(Originally posted 4/2/06)
I went to Pittsburgh on business and chose to dine at the Eleven restaurant. The menu sounded good and they have an extensive wine list.
I started off in the bar, to have a glass of wine before my dinner reservation. It was a nice looking bar, lots of dark woods. It had a long bar plus a lounge area with comfortable seats. The wine list was diverse but expensive. The price of a couple of the bottles I had previously, were much higher here. For example, a $50 bottle in Boston cost $85 here. Glasses of wine ranged from about $7-$25. That is more in range with Boston prices though a few glasses seemed too high for what you got. One interesting thing on the wine list was the ability to make your own Bordeaux style blend. They would provide you with a few ounces of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and you could blend them together in the ratio you wanted. This was only $12, though I did not try it. I will discuss the wines I drank though in a different section and concentrate on the food here.
The dining room is small, though there is a second level. The kitchen is open to the dining room so you can watch the chefs. There is also a separate bakery next to the dining room though it is behind a glass wall. The restaurant was about 3/4 filled when I sat down. The menu centers on seafood though they also have beef and poultry dishes. Meals average around $25.
My waitress was attentive, friendly and overall a good server.
My meal began with a complimentary amuse bouche, a salted cod cake with a sweet soy sauce. It was a little fried ball with an intriguing salty/sweet flavor. It was a nice start to the meal though I would have liked to have several of them. They have a bread server who carries around a basket of several different home-made breads, including raisin, focaccia and Italian breads. You can given butter for the bread, and offered olive oil, freshly grated parmesan and balsamic vinegar if you wish for dipping. The breads were delicious and the bread server came around several times to refill your bread plate.
I started with an appetizer, seafood chowder. It was obviously home-made and reminded me of the soups of Savory Tastes cafe. This chowder was packed with clams, crab, shrimp, potatoes and corn. It was not a thick broth but went very well with the seafood. It was spiced just right and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would definitely order that again.
My entree was a seafood trio. It consisted of arctic char with a miso glaze. Char is similar to salmon in color and texture. I have always enjoyed char and the sweet miso made for a delicious fish. The portion was decent sized, especially considering it was one-third of the meal. There was also a crab cake, a large, fried cake chockful of lots of crab. Again, it was seasoned very well and highly recommended. Finally, there was a potato encrusted scallop. A large sea scallop topped by a thin potato crust. It was on some mashed squash. I generally dislike squash but I enjoyed this. The scallop was very tender and tasty. Overall, this meal was fantastic.
Before dessert, I was given a complimentary lemon crush drink in a shot glass. Very tasty without too much alcohol flavor. For dessert, I had a banana cream pie, though it was not made in a traditional manner. It was more just a pile of bananas topped with a thin sweet glaze, whipped cream, and thin gingerbread-like cookies. It was quite large and very delicious. A fine ending to an excellent meal.
I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting Pittsburgh.