So on a frigid Sunday morning, I bundled up with a scarf, coat, gloves, boots, and my new ear muffs; I flipped my hood over my head; and, since it was sunny and I was squinting in the brightness, I perched my sunglasses precariously on my nose (the ear muffs made it difficult to get them on properly, even though these ear muffs supposedly are easy to wear with glasses) and we set off. I felt like I could barely move because I was so bundled up! We left around 11 am for an 11:30 am reservation. It was Sunday and usually there's no traffic, so we figured a half an hour was enough time.
That was the case - we zipped from Robinson to between the river & the Convention Center in 15 minutes. And then we sat and sat and sat in horrible traffic trying to get to Smallman Street. Once we finally turned left on Smallman, it took us another 15 minutes to go not even a block to the valet parking area in front of Eleven. We had to call Eleven and explain that we were indeed still coming and were, in fact, about 100 feet from their front door, but stuck in traffic. Apparently all of Pittsburgh decided to go the The Vatican Splendors exhibit at the Heinz History Center on its last day.
We finally made it inside Eleven, peeled off our layers of clothing, and settled in at our table. Eleven serves Sunday brunch from 11 am until 2 pm. There's a prix fixe brunch option, which includes appetizer and entree plus your choice of fresh juice, featured wine, or brunch cocktail for $25 (menu here). After all that traffic fun, we were more than ready to order a brunch cocktail! Bloody Mary for SP; Red Sangria (red wine, blueberry, mint, lime, cranberry juice, fresh fruit) for me:
SP really liked his Bloody Mary. I enjoyed my sangria. The balance of wine-juice was such that it wasn't too alcoholic. I tasted more cranberry juice than wine. But that was OK since I was sort of battling sinus discomfort and had taken a sinus pill earlier that morning.
Soon enough, the 'bread' basket arrived. Mini blueberry muffins and banana nut muffins, a croissant, and buttermilk biscuit.They were served with a honey butter and kumquat jelly. I really liked the mini blueberry muffins. They had a nice cinnamon flavor. I didn't try the banana nut ones but SP said they were very good. The biscuit topped with the butter and jelly was very tasty. We split the croissant, which was wonderfully flaky (so yes, a bit messy) and it tasted buttery good.
For my appetizer, I chose Goat Cheese Doughnuts (truffled local wildflower honey, toasted walnuts. blood oranges):Oh these were good. Three round donuts with a soft, doughy interior and just the right amount of crispness on the exterior. Yum! SP was a little healthier with his appetizer choice, the Three Greens salad (radicchio, endive, arugula, goat cheese vinaigrette, roasted sweet peppers):He ate it so quickly that it was gone before I had a chance to taste it! I guess it was tasty.
For his entree, SP chose the Crabcake Sandwich (Old Bay mayo, fennel, pickle, fries):He said it was very good, lots of crabmeat, but he only ate half of it. I didn't try any of it, mostly because I was getting full from my entree, Eggs Benedict (English muffin, hollandaise, black truffle, Surryano ham, citrus salad):I ate the entire plate of food. This made me feel like a little piggy since SP ate only half his fries and half his sandwich while I hoovered up all the tasty segments of blood orange & grapefruit plus all the eggs benedict with very yummy ham and hollandaise on what are the best English muffins I have ever eaten plus the well poached eggs (I asked for well poached). Very tasty.
Of course we couldn't pass up dessert! We both were full and didn't want an entire dessert each, so we decided to share the Blood Orange-Mascarpone Cannoli (Marsala caramel, Marcona almonds): Three cute, little cannoli stuffed with a very creamy filling that had an orange flavor. So good!We split the dessert, but honestly, these were so good that I think I could have eaten them all by myself! SP said the same thing. Of course, sharing was the prudent thing to do - I didn't leave feeling like an over-stuffed turkey.
We've enjoyed dinner and lunch at Eleven before; this was our first brunch there. It was just as tasty as dinner/lunch. The service was just as good. Servers are discreet. They are ever present without being too noticeable. Plates are promptly cleared - but only after asking if the plate may be cleared. Water is refilled promptly (remember that SP drinks a lot!). Our server was very knowledgeable about the menu, offered suggestions, brought us a second bread basket and even wrapped the leftover bread basket goodies with SP's leftover sandwich/fries. A nice touch: you receive a tag with a number on it and claim your leftovers at the hostess station when leaving.
The valet was very good, too, on what could not have been a very easy day with all that traffic. He was friendly, not frazzled, working quickly and efficiently but not like a crazed lunatic, and pulled our car off to the side of the restaurant where there is a ramp to make things easier for us when we left.
As usual, a terrific dining experience.