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
 
 
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
 
 
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
 
 
Have you ever felt a little less than classy carrying the evening’s brews in your purse?
Maybe you decided not to go with the forty in the paperbag this time.
Maybe it’s more of a small bag/clutch kind of night. 
Maybe you’re worried about a purse full of beer/wine and a wet phone should you be trying to run in the rain while wearing flip flops (we've all attempted that one, 50/50 chance of a fall) while carrying your precious cargo in your bag of the day.
You never can tell.

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Fear not, as a gift from my mom (she knows me too well) solves the problem. Enter the “wine purse.” This stealth cylinder can hold 1 bottle of wine or 2 bottles of beer under the guise of a fashion accessory.

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Complete with it's own opener (we can't be left waiting for a server to stop by! Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands) and "seat belt" for your beverage
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In the lovely “snakeskin” model… may your adult beverages be safe.

My mom purchased this one from a store in Stow, OH, but a little googling led me to this site and of course, the greatest website ever for finding something - amazon.com also carries them.


-Ashley

 
 
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Place: Smiling Banana Leaf (Highland Park)
Date: 4/27/11
BYO'd: 1 bottle of Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin + L's bottle of cab
(the cab somehow went unopened...although it was a school night)

"Bottom Line": Great week night spot, value, tasty, and just enough spice

For our "company kick-off" / launch of first BYO review, we thought it would only be fitting to choose a lovely, close to one of the "Head Quarters" of BYOBurgh, and of course, have it be BYO.  Smiling Banana Leaf fit the bill on all accounts.  Located in HP, delish and won't put a dent in your "i need new summer shoes" budget.

Long members of the SBL fan club, typically a run down for quick take out, but for this special event, We chose to dine in.

Atmosphere:The recent renovations from late 2010 make the tiny space very welcoming, light airy and with a modern feel.
Service: Wonderful!

Appetizer: Fresh Spring Rolls with Chicken, comes with a sweet peanut sauce

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Definitely fresh, enough to share for two, and sauce to finish it off

Entrees:
L (Left): Tom Yum Soup with Noodles and Veggies(carrots, broccoli, onions, celery, scallions, and baby corn) Medium Spice. 
YUM is right! It was very tasty and the right amount of spicy that made you want to keep on eating it. (If that makes sense.)
My new favorite Tom Yum in the 'Burgh.

A (Right): Green Curry, Medium Spice.  Great flavor of curry mixed with the coconut milk, good amount of chicken, broccoli, beans and eggplant.  Cooked so it melts in your mouth.   Plus leftovers for the next day!

And everyone's favorite part - the Wine!
Gnarly Head's Old Vine Zin

We won't claim to be wine snobs, in fact we just discussed over our dinner how much of the choice when shopping for wine falls greatly on the label (note to wine makers, invest in some good graphic designers), name, and of course price.

I think this bottle recently sold for the under $9.99 range at our local Wine & Spirits on Penn Circle.
It was good, easily drinkable, not a ton of flavor, but went well with our choice of the Thai Food spice level.

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Smiling Banana Leaf on Urbanspoon