Considering that the first time I dined at Nola on the Square was back in 2009, I thought it high time that another visit was in order. They actually had been closed for a short period following a fire that caused pretty extensive damage. Thankfully they were able to reopen after a not too terribly long hiatus and their reopening meshed with my parents’ recent summer visit to Pittsburgh.
Nola is a New Orleans jazz brasserie that’s located on the city’s Market Square. When I first came to Pittsburgh in 2003, the downtown area was pretty dismal. Market Square is one of the many shining examples of how Pittsburgh’s downtown has grown and transformed itself since then. It offers everything from nouveau Creole cuisine to Bourbon Street cocktails to even live jazz and blues music three nights a week. While Pittsburgh is hundreds of miles away from the Big Easy, it still does a great job of recreating that “N’awlins” ambiance for you.
My parents had visited New Orleans last December for the first time and loved everything about it, including the delicious food. I was interested in taking advantage of Pittsburgh’s Restaurant Week offerings and definitely liked what Nola was offering. And so the decision was made pretty easily to go there.
For our 5:15 PM reservation, the bar and outside dining area of the restaurant were already booming although there was a Steelers preseason game later that evening and here in Pittsburgh, even the exhibition duds will still draw crowds. The dining section of the restaurant wasn’t terribly crowded when we first got there but as the night wore on it did fill up quite significantly, including a very reserved bachelorette party which I assumed probably got rowdy as the evening wore on.
Of the four of us, I was the only one who opted to do the Restaurant Week menu. For $30.14 you got a first and second course as well as dessert. Unlike in some other cities, Restaurant Week menus here in Pittsburgh are often set, having been customized by the chef.
To start there was the Louisiana Crab Cake accompanied by a summer bean salad, pickled Fresno pepper, local corn and field pea chow chow and topped by a gribiche vinaigrette. I really enjoyed this-I’m not a huge fish person but shellfish I love and I also liked the fact that the crab cake definitely had a kick to it, different from what you’d get in Maryland for instance.
The main course was Abita Turbodog Braised Beef Cheek which featured a corn-andouille puree, shrimp, chayote squash and new potato hash, celery veloute, fried garlic crumble, Thai basil, sauce piquant, and pickled beech mushroom. If you’re wondering what type of meat this was, it’s exactly like the name says-the cheek of an animal. I’ll admit, I had to man up when ordering this because the idea of eating an animal’s cheek was slightly unnerving. However, it tasted delicious and it was definitely one of those things where if you didn’t know what you were eating you would have thought it was pot roast (it truly tasted like that).
And for my dessert there was the delectable Passion Fruit Creme Brulee which was topped with coconut whipped cream and served alongside star fruit. Sadly, I was much too full by this point to finish it.
D went with the French Onion soup for his starter ($7)
My dad selected the Red Beans & Rice for his ($6)
If you’re really adventuresome, fried alligator ($13) is also on the appetizers menu.
For his entree, D ordered the Scallop & Shrimp Mac Daddy ($27). This consisted of gemelli pasta, sea scallops, shrimp, mornay sauce and topped with toasted bread crumbs.
My dad went with the Pork Tenderloin ($23) for his main course. This included a lemongrass-carrot puree, asparagus, peas, Cajun soy-glazed mushrooms, sweet pepper jam, and sesame pickled cucumbers.
For her entree, my mom selected the Wood Roasted Quail ($27). Yes, quail. This consisted of a corn bread Tasso-ham oyster stuffing, Andouille sweet pepper wild rice, spinach, and an amarena cherry and cognac gastrique.
Even though no one needed dessert, D ordered the the Bananas Foster sundae and my parents split the beignets, which honestly were just as good as those served at the famous Cafe Du Monde.
The only negative of the meal was that we waited a while for our appetizers (and by this point we were famished) but then in typical fashion, our main courses came around five minutes after. This always annoys me since it greatly defeats the purpose of an appetizer.
All in all, Nola on the Square is a great restaurant with terrific food and being Creole, you definitely can’t find this anywhere else here in Pittsburgh.
24 Market Square Pittsburgh, PA