Braddock’s at the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel
A few weeks ago, we were invited to dine at Braddock’s at the Renaissance Hotel. I had presented at VisitPittsburgh’s Social Media Pow Wow back in June with Renaissance Hotel Senior Catering Sales Manager, Tony Lee, and after our fantastic hour together, he invited me and the girls to check out Braddock’s.
We went for lunch, which was great. Upon arriving, we were greeted by Tony and some amazingly friendly staff. Oh, did we feel important. Besides the friendly staff, we also met with the General Manager of Braddock’s, Jim. Again, important. Tony and Jim filled us in on Braddock’s, the menu and the unique elements of the place. Did you know that the Chef crafts homemade pierogi and gnocchi? Did you know that you can rent out the lobby of the hotel for a special event? Or, did you know that there is a roof top patio? Who knew?
Now, onto the most important part, the food!
Upon sitting down, we were welcomed with water and bread!! And, if you have been reading eatPGH regularly by now, you know that I judge a good restaurant by the quality of the breadbasket. The bread at Braddock’s was in the form of a toasted baguette, sliced, wrapped in butcher paper and accompanied by softened, salted butter. Now this butter wasn’t just normal salted butter. I believe it was unsalted butter that had ground salt on top of it. Genius. Now, the bread was crusty on the outside and warm in the middle. However, it wasn’t sliced all the way through, which was tricky when tearing of the bread and not trying to touch every piece. Also, I’d like to see some combination of bread- maybe a few slices of baguette, some whole wheat, and even a sweet bread or a corn bread… mix it up. I love me a good variety in a bread basket, but maybe that’s just me?
After diving into the bread, we ordered one of the signature appetizers, braised short rib pierogies with leeks and pan juices.
Hands down the best pierogi. They come three per-order, so you have to get at least two servings. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Seriously, these things beat what’s coming out of church basements across the city if you are looking for a non-traditional fare. Braised short rips stuffed in pierogi dough, with a ratio of more meat than dough, then pan fried, giving it a little crunch on the outside, and topped with pan juices. Again, amazing.
After we devoured the pierogi, we ordered our actual meals. Beet and goat cheese salad with scallops for me, mussels and frites for Julie, steak and frites for Laura and roasted tomato bisque and chicken sandwich for Mandy.
Here is what we each thought:
I love me some beets, especially when they are on a salad. This salad was a good ratio of lettuce and thinly-sliced beets, accompanied by many scallops, two large pieces of fried goat cheese and housemade shallot vinaigrette. Choosing a salad was a great option for lunch because it is light and doesn’t stuff your stomach so full, you don’t want to return to work. I would get this again, but I think I would offer some improvements- chunk the beets and make the vinaigrette less sweat. The shallot vinaigrette had a sweet taste to it, which I don’t hate, but the beets were also sweet. I think a more vinegar-based dressing would have complemented the beets. And the fried goat cheese, perfect for eating alone or spreading on a piece of bread.
My lunch choice was the steak frites, essentially loads of meat and french fries. This was clearly a luncheon error: it was a hot summer day, early afternoon… “waitress, bring me ALL THE MEATS OF THE LAND!” Fail, on my part. It was too heavy for a midday meal. The dish itself was satisfactory, for you meat and potato crowd, but after having the absolute perfection of the short rib pierogies and the endless warm bread and salted butter, it was an afterthought. I would stick to the samplers and forgo the meal next time. I could swim in those pierogies. Swim.
I drooled over their crab cake for 15 minutes while everyone else perused the menu… and then I opted for the roasted tomato bisque with basil oil and bacon. I wasn’t disappointed. The soup rivaled the tomato bisque at Enrico’s, which to date… has been my favorite tomato soup in the city. So, good job Braddock’s. However, because I went with the “grab and go” soup and sandwich deal… I also got a sandwich. I should have chosen more carefully. I’m not sure what made me order the chicken, since I’m not really a big fan of the bird to begin with. Alas, I picked a little here and there but because I started out on such a high note I really needed something to wow me at the end. If I go back again, I’ll stick with their $5 burger (and the tomato bisque of course).
I am by no means a mussel connoisseur. Unless just eating them makes you one? If so, I guess I have a new title to add to my business card.
I went with the 1 pound portion because 1/2 pound is never enough. I also went with a more classic preparation made with shallots, white wine, herbs and butter. The sauce was flavorful and complimented the tender mussels. Two tiny complaints though: Because of the style of bowl the dish was served in, my mussels on top were somewhat dry. And those mussels deserved to be enraptured by that tasty sauce. I also thought they were a little on the small-side.
Overall, our experience was fantastic. I would definitely go back and for dinner next time. I would love to check out the bar and if you haven’t stayed there, the rooms are magnificent. Next time you are downtown looking for lunch, get a bite at Braddock’s.
Huge thanks to everyone at Braddock’s, especially Tony and Jim for letting us take take over a table for a couple hours!