Although there is an overabundance of Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants in Pittsburgh, this is sadly not the case for French food. One of the city’s premier and oldest French restaurants, Le Pommier, closed indefinitely earlier this year due to a fire. It was a great spot for an intimate and upscale meal. In the late spring there was a groupon for Brasserie 33 and I purchased it. Brasserie 33 is billed as an authentic French style brasserie (brasserie in the Francophone world is a French restaurant with a relaxed, upscale setting, serving single dishes and other meals). As our groupon was set to expire before the end of the year, I finally made reservations and we dined there last month.
The restaurant is incredibly small (as are most of the restaurants located on Ellsworth Street in the city’s Shadyside neighborhood) so I would strongly recommend making reservations for dinner. They also serve lunch so you might have better luck then with just being able to stop in. They do have a decent size bar area and there were a couple of people who were dining there.
As it is a French restaurant, their wine selections are quite extensive but they do offer about five beer selections, all Belgian except the French beer Kronenbourg 1664 which D actually had while we were in Paris last year.
To start, D ordered the soupe a l’oignon (traditional French onion soup) for $8. The menu didn’t identify the type of cheese used but it tasted like Gruyère. I had a couple of spoonfuls and it was excellent.
I’m a huge cheese lover and was excited to try the B33 tarts (warm brie, goat cheese, and caramelized onion tarts), but was extremely disappointed when told “they were all out of tarts.” I found this beyond odd, seeing as how we were literally the first people in the restaurant when they opened for dinner and the fact that it was a Saturday night which I would think is the busiest night of the week for them. I ended up just ordering a side of pommes frites (fries) for $6. They were very tasty and almost as good as the ones we had in Brugge, Belgium from the fry stands that are at the base of the belltower.
For my main course, I went with a cassoulet, which is a traditional French bean casserole with lamb, duck confit and andouille sausage in a tomato sauce for $24. I had never had cassoulet before although there is a recipe for it in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking that I’ll be sure to try out once the temperatures remain cold (it’s too heavy a dish in warmer weather). I greatly enjoyed it and would definitely try it again.
D ordered the coq au vin (traditional French chicken dish with onions, bacon, mushrooms and roasted potatoes in a red wine sauce) for his main entree. He debated between that and the boeuf bourguignon (braised beef with garlic, onions, carrots, bacon and mushrooms in a red wine sauce).
We were too stuffed for dessert but we will be sure to leave room for it on a future trip. And hopefully, they’ll have tarts the next time I’m there. If you want French food but at the moment can’t afford a ticket on Delta’s Pittsburgh to Paris route, I recommend dining at Brasserie 33 instead.
5863 Ellsworth Avenue