Monday, January 16, 2012

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week: The Cozy Cafe

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which means SP has a work holiday. Today is also the first day of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week. We decided to venture out in the warmer & somewhat sunny weather in order to try a new place for lunch: The Cozy Cafe.
The Cozy Cafe is located in the West End. SP drives past it every day on his work commute and whenever we head into town, we drive past. Every time we drive past, we say, gee, we really should try that place, it looks cute, there always seems to be available street parking, why have we never gone?
It is indeed cozy inside. There's a counter in front when you enter. We saw several people picking up to go orders and/or coffee. The woman behind the counter said she would be right with us, or we could seat ourselves. So we did. We sat next to a window. The walls are painted orange-red, there's a very cool clock above the fireplace, a TV in one corner (tuned in to ESPN, which was fine with us because SP is not yet tired of the high-lights of the NY Giants victory over Green Bay last night). I like the mis-matched chairs and tables. It's not dim, but it's not bright. It's cozy and inviting.
SP ordered fresh brewed iced tea. I wanted hot tea and chose Earl Grey. I didn't see the entire tea selection, but there are several varieties from which to choose. My Earl Grey was from Harney & Sons, which made me happy because that is one of the tastier Earl Grey teas (in my opinion). I like that I was served a teapot of hot water and a tea bag, so I could brew it for as long/as little as I wanted and I could easily remove the teabag to prevent over-brewing. I also liked the adorable teacup. Yes, I am a sucker for cute things like this. Teacups like this seem to make the tea taste better - and I am well aware that's just in my head!
The PRW special is 2 sandwiches, 2 sides, and 2 beverages for $20. When we found out the soup of the day was a potato soup, we knew right away that was going to be one of our sides:
I had been thinking potato soup, not baked potato soup, so when I saw the huge, steaming bowl of creamy potato soup with real bacon bits and grated cheese, well, I squealed aloud in delight! It was very tasty.
Huge chunks of potatoes, but they were soft enough to cut with the soup spoon. Just enough bacon to have a bit of bacon flavor in every bite, but not too much. The same with the cheese. It was a big bowl of soup - very nice size, especially since we shared and SP loves soup and I love soup when it's creamy and bacony and cheesy!!

For our other side we chose a salad:
 Lettuce (not iceberg) with tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese and balsamic dressing on the side:
Very tasty balsamic dressing. There are other dressings, too, I just like balsamic a lot so I always order balsamic.

The menu we saw was a bit smaller than the menu online, plus there were some items on it that are not on the online menu. Perhaps the sandwiches change on a daily basis? Whatever the case, there were still more than enough options. We decided to order sandwiches we both would enjoy so we could share.

First, this one:
Chicken, sun dried tomatoes, provolone, spinach panini. I think the menu said panini, and this was certainly grilled like a panini, but the bread seemed to be a pita, which is fine with us because it was tasty. The entire panini was very tasty. Sometimes pita seems to be simply a vehicle to get the filling to your mouth, but this pita-like panini bread had a nice flavor. Here's a close up of the interior:
 Our second choice was mushroom and feta with roasted peppers on toasted wheat bread:
I was so full after the soup, salad, and half the panini that I didn't try my half the mushroom sandwich. I got it boxed to bring home. SP loved this sandwich. He said he liked it better than the chicken panini! Close up view:
We both really enjoyed the sandwiches and soup & salad. The teas were good, too. It was a bit of a hectic day for them. I think the chef's mom was filling in for his wife, who was home with their sick child, and mom had just reported for work right before we arrived, so she was unsure of the PRW special. But she was apologetic and offered an explanation, and when a restaurant does that, it makes it OK. We had printed out the PRW special ahead of time, so I showed her our print out, which was much appreciated, and the chef came out to talk to us, take our order, etc., and also apologized for any issues from the hectic day. Not a problem. The Cozy Cafe seems to truly be a family business, which is nice to see.

I also loved the plates. The patterns seemed so... cozy!

Cozy is definitely a good word to describe this cafe. Friendly. Family business. Those are also great words to describe it. SP & I were talking on our drive home and we aren't quite sure how to put into words what it felt like there, the atmosphere, but it was different from anywhere we've been in Pittsburgh. That's not to say this place is oh so unique or that something similar doesn't exist in Pittsburgh, we've certainly been in similar cozy cafes in other cities, but this place isn't just a coffee shop, not a bakery, not just take out, not a bar, diner hours but not a diner, cozier and friendlier than a chain sandwich/coffee/tea place... we just really liked it and we are very glad we at last went today. We would love to go again, the only thing stopping us is that The Cozy Cafe has diner hours (Monday-Friday 7 am - 3 pm, Saturday. 8 am - 2 pm) so we cannot go for a quick dinner after work, and since SP works in the city, we cannot stop in for breakfast or lunch. We'll have to make an effort to get there for Saturday breakfast/lunch!

The Cozy Cafe on Urbanspoon

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