Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bistro - Cincinatti

I had a chance to take a quick trip to Cincinnati last weekend. It's a city about the size of Pittsburgh, and it's interesting to compare the dynamics of the two towns. Cincinnati's downtown was quite lively I thought, and seemed to be a real center for dining and hanging out, especially in the Fountain Square area. All in all, it's an easy city to navigate and seems to have a lot to do in a central location -- definitely worth a road trip.

Here is a link to the Cincinnati convention and visitors' bureau web site, with a good listing of places to visit and things to do.

One restaurant recommendation: Bistro. Located near Fountain Square, Bistro had apparently, in an earlier incarnation, been a French themed restaurant. Reformulated, it now focuses on locally sourced meat and produce, with some Continental influences. My wife and I were delighted with the ambiance of the property. Service was attentive and knowledgeable, if sometimes a little distracted. The food was fabulous and exceptionally flavorful. The onion soup was a nice blend of sweet and savory onion flavors, and was distinct. The terrine appetizer was served in a rustic style, a compendium of rough grated chicken liver, giblets, pork, back fat and other ingredients. It was very filling - nearly a meal of itself.

The menu also features a "coal roasted" NY strip steak, which is charred as on a hot grill. It offers a nice smoky flavor in complement to the beef.

The cioppino -- seafood stew -- was likewise very tasty, with large chunks of white fish and other seafood in a tasty broth.

One thing on the menu which I wanted to try but did not have room for was roasted bone marrow, which you don't see on many menus but it's a favorite of mine.

So, when in Cincinnati, you won't go wrong sitting down at Bistro near Fountain Square.

Friday, June 10, 2011

This Just In!!!

Our Priory Fine Pastries bakery was named the second best cupcake maker in the Pittsburgh region by the viewers of WPXI TV. We went through two rounds of judging/voting. Voting closed on Monday June 6. We found out that we were in the Top 3 at that time, but were not told which place. That we would find out today through a visit to our retail store. The WPXI crew showed and awarded us a plaque for the runner up slot (Vanilla Pastry Studio was the top vote getter) . While a little disappointed that we did not take the top prize, our excellent crew, led by executive pastry chef Jim Lazeration, was very very proud to be in the hunt for such a special prize.

Watch Channel 11 Pittsburgh tonight for the story. Congratulations to Jim, his assistant Angela, and the rest of our Priory Fine Pastries team for a job very well done!!

Priory Places First and Third in Best Restaurants City Wide

Our Grand Hall at the Priory was named the top banquet facility in the city by the readers of Pittsburgh Magazine, while our Priory Fine Pastries bakery garnered recognition as being in the top three of all bakeries in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Magazine has named its readers' "Best Restaurants" in its June issue every year for the last 22.

We are extremely proud of our Grand Hall executive chefs Pete Phillipy and Mike Henney, and GM Walt Czapliewicz, and our executive pastry chef for the Priory Fine Pastries, Jim Lazeration. Fabulous job by all. See bios of our Grand Hall staff here.

Click here for the electronic version of Pittsburgh magazine, with a listing of all the best restaurants in Pittsburgh.

Keep your eyes peeled for more on the Best Restaurants party, which occurred at Heinz Field this week.

City Council Proclamation for Priory Hospitality Group

We were honored to receive a Pittsburgh City Council proclamation recently honoring our hotel expansion and community efforts over the years. It was gratifying to see a couple of generations of work recognized, and we feel very energized moving forward to ensure that our guests and clients have the very best experience we can give them. That's me in the photograph with City Council President Darlene Harris.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Three Rivers Arts Festival Going Strong

The Three Rivers Arts Festival kicked off last Saturday, and is at about its mid-point today. The festival, which takes place in Point State Park downtown, features displayed art, an artisans' market, activities for kids and adults, and a lot of music. Tom Tom Club, featuring Pittsburgh native Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth (both formerly of the Talking Heads) played on June 4, but you can still look forward to Ricky Skaggs and Buckwheat Zydeco this weekend. And it's all free.

Click here for a list of bands and performers at the festival.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Monks Bar Special

This week: White Sangria! Refreshing - perfect for sipping in our courtyard. $6 per glass.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer at the AE Amphitheater

The American Eagle Amphitheater (also called Stage AE) just opened in December 2010 between Heinz Field and PNC Park, a little under a mile walk from the Priory. The AE has been going strong since its debut, but it seems to be really hitting its stride now that the warm weather has arrived and it can accommodate outdoor shows. I attended the sold out Avett Brothers show on May 27. The amphitheater seemed to hold the crowd (seemed to be about 5,500 people) comfortably, and the acoustics were more than adequate. A couple of observations: (1) if you are afraid it's going to rain, don't bring an umbrella - it will be confiscated; and (2) the shows are general admission, so expect that you will stand for the whole show among a crowd - if you think you want a drink or to use the restroom mid-show, sit near the sides of the viewing area, otherwise you will be fighting a mass of humanity to get out.

The AE, with its tweener capacity of about 5,500, seems to be attracting some shows that might otherwise pass Pittsburgh up. Upcoming acts include Panic at the Disco and Devo.

Here is a WTAE TV news story about the opening of Stage AE late last year.

There are a number of options nearby to eat pre- or post-concert, including the locally owned Rivertowne Tavern, which offers an array of draft beers, including many of its own.