My boyfriend Nate and I recently embarked on a road trip to Pittsburgh, as he is in the process of applying to law school (!) As important as academics are to his decision, the culinary landscape of our eventual living destination will be an important component in his final choice. At least, it will be for me :)
After great meals downtown, around Squirrel Hill, and near the Univ. of Pitt, Nate craved a good, meaty, juicy burger our final night in the ’burgh. My uncle recommended the Walnut Grill, located in Shadyside among the bustling and chic landscape of Walnut Street.
Walnut Grill is in the same building as Shady Grove, both owned by the same company. Shady Grove is more bar-like, and is on the lower level. It looked very festive and fun, but we craved a bit more privacy, so we opted for the Walnut Grill, located upstairs (the menus of both places are quite similar; I would say the atmosphere is the major difference).
As is our mark for a good restaurant, we were served warm French bread before our meal. The restaurant has an extensive beer and wine list, so even though the service was a bit slow at first we were able to relax with our warm bread and libations!
We started with Pierogies, which I’d never had before, but was told by my family I was required to try during this visit in Pittsburgh. For those as clueless as me, they are a Polish dish of potato dumplings. As a dumpling lover, my expectations were high…and I’m a believer! Delish! Not sure what the sauce was on these particular Pierogies (according to the menu, something in the chipotle-onion realm) but it was spicy and really good. I devoured them, although my generous nature did push me to give one to Nate :)
Nate, of course, opted for the Angus Burger with fries, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen him eat so fast! He said the burger was a bit overcooked for his taste, even though he requested in medium rare, but he assured me the seasoning and accouterments compensated.
I went lighter and stuck with a salad with grilled vegetables, including portabello (one of my favorites!) and zucchini. It was a very generous portion of grilled vegetables, especially since in my experience, restaurants tend to skimp a bit when adding extras to salads. It was a very pleasant surprise, and I finished the meal quite content!
As much as my body I wanted something sweet, we decided we were too full, and our wallets were too empty, to attempt dessert. However, the neighboring table ordered 2 desserts. Due to a bit of rude eavesdropping on our behalf (it was the wine, I tell ya!) and the wonderful sense of sight, the burnt almond torte and the brownie topped with ice cream (served warm, I believe!) looked incredible, and are definitely on my to-try list the next time we venture up to Pittsburgh.
Definitely 4 stars for food, but perhaps only 3 for service – we had to wait over 20 minutes once we were seated to actually get our drink order taken, and our waiter admitted to us that he had ‘forgotten’ about our table. Perhaps we should have been peeved, but I appreciated his honesty, and service was great throughout the rest of the evening.
Given how crowded and popular the restaurant seemed to be, I honestly think the slow service aspect was likely an anomaly, but perhaps notable nonetheless (my uncle said the restaurant is not known for its speediness). Good thing the food compensated! Pittsburgh literally left a great taste in our collective mouths :)
The prices were reasonable: appetizers ranged from approx. $5-$10, with sandwiches under $10 and entrees a bit more pricey. Would recommend for a date/celebratory occasion, but likely not for a “quick” meal out. Great location on Walnut Street!
(Ironically, Nate is allergic to nuts…goes to show you just how good the ‘Walnut’ Grill actually is :) )