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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French Restaurant Downtown Pittsburgh

LE Lyonnais French Food Pittsburgh

Le Lyonnias is one of few places offering French comfort food in downtown Pittsburgh. Literally meaning “of Lyon” this spot offers charming small plates and indulgent meals inspired by classic french cuisine. I had the pleasure of enjoying a meal here recently.

Le Lyonnaise French Pittsburgh

We ordered a few tartines, which are open-faced toast layered with deliciousness.

POIRE ET BLEU:  Duck Rillette | Grilled Pear | Fourme d’Ambert Blue Onion Jam | Baguette

CREVETTE: Garlic Grilled Shrimp | Oven Dried Tomatoes Garlic & Herb Boursin | Five Points Baguette

JAMBON CRU:  Prosciutto | Truffled Scrambled Egg Shaved Mimolette | Five Points Sour Dough

Le Lyonnaise French Pittsburgh

They were all really well made and flavorful, but my favorite was the Jambon Cru. The truffled eggs were truly decadent, creamy and rich. Made me wish they were open for brunch 🙂  I would highly recommend adding this spot to your lists of places to try for a meal out on the town or a unique happy hour!

Le Lyonnaise French Pittsburgh

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Pittsburgh Italian, DiAnoia’s Eatery

Pittsburgh Italian dianoia's eatery strip district

After months of salivating over the foodie community’s Instagrams I finally made it to Pittsburgh Italian restaurant DiAnoia’s Eatery. Located in the culinary hub of the Strip District, I was pleasantly surprised at how charming this spot is!

I walked and immediately gushed over the chandeliers that are made of  WINE BOTTLES and WINE GLASSES!? I immediately felt at home.

Pittsburgh Italian dianoia's eatery strip district

It’s a beautiful space feeling open, clean and fresh with white walls, highlighted with unique kitschy decor.

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I meet my two girlfriends on a Tuesday for a 6pm reservation. After a long day at the office we were ready for wine & carbs! DiAnoias does have a lovely light white moscato (from the dessert menu hahaha). I was thrilled.

We had a very sweet & charming waiter who was subjected to our gushing girl talk. He was great and added to our amazing experience.

For my meal I ordered Cacio E Pepe of spaghetti, grana padano, pecorino romano, black pepper. With handmade pasta and delicious cheese it was a very fulfilling, deliciously rish dish.

My friend ordered the mussels with bucatini, fennel, red pepper flake, parmigiano reggiano, white wine, garlic and butter.

My camera-shy girlfriend ordered potato gnocchi, with meatballs, red sauce, and pecorino romano.

For dessert I treated myself to more indulgence with a Nutella brownie and hazelnut gelato from local Shadyside Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream. My brownie was certainly a treat, with warm gooey nutella and fudgey bits.

I’m really glad we got to experience this charming Pittsburgh Italian restaurant. I can’t wait for an opportunity to return to  DiAnoia’s Eatery for dinner again,  and hopefully for Sunday brunch as well!

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Pittsburgh’s Charming Historic Grand Concourse Restaurant

Grand Concourse pittsburgh

The Grand Concourse Restaurant is a place most proud Pittsburghers know and frequent for special occasions. As their website boasts, most Pittsburghers find this destination of fine dining to be “unmatched in grandeur”. I would, for the most part, agree. This grand historical building and the glamorous décor details create an amazing fine dining ambiance. Although I am very grateful, and consider myself lucky to be treated to a dinner here, I was slightly disappointed in some aspects of the food.

As a former railroad train station, the Grand Concourse preserves the charm of the Progressive Era. With statement cathedral stained-glass vaulted ceilings, marble columns, and a dramatic staircase, guests are easily impressed. I know I certainly feel the elevated atmosphere as I enter the formal restaurant. With all of our city’s modern transformations, it’s nice to visit a place so authentically historic. Beyond the main dining area, is the waterfront dining section, offering views of the downtown cityscape and the Smithfield Bridge.

Grand concourse pittsburgh waterfront dining
From grandconcourserestaurant.com

Grand Concourse is best known for its award-winning opulent brunch buffet, which I have fond memories of attending regularly as a child. My most recent visit was an overdue Valentine’s day dinner. My Valentine booked us for an 8:30 reservation on the Saturday post-holiday. Even though we arrived 10 minutes early, we still had to wait about 15 mins past our reservation time for our table. This wait was  disappointing, but allowed me to decide what to order from the vast Dinner menu. While waiting, a very upset customer complained to the maitre’d that his table’s meal arrived cold 45 minutes after ordering. As we walked to our table the main dining room appeared full, but the waterfront area was only half seated.

To start we received delicious, warm buttery bread rolls and crackers paired with a rich smoked salmon pate spread. I ordered a lobster bisque and my BF ordered a Seasonal Goat Cheese Salad of strawberries, candied pecans, poppy seeds, with white balsamic and a warm goat cheese crouton.

My thoughts that the kitchen was behind and understaffed, were confirmed as my soup did not arrive until about 10 minutes after my BF’s salad did. When it did there was soup on the edge of the bowl and splatted on the rim…!?

I did not enjoy the soup. It was very one-noted with only the taste of creamy lobster stock. But somehow still with only a tiny about of actual lobster in it. I craved seasoning, green onions, vegetables, or really anything at all to break up the single boring thick lobster stock element.

Overall, my main dish did not disappoint. I ordered the Ultimate Seafood Mixed Trio of  grilled salmon, crab cake and coconut macadamia shrimp. I enjoyed all three. The salmon and crab cake were of great quality, moist, and cooked well. The coconut shrimp were flavorful, crispy and not at all greasy.

The sides on the other hand were lack luster. I selected the side of parmesan risotto to go with it, but was not impressed. It just seems like cheesey rice to me. The kind sold as a rice side from the grocery store, in the cardboard box with the special seasoning package. I usually LOVE a flavorful cheese-based risotto, so I was disappointed. I had ordered asparagus, but was given broccoli. It came in this huge chunk, without the leaves even removed. Seemed an odd, no-effort-required way to serve broccoli. At a fine dining place I expect more. All they did was chop a huge chunk off the bushel and steam it. I didn’t bother to even try it. When I go out to eat I want to have food that I couldn’t have prepared myself. I put more effort into preparing my broccoli at home.

My boyfriend enjoyed his Filet Mignon prepared with maître d’butter. He did note it didn’t seem to match the price, compared to other exception filet experiences he’d had elsewhere. Again the sides of reggiano potato croquettes, asparagus did not live up to much. The “potato croquettes” actually just seemed like dollops of bland mashed potato that had been fried to achieve a crispy outer shell. Again seemed to be lacking unique flavor to make this side truly enjoyable and delicious.

Our final choice of the evening was the Bananas Foster Creme Brulee. While beautifully presented, totally “Instagram-able” and overall enjoyable, I again think there was a missed opportunity to make this dish truly delicious. When the title of the dish says “Bananas Fosters” I expect the bananas to be caramelized! They were served raw on top of the creme brulee. I LOVE warm, sweet, melt in your mouth caramelized bananas and was truly shocked and disappointed with that lackluster aspect of this dessert.

Grand Concourse Dessert

Overall we had an okay trip to the Grand Concourse Restaurant and I really am lucky to be treated to a meal at a fine dining establishment. The atmosphere is very picturesque and interesting with charming notes to history everywhere you look. Our service was friendly and professional. Our meals we’re of good quality overall, just lacking in flavour and that extra deliciousness that I crave when I’m going out for a fine-dining meal. Maybe the cuisine is intentionally basic. During each course I wanted more. More dimensions of taste & seasoning. This is sounding like the harshest I’ve ever been on a restaurant I’ve written about. I however don’t think I am being very subjectively opinionated. These critiques are just the truth from my objective experience. I’m not an expert food critic, nor a food photographer, just sharing my experience in comparison to other fine dining experiences I’ve also shared on my blog. It’s still a given that every Pittsburgher should experience the atmosphere of the iconic Grand Concourse for themselves, just like we all should indulge in a Primanti’s sandwich.

Grand Concourse Restaurant

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Red Orchid Thai Restaurant

Thai Food Red Orchid

Before I moved to the North Hills of Pittsburgh, I wasn’t at all familiar with the area. My only experience with the area was the Ross Park Mall on the central McKnight Road. One pre-move renovation day, two 26 year old guys working hard to install laminate turned hungry. I had been attempting to remove the most hellishly suborn wallpaper for a solid 6 hours, so I turned to trusty google to discover take out options in the area. I’m not the pizza or sub kind of gal, and I really wanted to reward myself for battling the impossible to remove wallpaper, so I looked for Thai. My search lead me to the Red Orchid on Babcock Boulevard, less than 10 minutes away. Our take-out Thai more than satisfied, definitely the reward 3 reno crazed people needed. My BF and I have been hooked on Red’s Orchid’s Thai food ever since. They’ve recently expanded their dine in area, which my BF and I finally took advantage of this past Saturday.

We started with, what else other than, the classic default Asian appetizer of Crab Rangoon.

Red Orchid North Hills

My go-to main dish order is the Green Curry with shrimp, which consists of broccoli, green beans, bell peppers, eggplant, basil mixed in a green curry paste & coconut milk. It is delicious, but seriously spicy. I order the lowest spice level at a 1 and it stills instantly makes me cough, my nose run and indigestion instantly flare… but I still LOVE the taste. Seriously it’s delicious, even if I can only handle a bit at a time. Usually when I order take out I combat the spice by adding more coconut milk or yogurt. I am sissy when it comes to spicy, but truly even my BF thinks it is spicy for a level 1.

north hills green curry

My BF tried something new, the Thai Panang curry with coconut milk prepared with broccoli, carrots and bell peppers. He ordered a spice level 5, so I was too scared to try it myself.

north hills thai food

We also ordered my other favorite dish, the Pineapple fried rice. Its stir fried with egg, pineapple, cashews, carrots, onion, scallions, and raisins which all combine to create the most delicious nutty flavor. Once I start eating this dish, I have a hard time stopping.

north hills pineapple fried rice

I would really encourage anyone in the North Hills area to step up their takeout experience by ordering from the Red Orchid, or to stop in for the dine-in experience.

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