In Pittsburgh you know a new restaurant is a big deal when you can’t get a reservation for a Saturday night more than a week in advance. Such is the case with Butcher and the Rye, the third culinary offspring of chef Richard DeShantz and his business partner, Tolga Sevdik. I’ve mentioned one of their restaurants a few times before on the blog (Meat and Potatoes anyone?). When word got out that they would be opening a third restaurant in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District that would be home to a 350 plus whiskey bourbon collection, well, the buzz started generating right there and then. Butcher and the Rye opened this past fall and to say it’s been successful would be an understatement. To have two of the city’s most popular restaurants within mere blocks of each other says a lot.
I ended up making reservations for a Tuesday night at 5 PM (the early hour simply coincided with our end of day work schedules). While we were the first diners in the upstairs seating area (there is both an upstairs and downstairs bar), within 15 minutes people kept coming and coming. The decor upstairs is undoubtedly eclectic, its website describing the ambience as being designed to the “style and class of the super club and cocktail era.” All I can say is that it’s not every day that you have a stuffed grizzly bear wearing a hat as your unexpected dining companion.
The menu is in the style of small plates with some of them being larger than others (the price was usually a good indication of this although not always). Although I normally don’t order drinks when out, when in Rome, or in the case of a venue with hundreds of whiskeys to choose from, I did end up getting a cocktail, “Lions Tail” to be exact ($10). It featured Buffalo Trace bourbon (I had to choose this one since B.T. was one of the distilleries we visited last year when we traveled to Kentucky), lime, and allspice dram. I am not a fan at all of bourbon on the rocks, but mixed in, this was delicious. D, however, ended up getting two bourbons on the rocks. And with that many bourbons to choose from, there is no paper drink menu. No, the bourbons available came on an iPad (on Oahu, a restaurant we went to at the JW Marriott had a menu in this style as well).
Being small plates, we split everything, ordering a total of five and that was more than enough for the two of us. The menu features everything from bread to soup to small plates to large plates to salads and of course cheese and charcuterie.
French Onion Soup ($11)
Oxtail, five onion broth, toasted bread, and gruyere
Rich, but not overly so. And I just adore anything made with gruyere.
Crispy Pig Wing ($8)
Thai chili sauce, pickled mango salad, cilantro
I’m not normally a fan of wings, but this had more meat on it than I’m usually accustomed to, which was a good thing. The exotic spice definitely gave it a memorable taste.
Pig Candy ($8)
Pork belly, apple kim chi, miso caramel, cilantro
Yes, we went overboard with our pig ordering. I preferred this over the pig wing. There was more to it and the apple kim chi was a nice surprise. (I’m overcoming my fear and aversion to kim chi.)
Mac n cheese ($10)
Taleggio, goat cheese, cheddar, fontina, and parmesan
A five cheese mac n cheese-enough said.
Brown butter, dill, parmigiano reggiano, preserved lemon aioli
We ordered a green vegetable…sorta. Brussels sprouts “on the rocks” are healthy, Brussels sprouts cooked in butter AND cheese and with aioli are not, but that’s what made them so darn good.
Creative culinary concoctions are not for everyone, I’ll say that. But I think if you’re young and like alcohol you’re going to love this place. If you’re older and open to trying new things AND like your spirits, you’re going to like this place. And seeing as how much DeShantz’s restaurants are adored in this city, Butcher and the Rye is not going anywhere. Just remember to make your reservation plenty in advance if you actually want to dine there.