Monday, November 9, 2009


Last night was Birthday Dinner #3 - dinner with SP at one of our favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh, Casbah. Casbah is one of the Big Burrito restaurants. Another one is Eleven, which is the restaurant I chose the past 2 years for my birthday dinner with SP. This year I decided to switch, just for something different.

Our reservation last night was for 6 pm. When we arrived, the hostess asked if we would prefer to sit out in the heated/covered patio or inside. We decided to sit inside since we sat in the heated patio area last time.

It took me a while to select a wine! Casbah has featured wines, wines by the glass, half bottles, full bottles, and wine flights (3 wines to try, priced $11-$12). I knew I wanted white, I just couldn't decide which one! Casbah's wine list is tough for me. I enjoy wine and have been to Napa/Sonoma, I've read several wine books, I think I know a bit about wine, but the list always makes me realize how little I know. The lesser known kinds are my problem. I'm just not sure what a Torrontes or Tempranillo or Nero D’Avola will taste like.

In the end, I went with a favorite, sauvignon blanc, and chose the featured 2008 Vina La Rosa La Palma, Cachapoal Valley, Chile. It was very good.

SP chose a glass of Mia's Playground Chardonnay (California). I liked it, and I don't usually like chardonnay. He liked it, too, but he liked my sauvignon blanc better.

Warning: I used my cell phone to take photos in a dimly lit restaurant! The photos are cell phone photo crappy quality. I did brighten them up a bit in Photoshop, but... quality still stinks!

To start, I chose the "crispy fresh calamari, roasted olives, eggplant, parsley,
grape leaves, preserved lemon aïoli

It was delicious! Usually calamari comes with a marinara sauce, maybe a mustard sauce, but this had no dipping sauce, just delicious goodies to spear and eat with the calamari.

SP ordered a salad: "arugula, pancetta, crimini mushrooms, potatoes, goat cheese, pancetta vinaigrette." This salad was extremely tasty. One of the best salads I've ever had.

We shared the calamari and the salad. There also was a basket of a tasty bread served with both butter and a walnut pesto. I didn't eat the walnut pesto since it had lots of garlic in it. I took a photo of the walnut pesto mound, but of course it simply looks like a black blob!For my meal, I chose "lobster: pan roasted tail, claw & knuckle mascarpone risotto, spinach, red pepper puree." Oh my gosh this was so tasty. There were lots of chunks of lobster in the risotto and the tail was easy for me to eat. I ate every single bit of food on my plate. SP inspected my tail shells to be sure I got every last bit of delicious lobster!

SP chose "Alaskan halibut: potato gnocchi, chorizo sausage, melted leeks, littleneck clams, kabocha squash, roasted tomatoes, oregano." He really enjoyed the halibut & clams and he, too, ate everything on his plate.We ordered decaf coffees to sip while we looked at the dessert menu. We were feeling pretty stuffed, but couldn't pass up the "Pumpkin Bliss: brown sugar cookies, spiced pumpkin ice cream, cinnamon caramel sauce, toffee." We shared this dessert and we left a little bit of ice cream on the plate. It was delicious. The brown sugar cookies were so flavorful and soft and the pumpkin ice cream was luscious. The caramel sauce was a very nice sauce to mop up with each bite of cookie and ice cream. I wish I could have eaten all the ice cream, but I was feeling extremely full.

Not only is the food delicious, but the service at Casbah is terrific. It is a "Mediterranean Kitchen & Wine Bar" and Mediterranean can mean garlic. I inquired about garlic in the two entrees I considered. My stomach is extremely sensitive to garlic. Garlic in certain forms can cause me to be sick within a half hour or less of eating it. Our server kindly checked with the kitchen - she didn't get that look that some servers get of 'oh no this totally stinks it's a difficult customer and now I have to go bother the kitchen.' For the lobster, she reported that the parmesan stock they cook the risotto in has garlic in it. That is OK for my stomach. She also made sure I knew the walnut pesto had lots of garlic.

A delicious birthday dinner and another delicious meal at Casbah. We will definitely be back.

1 comment:

  1. I have yet to eat at Casbah, but now that I'm going to be living right around the corner, I expect I will get around to trying it for an occasion. Sounds special.