Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eleven - Sunday Brunch (Strip District)

Last Sunday during my out-of-town friends' visit, they were interested in taking a walk around downtown Pittsburgh and doing brunch at a restaurant that wouldn't mind having their 19-month-old boy run around.  Being fairly new to town and not having gone out for Sunday brunch at all, I wasn't really sure which restaurant would fit the bill, so naturally I took to the Twitter world for help.  The only person who responded to my inquiry was none other than Derek Stevens, the Executive Chef at Eleven, who was nice to reassure me that Eleven wouldn't have a problem with my friends' kid.  (Thank you, Chef Stevens!)  Eleven had actually been on my restaurant wish list for a while, so I was excited to hear that they would be open for brunch on Sunday.  Nested right in between the Central Business District and the heart of the Strip District, the location also made it the perfect choice for us on this particular day.

Eleven is conveniently located right across from the large History Center parking lot, and they have their own valet parking service as well.  I had to call Eleven on our way there to apologize for being late for our reservation (having a 19-month-old around will do that to ya!) and they were so very nice and accommodating about it.  Once we arrived, the hostess offered to check our coats, and we were promptly seated at one of the upstairs booths.  They also quickly brought us a high chair that I had requested at the time of the reservation.  The restaurant is fairly large with two floors and the decor is quite contemporary and upscale.  As you enter the restaurant on the lower level, you can also see the open kitchen in full view to the right.  Overall, Eleven has a very nice atmosphere.

The Sunday Brunch menu has several options for appetizers ($9), entrees ($15), and beverages (alcoholic $8-9; non-alcoholic $3.5).  There is also an option to take the prix fixe for $25 which includes an appetizer, entree, and a drink.  All three of us adults decided to go with that option.

Oysters at Eleven
Appetizer: Oysters

For my appetizer, I picked the oysters, which came with two sauces. The one on the left is the Eleven hot sauce made with jalapeno peppers, and the one on the right is a mignonette made with red wine vinegar, pink peppercorn, and various seasonings.  Both were delicious.

Crab Cake Sandwich at Eleven
Entree: Crab Cake Sandwich

For the entree I got the Crab Cake sandwhich, which comes with pickles, tomato, and a fennel slaw, with a side of fries.  (As of this writing, they have changed the recipe for their crab cake sandwich...that was fast!)  This was actually the first crab cake I've had in Pittsburgh and a bit of a risky choice.  I just moved here from Maryland - the land of crab cakes - so I had been skeptical of the quality of crab cakes anywhere else.  But now that I no long live there, I needed to give crab cakes in Pittsburgh a chance lest I'll never eat crab cakes again!  So I decided to go for it.  I thought the sandwich was quite good, and the crab cake itself was full of crab meat rather than filler (my greatest fear with crab cakes).  I personally would have preferred the crab meat to be lumpier, but that's probably because I've been so thoroughly spoiled by the amazing crab cakes at G&M Restaurant & Lounge in Maryland.  Still, I think Eleven's version was very good.

Vanilla Mojito at Eleven
Beverage: Vanilla Mojito

For my beverage, I had the Vanilla Mojito, described as "Cruzan rum, mint, lime, vanilla agave, and Myers float."  It was a good complement to the rest of my meal.

Our server, Yves, was also very friendly and helpful with my questions about the menu.  My friend's husband, who is French, struck up a conversation with him en francaise (not a single word of which I understood...I'm a bad Canadian, I know!).  Turns out Yves had been trained at a famous restaurant in France, which I thought was pretty cool.  Overall, I really enjoyed the meal and my experience at Eleven, and most importantly, my friends liked their food, too.  My friends' poor baby was still not feeling well and didn't eat at all, so we asked to doggy bag our leftover pastries for him:

Instead, the wait staff packed up some fresh pastries for my friends that would be ready for pick up at the coat check on our way out.  Overall, the service at Eleven was absolutely top-notch!  Great food, great service, great atmosphere.  It is no wonder why so many people have raved about this place.  I am so glad I finally got to try Eleven!

Restaurant info:
1150 Smallman St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
On the web:

Eleven on Urbanspoon