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User Tagline: Buy a Friend a Beer
Favorite Beer: any Belgian beer
Located In: Pennsylvania

153
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Beer Quality
Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome!
Great Great Great Great

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Great Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

Establishment: Red Room Cafe and Lounge, Pittsburgh , PA

Wow, what an interesting place!

Red Room Cafe and Lounge is right around the corner from Kelly's Lounge and just a block or three from Casbah and right around the corner from the ever so-interesting Shadow Lounge. Red Room is across a bridge and not in Shadyside, but instead in East Liberty, right off the circle/square. East Liberty has been a distressed minority area since the 1960's. The three blocks from Shadow Lounge past Kelly's is quite an inroad into the rich historic neighborhood. Well preserved architecture and an ever so pleasant environment.

The Red Room is a dimly lit large room with nice effective minimalist partitioning provides intimacy and a swank lounge feeling. The plush window lining benches include equally plush and functional lower back support. Quite an interesting interior, while still sparse with rich aged looking flooring worth a review. Small glass designed candle holders fill the room at night with intimate table lighting.

A hearty menu contains a loaded bar- piling the good wine choices up and an ever so-local selection of finer Pennsylvania only microbrews is well represented over one and a quarter pages. Think of multiple selections from Victory, Stoudt and Weyerbacher to name a few. Big points here for Red Room having no national MACRO brews. What a rare find.

The menu and end deliverables are delicate and ever-so rich food done exceptionally well. The salads are adorned with a finely aged vinegarette and pine nuts. A nice selection of real greens, albeit smaller but fulfilling salad.

There are ample selections of both meat and non-meat options. Vegetarians are limited to just one main entre, an enchilda dish but other appetizers, soups and specials are readily available however.

This is a very worthwhile place to give a chance. The prices are a bit higher than other places, but I still refrain from calling it fine dining. The food is well worth the costs.

It's worth noting that this restaurant was started by former Max Mex/Big Burrito Group employee. It surpasses the very respectable Big Bean offerings in pure quality of food served on this visit.

(11/30/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great N/A Great Great

Establishment: Rock Bottom Brewery, Homestead, PA

I visited this Rock Bottom over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. I showed up after midnight, so there was no food to order. Kitchen closes at midnight - which is a disappointment since you have people drinking all the way up until 2AM... They should keep the limited menu running as close to 2AM as possible.. No food, no beer rule.

At any rate, that gripe aside, we spent most of time with Matt, a manager at Rock Bottom. Matt is a good guy we know otherwise and was employed before by Big Bean Burrito Group. Matt's an excellent chef. I got the informal tour which was nice as well as lots of time for questions about the beer.

It's worth noting, during my last trip I wasn't so happy with the beer selection or quality. There's a change and some information worth noting. First, there is at least one cask conditioned beer usually available. The beer is primo and isn't listed on the big board in the middle of the place. You might never notice it existed unless you were at the bar and noticed the cask or a seperate tap. I recommended they put it out on the main board so everyone knows the brew exists.

The cask conditioned ale they had on tap was nitro delivered and delicious. There also is a Scotch Ale available right now which is tasty enough to end up in a growler to come home with me. That says something since I don't find many beers worthy of the trek from brewery to my fridge.

The bar top I said was sand, was in better condition and is actually ice.. A really neat concept and place to keep your pint nicely chilled. Duh!

This Rock Bottom is actually pretty good for a chain establishment. The beers, via my sampler tasting seem to be right on with style and the speciality cask and seasonals are as good as it gets.

The Waterfront where this Rock Bottom is located is a major destination for shopping and entertainment. With a place like Rock Bottom anchoring the dining, I think we will see more growth and more dining options being introduced into the Waterfront during 2005 and 2006.

(11/29/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Tap House Grill, Bellvue, WA

160 beers on taps.

(09/17/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Jolly Roger Taproom, Seattle, WA

Fourteen taps of fresh beer. Two or three are cask-conditioned ales. They also brew seasonals.

(09/17/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Great Great Great

Establishment: Hot Metal Grille, Pittsburgh , PA

Hot Metal Grille is owned by the folks that originally ran the Seventh Street Grille in downtown Pittsburgh for many years.

While I find issue with the location described as being in the historic Southside Works as this is a new place in new space- it's easy to see through the marketing hype. The mills that previously littered this river field are far removed. But in their respect, we nod.

Southside Works is an unusual cluster of main street-esque square new buildings ranging about 3-4 stories on average along Carson Street -> past the Birmingham bridge heading towards Homestead. The plan is interesting for Pittsburgh and features lots of living rental space in townhouse and condo configurations along with many retail establishments like REI and Cheesecake Factory. The compound is also known for the various Pitt Panther and Steeler training facilities and the FBI headquarters office. A great reuse of otherwise disgarded brownfields.

As for the interior of Hot Metal Grille it's best described as modern minimalist with lots of dark tones. The barback art wall is interesting in finish decoration and choice of red backlighting. It's like very old-Berlin meets posh new design New York ambience.

Roomy chairs and comfy booths neatly dot the room - devided by just under 6 foot high wall partitions. So you can stand up and look across the room and see the tops of every head or a collegue scurrying along to the bar. A neat open space approach.

The food here is good as the chef and some of the staff remain from Seventh Street Grille. I have only tried their vegetarian sandwich and it hit the spot... Nothing too creative- but fresh and simple.

Beverages are limited if you are the type that basis things on the tap handles... Three or four handles with only one good beer. Look for or ask for the full beer menu. They have about 10 or so good beers worth seeking in bottles.

So what can we say about this place to close? Questionable location a year ago, but now the mecca with the recent opening of the Cheesecake Factory with it's one-hour plus waits on the weekends. Just two blocks away from that noise is Hot Metal and two blocks from their the Birmingham Bridge Tavern. With the many screen movie theatre on the way - opening the Steel Metal Grille later and on Sundays - they will do well. Overflow traffic will guarantee that for sure.

I'd recommend this place especially to those who like to be in the 'in crowd' and those who like design oriented environments. This place isn't much like the old haunts at Seventh Street and we aren't complaining about that.

(08/23/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Pyramid Alehouse, Brewery and Restaurant, Seattle, WA

Pyramid turns 20 years old on August 21, 2004... Long running brewery business worth checking out...

(08/11/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Awesome! Great Awesome!

Establishment: The Church Brew Works, Pittsburgh , PA

Well the Church Brew Works continues to bring the crowds in and keep me a happy diner.

Every other month on the first Thursday, this place hosts Pittsburgh Geek Night. A good reason for the tech industry folks to get out and mingle.

Every visit I get the undeniable Southwest pizza... It's one of the best pizzas anywhere in Pittsburgh.

This time I tried the high alchol beer they had on tap... It seemed flat. The seasonal Weiss beer was a good followup and quite popular amongst the geeks.

The Church is working on bringing in an increasingly larger wine selection. That should please the non-beer folks visiting the Church.

Parking is around back and along the side street as well as limited space along Liberty Avenue... I only note this, because on weekends and event times, parking can be hard to find.

I can only say positive things about this Pittsburgh institution that keeps brewing and around even long after the other nearby brewpub concepts have long faded.

(08/09/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Red Star Brewery and Grille, Greensburg, PA

7/30/2004

Presidential hopefuls John Kerry, John Edwards, their families and entourage had lunch at the Red Star Brewery which is within the train station.

(08/03/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Chiodo's Tavern, Pittsburgh , PA

Could the END of Chiodo's be near?

From Thursday, July 22, 2004 By Teresa F. Lindeman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Chiodo's Tavern, a Homestead landmark that made its reputation serving beers to tired steel workers but survived long after the giant plant across the tracks closed down, could be making way for a Walgreens drugstore.

Steve Mellon, Post-Gazette Chiodo's Tavern in Homestead is an icon in the steel town. Click photo for larger image.

A Cincinnati developer yesterday filed an application that details plans to put the national drugstore chain's second store in this area on West Eighth Avenue, near the base of the Homestead Grays Bridge.

Anchor Properties is seeking permission to demolish the existing Chiodo's Bar, a Subway restaurant and 76 gas station. A new Subway would be built, along with the drugstore and a parking area, according to paperwork submitted at the borough office.

"The redevelopment will be a major improvement to the business district," said a letter signed by Anchor's Michael S. Ricke. "A Walgreens drugstore is a solid neighborhood business providing goods and services to the Homestead community."

http://www.postgazette.com/pg/04204/349938.stm

(07/22/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! Good Great Great

Establishment: Pittsburgh Bottleshop Cafe, Bridgeville , PA

After back to back negative toned reviews posted on the same day (did you folks visit together?) I had to return to the Bottleshop to check things out.

I had been there intitially in a pre-opening phase.

Let's describe this place. The BottleShop is a new strip mall location in Collier Township right as you come through Heidelberg along route 50. It is behind the Damon's steakhouse. This being a strip mall and new--- character of the overall area is blah-ha. See the photo of the exterior.

Inside, things are more attractive. How attractive this place is depends on your taste. The walls are rose colored. There are some funky silver lights and shiny metal ventilation pipes overhead. All that along with some large PA type speakers.

There are about 15 seats along the bar, 2 booths and 5 sit up high tables in the middle of the place.

The walls are barely decorated with just a few beer promo mirrors. Not cluttered like a lot of places. All clean and new. I can understand how the three door coolers, totaling 9 doors overall could detract from the interior. However, they have decorative panels to integrate them into the place, are new and more attractive than most coolers.

My waitress for lunch was a 40something. A beautiful blonde former beauty pagent type. Good looking waitstaff is seemingly a part of the formula at the BottleShop.

Beyond being a knockout, my waitress was attentative and prompt. Zero issues, helpful. No empty glass at any point.

Food was an issue. No vegetarian sandwiches or entres. Food is fairly limited to about eight appetizers, six or so sandwiches and a few chicken/seafood offerings.

I ordered a salad and eggplant appetizer. The salad was very good. Really high quality spring greens. A large meal sized salad. The appetizer was served with a large side of marinara. Pretty good as well.

I spoke with Marc (owner) about everything and the complaints that were posted along with the veggie/limited diet issues. Marc is interested in hearing about any problems. He's there a lot. He was in the kitchen this lunch time working on the food.

The bottle selection is pretty decent. There were a few beers I hadn't seen in Pittsburgh before. The tap selection most notably has Victory Hop Devil and Stone Arrogant Bastard.

This is a new place with business on the upswing. By all means give this place a try and let us hear about any problems and the good parts too.

(07/08/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Awesome! Good Good

Establishment: Elephant and Castle Restaurant, Grove City, PA

Elephant & Castle at Grove City Outlet Shops has long been on my list of places to inspect. I even thought of driving to Grove City just to go here when the place was first added.

Grove Outlet Shops are a large collection of known retailers - with 'discounted' stores all in one big outside fancy strip mall along 79 heading north from Pittsburgh - about 8 miles north of Slippery Rock.

Elephant & Castle is a franchise. It's worth noting this because there is also an Elephant & Castle Inn (hotel) next door that is owned by the same folks. The main corporation owning the Elephant & Castle name is not in the business of lodging... So some confusion.

Some confusion like entering this place in your vehicle. From the Outlet's main access road there is no turn into the Elephant & Castle, even though the property is next to the shops. Throw in a sign for Elephant & Castle along that main Outlet road and presto! Confusion. We drove around the entire property - about say a mile detour. We then missed Elephant & Castle entrance as Wendy's is next door. The entrance sign they share is 80% red matching the color of the Wendy's logo. If you look clearly, there is also a little Elephant & Castle logo on the sign. So we finally get there.

The exterior is different, but right in line with most mall chain places. An old British phone booth sits empty outside the front door of the place. The front door is on the front side of the building and a sidewalk's (75 foot) walk from either side. Not a really evident entry way at first.

The beer list, be it large on the imports- say 100 of them, had only about six micros. Most notably Penn Brewing products... A largely disproportionate offering with so few micros.

I ordered the Penn wheat beer, which I've had many times. It was more powerful in flavor than usual. No explanation, maybe old, maybe a strong batch of bottles.

I tried cruising their food menu, being hot and hungry from my drive from Pittsburgh on an empty July 4th stomach. Not a single outright vegetarian/limited diet entre.

Our waitress recommended a salad. This sent me back over ten years and how being on a limited diet was in Pittsburgh. Same mentality. Our waitress other than this was helpful. Note though, being in service, don't recommend people eat your place mat, salt or salad as a meal. A salad isn't a fulfilling and adequate nutritional replacement for anyone on any diet. It's a part of a meal.

We ordered a quesadilla appetizer- minus the meat that came in it by default. Same price though even though it wasn't menu offered. So pay the same amount here for the product that has been upticked for meat cost... Yawn...

I settled for a stir fried rice and vegetable entre - minus the chicken it came with by default. Same story on cost... Just rice and mainly squash... $11

The stir fry was very good actually. Good from mostly a salty vinegar solution the rice had been fried with. The veggies was seemingly steamed, harder outside and odd insides... Fresh nonetheless.

My better half had a buffalo chicken wrap which was allegedly good.

We consumed a Penn bottle and two Blue Moons plus the forementioned food. $41. A bit pricey compared to what we even spend here in the city for such an average chain-mill place with mediocre beer selection and normal quality fresh food.

I left out, I ordered a side salad that was described as greens, it had some greens but also low grade iceberg type selections in it. It was much smaller than anticipated and the quality and description didn't match the delivered. It would be fine as a $1.95 add-on, not a cent more.

This is a place that stands to do alright just based on tourist traffic. The Outlet Stores draw people from about four states and Ontario, Canada. Add those capitive lodgers staying at their Inn and presto: business.

I'd really like to give this place a rave review but it would greatly undermine my integrity. Dining options along 79 heading north are severly limited in selection and quality. There are tons of greasy spoons and fast food chain places. So a place like this for all consideration as it relates to location is pretty good. If it were in the city/metro area it would be So So.

They severely need to add options for all the people who are dietarily restricted. The menu is 100% meat focused. It was allegedly revised recently. Time to revise it again.

To be listed here, really this place needs to embrace some number of micros more than six. But since it's in podunk nowhere land, we'll let it slide. Having six was better than seeing a blasted Budweiser sign or being offered something called Coors when you ask for a beer.

So whenever someone who has the power in this chain or at this location reads this, note:

Good food, poor selection of food options. It's easy to omit items like chicken and still have food. It's inviting to seniors, some religions and hordes of bohemian weirdos like me.

Your menu should also have a list of sides. Sure you offer 30 things with meals, but 0 by themselves. Not everyone likes stock, offer you chose it selections aka sides.

Prices are in line with any expensive chain place anywhere. Most folks aren't dropping $20 a head for lunch like we did.

I'd like to check another Elephant & Castle location to determine if what I experienced was a chain wide item or the choice of the franchisee. In all fairness, I couldn't initially understand how a place with good beer could ever make it in Grove City abutting a mall. So I am sure the menu and variety matches the demand. I hope it does and it isn't customers never becoming repeat customers like me.

(07/05/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Great Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

Establishment: West Virginia Brewing Company, Independence, WV

I'm disappointed in myself for not having stopped at West Virginia Brewing before this. I stopped in over the 4th of July long weekend.

This is a really good place in what is mostly a college town. It was a hot and humid July day and my thirst level was up. After trying Bent Willey's out and just leaving I was on my way towards the interstate and West Virginia Brewing was on the way.

Now before you go, West Virginia Brewing is a block or so off the main club/restaurant business main street area. It sits at the bottom of Plesant Street. If you drive by it you will end up on an interstate or bridge so be careful - it's a fast paced intersection where this place is.

Parking is a bit of a hassle if you aren't a local and aren't in the know. Meter parking up on Pleasant street is always enforced- that's just a block up the hill. This place has a few spots around back - if you can navigate across the two lanes of opposing traffic. Overflow parking can risk the city lot across the street on weekends or take the block hike up Plesant street.

From the outside the place might look uninviting. Inside, if the place isn't hoping and the chairs are all up on tables like when I visited, you might think the place is closed - stagger over to the bar as described later...

Those tidbits aside, if I were driving along 79 and saw a sign for Morgantown, I'd enjoy the trek to this place to break my travels up.

Environment wise, WVA Brewing is set in what essentially are three buildings - three large rooms with large intersecting doorways. Through the front door and you are pushed into the main room which is spacious with many tables setup. The decor and tables are very folk/wood/rustic... Wood floors all over this place...

The bar and brewing area is to your left. Past the several pool tables. Lots of brick throughout. The brewing gear is behind a whole wall of glass. Nice display.

Beer wise, this place puts out a really high quality product that is right on with the style. There were two regular beers that were out due to demand.

To explain the demand part more, in the hour or so I spent here, I saw about four half gallon growlers come in empty and leave filled. That was during an off peak holiday weekend time.

The Cheat Lake Gold and their Raspberry Wheat beer were my favorites. Both hit the mark for the warm summer weather. I even unlike myself-- brought a Cheat Lake growler back home. The Fondelblonde with it's funny name was delicious also. Good stuff all the way through my five brew sampler.

Emily, who wrote one of the earlier reviews here from 2003 was the helpful talkative soul who made my visit better than usually they go when visiting these new places. To elaborate, she was polite, helpful, familiar with the beers and a great promoter of the West Virginia Brewing Company. Service is a big deal to me. Being nice and helpful and informed about the products is a necessity. While a lot of folks just have a job, Emily was truly a nice person making the best of her work and learning.

Now for the food. The menu is a tad different than the usual fare. Not very, but for instance entres aren't served til 4pm and that leaves appetizers and sandwiches.

I ordered a vegetarian hoagie. Wow, was it ever so good. Actually, it was the best vegetarian sandwich I have had anywhere. A fresh selection of veggies and a nice mix of peppers gave it a really nice spicey bang.

Alright, some other things worth noting about this place--- they have outdoor patio seating-- which seems rare these days - so take advantage of it during these pleasant summer nights. Also, a few times a month they have live entertainment which typically is said to be folk or blues musicians. Wednesday's (I think) is $1 pints during the evenings. Cheap price for a quality product.

I also have to give a big Awesome to this place for also serving bottled beer from other folks - like Cleveland Brewing. The macros are available for the die-hard limited palate folks who can't stand to try something new - like a good pint of West Virginia Brewing Company product.

I'll be back to this place next chance I get.

Support this place by visiting- you won't be disappointed.

(07/05/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A Lousy Lousy

Establishment: Bent Willey's, Morgantown, WV

Yawn!

Can you say multi-roomed pop rock mega club sitting in an alley... The place has a huge space with lots of potential.. But...

Their brewing gear seems setup in a window for show.. It didn't appear to be functional brewing in any way...

Rude knuckleheaded college age employees kept me from checking out their brews and learning more... So I went over to West Virginia Brewing to check out a real place for beer in Morgantown.

(07/05/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: North Country Brewing Company, Slippery Rock, PA

This place is looking like it is going to shape up to be very nice. It's going to be the only brewery between Pittsburgh and Erie when opened. A great location near Slippery Rock University and a 7 mile brief trip from the Outlet Stores in Grove City.

Great looking equipment (large mash tank) and the metal brewing landing and steps already at the site.

Signage is up out front the place and there is an interesting chalkboard near the entry way worth reading during the the construction period.

So, the place isn't opened yet and looks like a few months at least I'd estimate before the doors open.

(07/04/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Bent Willey's, Morgantown, WV

Willey's has new microbrews: -Pale Ale, Cherry Wheat, Stout, Bent Brew

One Cover - Seven Great Bars Thurs. - Sat. Dance Club 11pm - close Gourmet Pizza $1.25 slice Deck Open

(06/25/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good So So Great Awesome! Great

Establishment: Rock Bottom Brewery, Homestead, PA

I arrived at our local mega beer chain Rock Bottom after supporting the within walking distance independent Chiodo's Tavern.

I arrived by my lonesome and sat at the bar/lounge.

It's worth noting that Rock Bottom here in Pittsburgh is located at the Waterfront. The Waterfront is a many-acre reappropriated land that steel mills once sat on. It's one of Pittsburgh's new strip mall areas featuring big box stores like Barnes & Noble, Gap, Lowes (both theater and hardware store) and Target to name a few.

Certainly this place looks, tastes and smells better than a mill.

My bartender (Tee?) was a friendly gent, full of character, attentative and in tune with the patrons. One of the better batenders I have seen recently. A very funny and genuine guy trying to give away a pair of Chicago/Eath Wind and Fire tickets to legions of customers who replied things such as:

1. who is that? 2. if it were the Rolling Stones in Las Vegas... 3. etc.

The interior of this Rock Bottom is best described as sort of 1980's modern art deco. It's fairly pleasant on the eyes overall.

The bar/lounge counter top is an interesting combination of about six-inches of hologram beer bubbles followed by six more inches of sand. A truly unique bar top setting.

The brewing equipment is located right behind the bar and is visible through enormous say 20 foot wall sized panes of glass. Very pleasant on the eyes and an overall good presentation that rivals most breweries/brewpubs.

I tried a sampler of the Strawberry (wheat) beer and wasn't impressed... I ordered a pint of their pale ale which was sufficient, but not exceptional. Actually, it was the highest ABV on the board. It's worth noting they only serve their own beers at this location and are limited to roughly 5-7 beer choices.

I ordered from their apperizer food menu (post 10pm). I ordered a mushroom themed pizza which was hot, fresh and tasty. I'd love to see their full menu for consideration but can understand the limited menu at post 10pm.

So my later night visit could have easily been a bad experience. The bartender(Tee) made the difference I think. During the hour or so I was there, I saw about eight growlers come in for refills. I was joined during this hour by two gents just removed from their baseball league, two female sixty somethings enjoying some away time and countless hoards of 20-somethings. It's abundantly apparent how on a weekend this place could be a zoo at 6PM like all the other Waterfront eating establishments.

If I were a younger 20-something, this would definitely be on a short list of places to meet up, find a date or just enjoy some drinking time.

Rock Bottom stands to do well with this location. The brewer will determine the quality of the beer along with the legions of customers. I hope the brewer takes the steps to make more risky flavored beers. At current they are fairly standard brews, while not bad, not exceptional on this night.

(06/23/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! Good Awesome! Awesome!

Establishment: Chiodo's Tavern, Pittsburgh , PA

I avoided Chiodo's for way too long.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, you were either blue or white collar and Chiodos's and Homestead were clearly the blue collar steel capital of the world - arguably. I lived in a similar town with a similar blue collar base, but disliked the pollution, low brow humor and lack of progress it brought.

Having steered clear and long defined my taste for yuppie havens and non-jock bar Chiodo's remained one of the few manly and questionable places this PubCrawler had yet to visit.

On the evening of June 22, 2004, I visited Chiodo's (pronounced something like key-o-do-s)- unannounced and at the request of a fellow PubCrawler user who said business had slumped at Chiodo's significantly with the opening of the block-a-way waterfront which most notably houses just one beer-friendly establishment - Rock Bottom brewpub.

Well on this special night I also visited Rock Bottom for my initial impression of their handy-craft. We'll talk about that in a seperate review for them :)

Back to Chiodo's, the exterior and interior are rich with history and interesting people that are easy to misclassify. Along side of me sat a gentleman, drinking a local say Pittsburgh Brewing product well at the end of his very own large session of beer. Easily identified as a local and yinzer, but yet a really smart guy wise to the micros and himself, a youth soccer referee. Not exactly typical for Pittsburgh. In came two young lads from Squirrel Hill, much into the micros and not originally from Pittsburgh. You get the point. The locals down the bad beer and in come the people from a neighborhood away, enjoying the selection and sanity of a place minus the long lines and attitude of the mall type areas.

I ordered a garden salad and fries with cheese.. Being the non-carnivore I am, the menu left nothing other than appetizers for me to select from. This sent me back say ten years, but I can forgive this because the place is genuine. My meals arrives on styrofoam plates and with plastic forks, cheaper and seemingly tastier than the fare at the more fancy places.

While Chiodo's is an old mill-town bar, it is arguably the grand-daddy for all fine beer- read micros and imports - establishments in Pittsburgh. Having first served Pilsner Urqell and other imports in the mid 1950's it becomes clearer that this bar is historic and bigger than most folks realize.

Joe Chiodo, the 80+ year old force behind this beer mecca sat down at the end of his day with me and chatted, rather accidentally. In some ways the things time has taken away from him (hearing) has enriched the candidness and conversation I was so privileged to be granted.

Joe has been a fan of beer longer than I have been alive. At this point, that's a pretty amazing reflection point as I exceed 30 years on this planet and over a decade of indirect beer awareness :) . While discussing the new artsy craft beers such as Victory, Stone and Southern Tier, I was lead back to a classic favorite of Joe's and mine much later, Duvel.

For me, it was a free one on the house. Something I seldom see unless there are great problems with my order/service. It was a very appreciated beverage I selected in Joe's honor and in the shadows of the man that started it all here in the 'Burgh.

While Chiodo's can be known locally for their extensive bra collection found overhead the bar, Chiodo's is better known for Joe, the mystery sandwich and the large number of different micros still found in this landmark.

As I sat, talking with Joe, I was lead to the wall behind the bar which is a giant collage of many famous Pittsburgh and Homestead historic points. As Joe lifted a framed piece suspended on the amazing backsplash of photographic evidence of Pittsburgh past, I was shown a photo of over a dozen glasses lined up waiting for a fine brew to be poured. In the photo most was a gentleman wrapped in his flannel to fight the coldness of a Pittsburgh winter. The glasses lined up were a sub-pint Pittsburgh old-school bar glass like they still use at Chiodo's - say 10-12 ounces maybe. The gentleman in the photo is pouring the beers for a beer tasting session that Chiodo's use to have.

While I miss the history I didn't enjoy partially due to my own fear, Chiodo's today is a wonderful bar loaded with artifacts of days gone by. Walking into this place is like being transported to my youth. Familiar slogans, signs, teams and spirits.

If you are in Pittsburgh, like history and respect your elders I highly recommend Chiodo's at least once. They make a hell of a mean fish sandwich that is course for two normal folks in these times. They make that sandwich not just in lent, but all year round.

While my bartender for this evening was enjoying his youth, the other staff were long-time dedicated folks the regulars knew by their first name.

Long live this fine establishment with the fine owners and the spirit which in today's terms - keeps it real.

I'll be back, and next time with more people. A phenomenal beer lineup in bottle with lots of bottles you don't see in Pittsburgh - except at the distributor in cases. No Penn Brewing products - ask Joe - if you don't know.

I highly recommend this place as the alternative to the busy, mall atmospheres that contain robotic entities who just have a job, where the money gets shipped to corporate - states away. This is a real genuine bar that I would be sorry to see go - if it ever does.

(06/23/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! Great Awesome! Awesome!

Establishment: Birmingham Bridge Tavern, Pittsburgh , PA

where to start???

well, although Birmingham Bridge is within the name, the Tavern is a very large block or two from the actual bridge. It's also worth noting its a block off the main drag on Sarah Street, as opposed to Carson.

All the geographic clarifications aside, this is a really neat place worth checking out.

Birmingham Bridge Tavern enters the ranks for beer lovers with a very different lineup of around 14 taps and 70 bottles. They have the obligatory bud and coors for everyone else.

They had a few of the Bell's/Kalamazoo beers that were tasty and some other interesting tap handles worth giving a second look and consideration towards.

This is a three-story bar, with two floors with bars and the third for private functions. Neat about this place is the third floor is available for events without an additional event rental charge. In this day and age that's a big deal, I think.

So, usually we find it easy to poke holes and drop the rating on the service side of things. The dear bartender gently moved the evening, drinks and food along. The chef/cook is a Culinary Institute grad formerly employed with the Colony House. A really friendly guy who even poured me a sample of a summer brew on tap I hadn't tried before.

So who are you going to find here? Local South Siders, blue collar folks at the end of their day and white collar folks out for dinner and drinks. A mixed crowd at ease with each other.

This is a friendly low key place off the main fast paced Carson Street. The people who own/work at this place are really classy and down to earth. Conversation friendly bunch.

I'll be back.

(06/21/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good Great Awesome! Great

Establishment: Monterey Pub, Pittsburgh , PA

Monterey Pub is located in the very real and very friendly Mexican War Streets secton of Pittsburgh's Central North Side.

While Monterey Pub sports a somewhat small list of micros (Penn Brewing products and Sierra Nevada) this is still a fabulous place to check out while in Pittsburgh.

In the spirit of real pubs across the big pond, Monterey features a rather robust menu, hearty seating, friendly chatty folks and a good spirit.

The food is rather good. They even have accomodated the non-flesh eaters with a delicious vegetarian offering and a large green salad. The plank style fries are delicious.

I sat one evening recently with a local PubCrawler user talking over everything, site related, politics, life, family and history. Those around us chimed in here and there with very interesting perspectives and warmth.

For what is now in most places described as a cramped smokey place with desperate folks propping up the bar- that being the definition of a Pub, Monterey excels and breaks the Pub mold with fresh, innovative offerings in a setting that teleports you to somewhere else. All while being gently moved along by friendly folks and words.

Monterey with a few more micros available is the definition of what a US pub should be.

From time to time Monterey embraces local artists with a late evening music accompanyment to your meal or beverage consumption.

While in the War Streets be sure to wander a block or two to experience the unique craftmanship of a real quality neighborhood that is well in the process of redeveloping itself, one home at a time.

(06/15/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Eleven, Pittsburgh, PA

Eleven is another breakout concept from the good folks at Big Burrito, the people that brought us most notably the mini chain Mad Mex.

Eleven aims to provide what they call comfort food. The comfort food term seems to be a buzz word of the current time in restaurants. Big B had previously opened a location in North Hills featuring home cooked goodies like you wish mom had made them, meatloaf, mashed potatos, etc.

Eleven is slightly different than that sort of comofort food and thereby a whole new thing. Eleven is housed in the location that most people will remember the much talked about but underdelivering Valhalla.

Again, eclectic, Eleven at the bar/lounge area you can feast on appetizer portions of marinated hard-boiled eggs. For the regular appetizer line up you will see the infusion of fancy and french, lots of meat and the seafood is adequately represented.

For the main course fish, pork, tuna, various steaks, chicken, veal and spaghetti appears. Comfortable, but definitely after deciphiring the fancy names and out of the ordinary ingredients.

Beer wise, their website lists selections from Rogue, Dogfish, Stoudt's, Anderson Valley, Great Lakes, etc. etc. etc.

Oh time to call mom and tell her to revise the recipes.

With a chef lineup that includes Greg Alauzen, Derek Stevens (formerly of Dusquesne Club), Sean Kelly (Steelhead Grill), Dan Mosedale (Original Fish Market), and Eben Copple (the much regarded, humorous and talented recently departed from the nearby Lidia's) -- this is going to be a severely good place with far more creative dishes on the near horizon.

Time for me to go eat and take in the environment, service and flavor at what is bound to become Pittsburgh's new restaurant of the year for 2004.

(06/13/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

Establishment: Casbah Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar, Pittsburgh , PA

Casbah is part of the Big Burrito group. The same small company that brings us Mad Mex.

Casbah is a really unique place with no comparison in Pittsburgh. There is a large outdoor area on the front of the building which is wonderful for warmer summer nights. The interior is hard to describe, very modern, intimate and happening. This place definitely transports you to some place other than Pittsburgh.

Casbah boasts a large wine selection as well as focusing on martinis. Beer wise you will find their contracted Big B house brew as well as international heavyweight Chimay, two of the Lindeman's varieties and several decent micros. Not a huge selection, but a solid dozen or so.

Food like the sister Big B establishments is fresh, made to order and very good. While somewhat expensive ($7+) for a green salad, the quality, presentation, flavor and ingredients are primo, worth the money.

You post dinner dessert at Casbah is much more than chocolate cakes and black coffee. Casbah boasts a large dessert menu that includes four coffee drinks, over a dozen ports, over a dozen dessert wines, cordials & liquers, vodkas, gins, brandies and whiskies. The line is simply overwhelming and delightful.

Casbah is one of those rare gems, where everything comes together perfectly. It's worth giving a look at for a special night out. Their website is informative and includes menus, relative ingredients and pricing info.

(06/13/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A Good N/A N/A Good

Establishment: Maple Leaf Grill, Seattle, WA

KEXP sponsor establishment featuring a steady lineup of micro brews including Mac & Jacks' and Sierra Nevada.

Full menu of fresh comfort foods as well as decent wine and mixed drink menu.

(06/08/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! N/A Awesome! Awesome!

Establishment: Pittsburgh Bottleshop Cafe, Bridgeville , PA

Well Pittsburgh Bottleshop Cafe is bound to become the home bar for PubCrawler... It's a very local place in the fairly beer lacking area we reside in.

We visited the Bottleshop during April - pre-opening. The light fixtures were still waiting to be placed overhead and the smell of freshness filled the space. The Bottleshop is an intimate space that the in-a-hurry crowd will drive by at 60MPH. That is a good thing in this case though. Marc is aiming towards more educated taste buds. With 200+ bottled varieties of beer in coolers that line probably over 30 linear feet this isn't your average hole in the wall bar.

What makes this such a cool space ala NYC or San Fran or etc. is that the patrons on our initial visit ranged from regular truck driving blue collar working folks to more discerning yuppified folks like us to a couple on the Harley... This is a real fusion place like you find in every other city except Pittsburgh.

The space is small by most bar standards - but intimate. A large bar lines one whole wall with two very lovely televisions mounted behind the bar. The fixtures and interior are very moden and again not typical for the 'burgh.

We had the luck of having Marc Davis on hand and serving up a few free beers. Marc is most recently departed from Pittsburgh Brewing - the folks that make Iron City beer. Marc is responsible for another flagship beer via Sam Adams and Pittsburgh brewings continued contract brewing arrangement. Marc is a heavyweight with 20 years of brewing experience. Don't hold his affectionate liking of the Iron City as an indicator of anything but Marc's attachment and personal preference.

Well talk about a nice place. When was the last time someone significant in modern beer history poured you a free glass of good beer? Beyond this kind act, Marc spent some time to chat with us and give some additional info on the place and where he was going with things.

We'll be back with an additional feature review and photos of this place very soon.

(05/10/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Boyne River Brewing Company, Boyne City, MI

Boyne River is up and running under new management as of December 2003.

New owner(s) are Michael and Terry Lynch.

(03/08/2004)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Awesome! Great Great Great

Establishment: Sharp Edge Creekhouse, Pittsburgh , PA

Sharp Edge Creekhouse has reinvented themselves - again.

I hadn't been here in over a year. Last time I went, they had cut the vegetarian burger, created some pretty weird dishes and jacked up the food prices way high...

Here's the new deal though. Prices for entres remain high for the area and for the food. However, the quality and presentation of the food has stepped up. There now is a regular full page of specials as well as the page of pizzas and panini's. The menu is roughly about 10 pages - a large menu for any establishment.

Now what I did notice this time and not before is Sharp Edge although covering the very best micros is a major outlet for imports. The beer list is the better part of 10 pages. 9 pages are devouted to listing imports while 1 is left over for the micros. Disparaties aside, I chose a 25oz Ommegang bottle at a cost that competes with wine. Delicious and fresh.

As for the food. Portion size now is large. So you won't walk away hungry. We sampled their salad, a steak with vegetables and plank style potato fries along with a Mediterranean pasta (pasta, artichokes, oil based sauce)...

The meal was good as any we eat elsewhere. The presentation was good - my pasta arrived on a clear Pyrex type plate.

Overall, Sharp Edge Creekhouse seems to have worked out the issues with getting the food up to par. They seem to be doing this so well that the first time we tried the place last week there wasn't even a parking space available. This time we had a 20 minute wait for a non-smoking table. It was worth it.

I'd recommend checking this place out as the weather finally breaks and gives us some warmer temperatures. There is a large deck seating area out back that might be the ticket to enjoy a warm night.

(03/08/2004)


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