In our new Monday column, we give you recommendations on what to eat, drink and do in the week ahead.
Eat: Sunday suppers at Pittsburgh’s best restaurants
With the cold weather upon us and the holiday season drawing alarmingly near, my stomach is yearning for big, hearty meals. Thankfully, several Pittsburgh restaurants can make that happen. Regular Sunday suppers are popping up all over town, treating you to heaps of home-cooked food and keeping you from setting foot in the kitchen.
Highland Park’s E2 holds their wildly popular Sunday Sauce once a month. The tiny restaurant boasts a long communal table in the basement, and on the last Sunday of every month, they fill it with massive portions of their incredible, Italian inspired food— think meatballs, roasted veggies and polenta. Bring a bottle of wine, make new friends and eat ‘til you’re sleepy.
For another take on the Italian family meal, head to Stagioni. The South Side restaurant has held monthly Sunday Suppers for years, allowing them to break away from their typical fine dining format and deliver four courses of family-style fare. And though not Italian, The Crested Duck hosts monthly dinners that are just as satisfying to the soul. Once a month, Chef Luke Och creates a menu of simple, seasonal fare and serves it up to a small group at their Beechview restaurant.
Limited seating and incredible prices (all of these monthly dinners run around $40) mean they fill up fast. Snag a set of tickets for a spring dinner and stuff the stocking of your favorite foodie. Or if you can’t wait, head to one of the many weekly Sunday suppers to be found around Pittsburgh, like Piper’s Pub’s traditional roast beef feast or Brillobox’s Starving Artist Sunday Supper, where you can snag a plate of vegetarian food for just seven bucks.
Drink: Autumn’s answer to lemonade
As much as we might wish otherwise, alcohol can’t go with every meal. Summer offers plenty of refreshing alternatives, from fruity teas to lemonade. But where do you turn when you want a thirst-quenching beverage in the cooler months?
Switchel, that’s where. Though its origins are murky, the zingy drink was a favorite among colonial American farmers, who often lacked access to citrus fruits. They did have vinegar, however, and mixed up this cousin to lemonade to power through a long day in the fields. The concept is simple: combine vinegar, some sort of natural sweetener (honey or maple syrup work well) and water. Add fresh ginger and let it chill for the better part of a day.
At Oakland’s Butterjoint, bartenders have experimented with a refined take on switchel. They combine an ounce of Chef Trevett Hooper’s homemade, barrel-aged apple cider vinegar with an ounce of honey syrup, then top the mixture with soda water. The end result is a refreshing drink with the bite of a cocktail and none of the buzz.
Commercial versions of switchel are available, but the drink is dead easy to make at home—you probably have all of the ingredients on hand right now. And in case you’re wondering, a splash of a brown spirit like rye whiskey or aged rum makes for a lovely (and simple) autumn cocktail.
Do: Beers of the Burgh Winter Warmer
A winter warmer is a loosely defined beer style characterized by maltiness, a high ABV and a slight sweetness. It’s also, however, the name of this weekend’s beer festival celebrating all things strong, dark and spicy.
Beers of the Burgh throws their flagship event every spring. But for those who’d rather not wait until May for their festival fix, there’s the Winter Warmer. Held this year in a warehouse on the South Side, the Winter Warmer brings together more than thirty of the region’s brewers to serve up seasonal samples, from spiced Christmas ales to porters to Belgian strong ales. This year’s lineup of brewers features festival veterans alongside brand new breweries, including Butler’s Reclamation Brewing Company and Brewtus Brewing Company in Sharon.
The Beers of the Burgh Winter Warmer takes place this Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $45 and include a keepsake tasting glass, live music and as many samples as you care to drink. There will also be a variety of food trucks on hand, including Driftwood Oven (which we wrote about here) and Berlin Street Food.