Tag Archives: ace hotel

Whitfield at Ace Hotel – East Liberty Neighborhood

As I get older, the title of Earl Sweatshirt’s solid sophomore album describes my life’s mantra more and more – “I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside.” I rarely get the opportunity to dine somewhere out of the south hills suburbs, and usually when I do, I just complain about how long it takes to drive into the city and how it’s ludicrous that a place can charge $16 for a hamburger when you can get a good one for half as much at Red Robin…along with bottomless fries.

Combine all that with the fact that a night on the town for my wife and I also necessitates a fifty dollar expenditure for babysitting, and you can see why I’ve become so dismissive of Pittsburgh’s surfeit of “cool” restaurants that seem to be nothing but a clichéd pastiche of Edison lights, exposed ductwork and seasonalocalartisanal comfort food.

Would a recent trip to the uber-trendy Ace Hotel’s tavern The Whitfield break my streak of underwhelment? Read ahead as I discuss my experience with my blogger-buddy HGB, who’s one of Pittsburgh’s most popular and discerning restaurant critics. Bon appetit!

AJF: Let me just start this off by patting myself on the back for making it to The Whitfield (120 S. Whitfield Street, 15206) before you. I mean, it was only by about sixteen hours, but it still counts. Now, upon first entry to the establishment, I was really surprised to find it to be so understated. I was expecting something vibrant like The Commoner at Hotel Monaco since it’s a similar endeavor, but The Whitfield stayed almost too-true to its roots as a former YMCA.

HGB: I was so concerned that I wasn’t going to be hip enough upon entering. I did wear my sunglasses that I got from the lost and found, which is hip and all pseudo-nonchalant, right? But yes, you beat me there and you are right in that it’s very much a former YMCA. After getting my bearings, I remember that I really liked the layout of The Whitfield and how it casually spilled into the hotel lobby. Also, since I went for brunch, the natural lighting was a striking feature of the interior.

AJF: I was there in the evening and also noticed how striking the lighting was, albeit it wasn’t natural since it was dark outside obvi. The bright bulbs and stark white walls just made it feel too glaringly chilling for my liking. As my age tiptoes further away from thirty and towards the big four-oh, I now greatly prefer dimly-lit spaces. That way I can use the shadows to maintain some semblance of a youthful appearance. I’m sure by the time I hit fifty, I’ll only leave my house at night like Dracula. In conclusion, I thought that the overall aesthetic was nice and trendy enough, though a little too white and austere in tone for my tastes… basically the same way I feel about Ed Sheeran music.

HGB: I have no coherent thoughts here as I am laughing about Ed Sheeran and wondering who came up with the term “strawberry blonde,” because he is that right?

AJF: I’m not sure about that, but I am sure that if we don’t start talking about the menu soon, our readers are just gonna head over to Yelp for their restaurant recommendation needs!

HGB: As much as I love Rachel (and all of her awesome Yelp parties), I highly doubt that people would leave us to go over there. Folks are invested in this post already. You and I are the Captain and Tennille of Pittsburgh bloggers (well, the ones who actually blog anyway). But go ahead. Tell us what you drank, since drinks are really an appetizer.

AJF: My group showed up right on time for our 7:30 p.m. reservations, and were seated right away so unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to hang out at the bar. After a quick glance of the impressive drink menu, I went straight to ordering a never-disappointing Fat Gary (English Brown Ale, 3.6% ABV) since I regrettably gave up hard liquor for Lent.

HGB: I didn’t give up anything for Lent. But anyway, because we were there for brunch, we were not drinking beer. We ordered Whitfield Bloody Marys, Mimosas, Almond Margaritas, and something with gin that was amazing but I cannot remember the name to save my soul. Two of the drinks were part of the brunch prix fixe menu, a concept of which I happened to enjoy very much. I know it’s a first world problem, but I sometimes struggle at brunch when trying to choose between breakfast-centric or lunch-centric items. A prix fixe menu eliminates that, especially one that includes a drink. All of our drinks were quite pleasing and refreshing; thus, all were an excellent precursor to our meal.

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AJF: Much like the revelers at Pittsburgh’s internationally renowned dance party Hot Mass, I showed up to The Whitfield with the singular goal of consuming as much meat as possible. I started off with the Butcher’s Plate ($18), which was comprised of a nice mix of charcuterie, patés and seductively sweet bacon jam. I followed that up with the hanger steak entrée (creatively titled “The Steak”, $21), which came along with fries and béarnaise sauce. Though I would have liked to seen a larger piece of meat (that’s what he said) than its 8 ounces, everything on my plate was delicious and met my high level of culinary expectations.

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HGB: I too, showed up with the goal of eating well. At age thirty-six, it’s one of the few joys that I have left in life. My group was a threesome (in numerical terms only); two of us ordered from the two course prix fixe menu for $26, including the aforementioned drinks. Our first course was Beef Tartare (grilled bread, romaine, capers, parmesan reggiano) and Bruléed Grapefruit (pomegranate), our second course was Frisee & Roasted Rapini (fried poached egg, lardons, duck fat hollandaise, pickled beets) and Ham & Jam (cranberry, egg, powdered sugar, and mixed greens).

The Beef Tartare was chilled, salty, and went well with the grilled bread and capers; the Bruléed Grapefruit is now the benchmark for how I want my grapefruit prepared for the rest of my life with it’s hardened, candy-like shell and tart, juicy core.

The Frisee & Roasted Rapini is a great option for those who want an egg, but not an omelet. The Ham & Jam is thick-cut ham sandwiched between two large pieces of french toast, with the cranberry and mixed greens providing some balance to the dominating overall sweetness; ideal for sharing, this option is worthy of being revisited on my next trip to The Whitfield for brunch.

The third person in our party went rogue and order the Three Egg Omelet ($11, smoked pepper, caramelized onion, cheddar, mixed greens); it turns out that it’s a great option for folks who want a traditional brunch dish with a hipster influence. I mean, don’t we all want a little hipster influence in our lives?

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AJF: First with the Captain and Tennille reference, now an admittance of your actual age?!?! I thought that we’re supposed to use the internet to lie about ourselves and pretend to be younger?!?! I mean, is it still alright if I falsely portray myself as a Millennial Asian Lumberjack?

HGB: (staring at the computer incredulously)

AJF: I got the Wigle Whiskey Bread Pudding ($8, candied pecans, vanilla ice cream) for dessert, and it was sublimely delicious.

HGB: We also ordered dessert because our favorite color is #YOLO; we chose the Lemon Mousse ($8, shortbread, toasted meringue). We’d order it again and again as it seemingly went along with our brunch theme of being refreshed in good company and in a good space.

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AJF: In conclusion, I’d say that The Whitfield is a fine addition to Pittsburgh’s nationally-lauded restaurant scene and a great place to check out even if you’re not a Millennial Asian Lumberjack.

HGB: Like I tell my students, AJF… using “In conclusion, is cliché!” However, The Whitfield is not.

Whitfield Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Best of Winter Part III…Pittsburgh Relaxing

For this third installment of the Best of Winter series, Pittsburgh’s busiest mother/lawyer/blogger (or molablogyer for short) Elizabeth is here with some suggestions to help you to chill-out!!!

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Best Pittsburgh Ways to Relax From the Crazy Holidays by Elizabeth (Beezus Kiddo)

I’ve spent most of the last 3 days fighting valiantly for me to crash, face-first and snoring, into my desk. I haven’t gotten bad sleep. It’s just mid-December, and I’ve got a million obligations pulling me in a million directions. It’s nice to have people to visit and a cheerful season to celebrate, but it is also exhausting. The quiet of January is still a while away. These are my best picks for a quick pick-me-up to get you through the rest of the busy season.

1) An in-town night away.

What I would not give to check myself into a hotel for a night, wrap myself in the blankets, binge watch Say Yes to the Dress and order a pizza. A PIZZA I WILL NOT SHARE. OMG. With December as hectic as it is, it’s probably hard to find the time to do this, but this is the absolute Cadillac of relaxation.

Right now, Travelzoo is running a discount on rooms at the brand-spanking-new Ace Hotel. I’m a Fairmont fan, and the Fairmont Pittsburgh is the absolute best Fairmont in the country. If you’re looking for something a little cozier, the Priory is classy and quiet.

2) A spa visit.

When I was younger I didn’t understand why you would pay a chunk of change to have someone else wash your face. OMG what a fool I was. Yes, I can paint my own nails, but it is so relaxing to have someone else just do it FOR me. When I have the cash and the time, I love getting a facial or a massage from Judit European Day Spa.

Judit is small enough that the prices are reasonable, but also large enough to accommodate a group if you like to make spa day a girls day. Although the salon is a pretty straightforward nail salon (with bonus points for massaging pedicure chairs), I love to pop in to Rainbow Nails for a mani-pedi when I have a spare minute. Yes.

My most favorite spa treat is a mud wrap or salt scrub, but I am not familiar of any spas in the city that do those. Those will have to wait for things to quiet down, when I can sneak away to a Laurel Highlands resort.

3) Floating

I have been DYING to go for a float, but tragically have not made it yet. My husband has gone and l-o-v-e-looooved it. The flotation tank or sensory deprivation tank is like a big bathtub that has body-temperature water and a whole lot of epsom salts. You lay in there and float. The tub has a lid over it that closes, which keeps out light and sound. You lay in there very quietly.

If you are a normal person like my husband, it helps you clear your thoughts and you feel very relaxed. If you are me, you will probably be rattling off to-do lists for yourself within 30 seconds, but what the heck, you can TRY to relax…maybe? Even if my brain doesn’t quiet down, having some time of just QUIET would do me some good. There are 2 float facilities in Pittsburgh: The Float Center located in Capristo Salon & Spa and Levity in Squirrel Hill.

4) The Good Old Cocktails and Snacks 

What would this list be without a nod to my unhealthy crutches? My favorite foods and drinks could fill list after list, but here I’ll leave you with just 2 thoughts.

Best drink option for de-stressing? Cocktails at Speakeasy. Dawn tends bar at Speakeasy. Dawn is the best bartender in Pittsburgh. No. Dawn is the best bartender in The World. Not only does Dawn make the best cocktails, she’s just nice to talk to. And this is coming from someone who, when going out on my own anywhere, prefers to hide in a book or my phone. But I like going to Speakeasy and talking with Dawn. That really says a lot about her.

There are a million zillion great food options in Pittsburgh, but there are 2 pasta dishes that have been ON MY MIND lately. Pasta = full belly= happy = de-stressed.

One was the Campanelle pasta with butternut squash ragu, calabrian chile, apple fried brussels sprouts, sage and chive that I had for lunch at Sienna on the Square. The other was the Dirty Pasta (ground duck / strozzapretti / sage / brandy / pecorino romano) I had one night at Butcher & the Rye. Both of these dishes created a lasting, blissful haze of food happy.

Here’s to wishing your Holidays are filled with just the right amount of happy, and that you don’t burn out too quickly!

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