Le Mont, a Pittsburgh Fine Dining Institution

le mont view

Yelp Elite at Le Mont, Mount Washington

Recently I was lucky enough to have been included in a fantastic Yelp Elite event at Pittsburgh’s Le Mont. Both the Yelp and Le Mont teams were very generous to treat us to a full dining experience! I’m sharing my first experience at this Mount Washington institution known for elegant dining and beautiful views of downtown Pittsburgh.

  

Le Mont is definitely known for traditional grandeur. It’s the kind of place that feels like you’re going to dinner at the country club with your parents – and their boss. It’s a special occasion venue, with an ornate and gilded décor that feels very fancy, formal, and elegant. The private room we dined in had plenty of windows featuring amazing views of downtown Pittsburgh and the North Side. The space is already lavish, with lots of gold, crystal chandeliers and ornate details – but when I visited it was also decorated for the holiday!

Before the meal, our group of Yelp Elite was addressed by the manager. She was very casual, and shared some of Le Mont’s history with us. She shared that they pride themselves on delivering a high class experience, and are now shifting to appeal to a younger crowd and expand what they’re known for.

To become more accessible and attractive to a younger crowd, Le Mont is now offering a seasonal celebrations menu with three- course, pre-fix meal cost of $38! This should be advertised more, as most deem the Le Mont as too costly – when this option is much more affordable. Le Mont as a classic institution does have a very basic menu, this celebration menu offers more fun and festive options.

Celebration menu le mont

I didn’t know what to expect, but was surprised to see that we were being treated to both red and white wine and our choice of soup or salad, entrée, and dessert. I am known for only liking sweet wine (my blog is Moscato is m Mantra) and I thoroughly enjoyed the red option by Merino of Portugal – it was truly delicious! Our menu featured very traditional high-end options, with a few of the celebration menu choices. I ordered the almond encrusted salmon entrée with bourbon glaze. I was served a large piece of quality salmon. I really liked the sweet bourbon maple glaze and the almond. It came with the classic sides of a swirl of whipped potatoes and broccolini. I also enjoyed the crème brûlée with fresh fruit.

The food was delicious and great quality! The wait staff was friendly and pleasant and cracked jokes. I’m really glad I got to experience the food and service at Le Mont. Thank you very much to Yelp and the Le Mont for a treat of an evening!

The only downside of my food was that the salmon was well done and the brûlée was served cold. It didn’t have that sensation of warm crystalized top with the creamy cool custard. I’m sure this was just due to the large party they were serving.

Overall if you’re looking for a traditional and elegant dining experience in Pittsburgh, with a view Le Mont is great. The consensus at my table of multi-generational Yelp Elites, was that Le Mont does have a bland almost boring menu. It’s just a bit old-fashioned. Their celebration menu was really needed, now that Pittsburgh is abuzz with so many dynamic dining options (aren’t we lucky that we have the luxury of being choosey?!). The Le Mont menu needs to continue offering a little more pizzazz, to truly be able to diversify and attract a younger clientele.

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Smallman Galley for Sunday Brunch

Smallman Galley

Smallman Galley is a co-op space for chefs looking to launch their own restaurant, a “launch pad for the best new restaurant concepts in Pittsburgh.” It’s a unique space housing 4 restaurant concepts, a full bar, and coffee bar. The creators of Smallman Galley aim to “cultivate and accelerate undiscovered Chefs by providing a forum to showcase their capabilities, hone their craft, develop business acumen, and build a cult following behind their concepts.” The space has four fully outfitted kitchens and open seats for guests, providing the infrastructure for chefs to test their concepts with low-risk and low-cost. To Pittsburghers it offers an amazing place to find interesting meals!

Currently the restaurant concepts in residence are Iron Born, Colonia, Banhmilicious, and brunoise. As with my first visit to Smallman Galley, I had a hard time deciding what to order with 4 unique chefs and plenty of creative menu offerings.

After weeks of seeing the pizza all over Instagram, I decide to try Iron Born. It offers a truly unique style of pizza for Pittsburgh! Iron Born Pizza may have a Yinzer name, but it’s a Detroit-style pizza. It is set on a fluffy, thick crust baked in a cast iron square pan which creates a truly delicious crispy caramelized crust and bottom. The cheese running over the edges creates crusty caramelized cheese! I split the White Pie of : Garlic Cream – Caramelized Onions – Marinated Cherry Tomatoes – Arugula – Ricotta – and I added sausage. The combination was great! The garlic sauce isn’t overpowering and the caramelized onions were delicious and sweet!  I would love to return to try another pie – the Carbonara Pie sounds delicious.

 

My boyfriend ordered Bacon & Egg Fried Rice, from Banhmilicious. It was very interesting and delicious, like nothing I’ve had before. The rice was a smaller than usual grain type and served with a fried egg on top and a side of soup. The soup appears to be a clear or an onion soup you would have at a everyday Asian spot, but once you taste it you realize its SO much more. Its almost like a spiced latte or strong chai tea – but meets the starter soup you’d have at a hibachi place. I asked and the soup features cinnamon, ginger, five spice and cumin (if I can remember correctly). We also had the mango bubble tea, which was filled with fresh mango. It was nice and refreshingly sweet.

I highly recommend a visit to Smallman Galley in the Strip District and can’t wait to return for another meal myself!

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La Bicyclette – Carmel by the Sea

la bicyclette

I recently got to fulfill a few dreams, taking an amazing trip to California with my BF! We traveled in late September adventuring through San Francisco, San Jose, Moterey, Carmel by the Sea and even Yosemite. A highlight of the trip for me was experiencing the food scene in the Montery, Carmel area. This area features many french inspired spots! The area served as my foodie side’s play area.

La Bicyclette – Carmel by the Sea

I had this spot at the top of my list ever since researching the Carmel foodie scene weeks before our trip. La Bicyclette restaurant is small, charming and quaint with rustic french country kitchen touches. It’s located right in the main shopping, touristy district of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

 

We stopped in for a late lunch on a weekday. I had read a lot about the pizzas, but we couldn’t resist the server’s description of the special mussels with fries, “Moules-Frites”. I usually don’t choose mussels, my BF loves them, and I was surprised to find that these were delicious! They were sautéed with shallots, garlic, fennel, and leeks and came in the classic “Pernod broth,” a white wine herb broth. It was outstanding, full of flavor and seasoning! The fries were truly tasty fried and crispy. It also came with a rich, decadent aioli dipping sauce. I couldn’t decide what was better with the salty fries, the broth or the aioli – I used both 😉

We also enjoyed the fromage board that was served with local honey comb and poached pears. The bread was filled with fruits as a nice, unexpected touch.

cheese board la bicyclette carmel california

I would recommend Carmel’s La Bicyclette restaurant for couples traveling to the area looking for a charming and interesting lunch spot. It was a memorable dinner, I hope I will continue to remember this meal when I look back to our trip! Next time I visit I’d like to enjoy a pizza and tap into the wine list 🙂 I can’t wait to share more from my trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea!

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Paul Family Farms Maple Syrup

paul family farms maple syrup

Paul Family Farms is a producer of small batch maple syrup on a family farm located in Potter County. The family is continuing their predecessors tradition of creating small batch, wood-fired PA maple syrup.

Its some seriously delicious maple syrup. Perfect for Sunday morning pancakes. You can find this sweet nectar at local Pittsburgh Farmer’s markets and in local specialty foods like the Maple Bourbon Ice Cream from Millie’s Pittsburgh, breakfast pizza from Iron Born of Smallman Galley or the Sticky Peach wine from KingView Mead. Definitely a delicious foodie find 🙂

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Homemade Pizza, Date Night at Home

homemade pizza date night

I love being treated to a romantic date night out on the town, but there is something really special about a relaxed date night in at home. Just because it’s “at home” doesn’t mean you can’t still have an amazing date night.

All you need for a fun date night at home is a $5.95 DeLallo Italian Pizza Dough Kit (and of course a bottle of moscato). Its a simple dough kit available at local Pittsburgh grocery stores. All you need to do is combine the packages of flour and yeast and add water. Forty-five minuets later the dough has risen and is ready for you to create the perfect elasticity for pizza dough from the thin, crisp Neapolitan-style crust to the thicker, chewier crust.

Then its the fun part – creating your own custom pizza. To me the best part of homemade pizza is that you can add whatever you want! Who doesn’t love loading up toppings and playing around with flavor combinations?! If you’re like me your pantry and fridge are most likely already filled with pizza fixings. All you need to gather is sauce, vegetables, meats, and cheese.

My pizza date and I made 3 pizza combinations.

1- Vodka sauce, herbs, parmesan cheese, sauteed mushrooms and onions.

2- Parmesan cheese, sauteed mushrooms and onions, basil and balsamic glaze.

3- Pesto, grilled chicken, parmesan cheese, sauteed mushrooms and onions.

And yes we used homegrown basil that had the sweetest heart-shaped bug bite shape. 100% natural find adding to the sappiness of this romantic date night 🙂

Making pizza for a date night in is all about being relaxed at home and spending time with the one you love. I for one am all about siting back, relaxing, pouring another glass of wine, and enjoying a date night at home!

 

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