Monday, April 1, 2013

Nine On Nine

This past weekend was not just about Easter Sunday & a visit from the Easter Bunny. Saturday was the sixth of seven shows of our PNC Broadway Across America shows and the show to which we were most looking forward: Book of Mormon. I think it was my favorite show so far this season! When you have a big smile on your face and laugh for 2.5 hours, it's a good show!

As usual, we met S & R for dinner after our afternoon show/before their evening show. This time, we decided to try Nine On Nine.
SP & I sat in Eyeball Park for a while after the show, but then I got a wee bit chilly so we decided to head over, settle in, and order a cocktail. We were seated right away and I quickly decided to try a Snap Old Fashion (bourbon, Snap, bitters, cherries, orange).
I had to look up Snap. I had no idea it was a gingersnap inspired spirit. Mixed with the bourbon, bitters, and the fruit, it was a really, really good cocktail. Really good. I wanted a second one, but I also know that another one would've made me too smiley and sleepy, so I settled for regular iced tea after the cocktail.
I think this bread bowl was one of the best bread bowls I have had at Pittsburgh area restaurants. There was a fruit studded bread, cornbread, a foccacia with onions on top, and a white bread (baguette?). The corn bread was the best I have ever had. I'm not sure why I plucked that piece out first, I definitely didn't expect it to taste like cornbread, which normally I do not like. Maybe because it looked kind of cake like?! I made SP try a bite to confirm my cornbread suspicions. I don't really know how to describe it - other than it puts all other cornbread I have tried to shame. The other breads were very tasty, too. We ate everything in the bowl and were offered more, which was really, really tempting, but we decided we should save room for the meal.
 I didn't have an appetizer/soup/salad. SP opted for a Spring Vegetable Soup.
 He loves pea shoots. And the mushrooms. So the soup was a hit for him.
R ordered the Spinach Salad, petite turnips, orange, fried egg yolk, pig ear bacon. She really liked it, especially the fried egg yolk, which she generously shared with S, who ordered Crispy Chicken Skin Pasta, confit chicken legs, egg yolk, truffles.
Sorry for the blurry photo - blame SP since he was in charge of photographing S's food! Both S & R said this was a tasty, upscale chicken noodle soup.

On to the entrees. R ordered Scottish Salmon, buckwheat polenta, pickled Brussels sprout salad, shaved beets, dashi broth.
I can't remember what she said about it other than she really enjoyed the pickled Brussels sprout salad and the salmon was good. She really likes pickled foods and these were good pickled sprouts. She likes to order fish when she dines out because it's hard to cook fish just right at home, and I agree. Sometimes we get it just right, and SP is very good with shrimp and scallops, but often, our home cooked fish is cooked too long.
Speaking of scallops, I ordered the Seared Scallops, swiss chard, bacon, sea island red peas, roasted grapes. The scallops were cooked perfectly. They melted in my mouth - so rich and soft and flavorful. I enjoyed the roasted grapes much more that I expected. I think I thought they'd be bursting and oozing but they were intact, soft, and tasted roasted. The red peas and swiss chard/bacon were very tasty, too, a nice salty and bacon taste but I kept thinking I was tasting a wee bit of garlic and I got a little bit nervous. They were delicious and I wanted to eat it all, but garlic fear made me leave behind about half the red peas. SP helped polish off the greens. It was my first time trying red peas and they are very good. There's not much else to say - they're peas, they're small, they're smushy, and they taste like regular peas, but maybe a little heartier.
Both SP & S ordered Tigerfish, cornbread, pineapple, jicama, squid ink, citrus, pistachio. It looks to me like the cornbread was toasted or grilled - something to give it a crisp edge. They both enjoyed their meals.

There wasn't much talking, just eating and fork/knife sounds. As R noted, no conversation means the food was very good.

Of course I had to have the Coffee & Donuts dessert.
R ordered the same dessert. I had decaf coffee, she had regular, and I liked the coffee a lot, but can't really say more than that because I don't know much about coffee. The struffoli were mixed with hazelnuts and a bit of honey & orange flower water and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Yum! Fried dough! Super munchkin donuts, tiny bits of funnel cake, whatever you want to say, these were tasty.
Not surprisingly, SP ordered the Saffron Poached Pear, crispy phyllo, fig, chocolate ganache, saffron reduction, pistachio. He loves poached pears and this one was a very good one. I enjoyed picking the crispy phyllo off his dessert plate!

S ordered a selection of artisinal/farmhouse cheeses. Photos were taken, but my gosh they turned out blurry. I am not sure what SP did! It was a bit darker on that side of the table (my side was on the window side) but you can't really make out anything. I think S used his phone as a light and SP took a photo with the cell phone screen light 'illuminating' the cheese.
In addition to cheese there were nuts, bread, and crackers. I was busy eating fried dough and when I looked up the cheeses were gone, so I guess they were good! I can't remember the descriptions the server provided, but I think one was a blue cheese.

Of the three restaurants we have tried with S&R after/before the shows, all four of us agree that Nine On Nine is our favorite.

I'm not sure if it's because we met 15 minutes earlier than normal, but we were finished and ready to head out by 7:15 pm, giving S&R plenty of time to get to the Benedum. At our past two restaurant meetings, S&R had to hustle to get to the 8 pm show in time even though we met up at 5:45 pm. In spite of finishing dinner at Nine On Nine with plenty of time to spare, we did not feel rushed at all. I thought that the pace of the meal was quite nice - not too fast, and obviously not too slow. Our server was attentive and friendly but not overly attentive and friendly. The others who assisted in serving and clearing were attentive and polite as well.

We sat close to the entrance, so perhaps I didn't get a true feeling for the atmosphere, but it seemed inviting, subdued, elegant, refined, but not pretentious or stuffy. There are a lot of windows which means lots of natural light, which I like.

We would go back to Nine On Nine.

  Nine On Nine on Urbanspoon


  1. The "corn bread" is actually my recipe for Irish Soda Bread. Which is probably why it challenged your distaste for cornbread! There's only a little cornmeal on the bottom to keep the bread from sticking to the pan. If you'd like help with a recipe or to order a loaf, stop in to Nine On Nine any time and speak with me. -Exec. Pastry Chef Jeffery Greene Thank you for the kind words!

    1. Oh my gosh! We've made Irish Soda Bread, but it was nowhere near as tasty as the 'cornbread!' All 4 of us guessed cornbread! Thank you for letting me know.

  2. The cornmeal threw all four of us off, but it was absolutely delicious!