Place: Eden (Shadyside)
Date:6/13/12
BYO'd:  1 bottle "Cabernet Franc" from Chappellet
Corkage Fee:  nada!

BYO Buzz: WOW!  The food was incredible.  Makes us see why all those Hollywood stars are raw/vegans! If I could take this chef home with me to prepare everything his way, I'd definitely think about changing my lifestyle.

Atmosphere: We sat outside on a tiny patio just below street level.  Super cute, perfect night with just a tiny chill in the air.

Service:  Theo, perhaps our new BFF, was a wonderful server!  Readily explained each dish's unique ingredients and preparation and had many useful tips when we were ordering.


This was definitely quite the departure from our last meat-filled adventure, and while both good in their own way, trying something new was really fun!

$15 Sampler

Per Theo's recommendation, we started off with the raw sampler.  The Sampler included a bite size portion (well, actually, a few bites! Each "sample" was definitely large enough to share between 2 people) of each of the Raw items on the menu.
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From Top to Bottom: Ginger Slaw Stuffed Avocado, Ruby Vegetable Cake, Bruschetta
Our first dive into the raw/vegan world!
Everything tasted extremely fresh.  We started with the veggie cake in the middle, made of beets, celery, walnuts and red pepper.  The celery gave the dish a nice crunch and the taste of the red pepper stood out well.  The  spinach and lemon drizzle also added to it's freshness.

Next was the stuffed avocado. This was A's favorite.  The crunchy slaw, cilantro and ginger flavors combined with the perfectly ripe avocado were a match made in heaven.

Our last bite on this sampler was the bruschetta. Theo mentioned they roast down the "bread" at a low oven temp for something like 16 hours!  (see what we mean with all the great info!) Again, very fresh tasting with a really great toast-like crunch, ALMOST cracker like, but better.
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From Top to Bottom: "Manicotti", "Mac 'n Cheese w/ Bacon", "General Tso's Chicken"
On to Round 2 of the Sampler.  We started with the "mac 'n cheese" as it definitely sparked the most interest.  With "noodles" made from zucchini and a "cheese" sauce from cashews and red pepper, it didn't exactly taste like your old Kraft stand-by, but the tang of the red pepper and consistency of the cashew puree might fool you a little.  Very tasty.

Next we tried the Manicotti (Zucchini "pasta" filled with another nut cheese and spinach and fresh marina.).  The marina had chunks of fresh tomato and a bright flavor.  All together this was a lighter dish.

The "General Tso's" (Mushrooms, flax, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds) rounded out the raw sampler. This was another very intriguing dish from the start, but neither of us listed it as the favorite.  The mushroom mix item was a bit dry and strange in consistency, but we both loved the spice level!

Daily Raw Special: "Ravioli

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Daily Special "Ravioli"
Just when you thought we had tried everything from the cold dishes, we ordered the daily special "ravioli." I think we could have polished off another 3 plates of this one! It was just plain delicious.  Zucchini "pasta" again, filled with a creamy walnut/pesto and a red pepper sauce drizzle.  Light, but packed a punch of flavor.  We were so surprised at the similarity the nut pesto had to a cheese.  Highly recommend this one if they have it on special!

Hot (Cooked) Dish: Eden's Tempeh Mole

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Eden's Tempeh Mole
Half because we were still a little hungry, half because we wanted to give a little love to the "HOT" dishes side of the menu, we added the Tempeh Mole to our order. The tempeh was like a meatier, firmer tofu, with a nuttier taste, and the mole sauce had a perfect smokey flavor. Theo's great recommendation to add the avocado straight into the sauce put us in the clean plate club.

Dessert Portion from the Sampler

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From Left to Right: Chocolate Cake, Seasonal Fruit with Honey, Vanilla Ice Cream Cake
Finally, dessert. Yum, Yum, Yum.  The "ice cream cake" was delicious - and almost made you think it was ice cream with a consistency similar to cheesecake.  Theo said it is made with coconut oil which is why it gets melty. The strawberry sauce on top was amazing as well - we would love to bottle that up and pour over some pancakes at brunch!

Fresh fruit with perhaps the best honey in the world.  A+.

And of course, we saved the chocolate for last.  A great ending to a great meal!

The Booze

BYOB: Chappellet. I don't know if we could have picked a better pairing if we'd tried!  Since we headed over right after yoga, a bottle of red made the most sense logistically (keeping a cold bottle of white in a heated yoga studio didn't really seem fair to the wine).  A's collection is currently made of quite a few cab sauv's, but we took a chance on  this cab franc and we couldn't have been happier.  Dark in color, tons of flavor, just the right amount of dryness, all while somehow staying really light, the wine matched our raw/vegan dishes perfectly.
Eden
 
 
Place: Cure (Upper Lawrenceville)
Date:1/27/12
BYO'd:  1 growler East End Brewing "Big Hop", plus various bottles left over from the holiday season
Corkage Fee:  $3/person
BYO Buzz: Really cool space, good vibe, and great food.  Not for the vegetarian at heart.

Atmosphere: Cozy-farmhouse.  Loved the wood and metal feel (and the hidden little pigs everywhere).  Open kitchen and coat rack made of what looked like something you might see in an actual slaughterhouse. (hence, the name of this blog was born...)

couldn't be happier the great Lawrenceville expansion keeps moving closer to the East End!

Service:  Service was good, we definitely needed a few items on the menu described and our server was very helpful and well educated on the unusual menu.


We had a special treat on this adventure! the husbands joined for the first time ever in BYOBurgh history.  Maybe it was the lure of a new spot, specializing in meat?

Apps

Salumi-lardo , mortadello , pate Campagnola , ciccioli ,chicken rillettes , cornichon, mustard, red onion
We started with the Salumi appetizer (not to be confused with salami) This was one we needed a little help deciphering the listed cured meats on the chalkboard menu, and even after it came out, we weren't entirely sure what we were eating.  But it was good!  There was a bologna with pistachios in it, pickled beets and red onions, grainy mustard, whipped pig lard  "butter" (which tasted surprisingly light), a classy spam that was made up of "pig parts" (thankfully tasteless since L was a little afraid to try the "parts") oh yeah, and rabbit liver.  At least this is what we believe we ate.  It was all interesting pretty tasty. 
Butternut Squash Soup – Venison chorizo , kale , goat cheese , crispy shallots
Still one of our favorites from the night - a creamy, velvet-y butternut squash soup.  perfect thickness for a cold rainy day, huge glob of creamy, rich goat cheese to mix in at your own preference and pieces of kale with just a slight crunch was a great match. It also had a spicy venison chorizo that added a kick to the smooth flavor of the soup. L absolutely loved it and may consider calling it the best butternut squash soup in the "burgh'.  Actually has inspired A to attempt to make a butternut squash soup this weekend.... she'll report back if it goes well....

One really neat thing on the soup was the presentation, the goat cheese and kale fixings came in the bowl and our server poured the hot soup from a cool little kettle thing right on top!

Main Courses

A went with the chicken - really good taste, rustic style, with a weird vegetable that tasted a little like mushrooms, but better (in my opinion)  Also on a bed of black olive polenta - where i totally lucked out and didn't have to share since no one else at the table liked black olives.  And hidden in there were a few cheese curds.  all-around, great stuff.
Pork Rib Roast –apple mostarda , salsify, carrot , bacon, maple
L's hubby went with the pork rib roast and when ask to comment on the taste he said that "it tasted like pig".  Thanks goodness his wife , with a much more sophisticated  palate had a taste.  My opinion is that it tasted like ham.  Just kidding :)  My bite was a very dense and fatty  piece of meat slathered in the salsified carrot, bacon and maple.  Again, another great flavor combination. 
Braised Duck– spaetzle , melted cabbage , mustard, apple
Both L and A's husband went with the duck leg/breast.  The duck was fabulous.  The duck had a crispy skin that provided a crunch while the duck seemed to melt in you mouth.  All who had a taste enjoyed!

Dessert

Pennsylvania Farmstead Cheeses
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chocolate souffle cake with pistachio butter
with one at the table who doesn't like your typical dessert, the cheese plate was a no brainer option, and of course, there's no resisting a chocolate cake either.  The cheese plate included 3 types - a soft brie-like cheese (least fav), a harder cheese, and a blue cheese-ish cheese (fav).  along with a honeyglaze soaked prunes and almonds.

The cake was superlight and fluffy, with a molten chocolate center.  the pistachios butter with sea salt and olive oil was interesting, in color and taste, a little thick and added a lot of rich savory flavor to the dish. another nice taste combo: salty and sweet.

The Drinks

A long time favorite of the groups - our local neighborhood brewery (East End Brewing)'s Big Hop.  Perfect mix of crispness and hops.  Growler from last year's Steel City Big Pour, annual event attended by the gang.

SOOOOO to recap we ate numerous animals this night :  pig, in almost every form, rabbit, deer, chicken, duck.  Needless to say we got our protein in for the day :)
Cure on Urbanspoon
 
 
if you haven't seen the newest youtube trend - spinoffs of "sh*t girls say" you must check them out, i'm sure there is one out there geared to your profession (i know of 3 geared to the advertising agencyers!).  Anywho, this one about things Chicagoans say definitely struck a chord, since that's where a's love of BYOB restaurants all started!... too funny
 
 
Place: Kaleidoscope Cafe (Lawrenceville)
Date:1/6/12
BYO'd:  Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon
Corkage Fee:  $2.50/person
BYO Buzz: Cute place - off the beaten path of Butler Street (still reminiscent of prior place, River Moon Cafe).  Good food, nice mix of choices on the menu.  Great value!

Atmosphere: Cozy,probably seats around 40 people max.   They really took the kaleidoscope theme and ran with it in the decor

Service:  Service was good, slower, but she was taking care of the entire place! 


In typical BYO-ing fashion, we split all of the below

first course - Kaleidoscope Salad

Great on this Spring-like day in January! 50+ degrees, we'll take it!
Spinach, avocado, tomatoes, roasted corn and everyone's favorite - bacon (cooked to the perfect doneness - in a's opinion).  Served with their homemade citrus-cilantro dressing.  We both thought it was a great match. The only complaint is that there wasn't enough avocado....maybe a seasonal thing???

second course - fried gnocchi with marinara
Does this sounds as exciting to as it did to us?

AHHH, the Italian tater tot;)
Lightly fried, amazing sauce, a perfect mix of salty and sweet.   Like little pasta pillows, very fluffy! AND served with cute little "gnocchi forks".

main - "The Cow Jumped Over the Blue Moon Pasta"

Great gorgonzola cream sauce tossed with fettuccine, topped with a nice portion of beef and carmelized onions.  The best bite included a little of each.  It was also served with a side of crushed nuts to top off the deliciousness.

dessert - lemon tart with berry drizzle
tart...you ain't kiddin'

Well the tart was definitely tart....very lemon-y, could have used more fluff in the filling....too dense.   Berry drizzle non existent in taste.  over powered by lemon?  The best part was the rosemary crust....it had a shortbread taste.
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The Wine

From A's dad's collection, very nice, not too bold Cab.  medium on the dry scale, if you like fruitier reds, this would not be for you.  Less sweet, which went well with our selections 

Kaleidoscope Cafe on Urbanspoon
 
 
Much like our last attempt for a BYO "night in Paris" when we tried to review Paris 66 (no longer BYO),
tonight's original excursion was thwarted.  We had scheduled to check out J'eet on Penn Ave, however, due to lack of research we showed up and it was closed.  Apparently with their new hours, they are only open for dinner Thurs- Sat.  We shall try again.  Perhaps next week.

BUT! lucky for us, our favorite city has plenty of options nearby and we moved to our next location a couple blocks away in Bloomfield - Sausalido.
_Place: Sausalido
Date:11/9/11
BYO'd: One French Red, La Vieille Ferme.  Blend, chosen based on name and label - rustic looking.
Corkage Fee:  $3/person ($6 total)
BYO Buzz: Good stuff.  Warm and filling on a rainy night.  Pricier than you might initially think. (entrees $17-$28 range)

Atmosphere: Cozy,cute chalkboard-like tables with glass mosaic inlays caught our attention immediately.   Jammin to the oldies on the sound system, followed by some hot Prince tracks (little music identity issue there, but enjoyed by our tastes)

Service:  Kevin was very friendly and informative, and patient with our slow decision making skills.
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To start- a Cannellini bean dip with EVOO and a balsamic reduction drizzled over diced tomatoes. It was served with multi-grain bread....it was no Schwebel's but it served it purpose well. The bean dip was a nice switch up, heartier.
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JINX YOU OWE ME A GLASS OF WINE :) Our first appetizer: Sweet Potato Gnoochi with a cinnamon sage reduction and toasted pecans(mostly cinnamon less on the sage taste). We thought this was such a neat idea and could have even been an entree or dessert - it was pretty sweet tasting. After the first bite we we both said "MMMMM, very seasonal," it true JINX-fashion.
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YOU HAD ME AT BACON/GOAT CHEESE....but then you lost me at zucchini Appetizer #2 Roasted Stuff Zucchini with chevre goat cheese. hickory drizzle and and bacon. It was basically loaded fries, but with zucchini. L liked it but really missed the french fry part. A liked it since it tasted mostly like bacon, actually it overwhelmed all the other stuff going on, even the goat cheese.
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THE MAIN ATTRACTION-Apparently Sausalido's specialty is their Daily risotto. We both found it very special :) Wednesday's Risotto had chicken, plum tomatoes, havarti cheese (lots of it) and spinach. It was so cheesy and so tasty! There was plenty to share, and we did. We both took some home and it was a great reheat! It was served with a salad. which they gave us 2, knowing we were splitting our entree. Homemade dressing - blend between creamy italian and ranch. good stuff!
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YUM! Was it because it tasted great or was it because it was much neede? Either way the wine was great. I will try it on a less needy day (if there ever is one) and report back. Tasty blend. The original thought was to pick a french red since we were going to J'eet (yeah, we know its not "french" but sounds like it would be.)
Sausalido on Urbanspoon
 
 
E Squared (E2) is one of our favorites and always a place that we recommend, you will leave happy!  It's a restaurant that Mr. A and Mr. L love too ;) As a foursome, we go pretty frequently, but it being in A's backyard, her and her husband are frequent visitors for dinner and their weekend brunch. The food here is amazing, unique, and so flavorful!  They have full plates and tapas to share.  The small plates are plentiful, not like other tapas places where you're cutting 1 item into 8ths to share.  Our method is to share everything and try as much as possible when it comes to E2.  The menu is always changing with what is locally available, but they do have some return appearance from crowd favorites.  We, and this is no exaggeration, order almost every "OMG" plate that is listed on the large chalkboard, and that is just to start.   We then move on to the paper menu and order a few more tapas and then on to the full plates.  So brace yourself. you are in for a long blog :)


We did mention that it is a go-to "Couple's Night" place, but this time we had dined with a few girlfriends.  Ashley2 donated her time, again, as a guest "critic"....you may remember her from our last blog on pumpkin beers.  And, A's friend who has recently moved back to the burgh, Catherine joined in the fun. 


Place: E Squared
Date:10/26/11
BYO'd: 3 Reds(Murphy Goode Pinot Noir , Carlo's Garage Steel City Red-a blend (from Enrico's in the Strip), Chapellet Mountain Cuvee, a blend)  and 1 white (Schmidtt Sonne-a Reisling)
Corkage Fee:  $6/bottle
BYO Buzz: It is AWWWWsome :) You just have to go, you won't regret it!

Atmosphere: Remodeled house, cozy dinning room feel, downstairs "bar" and waiting area is quiet and relaxing.

Service:  Always great and friendly
Appetizers a.k.a OMG's
(their words that we agree with)

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Round #1 : Gorgonzola Mess, Marinated Mozzarella, Grilled Artichoke
The "Mess"-One of the crowd favorites that I had mentioned before. it is a must if it's on the board.  It is so great.  As you can see in the pic, it is Gorgonzola mixed with a whole mess of goodness in an easy to spread form, with the perfect amount of spice to give it a kick.  I wonder how they came up with the name?

Marinated Mozz- It is a very well balanced dish.  It has a generous portion of garlic that gives it a playful kick (and keep those vampires away) coupled with the mellow taste of fresh mozz.  Throw one on the perfectly oven/gril toasted foccacia bread and you've got yourself a scrumptious app.
                                                   
                                                        Grilled Artichokes -A tasty appetizer anywhere else, but out of the three, it really had no  chance.in my opinion you can't beat the Mess, and fresh mozz is a huge fave too.  Nice accompaniment to to a piece of bread slathered in the mess and topped with one of these.


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Round #2 Local beets & arugula salad and Cannellini beans with local greens (A's fave - seriously gets the beans and greens every time.)

The arugula salad was a great match of the spicy bite of the lettuce and the honey/goat cheese that came with it. 

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Beans and greens - warm, cozy, comforting, and delicious.  what more would you want?

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Round #3 Polenta with Eggplant Caponata

Probably one of the best textures in polenta we could think of, pan fried to a crisp on the outside, chewy and full of the eggplant flavor.  Just one negative, could use more eggplant...

Round #4 DESSERT: Beignets and Brownie Mess

Seriously could have been the best brownie/icream combo I've had.  Perfectly cooked brownie, must have been homemade vanilla with the real vanilla flavoring.  To top it off, they added their homemade dark chocolate that is made with lavender and sea salt.  We certainly cleaned this mess up.

The Beignets were great too, more of a custard-y like filling versus a donut texture, lightly fried and soaked up the berry mess sauce perfectly.  For those of you who were like us
The Wine.... somehow only 1 got a picture, but it was the most interesting and fitting being from Enrico's in the strip

All 4 were emptied by the end of the night so who can complain!
The Chapellet is a favorite pass down from A's parents, their blend is great - warm yet crisp for these cool fall nights.
The Pinot was very drinkable, light without being too fruity.
Carlos Steel City Garage Red was definitely different from the rest.  A little thicker, less fruit taste, the sales person said it tastes like how the label looks, and we might have to agree, picture is always worth 1,000 words, right?
The Reisling, in efforts to prolong summer as long as possible (A2's avid goal) we thought this was a nice, less sweet version.  Paired nicely with the spiciness of a few of our choices.

Again, all in all, you can't go wrong here. 
E2 on Urbanspoon
 
 
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As soon as September rolls around, thoughts of college football, Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice lattes and of course, harvest and pumpkin falls beers begin.  Lovers of pretty much all things pumpkin, we thought we'd use this blog as our excuse to have our own taste test of whatever pumpkin beers we could get our hands on over the course of the week.  We ended the shopping trips with 14 beers to try. The night was extremely fun and something we plan to try for "Christmas" beers as well.  However, this time we will know what to expect the next morning...and our readers will know to expect quirky descriptions.  Our way of describing the beer flavor is a lot like the way L gives directions: drive to the red house, make a left and go straight until you see the one place we went to that party that one time where you feel down the stairs, then make a right...scatteredand hilarious .
                                                                                                ENJOY :)

Notably missing from the list: infamous pumpkin beers - Dogfish head Punkin (very good one! but couldn't find at a bar/6 pack shop any where around here) and Southern Tier's Pumpking (A isn't too much of a fan, although it might be the MOST pumpkin pie like beer, the sweetness and strong alcohol aftertaste are negatives to me).

Also notable - guest event attendee and avid BYOBurgh reader Ashley2 also shared in the fun and helped us breakdown all 14 brews.

(the findings on Friday night were worth the headaches on Saturday)


Place: A's house
Date: 10/14/11
BYO'd: 14 pumpkin beers & 2 large Pizza Sola pies
Corkage Fee:  belly scratches for Barley, A's 20lb schnoodle
BYO Buzz: Except for 3-4 brews, it was seeming like all pumpkin ales taste a lot alike

Service:  We treated ourselves pretty well :)
Full Disclosure: Comments should be taken with consideration after about the 6-7th brew tried as our "judgment" may have gotten a little hazy.  You might be able to tell which ones were the last few just by the comments noted.

The original thought/measurement system was to grade each on a scale of 1-3 in the Pumkininess, Spices, and overall beer taste categories, but we kinda forgot to do that so it turned into just a bunch of adjectives worthy of giving you the real deal on these guys.  However we never forgot to swirl it around in the glass and swish it around in our mouth.  True connoisseurs.


(Our Set up -Work in Progress)
In No Particular Order (mostly because we can't quite remember)

SmuttyNose Pumpkin Ale (Utica, NY)
Hoppier, Much more IPA taste.  It definitely had enough pumpkin to distinguish it from other IPAs, but not a ton of pumpkin flavor.  ditto on the spices.  Overall, drinkable, good for those who enjoy plentiful amounts of hops in their beers.

Blue Point Pumpkin Ale (Long Island)
Weaker beer (= easy to drink, watch out!), very little pumpkin taste (as noted by L's husband "I'm not getting any pumpkin here," also nicely referred to as Pumpkin Water... but in a good way.

Hoppin Frog Double Pumpkin Ale (Akron, OH)
This is the big, 22oz bottle in the pic at the top.  Good taste overall,  hint of granny smith apples maybe, very seasonal.  STRONG!  Also taste of cloves present.

Thirsty Dog Barktoberfest (Akron, OH)
This might have been #14 of 14 we tried,  although not a pumpkin beer, how can you resist a fall beer named Barktoberfest?! Plus Thirsty Dog makes some great beers (shout out Akron!-A is an Ohio girl) our thoughts here were it tastes very seasonal, Something you'd want to drink wearing a wool sweater, stouty, tastes like Fall in a Bottle, and a favorite comment on this one: Tastes like raking leaves (but in a good way)

Wolaver's Organic Pumpkin Ale (Middlebury, VT)
Brewed with Vermont Pumpkins! well you can definitely taste pumpkins in this one, wheaty, pale-ale version of a pumpkin beer. Fondly referred to as "Dirt that Works", we think they might have thrown the entire pumpkin, stems and all into the tank for brewing, there was a distinct earthly taste here.  fav comments on this one: something you might drink while in the field spiking pumpkins and wearing a tie-dye shirt and socks with sandals mmmmmaaaaaannnn ; ). 

New Holland's Ichabod Pumpkin Ale (Holland, MI)
While low on the pumpkin flavor scale, this ended up being one of the better all around fall beers.  Good spice level, darker beer... seemed dangerous (based on the headless pumpkin man on the label)


Sarnac Pumpkin Ale (Utica, NY)
"The Natty Light of Pumpkin Ales"... but in  good way.  Light, not real pumpkiny.  More wheaty or yeasty than others.  Good autumn taste though. not heavy on spice either.

Shocktop Pumpkin Wheat (St. Louis, MO)
This was a lighter, most crisp tasting of all beers in this sampling.  Would be good for those warm fall days, not as spicy as others, had a clean, refreshing taste, little pumpkin, more harvest-taste though. Could be a good everyday beer when you want something with more flavor in your wheat beer.

Michigan Brewing Screamin' Pumpkin Spiced Ale (Webberville, MI)
This is DEFINITELY one of those few that stood out from the crowd in Pumpkin ales.  There was a very Holiday taste here, think Thanksgiving + happy hour all rolled into one.  This is one that you can drink slowly and enjoy.  (since it is so flavorful, you probably wouldn't drink more than 1-2 at a time) We could taste vanilla, cinnamon, something that reminded us of cream soda or rootbeer.  Even the smell took your thoughts to turkey, stuffing, and pies.

Buffalo Bill Pumpkin Ale (Seattle, WA)
This was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" by L. although we're still not sure why.  (this might have been beer #10 in line, the notes are getting harder to read).  Good flavor, left you wanting a little more pumpkin, good cinnamon flavor made it nice for early October.  Smooth.  Tasty.  A & A2 "Tastes like beer.... with a little spice"

Taking some creative license after a few rounds:
Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin Ale (Utica, NY)
This was also very close to the end... Notes: If you like beer, you'll like this.  Tastes like all the other pumpkin beers.  Tasty, nothing special to call out on spice or pumpkin.  lighter in color and taste

South Hampton Pumpkin Ale (Saratoga Springs, NY)
Good beer taste, seasonal, authentic, ale-y in flavor. Tastes like pumpkins picked at the beginning of harvest, not really ripe or sweet.

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale (Easton, PA)
THIS WAS BY FAR THE LEAST FAVORITE.  Strong alcohol taste, "cardboardy",  clovey, just ok drinkabliity,   more Christmas than fall holidays.  After going back through all 14 for their second try..."its not SO bad..."

O'Fallon Pumpkin Beer (O'Fallon, MO)
Another one that kind of blends in with the crowd.  Good, seasonal.  notable spice (cinnamon, clove, autumness), lacking in pumpkin flavor.  overall a good one.
After all was said and done, these 5 were the winners in our very humble, slightly tipsy opinion.
From L-R
O'Fallon, Buffalo Bill, Screamin' Pumpkin (Michigan Brewing), Post Road (Brooklyn Brewing) and SmuttyNose
 
 
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Our fans have requested a harsher review and that's what we are planning to give to Kanok.  We didn't want to do it, hence the 4 weeks of "post procrastination", but here it is.  Also it's been a busy summer, vacations, all consuming periods of watching "The Wire" on HBO Go (amazing show!) and so forth, but we bring to you our first negative review....


Place: Kanok
Date:8/17/11
BYO'd: Ménage a trois White
Corkage Fee:  $5 total for wine bottle
BYO Buzz: Can get better take-out for half the price - (see our review of this joint - SBL)

Atmosphere: Looks swanky and modern, golden silverware and accents, BEST music selection (waiter said it was Jason Mraz station on Pandora).

Service:  it was good, pleasant....we got our food so that's a plus.

Appetizer--Crab Wonton

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Kee Mao Noodles--eaten by A

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 Kee-mao spicy noodle dish.  (note a "2" spicy at this joint is SPI-CY!!) was ok.  again nothing stand outish.  I've definitely had more flavorful spicy noodle dishes at other Thai places.  This was ehh.  One thing to point out - the chick in the dishes was very good.  There was a bout a 2 month span where the chicken bits in thai and chinese dishes was really creeping A out, but so was not the case here.  From the 2 views of the dish, its a plentiful portion and made a good dent but took home the rest for lunch the next day... except the hubby stole it and took it with him.

Spicy Basil Chicken--eaten by L

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Stir-fried with spicy basil sauce, bell pepper, onion, bok choy, and basil leaf served with jasmine rice. 

I am a huge sucker for jasmine rice, which was tasty.  The meal itself was your run of the meal Thai chicken dish.  It wasn't bad, it wasn't great.  To say it eloquently,  it was "eeehhhh". 

I agree with A about the non creepy chicken.  Another plus was the spicy level.  A two worked perfect for me.  It wasn't too spicy, but spicy enough for me that it kept my mouth watering....to bad the food itself didn't do it for me.


Dessert-Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango--eaten by both ; )

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Well, it was what it said: white sticky rice with mango.  Mango was mango, rice was........sticky.

Our favorite part of this dinner---The WINE--Ménage a trois White

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The website describes it as: Three different grapes add up beautifully in our Ménage à Trois White. Chardonnay lends its firm, rich character, while Muscat shows up wild and exotic, and Chenin Blanc plays a soft supporting role. Together they produce one show-stopping wine

L describes it as YUMMY:).  A will give that a ditto.

Kanok Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon
 
 
We're Back!  Sorry for the delay, school ending, busy work, out of town and a little crowd surfing at the Weezer concert kept us from BYO-ing!

But we're back with a really great review of Cafe Zhino.
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Place: Cafe Zhino
Date: 6/29/11
BYO'd: The Shepard Sauvignon Blanc
Corkage Fee:  $5 total for wine bottle

BYO Buzz: All around EXCELLENT

Atmosphere: Super cute - think it was an old garage renovated into a tiny little restaurant.  We sat outside - sidewalk by street and enjoyed the great weather.  There is something about chilled white wine and a restaurant patio the screams summer to us.  I took a peek inside and it was tempting since it was so homey and quaint, but ultimately the  gorgeous weather won in the end.    (i mean we do live in Pittsburgh, gotta make use of those weather days when we get them!)

Service: Fantastic - great delivery of the specials (we fully bought into the Figs stuffed with bleu cheese and soup of the day - chilled melon)  and our server's recommendation to "chase the fig with our melon soup". 
They also went out of their way to split everything on separate plates for us (we went halvsies on everything this time because we couldn't decide on one thing and it was a great idea!)  Take a look at this menu and tell me if you could pick just one.
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You gonna eat all that corn bread?.....YES WE ARE!!
So this place has a Mediterranean feel right, but then, out of nowhere, cornbread.  And, not just any cornbread, like the best I've had.  It was a very pleasant surprise. We give it 2 corny thumbs up    :) 
Bleu cheese stuffed fig with a balsamic glaze coupled with a cold melon soup.  The way that these two dishes of opposite taste and distinction work together is like a promotion of world peace.  If a fig with both tart cheese and glaze works so well with a sweet mouthwatering cold soup, can't we all just get along?  And now that we've got you thinking so deeply, let us ask you another plaguing question.....What the heck is the difference between a fig and a date?
Wild mushroom ravioli with an amazing zesty tomato sauce, when going halvsies, three a piece.  We could have had 12 each. With a sauce so brightly orange we wondered if perhaps carrots might have been involved?
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Clean Plate Club Members!
Think this picture sums up our feelings towards the main dish (and wine).  You know the dish is good when you barely talk while eating it.  Although not actually pictured, this is the second appearance of the cornbread.  We didn't feel embarrassed swiping the remainder of sauce up with my cornbread, L is the President of THE Clean Plate Club and A is the VP.
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Lavender cheesecake with a berry and vanilla glaze.  In the words of Ned Flanders it was "scrumditaly-umptious".  Our rationale for getting this dessert was the pure fact that it had lavender in it and we needed it to help us get to sleep later that night.....like the whole bottle of wine wouldn't do the trick.  (L was out by 9 o'clock that night, A made it to 9:30)
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L might be the President of the Clean Plate Club, but A is the President of the Empty Bottle Club.  Together they have co-founded the CPAEBC otherwise known as the......uhh see above :)

What a lovely surprise "The Shepherd" was.  From the Napa region and flavorful, yet light, this was a not too sweet with a tad more than a hint of tart wine.  Went great with all of our selections and warm sunny day.  I'd definitely buy this wine again, a good white (for A anyway) is kind of hard to come by. I could try to guess the fruit -ish flavors, but i'd be making it up... lets just say it was emptied quickly.
Cafe Zinho on Urbanspoon
 
 
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Place: Tamarind - Flavor of India
Date: 5/17/11
BYO'd: Robert Biale Vineyard Zinfandel
(From A's parents' collection) *see blog post "Wine Shopping!"
Corkage Fee:  $5 total for wine bottle"

BYO Buzz": Good food, decent price

Atmosphere: Homey--makes sense since it looks like a house turned into a restaurant.  We were seated in the lovely front "bay window" area.  Was light and bright, nice view of Craig street.

Service: AttentiveThey were like service spies.  I always had what I needed, but never remembered getting it.  Maybe it was magic? Or maybe I was so into the conversation. 
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Appetizer:  Naan--the OG (no spices added)

SURPRISE!!!!! Dipping sauce Whoo hooo! (Doesn't take much to impress us)
If we had to guess our take on the flavors from back to front:
1. Brown Sauce - sweet, then a little spicy... something in there reminded A of a breakfast food, not syrup, maybe cinnamon? Was voted favorite sauce by both.

2. White Sauce -  Something pureed, perhaps cauliflower? very fresh, maybe a hint of garlic?

3. Green Sauce - also very fresh tasting, pesto? A little basil? didnt matter, we ate it all.
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Entree:
Chicken Korma (A) Right--
Light tasting, not too spicy or sweet, perfect for  some Indian comfort food on a gross rainy night (wait - isnt that every night in Pittsburgh lately??)  Green beans on the side were also a nice addition - sweet but subtle (curry?) flavor to them.

Chicken Tikka Masala (L) Left-
-Green peppers with chicken in a tomato cream sauce.The sauce was so great I could have eaten just that along with my side of rice.  Chicken was just a protein plus.
(A's note: I second the sauce, i think i could have drank it! perfect blend of tomato and other flavors... need it bottled up as a soup!)
The Drink:  Robert Biale Vineyard Zinfandel
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Really nice bottle of wine.  Surprised A's parents let her take it.  Very popular among red zin drinkers.  Dry, Crisp, went nicely with the indian food, surprisingly.Believe it or not, we recorked it and sent half a bottle back with "A".  Not sure it being a "school night" was the true, honest reason for that.  Turns out screaming your lungs out all night long in your long-neck bottle microphone at "Charlie Murdoch's" has a two day recovery time.  We are not spring chickens anymore :  (  But a great birthday weekend nonetheless. 
Tamarind Flavor of India (Oakland) on Urbanspoon