Toast! Kitchen and Wine Bar, Pittsburgh, PA

Toast! Kitchen and Wine Bar, Pittsburgh, PA

Eating in: Pittsburgh, PA

The best part about Pittsburgh Restaurant Week is that you get to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do for no other reason than it sounds like fun. This time Kevin, my friend Beth (thanks for the photo at the top!), and I decided to do the Restaurant Week Tasting Menu at Toast! We’d been waiting for a special occasion, but our list of special occasion places to check out is getting pretty long, so we finally decided to dive in. And boy are we glad we did. Four courses with wine pairings that were delicious and portion sizes that left you feeling just a little too full at the end of the meal, but not stuffed. The chef was also happy to accommodate my dietary restrictions (no raw fruits and veggies, no whole nuts or seeds) and altered the tasting selections accordingly – on a busy Friday night to boot. Gotta love that. Thanks!

First Course

One Woman Farm Beets with candied pecan, orange supreme, chevre, jalapeno, and goat milk vinaigrette

Wine: Tavel Rose, Domaine La Viguerie, Tavel, France 2010

You may have read before that I don’t really like beets. Oh boy, has my opinion changed. Apparently, I’ve just never prepared beets correctly before. Because of my dietary restrictions I had just the beets, vinaigrette, and chevre (no candied pecans, orange supreme, or jalapenos) and I was in love. Those jalapenos would have just gotten in the way of my beet love affair. The beets were soft and tangy and the chevre provided a nice little contrast for a few bites. (It was tough not to sneak a candied pecan, both Beth and Kevin were swooning over them.)

As for the wine, it was light and fruity, something we’d all drink again and could just sip on a hot afternoon. I wasn’t too sure about how it paired with the earthiness of the beets, they kind of overwhelmed each other, but I really can’t speak to the pairing because of all the stuff left off my appetizer. I’m imagining that the jalapeno and citrus cut the earthiness of the beets and then the wine was a refreshing complement.

Second Course

Shrimp and Grits: Brown sugar, Byrd’s Mill grits, habanero cheddar, brown butter

Wine: Reisling, St. Urbans-Hof “Urban,” Mosel, Germany 2010

Southern comfort food goes upscale in this little dish. A couple of shrimp over a small pile of buttery, cheesy, slightly spicy grits. The shrimp were perfectly done and the grits we’re nice and creamy. It was a cute little appetizer – something that tasted heavy and comforting, but the portion was small so there was still room for the main event.

The Riesling served with it was a hit. We’re all big fans of Reisling and it cut the spiciness of the habanero cheddar grits quite well. We’ll be looking for a bottle of this one when we have a special occasion.

Third Course

Crispy Pork: pork shoulder with escarole, peaches, lardon, balsamic, and creme fraiche

Wine:  Old Vine Blend, Bogle “Essential Red,” California 2009

As all good pork shoulders do, the meat just fell apart when you stuck your fork in it. The peaches were a fun addition that inspired me to experiment with pork and fruit at home. The creme fraiche and balsamic paired nicely with the pork, which really was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside as promised. We definitely had full, happy bellies after this course.

The wine reminded me of the house wines you can order by the carafe at dinner in Italy: a simple red table wine.

Fourth Course

Coconut Milk Rice Pudding with roasted apples, candied ginger, and walnuts (for Kevin and Beth)

Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Pot de Creme (for me)

Wine: Sweet Viognier, Novy Family Vineyard, Russian River Valley 2010

This was one of those moments when my dietary restrictions got me exactly what I wanted. While the Coconut Milk Rice Pudding looked great, and I was assured it was incredible by my dining partners, I was so pleased to sample the Pot de Creme. I’d been hoping all week for something dense and dark chocolate. When lucky enough to dine out at a nice place, I always go for the hardcore chocolate desserts.  Chefs just know how to handle their chocolate. And this was no exception, dark and dense just like I was hoping with the coarse sea salt on top to cut through it and add a little texture.

The Sweet Viognier was a lovely wine that also cut the density of the dark chocolate and refreshed my palate so I could enjoy the Pot de Creme all the more.

Would I eat there again?

Yes! If you ever want to treat me to something special, invite me to Toast!

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