Student-Run Eatery Offers Tasty, Low-Cost Lunch Downtown
Plus, a review of Regent Square's Root 174 and a chance to drink great brews for a good cause.
Root 174 photo by Laura Petrilla
Root 174 serves delicious "cultivated comfort food"
Imagine a restaurant where the vegan zucchini cake trumps the crème brûlée. A restaurant whose team organized a two-hour group bike ride that concluded with dinner at their place. Welcome to Root 174, a promising new restaurant in Regent Square. Chef/owner Keith Fuller spent six years “loving” his job as executive chef at Six Penn Kitchen but eventually decided to strike out on his own. His approach to cooking is very simple: “to make good food and have fun.”
Root 174's superb offerings range from vegan vegetable cakes to hanger steak, with interesting flavor combinations and sauces. Unlike traditional comfort food, the presentation at Root 174 is simple yet neat. True to comfort food, though, there are quite a few indulgent options available. Great “Beginnings” include the large, beautifully seared day-boat sea scallops ($12) that are served with grilled sweet peaches, scallion hash and bacon-black-pepper jam. Another smart choice is the mussel dish with spicy sausage in a tomato broth ($12), providing a perfect balance of spicy and sweet.
Of the entrées I sampled, my favorite was the tender chicken breast topped with a roasted-corn salsa, sitting on creamy popcorn grits atop a pool of divine mole sauce comprised of peanuts, raisins, ancho chilies and bourbon ($22). Now that is comfort food elevated to the next level. A must-try is the Brussels sprouts side ($6, pictured). Tossed with house-cured bacon and black-pepper jam, the sprouts truly are “to die for,” delivering a marvelous flavor combination with great mouthfeel.
If you're still hungry (or have a sweet tooth), definitely order dessert. Two standouts are the rich, sweet vegan zucchini bread ($7) and the cheese platter ($9) that changes daily but always features two or three cheeses, fruit, candied nuts, artisanal bread and an orange gastrique.
(Root 174, 1113 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square. BYOB. Tues.-Thurs., 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-11 p.m. Info: 412/243-4348, root174.com)
—Valentina, PM Restaurant Critic
Beer-related gathering benefits worthy cause
There’s no better way to raise cash for a worthy cause than to invite people to an event they would’ve attended anyway—and in Pittsburgh, a beer tasting is a fine way to go. Tomorrow, the Remi Savioz Glut1 Foundation will host “Booo! & Brew,” a fall-harvest festival and tasting; the organization raises money for research of Glut1 DS, an incredibly rare neurological disorder. (Local 13-year-old Remi is one of about 200 confirmed cases worldwide.)
Brews to sample include Dogfish Head’s 60-Minute IPA, Big Hop IPA, Black Strap Stout, Thunder Hop IPA and Woodchuck Cider as well as local regulars from Iron City and Penn Pilsner—and if you take a liking to anything new, full pints are available for $5. Food is included in the admission fee, featuring donated grub from the likes of Louisiana Crawfish Co. and Vermont’s Cabot Creamery. After sampling beer and chowing down, be sure to check out the eye-popping silent auction, including autographed memorabilia from Paul McCartney, Mario Lemiuex and many others. Tickets are still available, and you can check out this week’s edition of After Dark for all the details!
—Sean Collier, PM Associate Editor
Student-run eatery offers tasty lunch fare at low cost
Downtown diners can now enroll in Gourmet Lunch 101 at A Taste of Art Restaurant, which made its season debut on Monday. Under the direction of chef Michael Zappone and experienced faculty from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh's International Culinary School, AIP students gain a nice amount of real-world experience by operating the kitchen (read: whipping up delicious dishes) and dining room. The fall 2011 menu, created by students, features affordable cuisine—like the $4 duck-confit nachos and $7.50 seared-pork medallion entrée, served with rosemary-apple-cider gastrique, caramelized onions, grilled apples and a side of three-cheese macaroni—giving customers the "upscale dining experience without the upscale price tag.” Be sure to save room for $4 desserts, like the spiced pumpkin “whoopie pie," comprising autumn-spiced cream cheese, two fluffy pumpkin cookies, chocolate ganache and caramel popcorn. If that’s not fall on a plate, we’re not sure what is. Also, if reservations sell out (it happens often), $5 bento boxes are available for takeout.
(A Taste of Art Restaurant, 420 Blvd. of the Allies, downtown. Hours: Mon.-Wed., 11:15 a.m-12:30 p.m. Reservations recommended. Info: 412/291-6532, artinstitutes.edu)
—Richelle Szypulski, PM Editorial Intern