Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Park Bruges

 Park Bruges is the sister restaurant of the Point Brugge cafe in Point Breeze. The Point Brugge cafe was so successful that the owners decided to open up another restaurant in Highland Park. Both restaurants specialize in Belgian/French cuisine. Word of mouth had been pretty positive about both restaurants so I was excited to try out the Park Bruges in Highland Park.
 We arrived at the Park Bruges around noon on a Sunday and it was pretty crowded with a 20 minute wait. While waiting, me and my eating companion decided to get some Belgian beers at the bar. My eyes lit up when I saw that they had Delirium Noel on tap. Delerium Tremens is one of my favorite Belgian beers and the Noel is a Christmas version being both darker and stronger. The beer was excellent but the price was a little steep at $9.00.
Delerium Noel $9.00
  Even though we were told a 20 minute wait, we were seated in 10 minutes. On Sundays Park Bruge has a  special brunch menu. For our meal we wanted to try some of the more traditional Belgian favorites. Our order consisted of Bruge Frites (French Fries), Crab Beignets, Tarte Flambee, and Prince Edward Island Mussels.

Bruge Frites $5.00
 If you dont know about Belgian french fries, let me tell you that they are the best in the world. They are first soaked in water overnight. Then they are fried twice. First at 310 degrees, than at 400 degrees. The result are fries that are perfectly crisp. Park Bruges fries were an excellent representation of this style of fries.  In Belgium they dont dip their fries in ketchup but usually a flavored mayonnaise of some sort, and the roasted garlic mayo that came with the fries was the perfect accompaniment for dipping.

Crab Beignets $10.00
      The crab beignets were fritters with crab and typical Maryland style crab cake seasoning.
They were accompanied with a charred tomato remoulade sauce.
Inside the Crab Beignet
   These were ok, with the crab meat being generous throughout the entire fritter though it was not lump crab meat, more claw and other parts.. The sauce was complex with tastes of mustard and smoked paprika. A very unique sauce, and it added some good flavor to the crab beignets. All in all these were tasty deep fried crab cake balls.

Tarte Flambee $12.00
   The Tarte Flambee was the biggest disappointment of the meal. The tarte flambee is described as Parma ham, arugula, shirred eggs, rosemary bechemel & cheese over a thin, crispy crust. First off I am not sure what the hell type of cheese they used on top of this thing but it was flavorless, I suspect from its lack of flavor and dryness that this was, heaven forbid, soy cheese. YUCK. The flavor of the entire dish was very mild and could have used some extra bechamel to add flavor, and also add some moisture, as this was also very dry.
Mussels $12.00
 The high lite of the meal was the Prince Edward Island Mussels. You can get your mussels in one of three styles. The traditional which is with a white wine, shallots, and beurre blanc. Or creole style in a tomato sauce with andouille sausage, peppers,onions, and Maytag blue cheese. Or French Style with lobster-pernod, tarragon and basil. I chose the traditional and was not disappointed. The mussels were cooked perfectly not being overcooked as to make them too chewy. The sauce was dreamy with the white wine and a generous amount of shallots and butter making an impeccable sauce. My one small complaint was that they dont send out enough bread for soaping up the heavenly sauce. If you like mussels these are a must try when visiting the Park Bruges.

 Would I go back? Yes, the mussels and brugge frittes alone are worth coming back for. The service was decent. The prices are a tad on the high side but not to the point of making me think twice about coming back. Their Belgian/French style menu is pretty unique here in Pittsburgh and I would like to come back to try some of their dinner fare.

Park Bruges Rating:
 Bruge Frittes: 9/10
 Crab Beignets:  7/10
 Tarte Flambee: 4/10
 PEI Mussels:    9/10

 Overall: 7.5/10

Park Bruges on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Stoke's Grill

  I headed out to Stoke's Grill on Mcknight Rd at the recommendation of some friends. Word of mouth had been mixed so I was pretty interested to see what Stoke's had to offer. A quick look at the menu shows that Stoke's specializes in sandwiches. They also have a large assortment of soups and salads, as well as specials of the day.

  The way you order at Stoke's is a little different in that you place your order at the cash register. You then are handed a number and the food is than brought out to your table. You get your own drinks from a soda fountain. Stoke's is also BYOB in case you want to bring some malt liquor with you (and who wouldn't ?).
Crab Bisque ($3.95)
Sausage Lentil Soup ($3.95)

 The soups were both excellent. The crab bisque had good crab flavor with a nice sherry finish. Very good. The sausage lentil soup was just like something Mom would make. It was a great winter soup with lots of lentils and chunks of country sausage in a thick and hearty broth.
White Fries ($4.85)

     Stoke's has a bunch of different style french fries. From green fries with pesto and brie, to red fries with chili cheese and sour cream. I chose the white fries which are described as fries in garlic aioli , onion straws and Parmesan cheese.  The fries were crisp and had a good but not overpowering flavor of garlic. There were no onion straws in my order of fries, but I enjoyed these never the less.  

   The salads that the skinny chicks ordered were all fresh and the girls seemed to enjoy them (well as much as you can enjoy a salad).

Larkshead ($8.45)
     The Larkshead is a pretzel sandwich with roast beef, bacon, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and Russian dressing. I was surprised that this did not come out on a pretzel style roll but an actual big ass soft pretzel. It was tasty but a little to greasy. The Russian dressing added a nice contrast to the savory beef and bacon. A decent sandwich overall. The homemade potato chips that accompanied the sandwich were unremarkable and made me happy that I had ordered the white fries as a side.
Frizzle Quesadilla ($7.65)
   Two of my eating companions ordered quesadillas. The one had chicken, bacon, ranch, cheese and salsa. The other had just cheese and seasoned veggies. For review purposes I sampled the chicken quesadilla and found it had a good flavor. My only complaint being that the tortillas were slightly soggy from the salsa. The veggie quesadilla I did not try, but my eating companion (The Polish Princess) thought it was pretty crappy. She said that she would have rather had a Taco Bell quesadilla.
Reuben ($7.95)
Turkey Pita ($6.95)
  Some of the other sandwiches ordered were the Reuben and the Turkey Pita. My one friend said that the Reuben was one of the best  he had ever had. While my other friend said the Turkey Pita was good but nothing all that special.

  Would I go back to Stokes Grill? Yes. While a tad expensive for the type of restaurant it is, most of the food was prepared well and everything was fresh. The soups were very good and I might just stop in on a Friday to get some crab bisque to go. The sandwiches were all pretty decent, not including the Polish Princess's veggie quesadilla. Im looking forward to going back and trying some of the other sandwiches such as the Cuban and Italian Beef which are both two of my favorite type of sandwiches.  So if your on Mcknight Rd, stop over at Stoke's. Service is relatively quick and it would definitely make a good place to go for a good  lunch.


Soups: 8/10
Fries: 6/10 
Sandwiches: 6.5/10  
Salads: (Its a salad)

OVERALL: 6.5/10 
 No thrills sandwich shop. Slightly expensive for what it is. Better place for lunch than dinner.  Very good soups. BYOB
Stoke's Grill on Urbanspoon