After the city's sports teams, if there's one thing people in Pittsburgh are proud of it's the local food scene. And with good reason. I've had so many incredible meals since moving here, and with great new spots popping up constantly, A and I have hardly been able to keep up with our growing list of restaurants to try.
We ventured to The Strip District a few weeks ago for what turned out to be a spectacular date night at one of the city's most unique spots. Smallman Galley, Pittsburgh's "restaurant incubator", has been getting a lot of hype, and I'd been anxious to check it out. The galley includes cafeteria-style seating and a communal bar and features the culinary creations of four up-and-coming chefs. Each chef operates their own kitchen, honing their culinary craft while receiving training on the business side of restaurant management. When their 18-month lease at the galley is up, they'll have the opportunity to open their own spots in the city and a fresh crop of chefs will have the chance to test their restaurant concepts at Smallman Galley.
So without further ado let's start where all great meals begin: with the cocktail menu. Smallman Galley has a great beer selection, plus a good variety of wine and cocktails. I ordered a glass of the rosé sangria, and A ordered a Brew Gents Honey Saison (which I tasted, loved, and then ordered for myself later in the evening).
When dining at Smallman Galley, you just have to grab a seat and then pick a restaurant counter to order from - or order a sampling from all four restaurant concepts. Can you guess which option we went for?
We started off the meal with the chicken liver pâté from meat-centric Provision PGH. It was A's first time trying liver pâté, and he didn't really care for it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I first developed a taste for pâté while I was studying in Denmark during my junior year of college, and it was a real treat to have it again.
Because I love a good bread basket when we go out to eat, we ordered the sourdough toast with black pepper ricotta, herbs, and honey from Carota Café. It was absolutely delicious and the perfect warm-up for a big meal.
Speaking of toast, we hemmed and hawed over the menu at Josephine's Toast, trying to decide between a variety of hearty options all served over - you guessed it - toast. Ultimately we opted for the pork and beef meatball toast and were not disappointed!
Back again to Carota Café, we dug into an order of horseradish gnoochi. It was, without a doubt, the most interesting pasta dish I've ever eaten. That's a bold statement, I know, but the flavor was just so unusual and tasty! I love horseradish, and I was really impressed with the pasta's unique and spicy flavor.
Last on our dinner menu was the caramelized pear and onion tart from Aubergine Bistro. This tart was the most incredible combination of sweet and savory, making it the perfect segue into dessert!
Now let me just say that after sampling all of these dishes it wasn't easy to find room for dessert. We had to take a little digestion break after dinner, and we kept our spot at the end of a galley table and talked. But we were determined to taste some of the restaurants' sweet offerings, and so - true to the name of this blog - we ordered dessert. Two desserts, in fact.
From Provision PGH we ordered the sundae. Oh. My. Goodness. The sundae included a buttermilk biscuit, strawberries, ice cream, and - get this - goat cheese! The addition of tangy goat cheese to an otherwise sweet dessert was bizarre in the most wonderful way possible.
Last but not least: the seeded dark chocolate chip cookie from Carota Café. I love love love desserts that put a fun spin on a classic, and this treat was perfection. This simple combo - a dark chocolate chip cookie smothered in sunflower seeds - is something I'll be recreating at home for sure!