Film & Nightlife: July 2010

One downtown hotel bar to avoid—and another worth a stop. Plus, there’s a secretive movie walking the shadow of The Joker.



Pittsburgh likes its buildings. (Not exactly a profound statement, but I’m going somewhere with this, trust me.)

You don’t hear about “that new building,” you hear about “that building that once was turn-of-the-century apartments, then a Chinese restaurant, then an adult movie theater, then was condemned and now is a gallery.” That’s just how we like it.

So when downtown sees a brand-new high-rise luxury hotel, there’s bound to be some chatter. The Fairmont Pittsburgh is a striking addition to the skyline and the culmination of an ambitious (and thoroughly green) construction project. The hotel boasts 185 guest rooms, a gigantic health club, ample event space and a restaurant billed as offering “an international approach to domestic fare.”

The hotel also contains a bar, Andys, named in honor of Warhol and Carnegie. I had heard quite a bit about Andys, which advertised itself heavily in Fairmont press releases and on the hotel’s website, which was quick to describe the bar as “one of the most captivating spots in the city.” The hotel hadn’t been open a month when I made it to Andys; no one I knew had dropped by, and I was pumped to try out a swanky spot.

To be fair, I was plenty stunned when I sat down at Andys. Not by the advertised “classic cocktails and … extensive wine list,” or by the alleged “ambiance … reminiscent of Pittsburgh’s artistic and industrial heritage.” See, none of those things is true.

I was stunned to find that Andys is, without a doubt, the most unremarkable and uninteresting bar I’ve ever seen.

Barely separated from the hotel lobby, Andys seems like an afterthought: a tiny, cramped bar awkwardly attached to an existing space seemingly out of obligation rather than inspiration. “Ambiance” is not a word that can be uttered within a mile of this place. It’s well-lit by irritating compact-fluorescent light; and unless you count overhearing guests checking in 20 yards away as mood-setters, drinking at Andys feels more like pulling up a bar stool in the kitchen than visiting a “captivating” spot.

The beer list is fine but nothing special in Pittsburgh. Two dozen or so bottles do not constitute an “extensive” wine list anywhere. And Andys is yet another trying-too-hard wannabe hotspot that misinterprets the word “classic” when it comes to cocktails. An Old-Fashioned is a classic cocktail. A Tom Collins is a classic cocktail. My Manhattan, which contained champagne and strawberries (yes, seriously, strawberries), is not a classic cocktail.

I could stand Andys for about half an hour before I simply had to get out. Hoping to find a worthy hotel bar to compare it with, I wandered over to Braddock’s Street Side in the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel. While there were still a few bewildering similarities to Andys—shouldn’t hotel bars be dimly lit and comfortable, if nothing else?—Braddock’s is a much more pleasant experience. It’s inviting, welcoming and has an impressive drink list focusing on more than 50 whiskeys and related cocktails—I ordered a Saratoga (rye, cognac, sweet vermouth and bitters), and it was one of the best cocktails I’ve had downtown. (Andys, Fairmont Pittsburgh, 510 Market St., downtown. Info: 412/773-8800, fairmont.com/pittsburgh; Braddock’s Street Side, The Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel, 107 Sixth St., downtown. Info: 412/992-2005, braddocksrestaurant.com)


INCEPTION: JULY 16
Sometimes unlikely turns can turn a director into a superstar. Before Batman Begins redefined what comic-book heroes could bring to the big screen—and The Dark Knight became one of the most successful and beloved pictures of all time—Christopher Nolan was chiefly known for heady, complex thrillers.

2000’s Memento wrapped a deft and ambitious plot structure around a tense whodunit; 2002’s Insomnia was a bleak and atmospheric mystery featuring perhaps the last great performances by Al Pacino and Robin Williams.

Following up an instant classic that made more than a billion dollars is no easy task, but the buzz is running high on Nolan’s new baby, Inception. He’s remained highly secretive about his first film since Knight, but an eye-popping trailer and an impressive cast (Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Caine, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard are but a few) have helped to make Inception one of the most anticipated films of 2010. (Inception, in wide release starting July 16.)

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Meet Rescued Animals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Meet Rescued Animals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The new Live Animal Encounters program introduces museum visitors to rescued wildlife.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Feast Series Returns to Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland This September

Feast Series Returns to Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland This September

The third iteration of the series will feature chef J.J. Johnson, formerly of The Cecil and Minton's Supper Club in Harlem.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


Tres Rios Has Potential, But Hasn't Distinguished Itself Just Yet

Tres Rios Has Potential, But Hasn't Distinguished Itself Just Yet

The tacos-and-tequila bar and restaurant on the South Side doesn't do anything wrong, exactly, but has room to grow.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Who Belongs on a Pittsburgh Steelers Mount Rushmore?

Who Belongs on a Pittsburgh Steelers Mount Rushmore?

As the team prepares the inaugural class of its Hall of Honor, Mike Prisuta selects the four members of the Steelers family most deserving of inclusion.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make a Trendy Transition into Fall Style

Make a Trendy Transition into Fall Style

No. 14 Boutique in Lawrenceville put together this chic outfit for the tricky period when summer cools into autumn.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
A Hitman and His Bodyguard Get Into Trouble (No Need to Overcomplicate Things)

A Hitman and His Bodyguard Get Into Trouble (No Need to Overcomplicate Things)

Reviews of "The Hitman's Bodyguard" and "Wind River," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Delicious Design: Our Cookie Table Contest Winner & Runners-Up

Delicious Design: Our Cookie Table Contest Winner & Runners-Up

These Pittsburgh couples certainly know how to bring the cookie table tradition to life.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Produced in Pittsburgh: MONMade Takes Local Crafters National

Produced in Pittsburgh: MONMade Takes Local Crafters National

Close to a half dozen local businesses, among them Savannah Hayes and Stak Ceramics, will make their debut next week at the mega interior design and home goods-focused show in New York City.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments

Edit Module

Edit Module