Review: Meat & Potatoes

Visit this modern-day Pittsburgh speakeasy for decadent comfort food and top-notch mixed drinks.




Photos by Laura Petrilla
 

 

What is a gastropub? According to chef Richard DeShantz, owner of the new Cultural District restaurant Meat & Potatoes, it’s a pub that serves high-end or craft food and libations. Meat & Potatoes is a modern-day Pittsburgh speakeasy, with a Paris-meets-Brooklyn interior, a wealth of interesting mixed drinks—including those honoring both Prohibition and “the Repeal”—and decadent food that will excite your taste buds, warm your belly and (depending on what you order) prompt visits to your cardiologist.

Owners Tolga Sedvik and DeShantz are also the forces behind Nine on Nine, a nearby fine-dining spot. DeShantz opened Meat & Potatoes to offer something different from his other venture: “food that a chef would eat after a busy day at work, food you grew up with, comfort food and street food.”

The central focal point of the stylized restaurant is, no doubt, the large wood, granite-topped bar that seats 30. The drink menu offers intriguing mixed drinks with names like the Aviation and the Dark & Smokey. Try one of the Barrel-Aged drinks, cocktails mixed and then aged in an oak barrel for two months, giving the components time to integrate, while the wood imparts vanilla, caramel, or spicy notes. I had a barrel-aged Manhattan ($11), and it was magnificent. The restaurant also offers absinthe drinks (Grand Absente $14 and Vieux Carre $12), an extensive selection of reasonably priced bottled and draught beers ($3-$7), and about a dozen each of red and white wines by the glass ($8-$19) or bottle ($32-$76).

Meat & Potatoes' interior is evocative of an era gone by, incorporating bare Edison light bulbs with glowing orange filaments, brown velveteen chairs and booths, tall mirrors, 1920s-style sconces, and a concrete floor. My compliments to DeShantz and his brother, who designed and built this hipster-meets-chophouse interior. The space, the menu (a single sheet of brown parchment with “old thyme” styling), the mounted cow head on the wall, a chalkboard illustration of beef cuts and the fun serveware (drinks in juice glasses, dish towels for napkins, cast-iron pots and desserts in jelly jars) work together to make a coherent experience not common enough in local restaurants.

The ceiling is high, and the tabletops are granite—so it’s a noisy place. But the noise is from conversation and laughter (and, thankfully, not TVs) and is part of the experience: This is the kind of place where you sit at the bar, order a whiskey and Devils on Horseback (a $6 retro, stuffed date appetizer) and talk about politics.

My favorite appetizer is the Moules ($14), which changes daily. An abundance of steamed mussels are served in a black pot with a lid; when the lid is opened, the mussels release their fragrant steam. The ones I ate were steamed in a spicy and satisfying curry, lime and chili-pepper broth, which was so good that I requested a spoon to make sure I didn’t miss a drop.

I enjoyed the mac-n-cheese ($12), featuring bits of pork-belly pastrami and peas, and the very good lobster risotto ($14): thankfully not overcooked or clumpy and abundant with lobster chunks. A traditional salad that fits right in is the wedge ($7), featuring baby iceberg, bacon, roasted tomatoes, croutons and pickled onions, with a creamy and (not too blue) blue-cheese dressing.

The appetizer that has become the talk of the town is the bone marrow ($14): three roasted, halved bones about 8 inches long that, together, provide an outrageous amount (maybe a cup) of marrow, served with little ramekins of capers, onion relish, sea salt and gremalota to help cut the richness. The San Marzano flatbread ($10), however, is not remarkable, featuring homemade dough, tomato, Mozzarella cheese, prosciutto, artichoke and olives.

I was miffed when I learned that the housemade bread cost $3 for a few hearty slices. But when I tasted this bread, grilled and served with butter and homemade rhubarb compote, my feelings softened.

Among the main courses, my top picks were the “Mom” Meat Loaf ($16): a sweet, tomato-y loaf, served with perfect buttermilk mashed potatoes, spicy tomatoe [sic] jam and fried leeks; and the hamburger ($14, not always available): a special version topped with cheddar cheese and short ribs, served on a super fresh housemade bun. The fried taters are salty and delicious; be sure to ask for the truffle mayonnaise, which elevates the fries to a whole new level. Another excellent choice (and better for the heart) is the grilled bronzino fish ($22), served whole with roasted summer vegetables.

The chicken pot pie ($20) is beautifully served in an oval cast-iron pot, full of tender chicken, potatoes, peas and carrots; although it was soupy, the flavors were terrific. The hanger steak ($24) is a menu staple: chunky steak served with a little Southwestern flair, provided by chimichurri sauce, delicious grilled plantains and black-bean salsa.

For those with big appetite, there is a daily over-the-top selection, such as the ribeye ($42, which sold out when I was there), a 40-ounce prime rib or a 30-ounce porterhouse.

The desserts are served in jelly jars. I tried the rich, creamy chocolate pot de crème ($7), which had a rich dark-chocolate flavor. The key lime pie was also delicious, but I wasn’t jazzed about the presentation, excavating the crust from the bottom of a jelly jar.

My biggest gripe with Meat & Potatoes was the amount of time it took to receive my food, which appeared to be the fault of the kitchen staff, not the waitstaff. I’m going to chalk this up to the newness of the place and its overwhelming initial success, serving up to 350 customers per night during the first month of operation. And if you are rushing to see a show, be sure to tell your server after you're seated.

Although it's a drinking environment, the restaurant is kid-friendly, offering plain pasta with butter, hot dogs and hamburgers (all offerings aren't listed on the menu). And despite the name, the restaurant also offers several vegetarian dishes, including pasta, risotto, and flatbread, and keeps tempeh and seitan on hand for special requests. 
 

Info:
» 649 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA (15222); 412/325-7007, meatandpotatoespgh.com
» Mon.-Thurs., 5-11 p.m.; Fri., 5 p.m.-12 a.m.; Sat. brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m., dinner 5 p.m.-12 a.m.; Sun. brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m., dinner 4-9 p.m.; contact restaurant to check on lunch
» Snacks, $3-$7; Appetizers & Salads, $7-$14; Main Courses, $16-$24; Desserts, $6
» Full bar, major credit cards accepted, reservations suggested, some vegetarian options, wheelchair-accessible, no smoking, $10 corkage fee, catering/banquet services, gluten-friendly options, downtown parking garages (with validation $4 at adjacent Theatre Square Garage at Penn Avenue & 7th Street).

 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Two years after Chuck Noll’s death, University of Pittsburgh Press prepares to publish the first definitive biography of the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers coach. Pittsburgh Magazine is proud to share an interview with author Michael MacCambridge and an exclusive excerpt of “Chuck Noll: His Life’s Work,” scheduled for release in October.
The Changing Face of Campus in Pittsburgh

The Changing Face of Campus in Pittsburgh

Renovation is under way at nearly all of our area colleges and universities. For students heading back to school this fall — and their parents — we offer this crash course on the highlights of these projects and their projected benefits.
Fall Fashion: In the Black

Fall Fashion: In the Black

The little black dress, and shirt, and pants, never go out of style. Add mystery to your wardrobe with these easy-to-accent autumn staples.
Apteka: A Taste of Home

Apteka: A Taste of Home

Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski bring top-notch vegan, eastern European cuisine to Bloomfield.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Zing Basket Promises Speedy Grocery Delivery to Your Door

Zing Basket Promises Speedy Grocery Delivery to Your Door

The online grocery delivery service opened this week, promising delivery in 45 minutes or less to selected neighborhoods.
Old Farmer’s Almanac: Winter in Pittsburgh Will Be Warmer, But…

Old Farmer’s Almanac: Winter in Pittsburgh Will Be Warmer, But…

In its 225th year, the reference book on weather suggests we tune up our snow-removal equipment.
Chris Jamison Releases His First EP

Chris Jamison Releases His First EP

The Ross native finished third on NBC's “The Voice” in December of 2014.
Up Close Photo Gallery: 10 New Perspectives of Pittsburgh

Up Close Photo Gallery: 10 New Perspectives of Pittsburgh

Zoom in on the places that make our region so fascinating and diverse.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Chuck Noll: A Man for All Seasons

Two years after Chuck Noll’s death, University of Pittsburgh Press prepares to publish the first definitive biography of the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers coach. Pittsburgh Magazine is proud to share an interview with author Michael MacCambridge and an exclusive excerpt of “Chuck Noll: His Life’s Work,” scheduled for release in October.
The Changing Face of Campus in Pittsburgh

The Changing Face of Campus in Pittsburgh

Renovation is under way at nearly all of our area colleges and universities. For students heading back to school this fall — and their parents — we offer this crash course on the highlights of these projects and their projected benefits.
Fall Fashion: In the Black

Fall Fashion: In the Black

The little black dress, and shirt, and pants, never go out of style. Add mystery to your wardrobe with these easy-to-accent autumn staples.
Apteka: A Taste of Home

Apteka: A Taste of Home

Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski bring top-notch vegan, eastern European cuisine to Bloomfield.
Talk of The Tahn: City of Beer

Talk of The Tahn: City of Beer

There are plans afoot for a international museum of beer to be built and staffed right here in Pittsburgh.
Pitt vs Penn State: Resumption of Hostilities

Pitt vs Penn State: Resumption of Hostilities

After an extended hiatus, the storied rivalry between the Pitt Panthers and Penn State Nittany Lions returns in September to Heinz Field.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Zing Basket Promises Speedy Grocery Delivery to Your Door

Zing Basket Promises Speedy Grocery Delivery to Your Door

The online grocery delivery service opened this week, promising delivery in 45 minutes or less to selected neighborhoods.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Where to Go at the Three Day Blow

Where to Go at the Three Day Blow

Our dining critic (and Three Day Blow organizing committee member) has a roundup of some open to the public events.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 5 Best Comic Shops in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Comic Shops in Pittsburgh

These comic book shops offer more than just your casual Batman or Spider-Man choices.

Comments


New Industry Public House Location Up to Par

New Industry Public House Location Up to Par

If you’re in need of a dining option that’s not a national chain while visiting the Robinson area, this is one to keep in mind.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Le'Veon Bell Talks The Talk But Can’t Walk The Walk

Le'Veon Bell Talks The Talk But Can’t Walk The Walk

The Steelers running back emphasized his latest suspension resulted from missed random drug tests, and not a relapse into the marijuana-induced haze that got him jammed up last season. But if you lack the maturity to grasp the consequences of your actions (or, in this case, inactions), does it really matter?

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Custom Made: The Surmesur Suit

Custom Made: The Surmesur Suit

Straight out of Canada, the custom menswear store opens its first U.S. location in Pittsburgh.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
'Hands of Stone' Keeps the Boxing Movie Genre Strong

'Hands of Stone' Keeps the Boxing Movie Genre Strong

Reviews of "Hands of Stone" and "Don't Breathe," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Lucky Ones: Katie Doré and John Potter

The Lucky Ones: Katie Doré and John Potter

Want even more Real Pittsburgh Weddings? We'll be bringing them to you throughout the fall, beginning with this lovely and lucky couple.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Put a Lid On It! The Container Store Coming to Pittsburgh

Put a Lid On It! The Container Store Coming to Pittsburgh

The store famous for carrying storage and organizational products is set to open at the revamped Block Northway in Ross Township.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Two Events Planned for Prospective Waynesburg Students

Two Events Planned for Prospective Waynesburg Students

A fall visitation day and a Saturday information session aim to allow interested students a look into life at the university.

Comments