Avenue B, Pittsburgh, PA

Avenue B, Pittsburgh, PA

Writing and eating in: Pittsburgh, PA

For Christmas, my brother gave me the gift of a night out in Pittsburgh with him and my boyfriend Kevin, his treat, at any restaurant I chose. Avenue B has been on my list for awhile, so I jumped at the chance to go there. It’s a small bistro on Centre Avenue near the Market District Giant Eagle. Like many great Pittsburgh restaurants, it’s a unique local hot-spot in an unexpected place.

When you enter the restaurant, you feel transported far away from the bumper to bumper traffic that defines Centre Ave. The atmosphere is homey yet elegant with a big front window, comfy chairs, candles on every table, and big blackboards detailing the specials.

Appetizers

It was clear from the moment we started reading the menu that our night out at Avenue B was going to be a fun meal. Despite my dietary restrictions, I was going to be able to order almost anything on the menu and even fit in a few indulgences.

Since this was before the at-home beet debacle, I ordered the beet salad with crispy chevre. It sounded fresh, just what I’d been hoping for since I first started the low residue diet. The night before, I’d gone so far as to be jealous over an iceberg lettuce based salad, so my opinion of this dish might be a little bit biased by the fact that I’ve had nothing remotely related to salad since last May (Levoie’s Salad!), but I thought it was absolutely perfect. The beets were cooked until tender, chilled, and then tossed in a pleasantly spiced dressing. Top that off with pillows of breaded and deep fried chevre and you have part one of Erin’s perfect meal.

The boys had great appetizers, too. While we mostly chose of the blackboard, which changes daily, Kevin chose his appetizer from the all-winter menu: bourbon pork belly and avocado lettuce wraps. I couldn’t sample a bite of the wrap, but did get a piece of pork belly, which was a nice mix of sweet and salty with a heavy texture. Kevin said he thought the combo of the heavy pork belly and raw veggies was delicious.

My brother went for the Hudson Valley Foie Gras, which was served over toast and topped with a fried egg. He broke the yoke and and let it drip over the foie gras before digging in. The bite he gave me was soft and warm, quite comforting for a cold winter night.

Main Course

We all chose meat-heavy main courses. There were a couple delicous sounding vegetarian items listed among the main courses, but there’s always something about winter that makes me think meat.

Kevin splurged on the Kobe steak with fries (pictured above). The steak was small, but it’s Kobe beef so it’s meant to be enjoyed, and believe me, Kevin did. The first bite floored him with how flavorful it was and he dug into the steak before getting to his crispy, shoestring fries, which is pretty much unheard of with Kevin who tends to eat his sides first and main dish last.

Ryan chose his main course of the blackboard, too: a pork chop with kimchee and soba noodles. The pork was tender and perfectly cooked. Ryan said the kimchee was spiced, but not spicy. The soba noodles were nicely sauced and a good base for the veggies and heavy meat.

I went for an Avenue B classic: Kobe meatloaf with goat cheese, mashed potatoes, and crispy onions. I chose Avenue B in part because of how good the Kobe meatloaf sounded. I really love meatloaf, both the old-fashioned ketchup-laden kind and new, modern ideas like terayaki turkey meatloaf. So this was perfect (my apologies for overuse of this word – this was one of the best meals I’ve had in a very long time). The beef was tender and flavorful and smashed up well with the mashed potatoes and goat cheese beneath the meat. Add in the crispy onions and gravy and I made little bites of heaven: warm, gooey and soft with a touch of crispy and salty.

Dessert

We got some to-go boxes to save room for dessert. And we were so glad we did, especially the guys.

Both K and R chose the blondie with pretzel butter cream and bruleed green apple. The blondie and pretzel butter cream was stacked into 3 layers with 3 apple slices on the side. One of them shared a bite with me and I was amazed at how well-salted the dish was – very sweet, but I definitely picked up on pieces of coarse salt and the taste of pretzel, despite the butter cream being perfectly smooth.

I broke my norm of having chocolate for dessert because I couldn’t resist the notion of the popcorn ice cream served with the croissant bread pudding. Popcorn is on my forbidden foods list and is one of my favorite snacks, so when this work around presented itself, I couldn’t pass it up! Usually, this dessert is served with pieces of popcorn scattered on the plate, but the kitchen happily left them off for me. And the ice cream really did remind me of popcorn. It was cold and sweet with a hint of vanilla, like ice cream, but also buttery and salty, like popcorn. The bread pudding was fine, but maybe next time I’ll ask if I can just get a popcorn ice cream sundae.

BYOB

Avenue B is BYOB, so earlier in the day we hit up Arsenal Cider House, which has been a joint obsession of Kevin and mine since we discovered it in November. That day, they had a Vanilla Bourbon Apple Cider, which, even when served cold, feels warming like a nice, big hug. It complemented our dinner well and one growler was perfect for the three of us.

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