The new East Liberty restaurant Spoon dishes out “refined comfort food” with the accent on local in a comfortable atmosphere.
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This refreshing new restaurant offers flavorful, beautifully plated food made with farm-fresh ingredients served in a thoughtfully designed environment.
You’ll find Spoon on the hottest corner in the East End, where Penn Circle South intersects with South Highland Avenue, in the space formerly occupied by Red Room. Those who dined at Red Room will remember the dramatic red-velvet curtains and moody dark space. That look has been changed—refreshed and lightened by independent designer Jen Bee, who has created an environment that is calm, casual and cool.
However, one important element has been retained: The building’s original, earth-tone tile floor, which was the focal point of the redesign. New additions include the contemporary, hand-blown glass wall sconces that emit a glowing light onto the tan walls.
This restaurant is the brainchild of co-owners Rick Stern, who’s part owner of Willow in the North Hills, and Brian Pekarcik, a widely traveled chef with a noteworthy background. After growing up in Murrysville, Pekarcik earned a degree in psychology with a business minor in 1997 from John Carroll University in Cleveland, and he found both disciplines to be very useful in the restaurant business. After college, he moved to the West Coast, where he worked with esteemed chefs Gary Danko (at San Francisco’s Restaurant Gary Danko), George Morrone (at San Francisco’s Fifth Floor) and Bradley Ogden (at San Diego’s Arterra).
You’ll find the Californian influence apparent in the fresh flavors, bright colors and simple but elegant plating of Spoon’s dishes. And it was at Arterra that Pekarcik became especially interested in the farm-to-table cooking evidenced in Spoon’s menu and on it: “We are proud to support western Pennsylvania’s farmers and artisanal purveyors,” the menu states. That declaration is followed by a list of approximately 12 sources, ranging from La Prima Espresso to entrepreneur Randy “The Mushroom Man” Danielson.
Together, Stern and Pekarcik have created a menu of modern American food that they call “refined comfort food.” Their goal is to find the perfect balance between food that is contemporary and interesting but still familiar.
The pair also designed a menu that offers a wide range of price points to accommodate a variety of diners for everyday dining and special occasions alike.
While perusing the menu, servers will present you with a lovely basket containing three types of breads: corn-dill muffins, cream cheese green onion biscuits and French baguette. They’ll also offer an interesting assortment of mixed drinks. I highly recommend the bourbon thyme lemonade; even with a $10 price tag, it’s worth every penny. In addition to the specialty drinks, Spoon offers a full bar, an extensive wine list and after-dinner drinks.
The menu, which consistently changes based on what’s available, comprises two main parts: Hot and Cold Appetizers and Entrées. An additional small area is devoted to à la carte side dishes like the garlic-roasted baby potatoes ($4).