Friday, December 9, 2011

Meat & Potatoes (Downtown)

Meat & Potatoes opened a few months ago in the Downtown Cultural District and has quickly garnered some buzz.  Among its accolades are winning the "Best Appetizer" and "Dish of the Year" awards at Savor Pittsburgh in September, and just as I was in the midst of composing this post on the gastropub, it goes and gets voted the Best New Restaurant by the Pittsburgh City Paper.  No wonder it has become Tom Cruise's choice of dining venue during his time in Pittsburgh!  So when my friend suggested going downtown for Light Up Night a few weeks ago, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to finally check out Meat & Potatoes.

Though not by design, this ended up being an interestingly risky meal.  Risky, because I decided to choose one dish of which I already had strong preexisting notions, and another that I had completely no expectation whatsoever.

First, let's start with the Poutine.  A French slang that means "a mess," poutine started out as a diner/street food that's drenched in brown gravy and fresh cheese curd.  I don't claim to be an expert on poutine, but being Canadian, it is after all my national comfort dish, so I do know a thing or two about it.  Those who have been following my blog know that I have been on something of a quest to find that perfect taste of home in Pittsburgh.  While I've had some decent poutine in town, I have yet to find the real deal.  And then, several weeks ago I came across this photo by Jennie Roth on Foodspotting of Meat & Potatoes' poutine - the most authentic-looking poutine yet in Pittsburgh!  OMGIMUSTHAVETHISPOUTINE!!

Ahem.  Fast forward to Light Up Night at Meat & Potatoes.  I knew that I would absolutely have to try the poutine.  Now, let's take a look at this photo from Foodspotting one more time.

Now, compare it to this:

Poutine at Meat & Potatoes
Poutine ($7)

Um. The new version of the poutine was waaaay prettier.  And also way less authentic.  I went to Meat & Potatoes expecting a plate of hot mess, but instead got its prettified, cosmetically-modified cousin from Beverly Hills.  I must admit my heart sank at the sight of my pretty poutine.  That said, I have to concede that this poutine was very tasty and well-seasoned - indeed, truly the best tasting poutine I have had yet in Pittsburgh.  It may not have the right look, but it certainly has the right taste.  So I'll give 'em that.

The second dish I ordered was the Bone Marrow.  Also a huge risk, because I have never tried bone marrow before and there was a chance I could end up hating it.  But, being a rather adventurous eater, I just had to try it once in my life, and I figured Meat & Potatoes would be the place to do it.  The appetizer came with three large bones containing the fatty marrow, which I scooped out and spread onto some grilled toast, topped with condiments like sea salt, capers, onions, and gremolata (a parsley/garlic combo - thanks, Google!).  I can tell that Meat & Potatoes took good care in choosing the right combination of flavors, as everything tasted great together.  Personally, I decided that I am just not that into bone marrow, but that was no fault of Meat & Potatoes'.  Bone marrow is just not my thing, I guess.  But as I said, I had to try it once, and I'm actually glad I did.

Roasted Bone Marrow at Meat & Potatoes
Bone Marrow ($14)

I had heard great things about the cocktails at Meat & Potatoes, so I ordered a Dark & Smokey, with smoked gosling's rum, root liquer, ginger, and lime.  Mmm...yum!

Dark & Smokey at Meat & Potatoes
Dark & Smokey ($9)

My friend ordered the Braised Short Ribs for her entree and loved it.  In her words, it was the best meal she had had in a long time!

Overall, I liked Meat & Potatoes despite my unusual choices, and I'm definitely looking forward to going back and trying some of the more conventional items on the menu.

Restaurant info:
Meat & Potatoes
649 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
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Meat & Potatoes on Urbanspoon