Friday, June 24, 2011

Backdoor Tavern

Backdoor Tavern
The restaurant sign is a rock near the front door
      The Backdoor Tavern may not look like much from the outside. It looks like the front of someones house. Having had to work up in Fallston which is right outside of New Brighton and Beaver PA a few years back, I had heard many good things about this place from the locals . They all raved about how great the fish sandwiches were and the great prices. Well the fish sandwich was great and the prices were good, so I thought I would revisit this place and this time have a chance to try some beers off of their extensive beer list.

  When you first walk into the Backdoor Tavern you enter the bar area. Down some steps are two dining areas which are surprisingly large considering how small the place looks from the outside.
 The beer selection is huge and might be the biggest I have ever seen. There are over 140 beers with both imports and domestics. The beer prices are just plain amazing, $6.00 for a bottle of Delerium Tremens and $3.25 for Fullers London Pride. Around Pittsburgh you can expect to pay almost double that amount at any other bar or restaurant.

Beer Menu part 1 Click for Larger image

Beer Menu 2 Click for Larger image

The Damage Done
    The dining room area is spacious and has a nice wood decor with your typical neon beer signs and antiques decorating the walls.

Dining Area
    The dining area was not crowded, yet our waitress was not the most attentive person and could have done a much better job of checking up on us.
 So for our meal, my eating companions and I ordered: Smokey Blue Wings, Reuben Bites, and fried pickles for our appetizers. For our entrees, we ordered: Backdoor Burger, Half Pittsburgh Steak Sandwich, and a Beef and Cheddar mushroom melt.
Smokey Blue Wings 12 for $6.95

   The Smokey Blue wings were fried perfectly being crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The sauce was unique in that it appears to be a mixture of blue cheese dressing and bbq sauce. To be honest, I had my doubts as to whether this would be any good, but I was blown away at how good they were. The smokiness of the bbq combined with creaminess and slight pungency of the blue cheese was a winning combination. These honestly could be the best wings I have ever had, and the only wings I have found comparable are the Louisiana Lickers at Quaker Steak and Lube.

Reuben Bites $3.95

 The Reuben Bites were pieces of corned beef, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese, battered and fried into little nuggets. They were accompanied by thousand island dressing for dipping. These were pretty good tasting, like a crunchy reuben sandwich. If you like reuben sandwiches you will love this appetizer.

Brewhouse Breaded Pickles $3.95
 The Brewhouse Breaded Pickles were ordered by one of my eating companions. Once again, I was a little hesitant about these, but was pleasantly surprised.  They were accompanied by a horseradish dipping sauce. The batter that they coat these with is perfect, light yet very crispy. The garlic flavor of the pickle combined with the horseradish sauce made for a quite unique taste,which I enjoyed.

Backdoor Burger $5.75 (Bacon, Ham, Mushrooms, Swiss Cheese)
  The Backdoor burger came out cooked to a perfect medium well. They never asked me how I wanted it cooked so I guess that is what you get by default. It was accompanied by some unremarkable ruffles potato chips. The burger itself was at least 1/2 pound and had good beef flavor. The mushrooms were sauteed perfectly and its pretty hard to screw up the ham and bacon. What a great burger. An excellent combo of toppings and a real steal at $5.75. The bun could have been a little better. It had a hard time dealing with the juiciness and was a complete mess by the time I  finished half the burger. This burger could hold its own against any of the burgers from the swanky burger joints such as Burgatory and Brgr that are all the rage right now.

Pittsburgh Style Steak Sandwich (Half) $5.50
  Well this sure as hell did not look like half a sandwich to me. Our waitress had informed us that a half was a normal size portion. This is obviously a take on the famous Primanti Brothers sandwich with coleslaw and french fries on top. The thing is, this out Primiantied Primanti Brothers.  Unlike a Primanti Sandwich in which you have to try hard to find any meat, this was loaded with chipped steak. Also unlike Primantis the french fries were actually crispy and added a nice texture to the sandwich. The coleslaw was a vinegar based slaw and had a nice tang. For $5.50 this sandwich is an unbelievable value.

Beef & Cheddar Mushroom Melt $5.50
 This sandwich is only served on Saturdays for whatever reason. This despite being pretty good was my least favorite of the sandwiches. It comes with a mountain of chopped steak and sauteed mushrooms. The Cheddar cheese was disappointing in that it was a cheese sauce that did not have much flavor. The combination of  juices from the steak, mushrooms and the cheddar cheese sauce made the bun turn to mush as you ate it. The lettuce and tomato that topped the sandwich were both fresh. My biggest complaint about this sandwich is that it would have been so much better with a few nice slices of actual cheddar cheese instead of the bland cheese sauce.

 In conclusion I can't recommend the Backdoor Tavern enough. If you live in Pittsburgh it is about a 40 minute drive up RT 65 to get there. The beer selection is one of the best and the prices are just unbelievable. The food is great with big portions and good prices. So grab yourself a designated driver and head up to the Backdoor Tavern for great beer and food.

Backdoor Tavern
Smokey Blue Wings: 9/10
Reuben Bites: 7/10
Brewhouse Breaded Pickles: 7/10

Backdoor Burger: 8/10
Pittsburgh Steak Sandwich: 9/10
Beef & Chedder Mushroom Melt: 6/10

Overall: 8/10
Great food, huge beer selection, and unbelievable prices make this one of the best dining destinations in Beaver County.

Back Door Tavern on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lunch at Max's Allegheny Tavern

  Maxs Allegheny Tavern is located in the North Side of Pittsburgh. Originally called Max and Erma's Allegheny Tavern and opened in 1977, the Erma was dropped after a dispute with a large chain restaurant called Max and Erma's based out of Columbus Ohio. Max's has been known as one of the few restaurants in the area that specializes in German food.Having had some pretty decent meals in the past, my coworkers and I checked it out for Lunch.

 You enter Max's into the bar area which has a number of people drinking at all times of the day. The bar area is old looking and dingy, but as soon as you walk into the dining area you are transported back to what I imagine a 19th century dining room would look like. Full of Tiffany glass and pictures from the late 1800's to early 1900's, its elegance and coziness is in direct contrast to the bar area.
  We did not really want anything extravagant for lunch so we ordered off the sandwich portion of the menu.
   This sandwich usually comes on Rye bread but was changed to white. The sausage itself is of the highest quality coming from Usinger's Sausages in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was prepared properly and had a slight brown crust on its outside. Bratwurst is usually a very mild sausage and this one was no different. Really nothing to complain about with the sandwich itself.  The fries however were disappointing in that they were soggy and unseasoned.

Dutchtown-Style Kielbasa
  This also usually comes on rye bread but was changed to white. The kielbasa itself was great having been grilled perfectly. It was juicy and flavored with garlic and spices. This kielbasa I enjoyed more so than the mild bratwurst in that I like the bolder, garlicky flavor.The accompanying sauerkraut was very good. It was not overpoweringly sour and was seasoned with apples and caraway.  The fries just as they had came with the bratwurst were soggy and blah..

Grilled Pulled Pork Sandwich
 My order was the pulled pork sandwich which was described as pulled pork with grilled onions and cheddar cheese on a hoagie bun. I substituted potato pancakes for the lackluster french fries. The potato pancakes are great. Sometimes potato pancakes are totally lacking in any flavor but these tasted good, with a slight hint of minced onion in them. They came with sour cream. The sandwich was disappointing. The pulled pork had zero flavor and was begging for some seasoning or smokiness. Luckily grilled onions and cheddar go good on almost anything and they rescued this sandwich from total blandness.

 In conclusion lunch at Max's was ok. The fries were abysmal. The pork sandwich sucked. Everything else was pretty darn good. The prices are more than reasonable with our total bill coming to less then $24.00 for all three dishes plus drinks. Having been to Max's in the past, I have been impressed with their German dinner dishes such as schnitzel, sauerbraten, and leberkase. In comparison to these, the lunch was a slight disappointment. In the future expect to see a review of some of their dinner specialties.

Max's Allegheny Tavern

Bratwurst:  7/10
Dutchtown-style kielbasa: 8/10
Pulled Pork Sandwich: 4/10

Potato Pancakes: 8/10
French Fries: 3/10

OVERALL:  6/10

Max's Allegheny Tavern on Urbanspoon