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ROUND CORNER CANTINA (BRUNCH EDITION) – LAWRENCEVILLE

ROUND CORNER CANTINA (BRUNCH EDITION) – LAWRENCEVILLE

Wow, it’s been almost three years since our last post? Ridiculous. It probably didn’t help that our last article was ominously focused on hospital food.

But you can breathe a sigh of relief, folks, because yours truly is alive, kickin’, and eatin’ all types of crap!

People tend to bring up a restaurant they’d like to try with a tacked-on “I’ve heard good things” type of comment. This was the case when a good friend suggested we try brunch at the Round Corner Cantina.

Over the last 8 or 9 years, I’ve had a handful of good times at the Cantina, especially on those beautiful spring days when the patio is open and the suburban brigade hasn’t entirely emerged from their hell holes. That being said, it can get pretty bro-ish in there. But regardless, I saw a few pictures of the Cantina’s brunch on their Facebook and decided it would be worth a shot.

Ahhhh, brunch. A wise man once said “It’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch; but you get a slice of cantaloupe at the end”. At the Round Corner Cantina, I would say it’s equal parts breakfast and lunch, and you get a litany of delicious booze at the end.

Or the beginning. Or consistently throughout the meal.

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Bloody Maria, $4

The Cantina has lots of breakfast booze to choose from, including La Prima coffee, tall cans of Tecate, Micheladas; but I went with the Bloody Maria – just like a Mary, but with tequila instead of vodka.

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The interior at the Cantina has been renovated a bit with new wallpaper, paint, and the appropriate amount of dim mood lighting.

Me and the hubs got Breakfast Tacos. They came loaded with scrambled eggs, queso fresco, cilantro, and tomatoes – and, surprise! Sides of refried beans and rice!

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Breakfast Tacos (3), $10

I just can’t say enough good things about this meal.

The beans and rice should be a meal by themselves. Serve up a cereal-sized bowl of each and I’d be in heaven.

Everything on the plate tasted supremely fresh and legit – no killer, no filler. I’m pretty sure the tortillas are made in-house, possibly day-of. Fresh, soft, and flavorful. Like, perfect.

I don’t even like tomatoes, but the ones they used were like sweet little pops of savory goodness, and every topping worked in with the eggs made sense. Top them all with a little salsa, and you’ve got yourself one of Pittsburgh’s best brunches.

YEP. WENT THERE.

We ended up going back to the Cantina two more times – three weekends in a row – because of the commanding quality of their entire brunch thing. BUTTTTT, nobody’s perfect.

Unfortunately, and we’re not sure why, but the Cantina can’t seem to get it 100% right when it comes to service – and this is by no means any judgement on any particular wait staff. Every server, bartender, or back-of-house person has been great each time we’ve gone. But there are mistakes. We’ve ordered a few drinks that never came, same with some chips and dip that never made their way out of the kitchen. And a breakfast burrito that left a bit to be desired, according to our friendly friend:

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Brunch Burrito, $10 (made “wet”, +$3)

The menu says the burrito will come with carne asada, eggs, salsa, beans, and poblano potatoes. Our friend said, “You know how sometimes when you’re eatin’ a burrito, the filling isn’t mixed well, so you have to keep eating until you find all of them? I kept eating, but they weren’t there!”. Her burrito only had the steak and beans – nothin’ else. Still yummy, but also a big bummer.

As long as you’re willing to encounter some minor mishaps, I can safely say that brunch at the Cantina beats out any $14-$20 brunch buffet. I don’t care. Sue me, Lawrenceville!

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Round Corner Cantina – 9.5/10 on the BRUNCH SCALE OF BRUNCHY PERFECTION.

 

 

Check back soon for more Pittsburgh Nommers!

 

 

Mama Ros’s Sandwich Shop – Bloomfield

homerYour favorite food critic is BACK IN BUSINESS, BABY! Let’s not dwell on the past. Let’s also not dwell on the Activia yogurt I just had for breakfast. Bifidus Regularis – ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite go-to breakfast spots. It’s been a long time coming, Mama Ros’s Sandwich Shop, and I’m sorry I didn’t make this post sooner. 

Image courtesy of "Bloomfield Sandwich Shop" Facebook page

Image courtesy of “Bloomfield Sandwich Shop” Facebook

This is how a lot of people think of the Sandwich Shop. A shining beacon in the dark streets of Bloomfield. A safe harbor for those lost, wayward drunkards. When 2:00am has come and gone, and you just need a place to go because you don’t have an “in” at the after-hours bar. When they say “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here”, they’re telling you to go to Mama Ros’s Sandwich Shop.

But the older I get, the later I ain’t. I’m much more likely to get to Mama Ros’s when it looks a little more like this.

Image courtesy of The Bloomfield Sandwich Shop Facebook

    Image courtesy of “Bloomfield Sandwich Shop” Facebook

Okay, it’s actually much brighter when I get there at 1:00pm. The sun is usually blazing, which makes it feel like it might actually still be morning, so I feel a little bit better about having breakfast food. Plus, the daytime is the only time when you can actually get your food cooked by Mama herself. It makes a big difference.

Image courtesy of "Bloomfield Sandwich Shop" Facebook

                         Image courtesy of “Bloomfield Sandwich Shop” Facebook

I was just at the Sandwich Shop last weekend, but the photo I took of my breakfast didn’t turn out so good. Luckily, I found THIS awesome picture, which just so happens to be what I typically order. Silver dollar pancakes ($2.75), and 2 eggs over-easy with hashbrowns and toasties ($3.25 I think?). Mmmmmmmm MMMMM. Let me tell ya bout my hash browns.

Have you ever tried to make your own hash browns? Didn’t turn out so good, did they? Maybe they did – but they didn’t when I tried it. Apparently they take time and patience to prepare correctly. I don’t know what either of those things are, but I do know that Ros makes some damn good hash browns. Sometimes they can be a little extra greasy…but hey! It’s a greasy spoon!

Mama Ros also makes perfect over-easy eggs, and their toast protocol is better than ever. When I first started going to the shop, they’d bring your toast out way too early; almost as if it was an appetizer. But if you held out until your eggs were ready, the toast was too cold for dippin’! Thankfully, they’ve righted this wrong, and bring the toast out at a reasonable interval. 

And those silver dollar pancakes are just exquisite. Mama really knows her breakfasts. But the night folks have a few tricks up their sleeves! (Not many of them wear anything with sleeves, but you get the idea).

Image courtesy of "Bloomfield Sandwich Shop" Facebook

               Image courtesy of “Bloomfield Sandwich Shop” Facebook

The shop is pretty much Bloomfield’s only option for late-night munchin’, which makes NO sense to me. But hey, I’m fine with this monopoly. Being the only game in town has conditioned the sandwich shoppers well. Their night time food is excellent, even if you’re sober. I usually get the veggie burger and fries – you might want to remind them to cook the fries “well done” if they’re really busy. 

The first time I got the veggie burger, I actually had to ask “Are you sure this isn’t meat?”. Ros laughed and said “Nobody believes they’re veggie burgers!! I swear they are!”. She explained that they buy their veggie patties from…I think Costco? And they’re pretty pricey. She feels bad charging $5.75 for em. I say, “It’s cheaper than a McDonald’s combo meal!”. And it’s actually REAL FOOD!

To you, oh sweet shop, I give an overall rating of 9/10. You only get a “10” if you start putting ice in my water.

fireworksfactory

fireworks factory

You feel me, babe?

Bloomfield Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon

The Grateful Deli – Bloomfield

Hey, it’s 2013! I’m a vegetarian now! Why? Because I wanna.

lisa

I tried to be a vegetarian in high school more than a few times. But soft pretzels and nachos, though meatless, apparently aren’t the things you should be eating on a vegetarian diet. Officially entering my “late twenties”, I felt up to the challenge to really focus on the things I put in my belly. At midnight on New Year’s, I put down the pigs-in-a-blanket and picked up…well, a glass of punch. Everything else had meat in it. My goal: to widen the spectrum of my dietary intake. Try new things. And you know what I did yesterday?

I ate a tomato.

Not just one tomato. I ate every cherry tomato in my side salad. I have never willfully eaten a tomato of any kind. They were delicious.

But I have some leftover entries, pre-veg, that I’d like to share with you – including this one!

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Bertha’s Buffalo Chicken – $8.50

Deadheads will appreciate the menu, which is full of song and band references. But unlike the song says, you may actually want this Bertha to come around more often. WINK. I’M TALKING ABOUT THE SANDWICH.

The chicken is absolutely doused in buffalo sauce, which I can only imagine is hot sauce and butter. I always liked this sub because the chicken was in little bite-sized chunks, and always tasted fresh – their ingredients are all superb. Although the sandwich pictured above wasn’t the freshest I’ve ever had, it was the only one that wasn’t supa-phresh.

The chicken is the meat of the sandwich, literally and figuratively. But the fixins are what really make it outstanding. It comes with red onions, but who needs those? I’m still not a big onion fan. So I suggest leaving them off. You’re left with a heaping, very generous layer of blue cheese crumbles and a “drizzle” of ranch, as they claim on the menu. If you’re lucky, the cap of the ranch bottle will pop off while they’re “drizzling” your sub, and you’ll get a massive puddle of it like I did. The ranch really makes the sandwich. Don’t be afraid to slather is on there. After all, you’re already eating a fucking huge sandwich – what’s an extra 150 ranch calories?

You know that Subway smell? “Oh man, I smell bread and dishwater. Mmmmmmmmfivedollarfootlongs.”

subway anus

Subway is a joke. Their meat is awful. Their bread sucks. All of the Grateful Deli’s subs come on warm, toasty, soft bread. The warm bread gets your sub all melty, and the end result is deliciousness. Get extra napkins.

So there you have it. If you eat meat, go get a Bertha. If you’re a vegetarian like me, go buy some Morningstar Chik N’ Patties. I haven’t perfected an imitation Bertha yet, but I’m working on it.

If you don’t eat meat and you find yourself at the Grateful Deli anyway, try their humongous House Salad. It’s got mixed greens, nice hunky lettuce, pine nuts (go on with your bad self, Grateful Deli, damn!), onions, tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, and two big bread crouton things.

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House Salad – $6.50

As you can see, I wasn’t quite ready for the onions and tomatoes when I had this salad.

Doesn’t matter. It was still yummy.

They also have a couple vegetarian sandwich options, like a Hummus Sandwich, but I’ve heard they are “just okay”. Get it on the honey wheat bread, if you can.

House Salad: 9/10.

Bertha’s Buffalo Chicken: 11/10. All the way up to eleven.

Thai Gourmet – Bloomfield

Thai Gourmet

It’s February, which means you’re either getting over or getting into an illness. I fall into the latter category – I currently have a pretty nasty cold. I considered just ordering in tonight, since it’s snowing and freezing and I didn’t really feel like leaving my warm cocoon, but the idea of yummy Thai food propelled me out of bed and down to Liberty Avenue.

Thai Gourmet is an adorable little nook sandwiched between a tobacco shop and a laundromat. The dining room is intimate, with a long diner-style counter and bar stools as well as tables. The multicolored twinkly lights are so endearing. The whole vibe of the place is just so pleasant.

Service was prompt and friendly as I popped a squat at the counter. I was the only person eating at the “bar”, but the tables were all full of very happy looking customers. Yes, I was one of those “table for one” people.

Alone

Anyway, I ordered the Nam Prik (or the “N6” if you are uncomfortable saying “Prik”) – coconut w/ curry powder, yellow bean, deep fried broccoli/zucchini and crinkle-cut carrots. I also had Jasmine tea to soothe my throat.

So jazzy!

So jazzy!

Nam Prik

Nam Prik & Jasmine Tea - $10

The Nam Prik is served with your choice of meat. I am generally a meat-eater, but I tend to enjoy this dish with tofu generally. Thai Gourmet utilizes the 1-to-10 scale of spiciness with their menu, so I ordered mine at a 7.

The best way to describe the Nam Prik (curry-looking stuff in the bowl) itself is like a thin, saucy relish. There are tiny bits of peanuts in it, which gives it a very classically “Thai” taste. The spiciness combined with the sweet coconut flavor is absolutely delicious. Some Thai places don’t come through with very good accuracy on the 1-to-10 scale, but mine was definitely a strong 7. Just perfect.

I got a whoooole lot of food for $10, but I wish they gave you more deep-fried veggies. There were four pieces; two of broccoli and two zucchini. I understand that they are more so an accent of the dish than the star of the show. But man, I could eat like a pound of that fried broccoli. It is complimented by the sauce soooo well.

The noodles were cooked very well – maybe a little too soft, but I’m picky about noodles (as we all know from my last post) so I’m not really worried about it. The whole meal was AMAZING. I can’t say enough good things about it. The bed of raw veggies (spinach, really good iceberg lettuce, bean sprouts, crinkle-cut carrots) totally completes the meal, giving you a nice break from the intense spiciness every once in awhile.

Considering the adorable atmosphere, friendly service, and deliciousness of the food Thai Gourmet is getting a big 9/10 rating from this lady. I swear I’m going to come up with a better rating system soon.

Oh! And I got a fortune cookie for dessert.

Fortune

8)

It did! Making the 5-minute trek to Thai Gourmet dramatically improved my mood. I’d recommend it for the healthy and sick alike. Personally, I’m still sick. But at least my tummy is full.

-P

Thai Gourmet on Urbanspoon