Friday, January 27, 2012

...PRW: Habitat

I hate snow.

Food Collage and I planned a night out for Pittsburgh Restaurant Week together, as both of our men were out of town, and we both wanted to try Habitat, a newer restaurant downtown in Three PNC as part of the Fairmont Hotel.  We were both pretty excited about it, then...


It had snowed the night before, when I had to drive to the South Side, then to the Strip District, then I was going to stop home before going to a school board meeting...and I couldn't even get up my parents' street!  I ended up stopping at their house instead of my own, then driving to the meeting, scared to death the whole time.  I have lived in the Pittsburgh area my entire life, but driving up and down the hills in the snow makes me so, so paranoid.

I try to stay off the roads when it snows.  Otherwise, I'm a hazard to others.

I did not want to cancel our night out, but the oh-so-scary "Winter Weather Advisory" had been issued to start at 7 pm that night, and our reservation was f
r 7:15 pm.  Nuh-uh.  Not taking a risk.

Oh, but that Food Collage!  She worked her magic and got us an earlier reservation.  She rocks!

The only bad part about our new 5:30 pm reservation was rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon.  Had I realized that Three PNC has its own garage, I could have avoided the 15 extra minutes it took me to go around ONE CITY BLOCK, bad.  I was late, but Food Collage is very forgiving.

Walking into the Fairmont Hotel for the first time, I was so shocked - I had no idea that such a shiny, clean, impeccable hotel existed in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh - it was modern and gorgeous.

I walked up the grand staircase to the second floor, where the restaurant is located.  I was led to a table toward the back, where Food Collage was waiting patiently.  We were not far from the open kitchen, where we could see cooks preparing food diligently.

We were first served water from the best water pitcher I have ever seen in any restaurant EVER.  I do get fascinated with little details in restaurants, and this was definitely something that stuck out in my head:

Best water pitcher I have ever seen!
As part of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, Habitat offered a $30 three-course menu, from which we decided to order our meals.  For my first course, I ordered the Pennsylvania Mushroom Tart, with ingredients provided and inspired by Wild Purveyors, which we have patronized before at the Pittsburgh Public Market:

Pennsylvania Mushroom Tart
I'm not a huge fan of mushrooms, but this choice sounded better than the other two options - Roasted Organic Local Beets (ick - I'm less of a fan of beets than I am mushrooms) and Baby Bibb Salad.  Food Collage seemed a bit jealous of my choice, as she chose the Baby Bibb Salad, which was not as impressive.  She liked it, and it was probably the healthier choice - but mine had to be the more delicious choice (although neither of us tried the other's dish, so I guess we'll never know for sure...)

For my second course, Food Collage and I went with the Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Braised Organic Oxtail.   I chose it for two reasons: 1.) I had just had amazing gnocchi at Braddock's American Brasserie, which made me think that this would also be amazing, and 2.) I had been wanting to try oxtail for awhile now, after seeing it on many Caribbean menus (including Calypso Caribbean Grille, which I have yet to try, even though it's 2 minutes from my house).  

Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Braised Organic Oxtail
I was not at all disappointed with the taste of this dish - I am definitely a fan of the oxtail (it was like roast beef), and the gnocchi was soft and tasty.  I was, however, disappointed with the serving size - for a "second course" on a menu that was supposed to be a Pittsburgh Restaurant Week deal, this was quite small.  After checking out the regular menu again, Food Collage and I discovered that the first and second courses are both offered as appetizers - explaining the portion size.  Had we known this, I may have opted for something from the regular menu instead of the pre-fixe.

A bonus of this menu, however, was that we were able to chose any dessert from the dessert menu for our third course.  This proved to be quite a challenge, because EVERYTHING SOUNDED DECADENT:

Dessert Menu
The only thing that I wasn't considering was the bread pudding, only because I had made some myself about a week earlier.  Pumpkin?  Gingerbread?  Apples?  Ice cream and sorbet?  I could have eaten any of them.  However, I thought it best to go with an old favorite: Oreo.  Food Collage agreed, especially after our waiter told us that the Chocolate Oreo Torte was made with fresh mint.


Chocolate Oreo Torte
No regrets, and I suppose it was best that the first two courses were small to make up for the amount of calories I consumed at dessert!  Oh, Oreo, you never disappoint.  Never ever never.

The service at Habitat is phenomenal - our waiter, Nate, was so helpful in helping us to decide upon our choices, and the manager, Gerry, was kind enough to check on us to make sure that we were satisfied with everything.  We definitely were.

I do regret, though, that I did not get more shots of the inside of the restaurant itself nor the hotel - because they are both impeccably gorgeous and modern-looking.  I told James that he missed out - and that we MUST go back, so that he can experience it.  MUST MUST MUST. 

Maybe then we can have three desserts as our meal...or at least take two more home...

Habitat Restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel
510 Market St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (Downtown)

Habitat on Urbanspoon

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