Monday, January 30, 2012

Waffalonia


After our dinner at Silk Elephant on Saturday, we crossed the street to get dessert at Waffalonia. I hadn't been to Waffalonia since last April. At that time, I thought the liege waffle was tasty, but not so tasty as to make me frequently crave them.

That changed this time. When we entered, I started studying the menu board, trying to decide which toppings would make the tastiest waffle. Nutella? Chocolate? Ice cream? Then my eyes fell downward, drawn to a sign for their Holiday Waffle. Liege waffle with chocolate ganache and peppermint whipped cream. I knew instantly I had to have the Holiday Waffle. It was so tasty! I wish this waffle could be a year round waffle. I love the combination of chocolate and mint, and the waffle seemed tastier this time.

SP & I shared one waffle. We were pretty full from dinner. It was so tasty that I wanted a second waffle, but in the end, I decided to not have another. Or at least SP decided for me since he piled the bags on my lap again and pushed me out the door and down the street to Te Cafe.

Part two of dessert was tea at Te Cafe. We hadn't been there in a while, either. We bought some tea to replenish our supplies (sadly, they were again out of the Lemon Spice). I wanted to try something new, so I tried a special of the day: cranberry clementine. It was OK. Maybe I was just too full or maybe I don't like cranberry flavor as much as I thought, but this wasn't one of my favorite teas. The hot tea did help me warm up since it was really windy and thus very cold. I felt like a mummy, my neck & lower face wrapped in a scarf, winter coat zipped all the way up, ear muffs, gloves, hood on my head. I wish the nice 50 degree winter weather would happen on the weekends and not during the week!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Silk Elephant

After a windy and chilly Saturday zipping around to get my hair cut, find new boots for SP (2 pairs!), and assorted other errands, we were hungry. The mall food court Subway sandwich (me) and Sakkio chicken with vegetables (SP) for lunch  hadn't left us particularly satisfied. We had been meaning to get back to Silk Elephant for quite some time, so that's what we decided to do. Silk Elephant has been certified by Thailand as serving authentic Thai food. Long time readers of this blog know that we both enjoy this restaurant. It has many tapas that I enjoy and the spicy Thai flavors that SP loves (and I don't). We arrived around 5:30 (surprisingly, there wasn't any traffic going into town) and were seated right away. It was wonderfully warm and cozy inside. I was happy to see that they still have the elephant trunk utensils!
I ordered a glass of Tempranillo Marques de Arienzo 2002 Rioja Spain. I wanted to try something different, and I figured that since '2002 Rioja Spain' was the only part I recognized, this wine qualified as different! It was pretty tasty. I looked up tempranillo and it's a black grape used to make full bodied red wines mostly in it's native country, Spain.

As usual, I ordered several tapas for my meal. Our server brought out 2 as an 'appetizer,' 3 in the 'middle' for us to share, and 1 for me while SP ate his entree. I ordered my usual tapas plus two new ones to try.

I ordered the Silk Elephant Rice Wrapper Rolls, with cream cheese & crab filling.
Moo & Goong Steamed Dumplings (shrimp & pork) with a very tasty ginger-sesame-soy dipping sauce:
While I ate those two tapas dishes (and shared with SP), SP ate his order of Potak Seafood Soup (shrimp, mussels, scallops, calamari, mushrooms, lemongrass. He ordered it at a level 7 spice level. There was a lot of very nice sized seafood in this soup.
Next up, Thai Shrimp & Pork Toast:
An order of Thai Crab Crowns (crab rangoon). These are my favorite of all the crab rangoon I've tried.
And I decided to deviate from my norm and try something new: Crispy Rice with Dipping Sauce. The sauce was ground shrimp, chicken, and peanut. It was really good! Not spicy. The crispy rice is good by itself, but it's really good with this tasty sauce.
For his entree, SP ordered Traditional Ginger with Chicken, spice level 4. The ginger was sauteed in a light brown sesame oil and then stir fried with the chicken, peppers, and scallions.
My last tapas was the Thai Style Grilled Pork Chop with a sweet & sour sauce.
The sauce was good. There was a bit of a kick to it, especially for a spice wimp like me. When I cut into it, I discovered this:
Pink. I should have thought of that. I have to have my meat well done because of my sensitive stomach. I know pork can be pink as long as it's cooked to 145, but look at that pink:
SP ate the part I cut off and said it was very good. I got the rest wrapped and brought it home. I wasn't taking any chances, especially since we still had some plans for the evening.

I was surprised to realize it had been 14 months since our last trip to Silk Elephant. The dishes I had were as tasty as I remember from past visits. The service is very friendly and accommodating. The arrival of all the tapas/coordinating their serving with SP's soup and entree was very well timed. Silk Elephant remains one of our favorite places to eat in Pittsburgh, it just makes us sad that somehow, we hadn't been there in such a long time.

Silk Elephant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Nachos/Tacos

Last Sunday the NY Giants played the San Francisco 49ers, the winner going to the Super Bowl. Of course SP wanted to watch. So we again had to figure out a fairly easy dinner. The solution: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.
I know I've blogged about this slow cooker pulled pork before, but I finally managed to find the recipe online, so I can link to it now. The wrinkled, food stained printed recipe page didn't have the blog name or any useful source information on it and previous searches did not locate the source, not until the most recent search. Sounds odd, but...

Anyway, this time we didn't have pulled pork sandwiches. We had pulled pork nachos. We have taco shells, too, but since I break my taco shells up, we just went with nacho chips.
Pulled pork with tomatoes, cucumber, and cheddar cheese. SP added salsa to his plate. I added sour cream. Tasty, and easy. We had the pork and sauce going by 11 am, SP shredded the pork around 5:30, and we ate around 6, plenty of time to settle in front of the TV for the 6:30 pm kick off.
This makes a lot of pulled pork. Especially for two people. I have a feeling that by the end of the week I will not want to see pulled pork again for a year. We even froze a container of it and it looks like there is enough for a total of 5 dinners.

Tasty, easy dinner.

And a great football game. SP is very excited. Me? Well unless the Steelers are in the Super Bowl, I'm kind of 'meh' about the whole thing. I had a tough time on Sunday because I don't like Manning, I despise the Ratbirds, I despise Brady and Belicheat, and the 49ers have 5 Super Bowl wins so 1 more win would give them 6 like the Steelers and that wouldn't be good.

My solution: I want to continue to have a happy marriage, so I enthusiastically cheered for Manning & the Giants and I will do so again on Super Bowl Sunday.

Recipe from Baking Bites.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

5-6 lb. pork shoulder/pork butt
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup tomato paste
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp mustard
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup water

Place onion on the bottom of your slow cooker. Place pork shoulder, trimmed of any obvious excess fat, into slow cooker on top of onions. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients to form the barbecue sauce. Feel free to adjust salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. Pour half of the sauce over the pork and cover. Set
remaining sauce aside. Cook over low heat for about 8 hours (or according to your slow cooker’s presets). Remove pork to a large bowl and shred with two forks. Transfer meat back into slow cooker and cook for a few more minutes, until meat has soaked up the sauce. Pulled pork can be held on the “warm” setting in the slow cooker for serving.
Serve on soft sandwich rolls, topped with extra barbecue sauce.

Serves 10-12.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Wintry Trip to Pino's Contemporary Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar

Between SP's preferred work schedule, traffic, and weather, we did not get to enjoy Pittsburgh Restaurant Week as much as we would have liked. Friday evening we had reservations at Toast, but the winter storm warning that went into effect at 7 pm scared us off. We were afraid that with on street only parking, we would have trouble with snow and the wheelchair. We didn't want to drive home in bad weather, especially after SP's Wednesday evening commute that took 2 hours (to go about 15 miles, usually takes half an hour), and we didn't want to be trying to push me on a snowy front walkway. Pittsburgh did get 4 inches of snow Friday night, but the winter storm event was over by the time we got up on Saturday. SP shoveled, did some errands, and we decided it was OK to head out because where we live, everything was completely clear and dry. We left at 5:15 pm for dinner and we figured that 7-8 hours was more than enough time for Pittsburgh to clear the streets.

Ha. On our way to Reynolds Street in Point Breeze, we drove on some slushy/less than ideal roads and we passed a lot of side streets that looked as if they had not yet been touched by a plow. Completely covered in chunks of dirty, dark gray slush. No visible road. As soon as we were in front of our destination, well, even before then, we regretted our decision to go to dinner at a restaurant in the city with street only parking. SP is out of practice with parallel parking in heap of slush/snow, so it took him about 4 tries. The street was a dirty slushy mess. He parked 2 feet from the curb because there was an enormous mound of snow on the edge of the curb, so we couldn't put the wheelchair up on the curb for me to get out. Turns out we could barely get the wheelchair through the slushy mess on the street between the car and curb. SP ended up 'shoveling' a path with his boots. Yup. The bottoms of his jeans looked great. We 'joked' about the need to buy a plastic shovel to keep in the car for such situations.

The street was a mess. We tried to go down the center, the least messy part, but even that was difficult to wheel through. I had huge chunks of slush stuck in the front tires, spinning and the spitting about. The leg rest was dragging through snow and slush because the snow/slush was piled so deep. The bottoms of my jeans got dirty and slushy and wet.

So we got to the end of the street and... um... curb cut? Apparently Pittsburgh doesn't care about clearing curb cuts. Terrific.

I was kind of in a super crabby mood by the time we made it inside the restaurant. I try to not let my health problems get me down, I try to not wallow in self pity over being stuck in a wheelchair, but the reality is that sometimes it just really sucks and it really prevents me from enjoying things that 'normal' people take for granted. It is not easy to move a wheelchair through snow/ice/slush. Street parking is always an issue, even in sunny dry weather, because of curb heights, and it's nearly impossible in bad weather like what we just had. Most people do not think twice before heading out to a city restaurant with street only parking, but for us, it can turn into a logistical nightmare, snipping at each other, near accidents. I've bonked my head countless times on the edge of the car sliding up and out into the wheelchair when it's sitting up on a 4 inch or higher curb. There have been many near sliding/wrecking disasters when the roads/sidewalks have been icy and SP loses traction trying to push me uphill. Like a car, even if I stop the wheelchair and put the brakes on, if it's slick, the wheelchair can keep moving. That's always fun. When sidewalks are uneven or missing chunks, the wheelchair can quickly and abruptly come to a halt, sending me pitching forward and nearly onto the street. So frustrating.

We made it inside with no near accidents, just us getting very wet and slushy and dirty. Our destination was Pino's Contemporary Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar. It was warm and inviting inside. The hostess was quite friendly and had our table ready for us. There were quite a few menus to sort through - the daily specials menu, the regular menu, the PRW menu, the wine list. Our server brought water and explained the specials, etc. While we thought about what to order, I admired the tables:
Interesting! There also is art on the walls, which I presume might be from local artists since there were numbers next to the pictures and I suppose the numbers correspond to some kind of key/information chart - ? The dark woods, maroon ceiling, green walls, and dim lighting were cozy and relaxing.
We both decided to order from the PRW menu. I chose to also try the wine pairing. As usual we each stole bites from the other's plate, and SP tried my wines. Here's what we enjoyed:
Tasty, warm white bread with a cream cheese spread - it tasted almost like a garden vegetable cream cheese to me. 

First wine: champagne, served with my salad.

We both chose salad for our first course. It was served with a thick Italian dressing on the side. The dressing was very tasty. The salad was mixed greens, carrots, tomatoes, olives, chick peas, and onions.

SP's entree: Pasta Arrabbiata. Chicken, sausage, hot banana peppers,  burgundy wine, and marinara. He thought it was quite tasty, not too spicy upon the first bite but with a heat that builds. I liked my bite of pasta & sausage. 

I ordered the Eggplant Cannoli in addition to the two small plates I ordered for my entree. Eggplant, prosciutto, peas, cheesy risotto, marinara. This was good, but as I usually find, I had trouble with the eggplant skin. I find the skin tough to cut and tough to chew, but without the skin to help the cannoli hold its shape, this dish wouldn't work. The skin difficulty is an issue for me even at home when we make eggplant.

Stuffed Portobella - lamb bolognese, tomatoes, fontina, balsamic syrup. My favorite of everything I tried.

The portobella, all cut up and strewn about the plate. Sorry for the blurry photo.

Mac & Cheese. Seasoned ricotta, tomato basil cream. Tasty, but since I was filling up and still had dessert coming, I ended up getting this wrapped to take home.

Underneath the cheesy top layer. This was good, but I probably would not order it again because I definitely tasted garlic, and long time readers of this blog know that I avoid garlic because it bothers my stomach.

There were four wines from which to choose for with the entree. I chose a white wine, I think it was a Spanish Wine - ? I don't remember, I just remember that I didn't recognize anything in the description! A nice, crisp, dry white, whatever it was.

There were two desserts for PRW. SP ordered the Chocolate Molten Cake with Brandied Cherries. This was really tasty, especially the cherries, and not as rich/dense as I expected, which was nice.

The other dessert was Tiramisu. One of my favorites.

The dessert wine. SP drank most of it since I am not a huge dessert wine person. He really likes them. This was tasty - rich and chocolaty.
I have to say we were pleasantly surprised. We were a bit concerned after some of the reviews we read on Urbanspoon and we were starting to reconsider our PRW choice. Then on Wednesday, the City Paper reviewed Pino's and gave it a good review/CP Approved stamp, so we felt better and decided to keep our reservation.

Overall, we enjoyed our evening at Pino's. The hostess and server were very friendly and knowledgeable. The food was tasty. We didn't have any problems with lukewarm/not hot food. The wines in the wine pairing were very tasty. SP's iced tea was fresh brewed. It can get quite noisy once it fills up, but I find that to be the case in a lot of restaurants. I can't say that anything really stood out as 'must come back here because this was so gosh darn tasty' but at the same time, nothing was bad. I also think the service we had was quite good, so that would encourage us to return. I'd like to go back in warmer weather when the huge, glass front is open, and relax and enjoy a glass of wine and a small plate or two.

Pino's Contemporary Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bread & Soup

It sounds odd, but we didn't seem to really have a good chunk of time to cook over the three day weekend. Saturday was errands and chores and then a movie & dinner, Sunday was laundry and football and a family dinner, and Monday was taking the car in for its 15,000 mile check up (or, um, 20,000 mile check up and an overdue oil change) plus we went out for Pittsburgh Restaurant Week plus we went shopping because SP desperately needs new boots (we were unsuccessful in finding new boots). We wanted some time for relaxing, too. So our solution to cooking dinner for this week was to throw together vegetable soup ingredients in the crock pot Saturday evening and let it slow cook overnight.

The ingredients were the usual: chicken stock, can of tomatoes, green beans, peas, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion. This time, SP decided to toss in a bundle of rosemary & thyme from the bags of frozen fresh herbs. Last October, we washed and froze a bunch of our fresh herbs from the deck and we've been slowly using them over the winter months.

I wasn't too keen on the rosemary idea, but I didn't say anything. Now I wish I had. The soup has way too much rosemary flavor for me plus a lot of the rosemary needles fell off the stem and are now swimming in the soup.
That is just half of the rosemary I plucked out of my one small bowl of soup. Ugh. Now imagine how much must be swimming the a whole large crock pot of soup. We decided last night that while we love the smell of fresh rosemary and while it grew well on the deck and looked pretty, we just don't much enjoy fresh rosemary taste. I confessed that all the fresh rosemary we used in lamb marinades and other dishes over the summer didn't impress me as much as the dishes made with dried rosemary. I expected more from fresh rosemary. SP confessed he felt the same way.

So I'm not much enjoying the soup. But I am enjoying the bread SP made Monday morning. He tossed all the ingredients into the bread machine before heading out to the car place. I listened to the bread churn and smelled baking bread aroma for about three hours - it finished right around noon, when SP got home from the car place.
I like this bread much more than the bread we made last Christmas Eve. SP used the same recipe, but he set the machine for a low crust setting instead of medium plus he used real milk instead of powdered milk with water. So much tastier and not as dry. This bread almost makes the soup taste good.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cherry Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

I thought there was a crisis Monday evening when I started looking for dessert and all I found was Swiss Miss Mini Marshmallow instant hot chocolate mix packets. As I discovered last week, the mini marshmallows disappear as soon as they come into contact with hot water - boo. Plus, it didn't taste very hot chocolaty to me. As soon as I tweeted my dessert despair, SP came wandering out of his office with a sly smile. He had a secret stash of Raspberry Shortbread Bars, his favorite of all the holiday cookies. There weren't many raspberry bars left, so Tuesday evening we made Cherry Chocolate Shortbread Cookies. We've made these before, but this time, we chopped the cherry bits into smaller pieces and we drizzled the chocolate on top.
Or at least tried to drizzle. SP was in charge of drizzling. I'm not sure what happened. Some, like the one in the above photo, look more like they were frosted.
Others are half drizzled and half dolloped with chocolate.
And some are simply drizzled.

These are as tasty as we remember, and quick to make. We had everything measured, the dough mixed mixed, and scoops of dough plopped on cookie sheets in about 15 minutes. Each cookie sheet baked for 28 minutes. They cooled for a bit, SP frosted/dolloped/drizzled, and then we enjoyed while watching the season premiere of Justified.
Dessert crisis averted.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Second Trip: Rose Tea Cafe

This past Sunday, SP's family gathered for a family dinner to celebrate Googer's birthday. Googer chose Rose Tea Cafe for his birthday meal.

When Sunday rolled around, I was pretty grumpy about dinner. There were several reasons, but a huge reason was that it was pretty darn cold out. Yes, I know it's January in Pittsburgh. But due to my health issues, the cold really, really bothers me. It's more than me being slender/small. I have talked with my doctor about this, and basically, I'm out of luck. The solution to the cold affecting my muscles so much and making me even weaker and chilled to the bone to the point where when I get home and finally huddle under a blanket, I still cannot warm up? Stay home or move to a warmer climate. Not great options. The night before, we'd been out & about to see a movie and have dinner and I ended up so darn cold and miserable. Even after a cup of hot tea and curling up under a blanket to watch TV I was still thoroughly chilled when we went to bed that night.

So off we went, to a 4:30 pm dinner (yes, that's another huge grumpy factor, the ridiculously early dinner hour because of one person who is unreasonable & inflexible in regard to the hour of dining), me bundled up in ear muffs, gloves, a scarf, winter coat with hood flipped up, extra shirt under my sweater... I could barely move I was so bundled up! It was a 1-2 block walk from the parking garage to dinner, but as I expected, I was thoroughly, miserably cold when we got there. It was warm inside, but every time the front doors opened, a gust of frigid air blew through and chilled me again. I kept my scarf on as an extra layer across the back of my neck.

A big gripe of mine with this place is the lack of description on the menu. That drives me nuts because I want to know what kind of sauce comes on the food. 'Chicken with vegetable' just isn't enough description for me.
To start, SP ordered a jasmine bubble tea:
I was surprised he ordered a cold tea, but he wanted the fat, black tapioca pearls. The drink was served with a fat straw to suck them up.

SP might have ordered a cold tea, but he ordered a hot soup (of course!) for an appetizer. Hot & sour soup:
He likes this kind of soup a lot and said this is a tasty version.

For his meal, he ordered seafood rice noodle soup:
You can't really see in the photo, but there were skinny (angel hair like) strands of rice noodles in a broth with cabbage, bamboo, carrot, sprouts, onion, and seafood (I remember shrimp & scallops). He said it was good.

I also opted for soup. I chose noodle soup with pork. In my mind I was thinking this would be similar to the bowls of udon I ate when I lived in Japan.
The noodles were thick like udon, and they were tasty noodles, but overall this dish was pretty bland and flavorless. Definitely not as tasty as the udon I ate in Japan. I'm not a big fan of cabbage or bamboo, so those didn't do much to enhance the dish for me. There were slivers of pork, but I would have liked more pork slivers. It was disappointing.

It didn't taste salty to me, but it must have been pretty darn salty because after we got home, for the rest of that night I couldn't drink enough water to satisfy my thirst. Between all the water I was chugging to quench my thirst and the hot tea I kept drinking to try to warm up... well, I drank a lot that night!

Rose Tea Cafe just isn't my kind of place. There were 8 of us crowded around tables smushed together and there wasn't really enough space to be comfortable, especially with our cold weather layers and coats. SP & I kept bumping each other. Food is served as it is ready, not everyone's meals at the same time. Both times I've eaten here, the food has been greasy and/or salty and/or bland or just plain mediocre, but given that I do not especially enjoy Chinese food (or much of any Asian food) it's not surprising that I do not like this place much. To be fair, I've only ordered lo mein (greasy), this soup (bland and apparently salty), and the fried dumplings (mediocre). SP's family frequently dines at RTC, so if you like Chinese/Taiwanese food, I suppose it's a good choice. His mother likes the seafood soup, though she added a lot of salt to it. She also really likes the salt & pepper shrimp and the shrimp with broccoli. Googer enjoyed his squid dish and last time he had an eggplant dish that he liked a lot. Z & ZSO order the lo mein and fried rice a lot and seem to enjoy it. SP's dad always enjoys his food at RTC.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week: The Cozy Cafe

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which means SP has a work holiday. Today is also the first day of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week. We decided to venture out in the warmer & somewhat sunny weather in order to try a new place for lunch: The Cozy Cafe.
The Cozy Cafe is located in the West End. SP drives past it every day on his work commute and whenever we head into town, we drive past. Every time we drive past, we say, gee, we really should try that place, it looks cute, there always seems to be available street parking, why have we never gone?
It is indeed cozy inside. There's a counter in front when you enter. We saw several people picking up to go orders and/or coffee. The woman behind the counter said she would be right with us, or we could seat ourselves. So we did. We sat next to a window. The walls are painted orange-red, there's a very cool clock above the fireplace, a TV in one corner (tuned in to ESPN, which was fine with us because SP is not yet tired of the high-lights of the NY Giants victory over Green Bay last night). I like the mis-matched chairs and tables. It's not dim, but it's not bright. It's cozy and inviting.
SP ordered fresh brewed iced tea. I wanted hot tea and chose Earl Grey. I didn't see the entire tea selection, but there are several varieties from which to choose. My Earl Grey was from Harney & Sons, which made me happy because that is one of the tastier Earl Grey teas (in my opinion). I like that I was served a teapot of hot water and a tea bag, so I could brew it for as long/as little as I wanted and I could easily remove the teabag to prevent over-brewing. I also liked the adorable teacup. Yes, I am a sucker for cute things like this. Teacups like this seem to make the tea taste better - and I am well aware that's just in my head!
The PRW special is 2 sandwiches, 2 sides, and 2 beverages for $20. When we found out the soup of the day was a potato soup, we knew right away that was going to be one of our sides:
I had been thinking potato soup, not baked potato soup, so when I saw the huge, steaming bowl of creamy potato soup with real bacon bits and grated cheese, well, I squealed aloud in delight! It was very tasty.
Huge chunks of potatoes, but they were soft enough to cut with the soup spoon. Just enough bacon to have a bit of bacon flavor in every bite, but not too much. The same with the cheese. It was a big bowl of soup - very nice size, especially since we shared and SP loves soup and I love soup when it's creamy and bacony and cheesy!!

For our other side we chose a salad:
 Lettuce (not iceberg) with tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese and balsamic dressing on the side:
Very tasty balsamic dressing. There are other dressings, too, I just like balsamic a lot so I always order balsamic.

The menu we saw was a bit smaller than the menu online, plus there were some items on it that are not on the online menu. Perhaps the sandwiches change on a daily basis? Whatever the case, there were still more than enough options. We decided to order sandwiches we both would enjoy so we could share.

First, this one:
Chicken, sun dried tomatoes, provolone, spinach panini. I think the menu said panini, and this was certainly grilled like a panini, but the bread seemed to be a pita, which is fine with us because it was tasty. The entire panini was very tasty. Sometimes pita seems to be simply a vehicle to get the filling to your mouth, but this pita-like panini bread had a nice flavor. Here's a close up of the interior:
 Our second choice was mushroom and feta with roasted peppers on toasted wheat bread:
I was so full after the soup, salad, and half the panini that I didn't try my half the mushroom sandwich. I got it boxed to bring home. SP loved this sandwich. He said he liked it better than the chicken panini! Close up view:
We both really enjoyed the sandwiches and soup & salad. The teas were good, too. It was a bit of a hectic day for them. I think the chef's mom was filling in for his wife, who was home with their sick child, and mom had just reported for work right before we arrived, so she was unsure of the PRW special. But she was apologetic and offered an explanation, and when a restaurant does that, it makes it OK. We had printed out the PRW special ahead of time, so I showed her our print out, which was much appreciated, and the chef came out to talk to us, take our order, etc., and also apologized for any issues from the hectic day. Not a problem. The Cozy Cafe seems to truly be a family business, which is nice to see.

I also loved the plates. The patterns seemed so... cozy!

Cozy is definitely a good word to describe this cafe. Friendly. Family business. Those are also great words to describe it. SP & I were talking on our drive home and we aren't quite sure how to put into words what it felt like there, the atmosphere, but it was different from anywhere we've been in Pittsburgh. That's not to say this place is oh so unique or that something similar doesn't exist in Pittsburgh, we've certainly been in similar cozy cafes in other cities, but this place isn't just a coffee shop, not a bakery, not just take out, not a bar, diner hours but not a diner, cozier and friendlier than a chain sandwich/coffee/tea place... we just really liked it and we are very glad we at last went today. We would love to go again, the only thing stopping us is that The Cozy Cafe has diner hours (Monday-Friday 7 am - 3 pm, Saturday. 8 am - 2 pm) so we cannot go for a quick dinner after work, and since SP works in the city, we cannot stop in for breakfast or lunch. We'll have to make an effort to get there for Saturday breakfast/lunch!

The Cozy Cafe on Urbanspoon