Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fat Head's Saloon

Fat Heads Saloon

  Fat Head's is one of the better known bar/restaurants on the Southside of Pittsburgh. Fat Head's is known for having a large selection of beers and headwiches which are sandwiches as big as your head. They even garnered national acclaim in 2004 when their one headwich, the Southside Slopes (kielbassa, fried pierogies, American cheese, grilled onions and horseradish sauce)  was named 5th place in Maxim magazines top 10 list of sandwiches.
  Me and my companion arrived around 12:30PM on a Sunday. There was a wait so we went over to the bar and ordered a few drinks off of their extensive beer menu. It was nice to see that Fat Head's was carrying cider from the Arsenal Cider House out of Lawrenceville. This is some great hard cider and I really recommend you give it a try.
 They also have their own Fat Head's beer on tap in a few different styles such as Belgian Saison, IPA, and German Lager. While I am not a big fan of most in-house beers that a lot of restaurants seem to have these days,all the Fat Head's brews were excellent and  good representations of the different beer styles they are trying to replicate.
 Extensive Beer Selection
    After about a 20 minute wait we were seated and approached by our server who did a great job of taking care of us during the meal. The server was one of those that did not need to write down our order which I always find impressive since I cant remember what happened 5 minutes ago.
 To start the meal off we ordered two appetizers which were brought out to us within 10 minutes of placing our order.
Garlic Parm Wings 10 for $9.95
    The Garlic Parm wings my companion ordered were jumbo sized chicken wings in a garlic sauce and dusted with parmesan cheese. The garlic sauce was hardly noticeable, and the overpowering flavor was from the parmesan cheese that was generously coating the wings. The wings were cooked perfectly and were crunchy yet juicy. They were a little to much on the mild side for me however and I recommend that if you want spicier wings that you try their spicy parmesan wings which have a more traditional buffalo style sauce instead of the garlic butter sauce.
Smoked Chicken, Spinach & Artichoke Dip $9.95
   This could be one of my favorite appetizers of all time. The smoked chicken provides a nice slightly smoky and savory flavor. While the artichoke hearts and spinach give the dip a brininess that contrasts well with the chicken. You spoon some of this on top of one of the fried pita pieces and you have an explosion of unique flavors in your mouth. It is worth going to Fat Head's for this appetizer alone.
  For our main course we ordered two sandwiches. My companion ordered a headwich which made me laugh as I don't think she knew what she was getting into.
Double D $10.95 (Shaved steak grilled with onions and mushrooms topped with hot Italian sausage stuffed banana peppers, pepperoni, tomato sauce,provolone and parmesan cheese).

 This headwich lived up to its name in that it was as big as a persons head ( not mine though, I have a big head). This sandwich was so over the top it was comical. While this did not sound like the best combination of ingredients to put on a sandwich it actually worked.
Double D
  It wound up tasting like a really good hot sausage sandwich. The sausage stuffed peppers were excellent and put off a good amount of heat. They were the overriding flavor in this sandwich with everything else taking a backseat to the stuffed peppers.  The additional steak and pepperoni just added more flavors to what could have been an excellent sandwich even without them. My companion was only able to finish a 1/4 of the sandwich which winds up being the case most times people order a headwich.
The Big Dipper $9.95 (Smoked Beef Brisket with grilled onions, provolone cheese, and rosemary mayo, Au Jus on the side for dipping)
   The Big Dipper is Fat Head's version of a French Dip sandwich. The smoked beef brisket was tender and nicely smoked, tasting almost as good as you would find in a Texas BBQ joint. The rosemary mayo added complexity with its slightly herbal taste. When dipped into the au jus, this sandwich tasted perfect. This was my first time that I tried this sandwich at Fat Head's and I must say that it might be my new favorite.
Big Dipper
   Both sandwiches came with homemade potato chips which we dipped in a side of ranch dressing. For those ranch snobs out their ( which I was surprised to find out includes almost every Female reader of Pittsburgh Eats) the ranch is homemade and tastes great. Nothing worse then getting that abomination which is bottled ranch dressing with your meal which tastes nothing like good homemade buttermilk ranch.

 Having been to Fat Head's on numerous occasions I can honestly say that I have never had a bad meal or experience ( not counting when my friend had me try their killer wings in which I could only finish a quarter of one wing and my tongue was so numb that I couldn't taste the rest of the meal). Fathead's is the epitome of good bar food in Pittsburgh. When someone comes in from out of town, I without hesitation take them to Fat Head's, as I feel it shows them more of what Pittsburgh is about then say some swanky joint, hipsters eat at in East Liberty.
 A bonus is if you are out on a Monday or Saturday night, Caseys Draft House is right next door to Fat Head's. Caseys has midget madness in which a midget known as Manboy comes out of a box and pours the entire bar shots for $10.00. So what could make for a better evening then midgets and great food.

Garlic Parm Wings: 7/10
Smoked Chicken, Spinach and Artichoke Dip:  9/10
Double D: 7/10
Big Dipper: 9/10

Overall: 8/10

Fat Head's Saloon on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 8, 2011

Southside Gyro Throwdown

Well I was just going to review Mike and Tonys Gyros on the Southside. But a friend at a forum I hang out at, who lives in the Southside, said that I should really try Lesvos Gyros. Lesvos is relatively new, and just a block away from Mike and Tonys. So lets find out who is king, in our Southside Gyro Throwdown.

First up Mike and Tonys.
Mike and Tonys has been the gold standard for gyros in Pittsburgh. Their gyros are known for being cheap and loaded with gyro meat and toppings.
Mike and Tonys Menu
 Mike and Tonys also sell Sovlaki which is similar to a gyro but instead of shaved gyro meat (lamb), it has pork cubes marinaded in oregano, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.We will save the Souvlaki review for another day.
  My gyro order was taken immediately. The price at $4.30 is a complete steal. Some guy over at the rotisserie shaves off thin slices of crisp gyro meat with some weird cutting device that sounds like an electric razor.
Shaving the gyro meat
   The gyro comes with your typical gyro toppings, lettuce, tomato,onion, and tzatziki sauce(cucumber sauce).
The damn thing is just loaded with thinly sliced gyro meat. The meat is mildly spiced and is not overpowered with garlic and oregano. The tzatziki sauce has a nice tang to it. The veggies were all fresh and best of all they did not throw so much onion on it that you cant taste anything else. The pita was warm and fresh.
Mike and Tonys Gyro $4.30 
     In a nutshell their was nothing bad I can say about this gyro. It was not greasy, had great flavor, everything was fresh. About as near perfect a gyro as you will find.
  So off to the up and coming Gyro shop, Lesvos. To see if they can compete with Mike and Tonys terrific Gyro.

  In case you did not know, Lesvos is an island off the Greek mainland and is where the English word for Lesbian comes from. Now don't you feel smarter.
 Lesvos is about the same size as Mike and Tonys with a small area of about 8 tables for dining. In addition they also have a nice cooler filled with tasty looking Greek desserts such as Baklava and other sides.
Desserts and Sides
  Just like at Mike and Tonys they have loaves of gyro meat rotating around on spits.
Gyro Meat on Spits 
 The first thing I noticed at Lesvos that differed from Mike and Tonys was the preparation of the gyro meat. The man behind the counter took a knife to the gyro meat and cut off significantly thicker slices. After cutting these off he put the meat on the char-broiler and cooked the meat over an open fire.
Cooking the gyro meat with fire
  I had never seen this style of preparation in a gyro before, so I was quite curious as to how it would effect the taste.
 The gyro was then loaded with the typical gyro toppings. The tomatoes were sliced a little thinner then the tomatoes at Mike and Tonys, and helped integrate them better into the gyro.
 As I bit into the gyro, I could taste the flavor in the gyro meat from cooking over an open flame. A nice charbroiled taste was noticeable that added a unique flavor. The only thing wrong with this gyro was that the gyro meat was a little dry. I'm not sure if this was from heating the meat up with fire or not. Also I did not like the thicker chunks of the gyro meat, preferring the thinner shaved slices of Mike and Tonys. The other toppings were all fresh, and I think that the tzatziki sauce is the same recipe or brand as the one Mike and Tonys uses, I was not able to discern any difference in taste between the two. The pita was fresh and I had no problems with a dry cracked pita as I ate this gyro.
Lesvos Gyro $4.67

   So who is the big winner in the Southside Gyro Throwdown?
Lesvos(Left) Mike and Tonys(Right)
  Your winner is Mike and Tonys.
Mike and Tonys gyro is near perfect in everything. Taste, freshness, price, portion.The only thing I would do to improve it,  is slice the tomato thinner.
 Lesvos's gyro was no slouch and I can see why they are getting good word of mouth. The unique flavor that you get from them cooking the meat over an open flame will have me stopping to get gyros there on occasion, and not exclusively at Mike and Tonys. If the meat had been sliced more thinly and been slightly more juicy, Lesvos might have won this throwdown. As it is, Mike and Tonys wins by a smidgen. To be honest, you cant go wrong by going to either one of these fine gyro shops. They are less then a block away from each other, so head out and do your own comparison, and see which gyro you find to be the best.

Mike and Tonys Gyro: 9/10 

Lesvos Gyro: 8/10 

Mike & Tony's Gyros & Shish on Urbanspoon

Lesvos Gyro Greek Cuisine on Urbanspoon