This past Friday night I went to my second ever food tasting, a five course meal at Toast! Kitchen and Wine Bar. I had never eaten there before and I always enjoy trying out new places but what made this visit such a memorable time was that the meal was Kentucky-themed. As you know, last summer I traveled to Kentucky and had a wonderful time between the uniqueness of the Bourbon trail, the gorgeous history, friendly people, and most notably the delicious food.
Last month, Living Social was advertising a deal for Toast’s Southern dinners. Throughout the summer, every Thursday and Friday night it would be hosting a Southern-themed tasting menu, each week being a different state. From the descriptions listed on Living Social, every state’s menu offerings sounded incredible with Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas being the states offered. While I could have happily gone to any of them, my top three choices were Virginia, South Carolina, and Kentucky, but after checking with D, we agreed that the Kentucky one sounded the best (one of the courses was burgoo). The Living Social deal was $90 for a couple which really was an awesome deal.
Toast can be found in the city’s Shadyside neighborhood, near to one of the big hospitals. It’s located in what seemed to be a former residential house, one that going by Shadyside’s historical origins, probably dates from the turn of the last century if not even before then. There’s dining room space downstairs but we were led up a wooden staircase into one of the rooms which is where the Kentucky tasting meal diners were being seated.
A specially themed alcohol pairing was available for only $15 extra-I didn’t partake but D did and all I’ll say is that you really were given ample amounts, no “tasting” portion there.
My only minor critique of the meal is that the intervals between courses were sometimes a bit too long, but especially the one between the third and fourth course. I could see that being the case between the fourth and then the final one for dessert, but as we still had a salty, dinner-style course to go, I was just ready to get on with it. Excluding this, service though was friendly and attentive.
First Course-Country Ham Tasting (Benton’s Smoked Ham, Edwards Surryano, Pickled Onions & Ramps, Apple Butter)
Paired with Conde de Subirates Cava Brut Rose (Spanish champagne)
I was expecting the country ham to be hot, but as a starting dish, having it served cold made perfect sense. The pickled onions were especially tasty.
Second Course-“Hot” Fried Chicken (Pickled Green Tomatoes, Yuengling Blue Cheese Dressing)
Paired with Anderson Valley Holy Gose Ale
I’m not the biggest fan of “hot” (as in fiery hot) food, so this was a bit spicy for me.
D though is someone that does love hot food and this was one of his favorite courses.
Third Course-Seared Pork Belly (Pimiento Cheese, Green Beans, Bourbon Jus)
Paired with Old Grand Dad Old Fashioned
I loved the pork belly and only wish there had been more of it! I was sad to have missed out on trying pimiento cheese while in Atlanta,
but was happy I could sample it here. I did try the Old Fashioned and while very strong (the bourbon smell was just oozing out) I liked the taste of it.
Fourth Course-Burgoo (Beef Brisket, Confit of Duck, Pork Shoulder, Tomato Jus)
Paired with Lapostolle Syrah
While this version of burgoo was different from what I had tried last summer in Bardstown in terms of appearance (the “real burgoo has everything mixed in all together, while at Toast, the meats were clearly visible and separated I think in order to show the diners all of the meats used), I enjoyed it, especially the broth.
Fifth Course-Bourbon Balls & Whiskey Flight
Chocolate Pecan-Knob Creek
Luxardo Cherry-Rittenhouse Rye
Cocoa Truffle-Woodford Reserve
I think anytime you make it to the fifth course, you are going to be full. Asking someone to then consume rich chocolates, torture indeed. I tried the chocolate pecan and the luxardo cherry balls, both having tastes that I can only describe as “over the top” but good. Everyone said that the cocoa truffle one was the best so that’s the one I brought home to save for a special treat.
I really enjoyed being able to dine on Kentucky favorites right in Pittsburgh and only hope that Toast will offer their Southern themed special dinners again sometime because I would definitely be game for coming back. Not to mention, I’d probably return to order from its normal menu anytime.
Toast! Kitchen & Wine Bar
5102 Baum Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA. 15224