Last weekend, the Hubs and I made our annual pilgrimage to Pittsburgh to watch the Penguins play hockey. I had some hotel points to burn, so we made a whole weekend out of it and went up Friday afternoon, before the game on Saturday. As our usual M.O., we wanted to grab some unique food while we were in the city, and Butcher and the Rye came highly recommended by some friends who are also Penguins fans and make regular trips.
Add us to the list of people singing the praises of this place. It was amazeballs.
First, the place is a little hipster. Okay, a lot hipster. But don’t let that annoy you, actually, distract yourself looking at the list of over 350 different kinds of whiskey. Yes, friends, 350 plus kinds… This is the place to go if you are whiskey afficionado and want to try something you’ll never find anywhere else.
Our reservations were in the upstairs bar area, which was cozy and intimate with a low tables and couches and low lights. We had some bourbon cocktails, that were so tasty. I usually like bourbon just on the rocks, but it was too hard not to order from the menu since they seemed so thoughtfully developed. The Hubs had the Rye Buck, which we are going to try to recreate (Erin Wolfe, I might need your help!) It was Bulleit Rye with St. Germaine (an elderflower liqueur), fresh lemon, lime and ginger. I had the Lion’s Tail, which was Buffalo Trace, fresh lime and allspice Dram. The Rye Buck was better, but not by much.
We decided to order some small plates and split them instead of ordering entrees because we simply couldn’t decide. We ended up with the tartare, which was served with the usual toast and egg yolk. But this one had a spicy, tangy black garlic aioli that gave it a bit of a bite. It was perfect with it, since tartare can be really rich.
We also got the charcuterie plate and the beef bone marrow. The charcuterie was awesome. It had bresola and proscuitto, which were good, but nothing particularly special. But what stood out for us was the beef heart pepperoni (Yes, beef. heart. I am going to try this. I’m not even kidding.) and something we think was duck lardo something. We’re not really sure, but it’s that orange-ish glob (this sounds real appetizing, I know). It was “slap your grandma” good. We fought over the last bite of it. It was like a rich, salty, fatty pudding or something.
The bone marrow was the homerun of the night. I don’t even know why they fooled with putting those two pieces of bread with short ribs and what tasted like barbeque sauce on there. It totally didn’t go with the bone marrow. It might have been fantastic on it’s own, but beside this jewel, it just was disappointing because it wasn’t also bone marrow. If you’ve ever read the book Julie and Julia, Julie Powell’s description of bone marrow is pretty spot on now that I’ve tried it for myself. I’ll leave it at that. If you ever see this on a menu and the restaurant doesn’t seem kinda shady, do yourself a favor and order it. You will not regret it.
I don’t think the meat shop we get our half beef cut up at will give me some beef leg bones, but I’m gonna ask. It never hurts to ask, but this butcher already thinks I’m a weirdo, I’m sure, since I ask for all the offal that no one else wants. This year we got three beef hearts, one package of ox tail, two tongues and several pounds of calf’s liver. I’ll see if he can hook me up with some marrow bones next year.
There is one weird thing about this place, and it’s the ladies room. I don’t get it. Maybe they’re trying to be even more hipster. I dunno. But the stalls are seriously like waist high. It’s kinda awkward, and thank God no one came in there when I was in there, because it would have just been weird to look someone in the eye while you’re peeing. Also, the bathroom is seriously tiny, so it’s not like you can just mill around over in the corner while you wait for half-stall to open up. You would just have to stand there and awkwardly try to look at the floor or your nails or your phone or whatever while the person in the stall does there business. God forbid you have to drop a deuce.
Luckily, there’s a lock on the door if you feel too weird about this, and there’s also a unisex bathroom (and a men’s room) which I assume does not have this set up. Just a little tip: pee before you go there.
For two rounds and three small plates, our bill was around 95 bucks before the tip. I would say it was well worth every crumb. Even if you just pop in for a drink and don’t order food, this place is seriously legit when it comes to the bar. We can’t wait to go back.
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