…And The Foie Ran Away With The Spoon (Pittsburgh, PA)

September 2012

If my special one were a spoon, and I were a dish, I’d definitely run away with him (even though he’s a lot faster than I will ever be)! I’d run away with him because he makes me laugh until my laugh becomes a high pitched gasp for air; he always sees the positive side; he is a very “special” dancer; he is smart beyond his years, and because he is the perfect dinner companion (just to name a few reasons)! He’s always eager to share our meals, and he patiently waits while I fiddle with f-stops. In short, he is the best, and I am the luckiest! Though it may be too sappy for some, we celebrate our anniversary each month, and what better way to celebrate than with a shared meal! For the September installment of our swooning, we chose a place that was new for both of us, as well as long overdue for both of us: Spoon.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover Spoon has a small courtyard area, but unfortunately, I was way too chilled to partake in the courtyard experience. As such, I was less impressed with the intentional formality of the interior. A wash of beige and dim lighting does not automatically equate to fine dining and masked the more unique furniture accents in a curtain of drab. Fortunately, the food delivered more than just a display of formality.

We began our meal with two cocktails. I opted for the smokey hints of Laphroaig, but I also sipped heavily from the bubbly bourbon. Both cocktails exhibited what I view as a quality blend- a distinction of the various flavor parts of the whole.

Vancouver in a Glass
Famous Grouse Scotch, Tupelo honey, lemon, ginger, Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch

5 O’clock Shadow
Averna amaro, Buffalo Trace bourbon, mint, lime, demerara sugar, ginger beer

The Bread Basket
Cornbread and chive biscuit

Duck Two Ways
Crispy confit cake, duck liver mousse, grilled peaches, balsamic reduction

The bread basket at Spoon shows an extra level of dedication with its cornmeal and biscuit offerings. Though well prepared, Duck Two Ways may be just a little more fattened duck than one should eat in one sitting.

Roasted Local Corn Soup
Butter poached Maine lobster, forest mushroom + sweet corn saute, tarragon creme fraiche

The combination of sweet corn, tangy creme fraiche, meaty mushrooms and lobster is the perfect harvest harmony!

Pork Two Ways
Grilled tenderloin, braised pork, Anson Mills white cheddar polenta, corn + zucchini + tomato saute, caramelized figs, port reduction

I usually find it difficult to be excited about pork tenderloin, so I was skeptical. My special one prevailed, and I was glad he did. The two porks combined with equal contributions of flavor and a contrast of texture. There is nothing bland about Spoon’s tenderloin.

Crispy Skin Skuna Bay Salmon 
chorizo stuffed pattypan squash, olive oil poached cherry tomatoes, creamed corn, mushroom + eggplant puree, blistered tomato reduction

Housemade Ice Cream

Corn! Bright, yellow, corn ice cream! If you’ve been with these grains before, you know this is something I’ve already thought about quite a bit, so I was eager to try another ice creamier’s version (as far as I know, I just made up the term ice creamier). Sweet corn in every frozen bite! I loved it, but after all, my genealogy resembles a cornstalk more than a tree. Hurry to Spoon, and try a scoop for yourself!

All in All

Was it a great anniversary dinner?
Absolutely!

Did Spoon live up to the hype?
I salute Spoon’s commitment to local purveyors, and I recommend the food and the drinks, but the overall experience? Though it may seem like pure pickiness, the beige and forced formality of the dining room really dimmed my desire to return. The demographic of people who appreciate good food is not limited to a class of diners who flaunt their wealth via boring blazers and snide behaviors, so why cater to those types in design? No, I’m not saying every restaurant has to be clad in reclaimed barn wood (though I do love reclaimed barn wood!), but the bounds of restaurant design could use a push.

What do you think?

3 thoughts on “…And The Foie Ran Away With The Spoon (Pittsburgh, PA)

  1. Rodzilla

    That’s a seared piece of foie, I wonder if they wanted to avoid controversy by putting it on the menu.

    Glad you made it in, and nice selection with the dishes. I’d like to get back for a tasting menu at some point – interested?

    I’ve never been disappointed by the food at spoon – service once, and Chef Pekarcik addressed it personally.

    Re: The dining room – You’re not critiquing the design, which may or may not be to your liking, rather who you’re assuming their target market to be, and that assumed clientele’s motives for eating in the restaurant.

    Why so judgmental? Some people like to get a little dressed up, and yes..I’m sure some of them like to flaunt. Is that any different than some conforming non-conformist making sure that he wears a flannel to Salt, or park his fixie outside of the local gastropub?

    Consider a place like Providence in LA, 2 Michelin stars – half the room in Jackets, half jeans, some both. If your criticisms are coming down to your assumptions about fellow diners, well – at least we know the food is great ;)

    Reply
  2. withthegrains Post author

    1. I need your “cliffs” version on the foie issues because I know you are far more entrenched in the politics of it than I am.

    2. I would be interested in a tasting menu at Spoon. Are you planning a trip this way?

    3. I also like to get a little dressed up, and if people want to flaunt, flaunt away. Maybe I didn’t argue my point well bc I exaggerated by describing a cliche clientele. My point was more so the restaurant’s tagline is “Serving up fresh, local, modern cuisine,” and I want the interior design to speak to that. What I saw was an outdated approach to “modern cuisine.” I am in no way describing a desire for everyone in the dining room to look the same or be a certain type of person. Another example of Spoon needing an update? Their website is still playing music.

    4. Why so judgmental? Well, I am, but to justify my criticism (maybe only slightly?), I really mulled this over. The food was good, but the whole experience left something to be desired, and I even talked to a few other people to see if I was completely off base because my goal is not to be a dark cloud over the PGH dining scene.

    5. I knew you’d come through with a debate!

    Reply
  3. Rodzilla

    1. The animal rights acti-terrorists will just jump at any mention of foie, they’ve done it at Eleven and elsewhere a number of times – they probably haven’t looked into the issue enough to realize that “duck liver” is likely going to be the same thing. It’s pretty hard to find non-fattened duck liver. But I think I mistook a seared breast for a seared lobe.

    2. Yes, Christmas time!

    3. I want you to get into restaurant design. Check this out http://www.basilestudio.com/

    Someone has been reading, the music is gone. In their defense, if they were going to play it, at least it was a good tune.

    4.Feels ya, only trying to make it better. I did the same thing when I didn’t feel the service was matching the food. I’m way more judgmental.

    5. I just wanted to get into deeper restaurant conversation with PGHs resident food enthusiast.

    Reply

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