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Pittsburgh bakeries

I have used Chowhound a number of times when I've gone out of town, and have found some good places that way. I've kind of felt bad that I've had little to offer in the way of recommendations, though. I live in Pittsburgh, but for whatever reason, I stick with the same couple of places, and often base my choices on who has the best craft beer selection. (Probably Blue Dust, but I digress...)

But it occurs to me I do know bakeries, at least to some extent. So for what it's worth, a couple of unsolicited opinions on local bakeries:

Pastries a la Carte, Pleasant Hills - I know they're not a big secret, to judge from the crowds in this tiny shop, but they are head and shoulders above anywhere else, I believe. Their cakes are very good, and made beautifully. (Recently I saw them boxing a layer cake made to look like a cup of hot chocolate with bubbles overflowing. Very cool.)
But it's their cookies that make it worth the trip, from almost anywhere. I have never had bakery cookies that taste so close to homemade - or actually, better than almost any homemade cookies I've tried. Try the Allie cream sandwiches (I believe they're called): small, delicious wafer cookies with an ethereal cream inside. Their refrigerated goodies, like small mousses and big napoleons, are also wonderful.
It's a dreary trip on Route 51 to get there, and if you're not careful you'll miss it, but it's the best.

Eadie's, US Steel Building, downtown - A popular to-go stop for downtown workers. Their other offerings are OK, the place is a little dumpy - but they have perhaps the best cakes in town. I usually insist on an Eadie's cake for my birthday, if my husband's willing to go downtown and find a place to park. Moist cake, icing that doesn't taste like it was made in a lab - and the cake doesn't harden and get yucky the next day.

Prantl's, Shadyside - The favorite bakery of lots of Pittsburgh natives. Does anyone else remember the bread shaped as a turtle, with a sign stuck on it saying "I'll hold the hors d'oeuvres"? For YEARS they had that in the window.
Best thing to get at Prantl's. by a mile, is the burnt almond torte. Other places attempt it, but if theirs isn't the original, it's probably still the best. I had a priest (A PRIEST) tell me, as he ate a piece: "This is why God became man."
A plate of their mini-cakes and tassies is a lovely dinner-party dessert. And their cakes are also awesome, ranking behind Eadie's by maybe a hair. They charge based on their reputation, though.

Potomac Bakery, Dormont and Mt. Lebanon - Good bread, excellent brownies with yummy chocolate icing, decent cookies, very good doughnuts, and cakes that rank up there with the best.

Giant Eagle, everywhere - You know what, in a pinch, their cakes aren't bad at all. I used to love the giant chocolate-chip cookies, but they just taste so artificial to me now - don't know whether it's me or them. I have to say though: every time I leave there without a box of chocolate mini-gobs is a moral triumph. Not easy.

I know there's Chatellier's in Millvale - kind of out of my way, haven't been there since it flooded, but I need to go back. I'm sure there are other places I've missed as well. But those are my favorites, in any case.

Jan 16, 2013
annettesan in Pennsylvania

Reveillon Suggestions

A reply, and a slight change of subject...since I last posted, I've been doing some research, and am considering skipping a Reveillon dinner to just eat (and drink) here and there, without necessarily stopping for a whole meal. (But that Upperline menu sounds awesome.)

So I'm thinking of going to a few bars that have good menus, so I can try one of the famous cocktails and have a good bite to eat. Bar R'evolution sounded good, and i read about a new (I think) place in the Bywater neighborhood, Maurepas, that seems to have small plates. The Carousel Club has been recommended, though I'm not sure if they serve food.

Definitely going to do the Acme Oyster House, the Gumbo Shop, and Cafe du Monde (the one universal suggestion). Any other suggestions of bars (maybe not dives ;-)) with good food would be greatly appreciated.

Dec 04, 2012
annettesan in New Orleans

Reveillon Suggestions

I have the same question, essentially. I'll be in New Orleans December 7-10, traveling by myself. A friend and native to New Orleans (New Orleanian?) has recommended Galatoire's, and I see that seconded here.

I'd just like to know which of the Reveillon restaurants are most comfortable for single diners. Well, and have good food too ;-). Thanks!

PS Just browsing: the American Sector, Sazerac, and Crescent City Brewhouse sound good - I love craft beer so that last one got my attention, but I don't know how the food would be.

Nov 15, 2012
annettesan in New Orleans

Walkable area to stay/eat in Detroit?

Hey, well, better late than never. Thank you all for your suggestions about my Detroit visit. The overnight at the Greektown Casino was ok, reasonably priced, but I got there late and all I could find to eat in the casino was shawarma - OK shawarma, but still. I clearly should have left the casino for a late dinner. No local beers at the casino either, from what I could see.

That was really only the only eating I did in Detroit, unless you count the free breakfast buffet the next day. Eh... I didn't get to any of the breweries, something I was reminded of when I saw "Searching for Sugar Man," with the Motor City Brewery prominently featured.

However....I did get to the Motown Museum, and absolutely loved it. Maybe the highlight of the trip, and I also got to Stratford and Toronto. It did feel, like somebody said, like Berry Gordy, etc., picked up and left the day before. The front reception area, with the steel desk, naugahyde chairs, and dial-up phone, looked just like the offices my dad worked in in the '60s and '70s. And I loved the handsome young tour guides, and how they got everyone to sing along with the hits during the tour. (Those guys could sing, too.) And one tour guide gossiped with me about the day (Sir) Paul McCartney came to visit. Very fun; highly recommended.

Thanks again for the ideas. It was good to visit.

Nov 15, 2012
annettesan in Great Lakes

Walkable area to stay/eat in Detroit?

Bell's is one of my favorite breweries - I'd love to get there someday. I'll definitely plan on visiting the Motor City Brew Works. I checked it online and it looked great. Just as happy I'm missing the Kid Rock beer...

If anyone in the area ever wants to make the drive east, I'd highly recommend Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewing Company. Their fabulous beers are even better fresh, the food's pretty good, and it's got a nice vibe. (Nothing comparable in Pittsburgh, unfortunately, though we have some good local craft beers.)

Thanks again. Looking forward to it!

Jul 23, 2012
annettesan in Great Lakes

Walkable area to stay/eat in Detroit?

I'll try to check out the River Walk; sounds nice. I'll probably be in the city less than 24 hours, so it sounds like I'll be missing some good stuff. (And I won't be there Friday, so no Ace Frehley...

I just looked up Roast, and was interested to find it's a Michael Symon restaurant. I live in Pittsburgh, and frequently visit Cleveland, so I'm a bit familiar with Lola and the B Spot. Pretty good burgers at the B Spot, and they have a good beer selection. (I'm an amateur beer snob.) I tend not to trust the whole food celeb thing, but Symon seems to do it OK.

Thank you all - and if there are any local beers I should try while in town, hey, please let me know!

Jul 20, 2012
annettesan in Great Lakes

Walkable area to stay/eat in Detroit?

Thanks, everyone! I got a good price (I think) for a night at the Greektown Casino ($97, plus tax, etc.). I looked at the Westin Book Cadillac, but it was a little pricey. I wasn't finding much in Birmingham, though it sounds nice.

Not a big casino person, but at least there'll be stuff going on. And since it says Greektown, maybe I can find good Greek food.

Looking forward to the Motown Museum - I like the idea of the place just as it was. Thanks again for all the feedback!

Jul 19, 2012
annettesan in Great Lakes

Walkable area to stay/eat in Detroit?

Hi -

I'm going to be in Detroit for one night next week. I'm traveling to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and I thought I'd stop and see the Motown Museum on the way. (!!!) I haven't made a hotel reservation, so I was hoping for a little guidance.

What area would be good to stay in? Usually, I'd prefer to stay in the center city, but if there's a nicer area that's safe for a middle-aged lady to walk around in, I'd prefer that. And good places to eat would be a bonus.

I'd appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.

Jul 18, 2012
annettesan in Great Lakes

Dinner for one before "Jerusalem," W. 45th st., Friday 6/24

I've looked at some of the pre-theater suggestions and would like to ask for more specific advice. I'm coming to New York to see Jersualem Friday (Megabus, leave Pittsburgh 7 am, return 7 am Saturday - this better be a good play!). I'll have a couple of hours before the show, so I thought that if I could get a really good meal, that would add to my mini-jaunt. Ideally looking for a place where a middle-aged woman alone could be comfortable..I read about Toloache, which sounds great, but I'd also be interested in French food or great seafood. I'm willing to spend up to $50 or so, not counting alcohol.

Thanks for any suggestions.

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Toloache
251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

Jun 20, 2011
annettesan in Manhattan

Restaurants/bars near Hotel Sax

Hi -

I read the information at the top of the thread, suggesting you search by neighborhood - but I'm not sure exactly what part of town the Hotel Sax is in, other than knowing it's downtown.

I'm mainly looking for something interesting, maybe ethnic, for one person or a small group - and possibly somewhere nearby that serves decent food late on weekends.

Thanks!

Mar 16, 2010
annettesan in Chicago Area

Montreal-type smoked meat in Pittsburgh?

I'm doubting I'll find this, but is there anywhere here in Pittsburgh that sells smoked meat? It's a little like pastrami, but (based on one sandwich, not even in Montreal) I'd say it's maybe leaner, less garlicky, and maybe more peppery.

Thought I'd try, anyway. Thanks.

Feb 20, 2010
annettesan in Pennsylvania

What NOT to miss in Pittsburgh?

Just to throw in - the Strip on a Saturday morning is always a recommendation, it seems, but it's so insanely crowded, parking's really hard, etc. All the same stores and restaurants are open on weekdays (usually just in the daytime). DeLuca's is a lot more enjoyable when crowds aren't spilling out the door, propping it open, as they wait for a table. Go, by all means - but consider a Tuesday morning, maybe. (And don't forget Mon Aimee Chocolate and La Prima Espresso.)

Feb 20, 2010
annettesan in Pennsylvania

Weekend TO visit-recommendations for party of one?

I just wanted to get back to all you helpful folks with a quick review of my weekend in your fabulous city:

It goes without saying that the weather could not have been better. What luck! I did so much walking I now have a blister on my foot. But it was worth it.

I walked from the Marriott Eaton Centre (very nice!) to Beer Bistro Friday night. Very crowded and loud - finally took a seat at a table in the bar, then minutes later a guy asked if he and his girlfriend could share my table. Fortunately, they were nice people.

I had the "fancy shmancy" mussels (in a rather bland sauce, but with lobster meat added). The mussels were very large and well-cooked, but as noted, the sauce was eh. Friendly service and an impressive array of beers, all nicely explained in an accompanying brochure.

Saturday, I walked to the St. Lawrence Market (no food bought there except a nondesript spinach croissant) - and from there to the Distillery District, where I spent hours wandering through the galleries and stores, and visiting Soma not once but twice...the fist time I had the Mayan hot chocolate, which was awesome. I wasn't sure they could do the bicherin for me, because I only do decaf espresso. But the second time I asked, and they did it...and it was by far the favorite thing I ate or drank that weekend. Absolutely heavenly...I now hate Starbucks (even more than I already did). Had lunch at Mill St. Brewery - not bad really, mussels again - a better sauce than the bistro, with generous slices of chorizo, but the mussels were smaller. Really, really liked the Coffee Porter and Organic Lager.

That night, I just kind of wandered and noshed, with mixed success...looked into Grossman's, a bar on Spadina, a real dive (I say that approvingly)...but the music wasn't going to start for an hour and I didn't have the nerve to stay. I then walked over to Smokeless Joe's, which I really liked - very small, but great atmosphere, and again, very good beer selection. More of an emphasis on microbrews, which actually interest me more than imports. Their menu was very limited and a bit eccentric - three kinds of bruschetta, as I recall, and not a whole lot more. But they did have, of all things, an African peanut soup, and it was very good. That soup and a Black Katt porter - good combo!

From there, I walked to PJ O'Brien's Pub (too crowded, music was just OK) and then to C'est What. Nice enough place, didn't care for the music much...but I got a beer (a hemp one, forget what it was - I've had hemp beers before, which I liked, but this one was yucky), and a small portion of mediocre spring rolls. Nice service, but otherwise blah.
Got some Vietnamese won ton soup to take home at a place on Yonge near Queen - forget the name, but it wasn't so great.

Sunday (after squeezing through the Santa Claus crowd - yikes!), I took the streetcar out to the King West neighborhood and had brunch at the Drake...was going to do School, but I got too hungry, I guess. Had my first bloody Caesar - I was disappointed I couldn't taste the clam flavor much. I just had irish sausage (very good) and cheddar biscuits with maple butter (delish). The place is a little pricey...walking back down King, I ran into the Dog's Bullocks (nice name) to watch the end of the Steeler game (boo!), then took the streetcar out to the Beaches...by then it was getting dark, so I didn't see much of the lake, but the boardwalk, etc., looked lovely.

I kind of gave up Sunday night and went to the Beer Bistro again - this time, the mussels, in a chili and smoked sausage broth, were a little more interesting.

And Monday, I got up, checked out, walked over to Soma, got guess what again (and some chocolate for the road), and headed home. All in all, a delightful weekend (beer, mussels, and chocolate - what more do you need?), and thank you again for all of the suggestions!

Weekend TO visit-recommendations for party of one?

OK, it's starting to come together, thanks to these fabulous suggestions. Friday when I get in, dinner at either the 3 Brewers or Beer Bistro - I know the food ratings for each have not been stellar, but the Bistro menu at least sounds pretty good.) I'm thinking the St. Lawrence Market Saturday a.m., then a walk to the Distillery District. (Any lunch suggestions there?) More wandering, hanging out (maybe I'll finally make it to the Bata Shoe Museum, which has intrigued me for years)...I'd like to go to a very good place where you can eat at/in the bar, so maybe Starfish or Brassaii, if they have bar food, Sat. night...unless I hear more suggestions. Some music somewhere afterwards.

Sunday, I think I'll do what I can to run from Santa...maybe take that streetcar ride up to Little India and the Beaches. Drake Hotel pastries at some point, not sure about dinner. A last meal Monday for Monday brunch/lunch (House on Parliament maybe?), then back on the road.

Other than good places to eat at the bar, I'm pretty set. Thank all you lucky Torontonians soooo much!!

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Little India
255 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V1Z4, CA

Beer Bistro
18 King St. E, Toronto, ON M5C 1C4, CA

Distillery District
55 Mill St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

St. Lawrence Market
92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

Brassaii
461 King St. W, Toronto, ON M5V 1K7, CA

Drake Hotel
1150 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M6J 1J3, CA

Weekend TO visit-recommendations for party of one?

These are all great ideas - thanks! I think I definitely want to check out Beer Bistro (and I want to find out what a bicerin is...). Brassaii also sounds good, from what I saw on their site.

I've been to Kensington Market, Yorkville, and the Annex - all neat neighborhoods, and I'll probably hit them again. But are there any neighborhoods that might be a street car/bus ride away, that might be worth visiting (to eat or browse)?

I've also been to the Distillery District, but just at night, so I'm thinking a daytime trip may be in order (Mayan hot chocolate!).

I'm also hoping to find maybe a good live music place (folk or country), where a female alone and over 40 doesn't look too odd. I've looked at a few places - maybe to keep it on topic, are there any clubs with good food?

In acknowledgment of all this help, I'm going to check out the Pittsburgh board to see if I can add anything. Thanks!

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Distillery District
55 Mill St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

Brassaii
461 King St. W, Toronto, ON M5V 1K7, CA

Beer Bistro
, Toronto, ON M5G, CA

Weekend TO visit-recommendations for party of one?

Thanks so much!! I love your city...thinking of checking out Granite Brewery - the menu doesn't look like much, but the beer sounds good. Any good brewpubs?

Your recommendations sound great, topvoice!

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Granite Brewery
245 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto, ON M4P, CA

Weekend TO visit-recommendations for party of one?

I'm from Pittsburgh...not to complicate matters, but I'd take any of the above. I assume fine dining is best done in pairs or groups, so maybe not that. As for ethnic, not too into Italian, but Vietnamese, Filipino, other Asian, Mexican and other Hispanic cuisines sound good to me.

My standards? Um, clean place, half-decent neighborhood, not a chain restaurant -otherwise, I'm easy. (PS If there's a great place that's a bus ride away, and you know of any interesting shops/sights nearby, I'd love to hear.

Weekend TO visit-recommendations for party of one?

I'm looking forward to spending next weekend in Toronto. I'll be staying downtown, although I don't mind taking public transportation to restaurants worth the trip. Any recommendations for brunch and great places where a solitary diner will feel comfortable?

Also, how bad does downtown get during the Santa Claus parade?

Urgent - Place to see Big East final with good food, OK for kids

Yes, it's me again...as Pitt pulls away from Marquette (we hope), my husband is now insisting that instead of a nice restaurant, we go somewhere in NYC Sat. that's showing the Big East game...so my reservation at Artisanal goes for naught. But somewhere we can take the 2 vegetarian teenagers, with decent food?

I promise I'll start checking the Pittsburgh area board, to see if I can help with local suggestions. Thanks again.

Mar 14, 2008
annettesan in Manhattan

good place for after theater (Nederlander, 41st/7th) Sunday night

Sorry! For some reason, I looked at just about every other recommendation except Orso...looks pretty good. Thank you!

Mar 14, 2008
annettesan in Manhattan

good place for after theater (Nederlander, 41st/7th) Sunday night

We're going to see "Rent" Sun. w/2 teenagers. Any thoughts on after-show meals? (Maybe great pizza w/ other entrees, beer/wine?) Thanks!

Mar 14, 2008
annettesan in Manhattan

Restaurant recs for adults that want interesting food & teens that will probably eat pizza or grilled cheese

We're taking our 13 & 14 year olds to Manhattan for the first time this weekend...would like to go to a restaurant as described above - sort of upscale is OK, but no tough dress codes. Something unique to NYC would be great...we'll be staying near Times Square but will consider almost anywhere in Manhattan (and we'd like to make a reservation, and I know it's getting late!)

A great pizza place to please the kids later in the weekend would be good too - I heard Lombardi's is good?

Thanks so much!!

Mar 13, 2008
annettesan in Manhattan

Good catering/private room/hall in Pgh? [Moved from Mid-Atlantic board]

I've decided to meet a milestone birthday head on, by having a birthday party in late October-early November. I'm hoping to find a very good (and semi-reasonably priced) venue - preferably a set-up where we don't have to do our own serving, clean-up, etc. Any DJ recommendations (eclectic ones!) would be welcome too.

Aug 29, 2007
annettesan in Pennsylvania

Niagara Falls/Niagara on the Lake

I've been to NOTL a number of times, and I always stay at the White Oaks resort, just off the QEW, 10-15 minutes from the center of town. I really appreciate the new suggestions I'm seeing here (especially Queenston Heights..).

I have to say, though, that Liv, White Oaks' main restaurant, is really quite good (a lot better than the restaurants in town, from what I've seen). Not everything I've had has been wonderful (and I kind of wish they didn't limit their wine list to Niagara vintages, with few exceptions) - but a number of meals have been excellent, and the service is always very good.

I especially recommend the mussels (in a flavorful cream sauce with bacon and tomatoes) - and the chocolate armageddon dessert is to die for.

Also - the hotel is a lot nicer than the in-town B & Bs - and a little cheaper, too (but I must add that I'm not a B & B person).

Any other White Oaks thoughts?