Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Pittsburgh's Eleven is a helluva fine dining joint. Sitting on the downtown end of the Strip District and just a short hop from the Convention Center, it's a modern, curving lines architectural amalgam of wine storage, open kitchen, dark bar, open and loud like a restaurant should be main floor, and tucked against the walls upper seating.

Mike and I were one of several customers there on a Tuesday night. Nice enough that I didn't bring the camera. Should have. Heather our server was, in addition to being extremely knowledgeable and correct in her suggestions three times over the course of the meal, a fantastic personality who wouldn't have batted an eyelash at my photog-ing.

Go see her soon. She's leaving town. Been there for several years and wants out of the waitress gig (her word, she said she's a waitress not a server. old school like that. even more endearing.)

I won't go into the food detail too much since you can see the menu HERE and you can tell when you read it that THESE GUYS know what they're doing.

P.S. in the middle -- I also ate at the restaurant group's Kaya on this trip and will have that review and tales of old-school cocktails up soon.

I'll just share the text I sent to G:

Carmelized onion and mushroom crostini amuse buche;

Oysters on the half shell with house made mignonette and hot sauces;

Smoked Lamb taco w/ crispy corn tortilla, tomatillo coulis, goat cheese, and refried lentils;

Elysian Fields' Farms lamb w/ creme fraiche potato puree, cipollini, squash, Brussels sprouts, golden raisins, sage, and vin cotto;

White chocolate pistachio citrus fudge.

Yeah. He got that text.

No. He did not respond.

Mike also had the Three Greens (which is the house salad) and the lamb. Second time this trip we had different apps and went for the same entree.

Third time on a two day trip I had Brussels sprouts. Twice Monday night at Kaya, and here with the entree.

Highlights for those of you slackers who have so little to do that you can read things like what I think about the food and how it was prepared (I am aware this breaks my pledge of a dozen graphs ago to 'not go into detail' about the food. Kiss off. Keep reading.):

The lamb was brilliant. The creme fraiche potatoes, sprouts, squash, raisins, and cipollini were stunning accompaniments. I forgot about the sage when I was eating and can't tell you now if i could taste it when I was eating. No matter. The chef recommended it mid-rare. I eat it mid-rare. We ordered and received it mid-rare. Perfectly.

The homemade hot sauce at Eleven is screaming hot in the BEST possible sense of the word. One quick dash of the mignonette, one squirt from a lime wedge, and two fork-tine tips worth of hot sauce were perfect for these mid-sized Long Island Sound shells.

The homemade breads were excellent.

Lamb is so tender you can see some people cringing when I typed out lamb taco. They need to get over it. It was delicious. The tortilla was silver dollar pancake-sized, the lentils were an inventive twist, and the tart tomatillo is quickly becoming one of my favorite flavors.

The service is impeccable. Heather, her staff on the bread and clearing, the manager we spoke with as we were leaving the restaurant, everyone. Suits for the manager and matre'd. Black and white for the service staff. Smiles on faces. Uncanny recall of the menu and the wine pairings.

The wines (each of us had a glass of white with the oysters and a glass of red with the dinner) will have to wait. They were both on the daily menu, not the wine list online. So I'll have to get home and recheck my copy to update here. Suffice it to say they were excellent. The restaurant's wine list is massive, and has won awards.

Heather's first correct choice was a more buttery white to pair with the oysters even though my head and palate usually tell me to pull something more acidic and minerally to counter the richness of an oyster. I wasn't thinking about the sauces changing the equation. The buttery was much appreciated and a great pair.

Heavy red goodness on the dinner wine. Can't even recall the grape now. Wasn't concerned about it then either. By that point in the meal our 'waitress' Heather had us wrapped around her 'i know you business traveler types will do what i tell you' fingers. (Managers reading this should note I type that with not one ounce of regret. We enjoyed being led through our meal by your excellent server. She's an asset.)

This is truly 'fine' fine dining in a city that is clearly doing something right by it's food and culture people. I wish I didn't live three-plus hours away.

Eleven on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow...did you go home and play Dngeons and Dragons after dinner with your "friend" or did you walk across the street to Club Pittsburgh for your "dessert", which I'm sure was "Freshly Squeezed Cream de Man".