On Saturday, we ventured out to a new-to-us spot for Pittsburgh Restaurant Week 2014, a week-long event which occurs 4 times throughout the year. During Pittsburgh Restaurant Week (PRW), restaurants around the city offer special fixed-price menus to entice foodies and non-foodies into their establishments. This season, PRW ran from January 13th-19th so unfortunately by the time you read this it will be too late to take advantage. But spring is right around the corner, I promise! 🙂
We chose The Porch at Schenley, located in the heart of Oakland right on Schenley Plaza. I remember when this restaurant was built and every time we would drive by (which is often!), I would make a mental note that I wanted to try it out. On Saturday, things kind of fell into place because The Porch is close to home, we didn’t need a reservation even though it was a Saturday night, and they support Buy Fresh Buy Local which is near and dear to my heart. Why would I spend money at a restaurant which isn’t invested in our region? Why do you?!
The ambiance was…different. Sort of an industrial/dairy vibe at times, but they also had these awesome bay doors overlooking the Plaza that open during nicer weather. The crowd was very collegiate (obviously, Schenley Plaza is nestled between Carnegie Mellon and Pitt with Carlow, Chatham, and Duquesne just beyond), bustling with college students. Fun fact: You can use your university meal plan flex funds there. Basically, we were surrounded by college students ordering delicious looking pizzas and profesh types sitting in larger groups towards the middle of the restaurant.
Since we rarely get a chance to go out anymore, we decided to take advantage of some appetizers! Perhaps my favorite part of the dinner was this sweet potato gnocchi:
Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ confit pork belly, apples, dates, sage, and a brown butter cream sauce
Just wow. I basically wanted to lick the plate clean. I mean, the brown butter cream sauce was just heavenly; the whole combo just worked!
We also ordered this cornbread. I cut us 2 pieces, but Christina spit hers into her napkin (this somehow doesn’t effect me at all anymore since she is such a picky eater) after the first bite. Cornbread fail! It was not very good at all! The server was beyond great about it and took it off of our bill without us even asking. I don’t really know what was going on with it, but the taste and texture just weren’t for us.
So, onto the PRW-menu with this roasted butternut squash soup:
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup w/ Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Creme Fraiche, & Carmelized Apples
You guys, I wasn’t a huge fan of this either but it was edible. It felt a bit heavy on the nutmeg maybe? I felt like there was flavor, but not much depth of flavor if that makes sense. Is it wrong that I was comparing it to the one at Panera Bread? Do I lose foodie street cred for that? Whatever, that’s ma favorite squash soup. The caramelized apple settled to the bottom of the bowl, so I tried to get at least one with each bite because they were awesome! At this point, I was a bit nervous about the main course because the soup was ‘meh’ and the cornbread was ‘blah.’
Smoked Berkshire Pork Shank w/ Fingerling Potatoes, Heirloom Carrots, Dates, and Mustard Greens
The mustard greens were mysteriously absent, but no complaints here! Everything was sooooooooo tasty, the smoked Berkshire paired so well with the sauce and the dates and the veggies. Berkshire is a breed of pig, not a style of cooking, if you were wondering. 🙂 The above picture doesn’t even do it justice because it was a HUGE chunk of meat on a HUGE bone! We totally could’ve shared one.
I wasn’t sharing this at all:
Vanilla Bean Creme Brule w/ Marinated Figs & Mint
I don’t really get the mint because it was just a little leaf and obviously I wasn’t going to chew on it, but this was yummy! The figs were outrageously good!! Yay figs!!
All-in-all, we found The Porch At Schenley to be nice but next time we will probably hit it up for lunch and order one of those pizzas that everyone was ordering. That many people couldn’t be wrong!
Past Pittsburgh Restaurant Week posts:
Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Fall 2013: Habitat