Monday, March 19, 2012


No NOLA. This post was going to be about NOLA, the restaurant in Market Square in Pittsburgh, but then I realized it could also refer to our trip to NOLA that isn't going to happen this year. We spent a lot of time in January/February researching New Orleans for a potential mini vacation this March. We just couldn't seem to pull it together. For many things in life, I am one of those 'I know it when I know it' people. Not always, but usually. After all my research and our discussions and more research and... well, I just wasn't feeling comfortable with booking the airfare (ridiculous cost for PIT-NOLA and no non-stops) and hotel (that wasn't really the hotel we wanted because the one we wanted was fully booked) and I was/still am concerned about accessibility and crowds and... I just didn't 'know it.' After all that research, we shelved our NOLA trip and planned a different vacation instead.

But, we had tickets to La Cage Aux Folles at the Benedum this past Saturday and we decided that would be a great time to walk over to Market Square after the show and dine at NOLA, a restaurant on our 'try' list. SP made reservations for 6 pm and we figured after the show, we'd take our time walking over, have a cocktail, and then enjoy dinner.

A little 'background' before I continue this post: I am not Irish. At all. Neither is SP. At all. We don't ever do anything to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Never been to the parade. Don't drink green beer. Don't wear green. Don't get all shamrock-y. I think I've been 'Irish For A Day' once in my life, and it was an awful day. We knew when we decided to see LCAF on March 17 that it was also going to be St. Patrick's Day and the parade.

We did not remember that the Men's NCAA Tournament was in town the same weekend.

We did not know Joe Biden was coming into town.

We did not know that Market Square sponsors 'Irish Fair in the Square' on St. Patrick's Day - a day of drinking right there in the middle of the square with police patrolling the entrances/exits so that no one smuggles any booze in or out (bless this state and its absurd liquor laws).

Oh yes - while we both had our fair share of alcohol over-consumption and ridiculous alcohol induced behavior in college, neither of us drinks much these days. There's also the fact that we are no longer in our 20's. Or, um, in our 30's. Much like we conveniently forget our teenage clothing fads, music tastes, and book/movie choices and now roll our eyes and wonder what the heck has gotten into kids these days, we also  conveniently forget our alcohol fueled experiences in our 20's and roll our eyes in annoyance when we see 20 & 30-somethings partying to excess these days. There's a reason we never choose to dine on the South Side on a Saturday evening.

So back to our Saturday. We left extra early because we feared traffic getting into the city and any road closures because of Biden. To our amazement, we were in the city and parked in 20 minutes. So we spent 40 glorious minutes in the sunshine at Eyeball Park, watching the celebrations. And mocking a bit. I mean, seriously girls in your 20s, super tight skirts that show your not totally flat tummy are kinda gross. Skirts that barely cover your derriere are kinda slutty. Skirts that are short and 'flirty,' and by that I mean so wispy that they fly up in the rear when a wee breeze blows, are also way too revealing. I'll stop there. Except for one more comment about the girl wearing a tiara. Really? A tiara? I'm pretty sure you didn't look like any of the 3 women in the Miss Irish photo in the newspaper, so... I don't get it.

OK, one more: the guy wearing a '*uck Me I'm Irish' pin. Seriously?! There were kids in that park and at that parade.

So we soaked up the sun and headed inside where I discovered that our seats sucked. Usually, we buy seats in the center orchestra. These were on the right. Not even center right. Right. All the way. As in the seat they sold me wasn't even a real wheelchair seat because the seat couldn't be removed to make room for the wheelchair. I was seated IN THE AISLE. As far right as you could be. Actually, more right than you could be because I was IN THE AISLE. Nearly against the wall. It sucked. I couldn't see the back of the stage, so I missed whatever scenery there was for the background, and I couldn't see the right of the stage. Usually, we call the day tickets go on sale, as we did for LCAF, and we have no problem getting good seats. But this time...

Of course a group of loud & obnoxious people soon sat down behind/next to us. I have no problems with a group of friends seeing a show and having a good time, but they arrived while the pre-show warmup was going on and talked loud enough that I couldn't hear the performer's voice over theirs and then, when she asked the crowd if anyone had a birthday that day, the idiot behind us raised his hand and babbled something about his Mercedes turning 11 that day. Um, really? You wanted everyone to know your car turned 11?

The show was good, even if I couldn't see much of it and felt as if I was going to slide out of my wheelchair any second because I was on a slope, not a level area. I was ready for a cocktail and some food. So we walked over to Market Square. You know, the family fun fair that I thought was supposed to end around 5 or 5:30pm. We walked past groups of weaving celebrators, some staggering people, some lurching people, and the closer we got to Market Square, the more hesitant and wary we became. I knew as we passed the police we had made a mistake. I hadn't been to Market Square in years, so I only know what is there from what I read. We had no idea where exactly NOLA was, and we couldn't see it through the crowds of people. There seemed be spilled beer and/or melted ice all over the place. Trash bins were overflowing and there was trash everywhere. I didn't see any families. I didn't see more than 2-4 people who were older than 40 (not counting us). Mostly, I felt like I had gone back in time 20 years to college and House Party Weekend when the fraternities hosted all day long parties for one weekend and everyone spent 3 days drunk.

I don't want to sound judge-y. As I said before, we both had our alcohol over indulgence and fun in college and into our 20's. I get it. I just don't like it anymore. I have 2 glasses of wine these days and I feel it the next day! I'm an old fart now.

It took us a long time of wandering through the crowd to locate NOLA, then we couldn't get near the entrance in the wheelchair, so SP went over to investigate, he reported that there was no hostess he could see and it was super crowded and super loud. We turned around and left. I couldn't get out of that place fast enough. If I was 24 again, sure, that'd be a blast with my friends, but now...

A few blocks away we stopped so he could call NOLA and cancel our reservation. I don't think they cared much that we cancelled only 30 minutes in advance.

We went back to the parking garage and decided to escape to Bryant Street. Of course on the way there we passed by many green clad idiots, some darting out into crosswalks, intersections, and roads whenever they felt like it, giving me many mini heart attacks as I feared someone lurching right into our car as it crept down the street.

I was so glad when we got to Park Bruges. No one was wearing green. No one was drunk. Or lurching. Or staggering. Or shouting. Or 'whoo'-ing.

I didn't have a cocktail because I was tired and didn't want to get sleepier plus they serve Earl Grey iced tea and it's delicious. Just what I needed on a warm not quite spring yet day.

Here's what we ate, and we again enjoyed it all:
SP ordered the Soup of the Day. I don't remember what it was, something with curry and lentils, I think. He loved it.

Crab Beignets. They were so tasty last time that we had to get them again.

Inside a Crab Beignet

SP chose Moules in Lobster-Pernod Sauce, Tarragon, and Basil

Lots of tarragon in his moules.

Once again, I chose the Chicken with tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes, and risotto.
We got a Pear Tart to take home for dessert. We ate it later that night and it was very good. A gingersnap crust, a mascarpone like filling, and red wine poached pears on top. I forgot to take a photo.

Like last time, we enjoyed our food, our server was great, and we enjoyed ourselves.

As for NOLA, both the city and the restaurant here in Pittsburgh, they'll just have to wait a bit.


  1. Ugh, sounds like a stressful day. I was considering going to Market Square/Downtown since I've never done the Pittsburgh St Pat's thing (or *any* St Pat's thing, ever), but it seemed like way too much of a hassle.
    NOLA is worth making another trip for, though. It's pretty freaking delicious. And get the beignets when you go!!

  2. Oh no! Yes, downtown is a total drunkfest on the saturday of the parade. I did the celebration in college but haven't in the last few years. It is fun if you are into that sort of thing and know going in what to expect but I can totally understand not wanting to be in that atmosphere. At least Park Bruges looks good!