Monday, October 3, 2011

E2

Continuing our recent trend of trying new restaurants, we headed out to another new place for Saturday evening dinner date night. Once again, we made our way through the city to Bryant Street in Highland Park. This time, our destination was E2, just down the street a bit from Park Bruges (our dining destination a few weeks ago).

We arrived & found on street parking a few minutes before 6 pm. As we walked over, we noticed the outdoor sign that said "Saturday Dinner 6pm-10pm." I guess next time we venture somewhere new we should actually check the hours!! Fortunately, it really was just a few minutes before 6pm, and when one of their employees spotted us on the front porch peering inside, he opened the door and invited us in. As someone in a wheelchair, I noted that E2 is not technically wheelchair accessible as The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted in its review. There is a ramp leading to the front porch area, then a small step to enter the restaurant. Fortunately, it's a small step and we have lots of experience navigating small steps, so it wasn't really a big deal, but if you use a wheelchair and you are alone or your companion(s) cannot lift you up over a small step, then this would not be a good place. At E2, the employee who opened the door when he saw us peering inside was very helpful, holding the door for us while SP turned me backwards and got me inside -- the employee even offered to assist us in getting me up the small step and inside. That makes us happy -- we get that Pittsburgh has lots of old buildings/homes converted into retail/restaurants and they can't all easily be made accessible, but when a place tries and the employees offer assistance, we always think, hey, bonus points for this place!

Inside, the dining area is off to the left. There is a stairway in front that leads down to what I assume is a basement dining area. We waited just a few moments while the same employee readied a table for a group of 8 (who were just starting to arrive) and then seated us next to the large windows that look almost like doors. I liked being next to a window since the natural light helps photos. There was a small alcove, too, with a lamp and a vase of flowers.

I think the dining room could be termed rustic, or minimal. Definitely cozy. Walls are a shade of green similar to the shade we have in our house, so I'll say the shade is 'Laurel Leaf' because that's the shade of green we have! There are small framed photos of people and food on the wall. There's a chalkboard with the daily specials (plus a printed menu). Wooden chairs. E2 is a BYOB place with a $6 corkage fee. We did not BYOB. Aside from our general forgetfulness, one of us is still on medication that precludes drinking alcohol. E2 does have iced tea, and it is a very tasty, strong brew that we both felt was one of the better iced teas we've had at area restaurants.

The food. My goodness. There were so many dishes I wanted to try! It was tough to narrow it down. We knew we were going to share everything, but it was still a tough call. We chose two appetizers. One was Grilled Prosciutto stuffed with fresh mozz & basil:
It's a good thing we both know how to share and are willing to share because honestly, I wanted to swipe more than my fair share! There was a delightful smokey taste. Red pepper puree. Mozzarella cheese plus shaved parmesan. Here's a view inside the prosciutto roll:
We would definitely get this again. As we were debating which appetizers to order, an argument against this was that we could  make something similar at home, but sometimes the professionals really elevate a simple we-can-make-this-at-home dish, and this is one such dish. I'm not sure we could make it as tasty as this was.

I love arancini, and we both love mushrooms, so we decided on Mushroom Arancini with red sauce & shaved asiago:
This is a very filling and tasty dish. The arancini were not as creamy as ones I've had in the past, and the balls easily fell apart. But oh were they good.
Other appetizers we wanted to try but didn't were the bruschetta with mushrooms, the greens with pecans, gorgonzola, & apples, and the pan seared scallops.

SP's entree was Mushroom Risotto with radicchio & arugula:
This was very good. It took me a long time to decide that the herb I tasted must have been sage (that was after SP made a comment about it smelling like Thanksgiving!). Creamy. Mushroomy. Sagey. Delicious.

My entree was Orecchiette with braised lamb ragu:
Oh my gosh. Pasta. Lamb. Two of my favorite things. Tender, flavorful lamb. A hint of cinnamon. Plus roasted carrots & celery. This was so good. possibly one of my best ever dishes when dining out. Usually SP watches his portions, but after he ate his risotto, he kept eyeing my plate, wanting more than the few tastes he had already enjoyed. I finally relinquished control, and he hungrily devoured the lamb.

Time for dessert. Did you seriously think I'd pass on dessert at a place affiliated with Enrico's Biscotti? A place that offers beignets and the beignets are what I always hear about when it comes to brunch at E2? SP ordered a cup of decaf 'very good coffee' and it was indeed good coffee. He also ordered the biscotti with vanilla ice cream dessert:
He really enjoyed it. I tried the ice cream, but vanilla ice cream isn't my idea of dessert, even if it involves biscotti. And really, did you think I was going to pass on a donut-y dessert? Of course I ordered the beignets with blueberry sauce!
Three large, round hunks of fried dough and underneath, a spoonful or two (or three) of blueberry sauce:
Sprinkled with lots of powdered sugar. So good. They take about 15 minutes to arrive after ordering and it's worth the wait.

We really enjoyed our food at E2. All the employees were very friendly and helpful. The food was delicious. It was a cozy, relaxing atmosphere. A wonderful dinner date evening. We would definitely go back. I sure hope we go back - I didn't get to try the polenta stuffed with tallegio & eggplant capanata or the gemelli with cauliflower or the porcini cappelletti with pancetta, herbs & local corn.
E2 on Urbanspoon

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