restaurant review: grit & grace

Two Fridays ago, Keith and I headed downtown for dinner at Grit & Grace. A relatively new restaurant, it is a sister restaurant to BRGR and Spoon, (neither of which I have actually been to).

I actually hadn’t really looked at the menu, the planning of this one was all Keith. We arrived for our 7:30 reservation and the place was pretty packed. (And pretty loud.) It’s an extremely narrow restaurant but goes back deceivingly far. We were seated at a nice booth and left to puruse the menu. They offer small plates (and some larger plates) and also have American dimsum. If you don’t know what dimsum is, I liked our waiter’s explanation of “an already made appetizer.” Someone walks around, presents several offerings to your table and you choose then and there if you want something. The dim sum plates were $5 and we split the carpacchio. They were all rather small servings, so we didn’t go for anything else and instead focused on the regular menu.

Keith and I eat a lot of meat so all our choices were very meat heavy. Sorry vegetarians, this review will mean nothing to you.

We started with the braised goat (appams, garlic + ginger smashed potatoes, curry).

goat

Appams are the pancake-y sort of thing. It was really good. The goat was very tender and full of flavor, I really liked the lime to brighten it up. This was a pretty large plate. There were 4 of those pancakes and enough meat to fill them all.

Next up we had crispy pig face roulade (sunny side up egg, Napa cabbage slaw, chicharrons, egg yolk hot sauce, toasted sourdough, miso apple butter). I was most worried about this one (pig face?!), but the waiter described the pig face as bacon, but better. Now I don’t like bacon, but I was willing to give it a go.

pigface

It was so good. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. It was like an open-faced breakfast sandwich.

On each table there are also three house made sauces, something soy saucy, something sweet and sour saucy and a hot sauce. I could have eaten the hot sauce on a spoon, but it was so good on this.

It was about this point that we decided to skip more dim sum and just get food. We got the short ribs, and at only $1 more than the dim sum, it was probably twice the food.

Short ribs, cream cheese biscuits, aged white cheddar cheese, hollandaise.

shortribs

These were good. The cream cheese biscuits were a tad strange, they were very very soft. There were two of them here each with a piece of meat. I love when food is already pre-portioned out to share.

And we finished with the brisket.

Smoked brisket, kohlrabi kraut, thousand island sabayon, pickled red onions, corned beef tongue, horseradish cream, baguette.

brisket

This was just my half. I got a little too eager and dug in before snapping a picture. This was also really good. Except…this might be an unpopular opinion but can we stop pickling everything? I can go for some sweet gherkins or a dill pickle here and again, but I don’t want pickled carrots or onions or cabbage or turnips.

The top right corner was the plate the sandwich came on and had pickled things on it. There were also some on the sandwich and I could just do without them. Just not into it.

Keith and I were pleasantly full by the time we finished. Grit & Grace also has a full bar, but we are not big drinkers and I am cheap when it comes to alcohol. I would have ordered some Arsenal Cider but I’m not paying $10 for a glass when I can get a growler for a bit more.

We were discussing the bill before it came. Keith guessed it would be around $100, I thought $60. We were both pleasantly surprised that it was just a bit over $50. Not bad for 5 plates that left us full. (My 2nd biggest pet peeve (after pickled everything) is fancy restaurants that cost $50 a person and leave you hungry. Not an issue here. I’d definitely go back. I actually would like to go back now. Mmm pig face.

Grit & Grace on Urbanspoon

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pittsburgh restaurant week – part 2

Our second stop during Pittsburgh Restaurant Week was Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen in Regent Square. We had been talking about trying Alma for a while, but never made it.

We went on a Thursday night and it was actually the day I got my grades for the summer and found out I had gotten straight A’s! Woo! So it then became my celebratory dinner. To start things off right, I did something I never do and ordered a drink. Anytime I see a caipirinha on the menu, I have to order it, and Alma had two. A blackberry and a passionfruit.

cai

I chose the blackberry and it was good, but I probably should have tried the passionfruit for something a bit more exciting.

Alma was offering a 4 course meal for $30. Alma is a little on the pricey side, so I think I figured out we saved at least $20. We probably wouldn’t have gotten as much food either, so probably more.

For starters, there was an option of empanadas or fried plantains. Keith and I both got the empanadas and they were good, but probably my least favorite part of the meal. The empanadas had pork and olives and I kind of hate olives, but they were still tasty.

emp

Course two was soup or salad. They had a quinoa salad and gazpacho. Keith wanted the quinoa salad, so I decided to go out on a limb and try the gazpacho.

quin

gaz

I am glad I did because I LOVED the gazpacho. It does not photograph nearly as well as Keith’s salad but it was soooo good. They apparently use a coconut milk base, which I was kind of afraid of but it was soo good. It had a slight kick to it and lots of veggies floating around in it. I never in a million years would have thought I’d like cold soup, but my mouth is almost watering thinking of it. Keith’s quinoa salad was okay, I wasn’t a huge fan. He liked it better than my gazpacho though. He said it tasted like gin. (He’s crazy.)

Third course was the main event. There were quite a few options that I cannot remember. Keith got the brisket and I got the scallops.

brisk

scall

I have an unfortunate habit of liking whatever Keith orders better than what I order. But for the second time during this meal, I thought mine was so much better. The brisket was over rice and while it was good, it didn’t blow me away.

My scallops were served with veggies and rice and covered in this amazing lime and garlic sauce that I could have eaten plain. I want everything covered in that sauce. Even though I was quickly becoming uncomfortably full, I cleaned my plate.

And we still had dessert!

Keith ordered an avocado pudding and I got the chocolate cake. The warm chocolate cake.

avo

choco

I was pretty blown away by the avocado pudding. It tasted like avocado…but better! And sweet! A little tart. I only had the tiniest of bites because I had that amazing dessert in front of me.

Warm chocolate cake, cinnamon ice cream. It was SO GOOD. It is almost criminal that I wasn’t able to finish it. I ate about half and couldn’t force myself to eat anymore.

I’m pretty sure Alma was my favorite stop of the week. Everything I ate was just incredible. Huge portions, fresh ingredients, delicious results. It is a little bit pricey, I don’t think it could ever be a casual dinner place for us, but I’d definitely head back for a special occasion. Like more straight A’s!