Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Warren Bar and Burrow

Last weekend after seeing Dear Evan Hansen, we went to dinner with R&S to a new-to-all-four-of-us place: The Warren. It's next to the Benedum (DEH was at Heinz Hall) and opened in February 2018. I didn't know anything about The Warren other than its location and that it doesn't take reservations.

Maybe we should have done some research because it turns out The Warren is not wheelchair accessible when you enter. There are 2 steps up to the bar/restaurant. Fortunately, we were able to walk around the corner and enter through a side entrance. We thought they were going to open it for us (it was locked) and we waited & waited before texting R&S who came and opened the door from inside. It's not super accessible even in the food/drink area since there are only high top tables and booths. SP helped me slide into a booth. It was nice to sit right next to an open window and people watch.
R quickly chose her beverage. I forget what it was (other than a gin cocktail) but it came in a Christmas-y Holly Hobbie glass. Side note: I loved Holly Hobbie when I was a little girl.

It took me a while to figure out my beverage because the whole menu contraption sort of befuddled me. It's a metal case (book?) that you open and then on the right side there's a clipboard of sorts that flips down & lists the sushi/sashimi options on the front and back. There's also another menu of the bar food, behind the flip part & secured under a clip. On the left side, specials are on a small sheet of paper attached to a thin metal strip and then behind the strip should be the drink menu, I think, but my metal case lacked a drink menu so I had to wait for SP to finish studying his.
For our drinks, SP chose Son of A Sailor (gin, cucumber, lime, spicy) and I chose Say No To This (vodka, tea, red bubbles). His came in a tiki glass and I got a Christmas glass. I really liked mine but I didn't quite understand the Christmas glass thing. 
I liked my cocktail so much I ordered another. For his second, SP chose Bing & Ella (gin, citrus). I had a hard time with the cocktail descriptions since they don't list the actual liquor, just a flavor description, and I really don't like gin and tequila. We asked a lot of questions.

Here's what we ate:
Spicy Yellowtail Roll. SP said it was yummy.
We shared Crab Rangoon Dip (lump crab, crab surimi, cream cheese, peppers, scallions, wonton chips). This was really yummy. Also, I really like crispy wonton chips. A lot. Next time I might order my own and not share with SP.
I also ordered a Cheesesteak Wrap with fries and cole slaw, marinated steak, horseradish, and served with ranch on the side.
It was enormous. I could eat only half & I took the other half home. It was yummy.
SP made me feel very unhealthy when he ordered The Warren Salad (watermelon, arugula, radish). R ordered this salad, too, but S ordered a burger, so I felt better.

We liked our cocktails and our food, but honestly, I was a wee bit confused by The Warren. There's a lot of sushi/sashimi but also burgers, a wrap, and online were some hot dog creations & a po' boy which were not on the menu when we went, much to S's dismay. So while writing this post, I did a little research:

  • Spencer Warren is a local cocktail specialist who made a name for himself with craft creations at his previous bar, Embury, which is now closed and which we sadly did not get to try (it was in The Strip's Firehouse Lounge).
  • Warren helped establish the Pittsburgh chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild. 
  • He also started the holiday themed Miracle pop-up bar, which might explain the Christmas glasses. 
  • And he started this bar, The Warren Bar & Burrow.
  • The Warren is partnered with/related to Penn Cove Eatery, which is next door and which is from the Penn Avenue Fish Co. people. This explains the sushi menu.
  • The reason there is no liquor listed in the cocktail description is because people think they don't like an ingredient, like gin, simply because they had a bad gin & tonic in college and they remember the bad gin taste but his cocktails bring out the tasty flavors of the gin (or whatever liquor). So focus on the flavor profile, not the liquor.

My final take is that The Warren is primarily a bar that serves yummy and affordable cocktails sometimes in Christmas glasses. It also serves food, both from Penn Cove Eatery and their own chef. The crab rangoon dip is super yummy. Service is friendly. We were not rushed. It was really nice to hang out on a warm May day next to a huge open window (door?) and people/vehicle watch. We'd go back.


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