Apteka Pittsburgh Restaurant Review
If there’s one thing I’ll embrace about the Pittsburgh culture, it’s its love of pierogis, filled dumplings of Central and Eastern European origin (remember how much I adore dumplings of any kind?). So when I heard there would be a new restaurant opening in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood serving Central and Eastern European cuisine with pierogis being a focal point of the menu, I was happily intrigued. And then it was followed by a reaction I’m not quite sure how to describe when I read it would be a vegan establishment.
Here’s the thing. I love meat but if I ever had to go the strictly vegetarian route, I know I could survive and probably even thrive, a benefit of not being afraid and having a genuine interest in cooking. However, veganism? Pass. I’ve read enough on it to know that it will never be for me. For all the individuals who have embraced veganism and made it a part of their life, all the power to you. I considered adding a very political line here but as I do try to keep politics off the blog, I’ll just add, to each his own.
However, just because I would never want to become a vegan doesn’t mean I’m opposed to trying vegan food. So way back on a hot summer night in July, we went down to Apteka. I had read that they don’t take reservations (unless you’re a party of 8 or more) and that it’s a tiny space so I planned to be there right when they opened at 5PM. (I’m so cutting edge bad but I’m long past the time of standing around/waiting for a table; there are too many restaurants to support where that is not the case.) When we arrived, there was already a line out the door until I discovered that you place your order, and then take a number marker with you to your table. So that was the reason for the line. It was a short wait but I can see the benefit of the set-up from a staffing perspective.
Since this was the first time for both D and me having vegan food, we decided to order a couple of different items and share them. The menu is divided between small plates, big plates, sandwiches, and dessert.
Kanapki means sandwich in Polish and at Apteka these consisted of three tartines (French for open-face sandwich). The selection of kanapki changes daily but on the night we dined there, there was a nice variety between the three (i.e. one had cabbage, another celery).
Naturally we ordered the pierogi plate. These consisted of six pierogis whose fillings were sauerkraut and mushroom, celeriac, apple, potato and horseradish. Presentation wise I thought they were stunning, especially with the fluted edges.
These potato dumplings were probably my favorite of what we tried. The dumplings were in a carrot broth, along with porcini butter, oyster mushrooms, and topped with fennel yogurt and dill. They were spongy and light and I could have easily eaten a dozen of them.
And because it’s a hipster haven, naturally they had a pretty robust and innovative cocktail selection (or koktajle as you say in Polish). I regrettably didn’t record what we got but I was impressed that all cocktails were $9 and under (most were $8, 2 were $7 and one was $9). How often do you see cocktails under $10 anymore?
While I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Apteka, spoiler, I didn’t turn into a vegan the next day (well, you already knew that wasn’t going to happen). I didn’t like the pierogis as much as I thought I would. I’m not sure how to describe it but of all the things we ate, they just tasted the most “different,” as in you knew they were vegan. I will say this about vegan fare-you definitely have to give the kitchen kudos for the dishes they are able to create, considering how limited they are in terms of ingredients.
4606 Penn Avenue | Pittsburgh, PA. 15224
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