Monday, June 25, 2012

Sunday Brunch, Part 1: Bar Marco + Lucy's Banh Mi

Brunch and the Strip District.  Two of my favorite things in Pittsburgh.

Not having to work until later on Sundays in the summer is such a benefit to me, since I can partake in Sunday brunch.  Having had brunch at the Tin Front Cafe and Zenith on a few occasions, plus other experiences at Sugar Cafe and Kaya, have made me fall in love with the concept.  A laid-back meal, intended to fill me up in the way breakfast and lunch would do separately.

I love it.

A friend of ours, David Roth, a Pittsburgh architect with a passion for playing jazz-style music on his synthesizing keyboard, was to play on a Sunday at Bar Marco, a newer place in the former Embry/Firehouse Lounge space in the Strip District.  It was the perfect excuse to go there for brunch and explore the Strip on a Sunday, as I love to do.

David Roth provides our brunch entertainment
 It was the best of both worlds.

Bar Marco maintains the original firehouse architecture
 We arrived and sat at a table for two.  David greeted us with hugs and his usual cheery personality, as he was just getting back from a short break before beginning another set.  After a brief catching-up session, we ordered our coffee -- French pressed from local Commonplace Roasters:

Coffee - I really like this cup!
 The menu was impressive, but a bit expensive.  I thought about getting the Skirt Steak and Eggs, but at $19, I couldn't justify a good reason to order it.  I instead went with the Plantain Pancakes, with a side order of Brown Sugar Cardamom Bacon:

Plantain Pancakes, Cinnamon Butter, Local Honey, Brown Sugar Cardamom Bacon
 Wow.  This was a FANTASTIC choice.  The cinnamon butter and local honey made these pancakes.  Plantains are not sweet, but these pancakes did not need to be sweet; the accompaniments made this dish.   The bacon was sweet and crispy, as good brown sugar bacon should be.

James went with the Breakfast Risotto, and a side of Cheesy Potatoes:

Breakfast Risotto

Cheesy Potato
James and I sampled each others' foods, and I think I made the better choice, although his risotto was cheesy and creamy, and the cheesy potato was warm and crispy.  However, we both agreed that there was one problem --

We were both still hungry.

I was glad that I did not spend $19 on the Skirt Steak and Eggs, because if I had, and I were still hungry, I would be...well, demanding more food.  Our choices were excellent, but not enough for the double meal that James and I so desired.

After saying our goodbyes and thanks to David, we walked outside -- and as usual, Lucy's banh mi tent was set up just outside of the doors of the restaurant.  Banh mi is a simple Vietnamese sandwich, often sold as street food, with a variety of ingredients.  A French-style baguette (yes, French), usually topped with meat (today it was chicken) cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, Daikon radish, carrot, pickled onion, and a sweet, sticky sauce; ours was wrapped in foil for easy transportation:

Lucy's Banh Mi
This was JUST what we needed!  James and I split one $6 sandwich (James tried to get 2 for $10, but there was no bargaining with Lucy), and it was spicy, savory, and overall fantastic.  Street food in the Strip District is the way to go -- whether it be the tacos at Reyna's, or the many other options (pepperoni rolls from Mancini's, gyros, Korean pancakes...)

You'd think we'd be done,  Not yet.  Not even close.  There's more to this eating adventure.

To be continued...

Bar Marco & Lucy's Banh Mi Stand
2216 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222


 Bar Marco on Urbanspoon
Lucy's on Urbanspoon

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