One of my very best Pittsburgh pals is up and moving to California. I am so very happy for him but so very sad that we will no longer frolic around our favorite Shadyside haunts on a regular basis.
Last week, he and I decided to meet up for one last dinner date. We chose Avenue B, a Shadyside/Bloomfield BYO that has lately received much press and praise.
Avenue B’s location is interesting – you will find in on Centre Avenue, close to the Market District Giant Eagle. This time of year, you are able to spot it due to it’s outdoor seating. However, this seating is quite close to the busy road and a bus stop. We opted to sit inside. The interior was actually more simple and casual than I expected. I felt comfortable in jeans. To note, I spotted everything from jeans to sport coats during the course of the meal.
Avenue B’s regular menu is tiny – something like three appetizers, three entrées, three desserts. However, they also have a chalkboard listing many more options – this easily plays into their seasonal/local bent. Service was pleasant and prompt – maybe slightly awkward, but nothing troublesome.
We quickly settled into a bottle of red (BYO! Yay! $5 corkage) and ordered up a gazpacho appetizer which the kitchen generously offered to split for us. The gazpacho was bright and pleasant and include a nice piece of crab on top.
Entrées were next. For him, it was the Kobe meatloaf, a dish our server said was becoming a ‘signature’ item (on the regular menu). I think the meatloaf could have been a bit juicier, but the components of the dish came together quite well and my date easily polished off his serving. I went with the sea scallops and squid ink pasta (a ‘special’). The scallops were cooked perfectly – little seared pillows of tender goodness. I would definitely recommend the scallops if they happen to be on the menu if/when you visit.
Not wanting our night to end, we rounded out the meal with some sort of deconstructed lemon tart. This was basically a lot of random stuff on a plate, including lemon curd, cookies, a piece of ‘blueberry paper’, disks of meringue, berries. I enjoyed nibbling at it but I am not sure it blew me away. I would go for something chocolate based next time 🙂
Overall, I felt the entrées were Avenue B’s strong point.
Prices at Avenue B are creeping toward ‘high’. Yet, in my opinion, the BYO makes this place reasonable. Appetizers and desserts are going to run $7-$10ish, entrées $18-$25ish. However, it appears the kitchen is using quality ingredients and executing somewhat innovative dishes (for the ‘burgh, mind you).
I can’t help but compare Avenue B to Stagioni – I feel like they are doing a similar thing. BYO, stepping up the food game a bit, putting out good eats. A recent trip to Stagioni had me digging into an amazing bowl of pasta with eggplant. (Read about my first Stagioni trip here). Avenue B probably edges out Stagioni on ambiance and space but I truly think both places are worth a visit.
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