Restaurant review: Meat & Potatoes (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
I first heard about Meat and Potatoes from my supervisor, who had mentioned she had reservations to dine there one weekend. Although I always forgot to ask her how the meal was, its unique name stuck. So with my parents’ upcoming visit to Pittsburgh, I thought Meat and Potatoes would be the perfect spot to try. It’s relatively new to the Pittsburgh dining scene, having only opened in the winter of 2011 and is located in the heart of the city’s Cultural District.
In terms of decor and ambience, Meat and Potatoes is definitely going for an “in” and relaxed look-exposed ceiling beams, the day’s specials written on a chalkboard on the wall, tumblers instead of wine glasses, and of course the beef meat chart, an outline of a cow that shows the location of all the various cuts of meat. The restaurant isn’t overly large as the bar which serves as the “nucleus” takes up a decent portion of the space, although I had no problem making reservations less than a week in advance for a Friday evening.
The menu is broken down into sections-starters, appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and entrees. Although none of us partook (we all mildly laughed when our waitress asked if any of us liked mussels), there is the mussels of the day option for $14, as well as being able to add either bread or frites (or both) for $2 extra each. It seemed like a popular option with other diners and the portion was extremely generous.
To start, I ordered the Poutine ($7) which is a dish that originated in Quebec, Canada and consists of fries that are topped with gravy and cheese curds. Although the dish was listed under the starters section of the menu, which the waitress described as dishes of a smaller size than appetizers, the poutine was a large serving and even with my dad and D eating some, I still had enough to be wrapped up for another eating session. I made poutine last year and really enjoyed the taste, so I was thrilled to see it on a menu here in Pittsburgh.
My dad ordered the Yukon Skins ($8), a baked potato topped with pork belly pastrami, cheese and scallions. Although I didn’t try it, it looked scrumptious. For his starter, D ordered the charcuterie board special ($12) which could have easily fed a couple of people. It had several cold meats and was accompanied by toasted bread, pickles, and black and green olives.
My one qualm with the restaurant was the time it took for our appetizers to come. My other more minor qualm (which can’t really be helped), was that it was extremely noisy. If you dine there, be sure to go when your mind is solely concentrated on the food and not on an intimate conversation you’d like to have.
For my entree I ordered the Bolognese pasta ($18) which featured gnocchi, short rib, pancetta, pork shoulder, and parmesan cheese. Gnocchi is one of my favorite pastas and when paired with a rich Bolognese sauce and delicately simmered meats, this was a terrific choice. Although some people may be averse to the dish based on the more unusual cuts of meat included in it, I would recommend that this be an instance in which you let your mouth rule over your mind. You won’t regret selecting it. It also came with two pieces of garlic toast.
My mom ordered the Hudson Valley Duck Breast ($18) which came accompanied with heirloom sweet potatoes, braised red cabbage and pecans.
D ordered the Pub Burger ($14) which consisted of pork belly pastrami, horseradish cheddar, fried egg and a special sauce served on a house made bun. My dad ordered Braised Lamb Shank ($24) which came with white beans, broccolini, kale and gremolata.
There is no dessert menu; instead, the day’s desserts were written on the daily specials chalkboard. As soon as I saw the popcorn panna cotta I knew that’s what I wanted to order. D and I first tried a popcorn style dessert at the Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland on our trip there in February. The sweet paired with the salty had us hooked immediately. Panna cotta is Italian style custard and at Meat and Potatoes, our dessert came in a mason jar-the top layer was made entirely of caramel and required a spoon to break through to the custard layer. It was probably my favorite part of the meal.
Aside from the two qualms I mentioned earlier, our meal at Meat and Potatoes was fantastic and I look forward to dining there again, including trying some of their delicious sounding libations.
Note: Although meat is obviously a prominent feature on the menu, there are non-meat/vegetarian options available.