Friday, February 15, 2013

A Stroll Downtown...

By, Nick Kratsas

Since I work in Green Tree, one of the things I lose out on is the phenomenon of the urban happy hour. What better way to fill time between work and home then having a few drinks with friends? So, I took the trolley Downtown to meet some friends, followed by date night with my wife.
My first official happy hour was meeting my wife and friends at Tonic Bar, on the corner of Liberty and 10th. Downstairs, the bar has a modern style, with stark gray and black décor.  At 6:00 p.m. the place is packed and animated. Upstairs, it’s a bit calmer, with lots of tables, and a style with more wood accents and vibrant art on the walls.  I like the speed of upstairs, the service was very attentive. We had some great drinks that weren’t hard on the wallet, and my friends ordered some fun appetizers. The roasted garlic and red pepper hummus had a tangy flavor that showcased the roasted red pepper, and the nachos were overloaded with cheese, salsa, fresh guacamole, and more.

After libations and munchies, my wife and I left our friends to start our date. We walked across the street to the Original Fish Market, located in the Westin Hotel by the Convention Center. We sat in the dining area, which despite the large space, our booth felt like we were dining alone, with high backed seats and a hanging light over the table. We were seated near the kitchen, which has a big glass wall so you can watch the chefs prepare your meal.
Our server was very attentive and gave us great recommendations from their 30-plus wine list, as well as explaining what the different fish would taste like from the menu. We started with the rainbow roll from the sushi menu, which was wrapped in salmon and tuna. We thought the fish was very fresh and the presentation beautiful. Next, I had a cup of the cream of blue crab soup, a thick cream soup with tons of pieces of crab meat. I’ve tried she-crab soup in Charleston, South Carolina, and other fine establishments, and the soup at OFM blew all of them away.
Next, came our main course. I opted for the Hawaiian Walu. It was tender, fresh, and clean, and came pan seared with a brandy cream sauce, fingerling potatoes, mushrooms, and asparagus. The sauce was the boss, and went well with everything on the plate. My wife had the scallops, which were large and tenderly cooked. They came with delicious mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts roasted with bacon, and long, thin strips of fried plantains that stuck straight in the air- it was a lovely, artistic presentation.

We finished our meal by sharing the crème brulee. The top was perfectly crystallized and shattered like glass with a tap of a spoon, and it was sweet and creamy. The berries on top made for a fresh contrast to the sweetness of the crème brulee.
In all, we really enjoyed our experience. Our server described everything exactly as it came, the dim-lighted dining room made for great date ambiance, and the price was reasonable and what you should expect from a fine restaurant in the city, especially one where the fish is so fresh. I read somewhere that their head chef is big on bringing in fish fresh from around the world, and they make sustainability a priority, which makes me feel good about going there. What a great experience!

Afterwards, we made a quick jaunt over to the O’Reilly Theater for a presentation of “1776” by the Pittsburgh Public Theater. This show is a quirky presentation of the Founding Fathers debating if and how they will secede from Britain and start the American Revolution. It’s filled with more than a dozen actors in period clothing, and they mix stirring speeches, heated arguments, and singing and dancing to tell the story of the writing of the Declaration of Independence. If you can catch it, it’s running until February 24. The Pittsburgh Public Theater puts on well produced shows, with quality actors and detailed sets. If you enjoy theater, check out a Public Theater show soon!

All photos taken by Anastasia Farmerie, unless otherwise noted.

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