Monday, February 13, 2012

A Show & Dinner

It seems to me that on two-thirds of the weekends so far in 2012, the weather has been awful. Overall, it's been a nicer than usual winter, but those nice days seem to be during the week. When the weekend rolls around and we're ready to go out, more often than not, it has been gosh darn cold and snowy. Miserable. Since January, I can remember trips to Bocktown, Rose Tea Cafe, Silk Elephant, Pino's - all freezing cold and/or snowy/slushy. This past weekend also was bitterly cold and snowy. Good thing SP got me earmuffs a couple years ago!

I mention the weather, again, because we had a date day planned, and it couldn't be cancelled due to weather because we had tickets to the 2 pm 'Billy Elliot' show at the Benedum. We left earlier than we normally would leave in case of bad roads and/or traffic, especially since there also was a 2 pm Pens game. Of course since we left extra early there wasn't any traffic and we were 45 minutes early!!! Plus, the roads were perfectly fine. 'Billy Elliot' was very good - I think Sunday was the last day, but if you have a chance to see it somewhere else or if/when it comes to Pittsburgh again, it's worth seeing. After the show, we went to dinner at a restaurant we've been wanting to try: Spoon.
SP likes to make our reservations online using Open Table. When he made our dinner reservation a week in advance, the only time available that would work for us was 5 pm (we didn't want to have a reservation as late as 8 or 9 pm because then we'd have to figure out something to do for 3 hours). We were a little concerned about the length of the show and then getting over to Spoon by 5 pm, but we went ahead and made the reservation anyway.

Of course the show ran until about 4:45 pm, then we had to wait for an elevator to get to our car on the 9th floor of the parking garage, then we had to sit in traffic to get out of the garage, then onto the road, and then we had to navigate the snowy/slushy roads over to Spoon. Seriously, City of Pittsburgh, how can you not plow/treat major roads like Penn and Liberty and Fifth? We went from clear roads near the Benedum to slushy and slippy messes on the roads in East Liberty.

We called Spoon right as we were leaving the parking garage to let them know we were running late and that if it was a problem, we could cancel and reschedule. They said it wasn't a problem. Happily, Spoon has valet parking located in front of Brgr, which was nice since we were running late and it was cold and snowy. Our table was ready for us. We were seated near the couches in the bar area next to a window at a table for two.

Spoon is very comfortable feeling inside. Relaxing. Deep brown and terra cotta colors. Low lighting. Dark wood. I settled in and perused the wine menu, deciding to try the featured white wine. I do not remember the specifics of the wine. Our receipt says 'GL Perrin.' I recall that it was a blend of white, including viognier, and that's what made me choose it since in the past year or so I've become a big fan of viognier.

I remember writing back in April/May 2010, after our honeymoon in Savannah/Charleston, that when we dined at The Charleston Grill on the last night of the trip, it was the first time I'd ever ordered a glass of wine and then been offered the chance to taste it first before having my glass filled. Dinner at Spoon is now the second time. Our server poured a taste for me before pouring a full glass. It was a delicious wine, one I would order again, if only I could recall the specifics!
We ordered our food and a bread basket arrived. It had three treats, two of each: french bread, dill cornbread, and cream cheese & chive biscuit.
I do not especially enjoy cornbread, but I tried it anyway because I do really enjoy dill. This was a very tasty cornbread muffin.
My favorite was the cream cheese & chive biscuit. I broke it in half to spread a bit of butter on the interior. Look at the cream cheese globs - yum!
The bread was tasty, too, and we each used our bread to mop our appetizer bowls clean!!! I chose the Lamb & Gnocchi:
Braised lamb shoulder, fresh made ricotta gnocchi, cipollini onions, local foraged mushrooms, shaved Ewe’s Dream romano. Whenever I order gnocchi, I feel like I am taking a risk. Gnocchi are deceptive. They seem easy to make, but really there is a large margin for error. They can be gummy or doughy or bland instead of soft, pillowy delights. These were pillowy delights nestled in tasty lamb and sauce.

SP chose Roasted Mushroom + Fennel Soup:
Crab ravioli, roasted garlic creme fraiche, truffle essence. It was a huge ravioli with lots of crab. He loved this soup.

For my entree, I chose Fresh Made Pappardelle Pasta:
Forest mushrooms, fresh chestnuts, roasted red peppers + eggplant, pickled pearl onions, sherry cream sauce. I love pappardelle pasta. This dish had several flavors I really like: mushrooms, roasted red peppers, and eggplant. It was delicious. I could have devoured the entire dish, but I wanted to save room for dessert.

SP chose Tandoori Spiced King Salmon:
Braised lentils, potato samosa, yellow curry, tomato + red pepper stew, Riverview Farms goats milk yogurt. He said the salmon was the star of the plate, as it should be. He said he enjoyed everything else, too, but for some reason I had the impression that he didn't really enjoy the lentils. ? Maybe it's just that he didn't devour every morsel on his plate at record breaking speed, like he usually does.

Rarely do I order a side in addition to an entree, especially if I order an appetizer. But one side caught my eye: Forest Mushroom + Brie Cheese Strudel:
Mushroom and brie in a pastry? What's not to like? It was delicious. SP made the mistake of excusing himself from the table right around the time I decided to cut into the strudel. When he returned, it was gone. I didn't save him any. It was that tasty. I used the excuse that I know he doesn't really like brie and that usually he doesn't like white dough pastry. He gave me 'the look' but didn't seem too sad to miss out on the strudel.
It was around this time that I finally noticed that etched into the bottles of water was the Spoon logo.
I decided to order a decaf coffee after dinner. I wanted something hot to warm me up before heading back out into the cold. I was pleasantly surprised by the arrival of a large French Press, which had a little over 3 cups worth of coffee in it.
This was a delicious, dark coffee, lots of flavor.
We decided to share dessert. Spoon Bar:
Bailey’s coco bar, milk chocolate nougat frozen mousse, semi-sweet chocolate pudding. We couldn't pass up a chance to try this dessert, which was recently listed in Grub Street New York's Totally Sweet: 101 of America's Most Crazy-Awesome New Desserts. It was delicious. 

We really enjoyed our dinner at Spoon. Despite arriving 20-25 minutes past our reservation time, we were not rushed. Our server (Alyssa M it says on our receipt) was friendly and answered questions we had (like my usual garlic query!). We loved the rich, dark, inviting atmosphere. The tables are nicely spaced so we weren't on top of anyone, getting jostled, or overhearing conversations. Or worse, realizing that people were listening to our conversations! Our meal was well paced. We will go back. It is more of a 'special occassion' restaurant since with wine, appetizers, entrees, coffee, dessert, a side, tax, and tip our bill was $100+. What can I say? We have food control issues! SP can't pass up tasty soup, I can't pass up dessert, and sometimes, after driving through the crappy winter streets, you just need a glass of wine! And then some coffee to warm up!
Spoon on Urbanspoon

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