This past week I was invited to attend a sneak preview of the upcoming brunch season at Pittsburgh’s National Aviary (in case you’re not familiar, the Aviary is the United States’ premier bird zoo; to see photos from my previous visit there you can click here). It’s a charming spot located on the city’s North Side and is honestly one of the neatest places you’ll ever visit-in many of the rooms the birds are literally flying right over you, so fast and so close you can feel your hair move slightly from their rapid movements. But back to brunch.
This year’s brunch creations by Chef Josef Karst were varied and eclectic, just the way I like it. While there were your standard brunch staples such as fresh fruit and breads/danishes, items of special note included chicken tinga enchiladas (Mexican food at 9 AM, it was just about the best morning ever), a scrumptious roasted vegetable frittata with cheese and salsa verde, and bourbon glazed ham carved right off the bone that was served with mango chutney (the ham slices were so big they looked like they were meant for the giants from Paul Bunion. There was also smoked Norwegian salmon served over crisp potato pancakes. I’m usually not the biggest salmon fan but this was surprisingly good, although I think potato pancakes can make anything taste divine. At the actual brunches, there will also be an egg station where you can have your organic eggs made just the way you want them (scrambled, over easy-just for you). And being given a mimosa within moments of arriving is never a bad thing either.
As terrific as all of the food was, the coolest moments, though, were the special visitors who took time out of their busy schedules to drop by. We were treated to some rather adorable antics from a scarlet macaw, an absolutely striking Eurasian owl, and a pretty cute recently born African penguin named Happy, even though he had some bathroom issues while he was hanging out with us.
The first brunch of the season will take place on Easter Sunday (April 5) in the outdoor (and heated, this is key for Pittsburgh since Aprils here can vary so much temperature wise) Rose Garden tent with two seatings to choose from (10:30 AM and 12:30 PM). Admission to the aviary is included with the price of brunch, although one of the best things will be dining with birds, literally. As you eat, flying visitors will also be stopping by to make the brunch even more memorable.
Subsequent brunches will be taking place on Mother’s and Father’s Day; there will also be dates in the fall although these have not been announced yet. In a city like Pittsburgh there is no shortage of places to have brunch and yet none is as unique as the one at the National Aviary. Brunch and birds, I think they win.
2015 Brunch Prices:
Adults: $35 | Children $17.50 | Children three and under: free
(Includes admission to the Aviary)
To make reservations, call 412.258.9445
Note: I was a guest of the National Aviary but all thoughts and opinions mentioned here are my own.