excited to see a flyer advertising half off certain bottles on Monday nights. That sounds like a deal to me!
We next got to sample 3 different ‘signature dishes’ from the menu. Forgive me for not mentioning the wine pairing – as I said, things were getting hazy :). The Sonoma Grille menu is set up mostly in a tapas (small plates) style with a few ‘large entrees’ also available. The ‘signature dishes’ still fall under the tapas section of the menu. I think this set up is slightly confusing – however, our server did a good job of explaining the concept. We sampled the ‘Study of Duck’, ‘New Potato Gnocchi’, and ‘Moroccan Braised Lamb Ravioli’. Of this trio, the duck was king. Salty, sweet, fatty, and delicious. The ‘Study of Duck’ included;
Smoked breast, grilled wild harvested ramps, candied pecans, local arugula, IPA duck jus
Duck confit and asparagus tart, puff pastry, fines-herb buerre blanc
Homemade duck pastrami, frisee and pea tendril salad, crispy shallot, local wildflower honey and thyme vinaigrette
The night then ended with a peanut butter semifreddo, a frangelico tart, and a lovely tawney port. A tawney port (as opposed to a ruby port) is released ready to drink and is minimally aged as compared to the ruby ports. The tawney port we tasted was buttery and almond-y (yes, almond-y). It was the perfect ending to the meal. The port sent me into the perfect post-meal daze in which I then wondered through the exhibits of the Cultural District Gallery Crawl. Was I really in Pittsburgh?
Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Sonoma Grille and certainly think it is worth checking out, particularly for a happy hour or casual pre-theater dinner. Care is being taken with the food and the wine list is more extensive and affordable than I imagined.
And guess what? I have a $50 Sonoma Grille Gift Card to give away to one lucky reader! Sonoma Grille has really been reaching out to the blogging community and generously offered up this gift.
To enter, please leave a comment and valid e-mail address. I will leave commenting open until midnight on Tuesday, May 18th.
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Ask me a question, tell me how you found me, tell me somewhere you would like me to eat or something you would like me to make :).
I will pick the winner from the comments based on a random number generator after Tuesday, May 18th. Good luck and I look forward to hearing from more of my readers!