I guess we cheated a bit because while I showered and got ready, SP went out to do the weekly grocery shopping, but by 12:30 pm we were on the road, headed to Phipps Conservatory. SP and I have really enjoyed recent exhibits at Phipps - specifically, the Chihuly glass exhibit we saw in 2007 and the Frabel exhibit in 2009. This time, we were excited to see the Gargoyles in the Garden exhibit.It was great! My only complaint is that it was so darn sunny that it was a bit hot and I often found myself blinded by the searing sun, even with sunglasses (though to be fair my eyes are overly sensitive to brightness). The gargoyles were great and it was fun to look for them peering out of the gardens. The butterflies were flitting about in the Stove Room, we saw the Giant Agave, and we enjoyed watching the kids play in the children's garden outside. We finished our leisurely stroll through Phipps around 3:30 and couldn't decide what to do next. It was too early for dinner, and we were planning to try a new restaurant in Homestead so we didn't want to head back towards Robinson or even over to the Strip. So we decided to check out the Shadyside Art Festival on Walnut Street.
What a mistake. Lots of traffic - we were crawling along so darn slowly, it was annoying and there were dopey pedestrians darting out in front of cars. There was no parking. The real reason I wanted to head over to Shadyside was to try Mercurio's Mulberry Creamery, but, well, trying them will just have to wait for a less busy day. Too bad because a frozen treat would have been very, very wonderful on such a bright, sunny, hot day.
So we decided to go to Plan B: head over to the Waterfront and walk around, grab a drink and snack somewhere. Once there, we decided to try Bar Louie -- they had lots of outdoor seats and were not very crowded. SP ordered iced tea and Woodchuck, I ordered a Strawberry Fizz martini:I had to control myself and not gulp the martini down - I was so thirsty! We both felt hungry since we hadn't had lunch, just a slightly larger than usual breakfast, so SP ordered a cup of the New Orleans Chicken Gumbo:A mound of rice in a gumbo broth. He said it was good. I have no appetite for hot things on hot days, so soup was out of the question for me. Plus, I saw a Pimiento Cheese Dip appetizer on the menu:Ohhh this was so tasty. Nice, cold, creamy, pimiento-y, peppery cheeses with crispy, thin tortilla chips. Yum! I could have eaten another helping of the cheese. This is the first time we've seen a pimiento cheese dip on a menu here in Pittsburgh and this one is tasty enough to be worth a special trip to Bar Louie!
The outdoor seating is nice - it's not along a road, like many outdoor seating areas in Pittsburgh, so you're not inhaling noxious vehicle fumes. Unfortunately, outdoor smoking is allowed. There was one other occupied table, 3 young guys, and one was smoking a stinky cigar. I guess the breeze was blowing at us because the cigar smoke really bugged me, but... Also, after about a half an hour, it really got too hot for us. The sun was beating down on us and our table didn't have an umbrella so we got quite uncomfortable. Next time, if it was as sunny as this past Saturday, I'd sit in the other outdoor area because it seemed a bit more shady and like there were maybe a few more shade umbrellas.
Our server was very friendly and nice, kept SP's iced tea filled, and checked on us to make sure we didn't need anything. She didn't seem annoyed that we were just having a couple drinks and appetizers.
After Bar Louie, we walked around a bit more and then headed to dinner, a bit of an early dinner (5:30). Our destination: Tin Front Cafe. We've been meaning to try this place - we went for lunch after a doctor appointment last June but they are closed on Monday so we didn't get to try them then.It's very cozy inside: light yellow walls, red chairs, diner-ish tables. Two skylights which make the interior nice & bright. I read somewhere that the wood bar was salvaged from Chiodo's. There's a small outdoor area, it was shaded, but we decided to stay inside because we were still kind of too hot from our outdoor dining at Bar Louie!
When we entered, we were greeted by a very friendly man who seemed to be the only server. He told us we could sit wherever we wanted. I couldn't decide what to drink, I sort of wanted a glass of wine, but in the end, I was just too hot and felt a bit sticky sweet from the martini (which was very tasty, it's just one of those fruity, sweet drinks) so I opted for iced tea. The server told me the iced tea of the day was Red Chocolate but that if I wanted another tea, he'd be happy to brew it. I couldn't decide! Red means rooibos, and normally I dislike rooibos teas, but I decided to try it anyway. I'm glad I did because the iced Red Chocolate was delicious! SP opted for a beer: Wynona's Big Brown Ale.Here's the dinner menu from last Saturday evening:It's very limited, and vegetarian. No meat on this menu! We knew that going in and it wasn't a problem for us. but for those who consider meat a necessary component of a meal, do not try Tin Front Cafe! The entrees come with a salad:Lovely, fresh greens, dried cranberries, shaved parmesan, and 2 slices of bread. I expected the bread to be kind of hard like a baguette, but it was very soft. The salad was lightly dressed with a vinaigrette. Very tasty.
We couldn't pass on the peach & smoked Swiss crostini:It seems like a bit of an odd combination, but it really worked. The crostini were crunchy but not too hard and the Swiss & peaches paired nicely.
I chose the pasta bake for my entree:Rigatoni with zucchini, squash, and tomato in a basil cream sauce. There were bread crumbs on top. This was very tasty, but I'm not sure I enjoyed it that much. I've decided that the problem was the heat. When it's hot, and when I am out in the hot sunshine, my appetite is suppressed. I cannot eat a lot. I don't really like to eat hot foods. I had already had an alcoholic drink (which sometimes suppresses my appetite) plus pimiento cheese dip & chips, a salad, and a lot of crostini, so I was pretty full, I had a small appetite to begin with, and I was still kind of hot and this dish was piping hot, so it just wasn't working for me.
However, I ate the leftovers for lunch on Sunday and really, really enjoyed the pasta bake.
SP chose the take on ratatouille:White rice covered with chickpeas, veggies, and potatoes in a light curry flavored sauce. He really enjoyed it. Like me, he was hot and kind of full, so he also took most of his meal home for lunch on Sunday.
Our server offered us a dessert of vanilla ice cream with nutella or a freshly made peach sauce. The homemade local peach sauce sounded really good and we were tempted, especially when he said there was a small size portion, but we were just too full.
We enjoyed Tin Front Cafe. We'd go back. Next time, I'd like to try the breakfast/lunch dishes at Tin Front Cafe. I saw some reviews online that complained of horrible service. Our service was very good. Plus, many of those reviews were dated in the first month or two after they opened. I wish it had been busier because we'd like for it to be successful. The Waterfront prosperity does not necessarily spill over into that area of Homestead, and that's too bad. We did notice a few new places opening up along that stretch plus we've heard good things about Blue Dust, which is in the area.
Did I mention that we were stuffed full of food and drink and still feeling hot and sweaty? We had been planning to end our date day at Te Cafe, but neither of us felt as if we could handle putting more into our tummies, not even tasty tea! So we headed home, with a brief stop at Giant Eagle Market District for some treats for later in the evening:We shared the huge lady lox around 10 pm that night. It was good, but not as good as the ones at Bethel Bakery. We tried a bit of the lemon cake on Sunday after lunch and to our surprise it was very, very tasty.The icing was not the thick, hard, sweet icing we expected; it was very light and creamy. The cake itself was moist and light and the lemon filling was not too tart. Definitely a good choice from the GEMD bakery.
Saturday was definitely a lovely date day with my sweetie pie!