Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Restaurant Review: Eleven

     Sorry, I am reviewing a restaurant and I do not have any pictures.  I contemplated just not writing about my experiences.  I contemplated going back again just to take pictures but then realized that diners might think I was just a bit loco if I was walking around taking pictures of their food.  I will eventually make it back and will remember to take pictures.  For now...just read!

     You know by now that I am a bit crazy when it comes to Sunday lunch.  Lunch...not brunch.  I am not a big fan of the brunch concept.  I want lunch...a leisurely lunch...prix fixe with a limited amount of choices...no eggs.  Now that I think about it, I am just a big fan of the prix fixe menu.  Two to three tasty courses at a set price...yes, that is what I like.

     So, we have been searching for our Sunday lunch spot that met our criteria.  We wanted something in downtown Pittsburgh.  We wanted a more upscale restaurant.  We wanted good value.  We wanted a place that we would want to return to again and again...our go-to Sunday lunch spot.

     Readers, I am here to say that we have found it!  Eleven on the edge of the Strip District has a fantastic Sunday brunch.  Yes, yes, they call it a brunch...yes, yes, they have eggs on the menu.  I will call it lunch and I will have the eggs.  There are plenty of choices - but not an overwhelming amount.  The service is great, the food is creative and good and the space is relaxing.  It makes for the start of great week.

     "Should we get the same thing or should we try something new," questions Dear Daughter as we are heading into town.  My response was to try something new.  "Mom, we can't.  The chef is leaving soon and the new chef might change the menu.  This might be the last time we can have the smoked salmon!"  No joke, this was her reasoning.  I think I have a budding lawyer in the family.

      By the time we ordered, we had changed our minds and settled on a new first course and a favorite second course.  On previous visits, DD chose the smoked salmon.  It was a dainty presentation complete with a miniature everything bagel, scallion cream cheese, and the standard onions and capers.  Not overly creative but the quality wass exceptional.  Dear Husband and I usually shared a plate of oysters and enjoyed their brininess and excellent mignonette.

     This past time, DD opted for the Beignets, which came with two sauces, Meyer Lemon and Pomegranate.  She declared them as good as what she ate in France.  She managed to give us minuscule bites as she finished 3.8 of the 4.  Dear Husband and I shared the Duck Tasso Hash, which has to be the best appetizer on the menu.  Horseradish and mustard give the dish a bit of zing and the poached egg on top adds to its silkiness.

     Main courses range from Eggs Benedict and two different omelets to Smoked Lamb Huevos Rancheros or even a Salmon Salad.  DD once ordered the Vanilla Bean Waffles, which came with bacon and candied pecans.  While she enjoyed them, it was a bit too sweet... even for her.  Who would have thought anything could be too sweet for her.

     Now she orders the Steak and Egg, which I have to admit is a family favorite.  Perfectly grilled and sliced Hanger Steak is served atop a spoonful of creamy cheddar cheese grits and lightly dressed with a delicate Bearnaise sauce.  But the Scotch Egg is the star.  In theory, I know how they do it but I doubt I could ever pull it off.  One day prior to serving, they poach eggs.  On the day of service, they roll the poached egg in breadcrumbs and then quickly fry them.  What is delivered is a warm crunchy egg with an unset yolk, which acts as another sauce to the dish.  Heavenly!

     Another family favorite is the Eleven burger.  Topped with braised veal, pepper bacon, crispy onions and a choice of cheese, it is incredibly decadent.  And those fries...best in town!

     The price of this meal is also a highlight.  The menu is $29 per person and that includes juice or a brunch (lunch) cocktail.  What I really appreciate is then I ask for a Mimosa, without the OJ - meaning that I just want a glass of Cava, I am not upcharged.  

     At the end of each Sunday lunch, we vow to come back sooner the next time.  Maybe this time, we will.

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