Saturday, January 12, 2013

Kaleidoscope Cafe (Lawrenceville)

My younger brother was visiting from Toronto the weekend after Thanksgiving and we decided to check out Kaleidoscope Cafe. Though located in Lawrenceville, you won't find Kaleidoscope Cafe along the main drag; rather, it is tucked away on a quiet side street. Driving down 43rd Street past rows of townhouses, we began to wonder if we were headed in the right direction. But just then, the two story building with the colorful mural pops into view - and there it was, the Kaleidoscape Cafe.

Our visit to Kaleidoscope Cafe had been a bit of a last minute decision, as Lil' Bro is not the type to make advanced plans, and so we showed up without a reservation. On a Saturday night.

Oops. Bad idea.

The restaurant was full, and we were initially told that there wouldn't be a table for us that evening. Luckily, after some consultation among the staff, they managed to squeeze us in. Phew! Crisis averted. (I had really been looking forward to trying out this place!)

After being seated, we immediately noted the cute and eclectic decor of the restaurant. Although it was dark and busy, I did notice that each tabletop had a different, colorful pattern. Each table was also outfitted with a kaleidoscope. It was a fun atmosphere.

But it was the quality of the food at Kaleidoscope Cafe that made the lasting impression. I decided to try two light courses so I would have room for dessert later.  My first course was the Farmhouse Salad, with mixed greens, honey roasted beets, pears, toasted walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese, dressed in balsamic vinaigrette.  It proved to be a lovely combination of flavors.

Farmhouse Salad at Kaleidoscope Cafe
Farmhouse Salad

My second course was a "small plate" item - Duck Cannoli - because who can resist that?? Pulled roasted duck is stuffed into a homemade cannoli shell and served with a white chocolate cardamom burre-blanc and pistachio dust. The duck was moist and tender and the cannoli shell was perfectly crunchy and just slightly sweet.  The saltiness of the meat and the sweetness of the remaining ingredients made for not just a unique but also delicious combination.

Duck Cannoli at Kaleidoscope Cafe
Duck Cannoli ($10)

Duck Cannoli at Kaleidoscope Cafe
Duck Cannoli, another view

I also got try some of R.'s Keleidoscope Pasta (which he couldn't stop raving about) and Lil' Bro's Kaleidoscope Crab Dip. Both were superb!

Kaleidoscope Pasta at Kaleidoscope Cafe
Kaleidoscope Pasta
Penne in tomato sauce, with bacon, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, roasted corn,
and sweet peas ($13)

Kaleidoscope Crab Dip at Kaleidoscope Cafe
Kaleidoscope Crab Dip
Hot creamy dip of lump crab, bacon, corn, onion, and red pepper served with warm
pita ($9)

For my dessert, I tried the Poached Pear, which was an absolute delight thanks to the contrasting texture and flavor. Very well done.

Poached Pear at Kaleidoscope Cafe
Poached Pear
Pear poached in red wine and mulling spices served with fig and spiced rum
mascarpone quenelle and candied walnuts ($7)

(Incidentally, I have also since had the opportunity to try a sample of Kaleidoscope Cafe's Chicken Apple Sausage Saute at the Winter 2013 Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Kickoff Party and thought they were delicious. Now I know what I'll be getting next time!)

All in all, it was a fabulous meal. Everything - from the friendly and accommodating service, to the atmosphere, to the food - was perfect. I am so glad to have found this little hidden gem in the city and hope to be back soon!

Restaurant info:
Kaleidoscope Cafe
108 43rd St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
(412) 683-4004
On the web:
On Facebook:
Bonus: BYOB

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