Restaurant Reviews

As any holiday weekend should be, my 4th of July weekend was filled with amazing food.  It started on Thursday night and just kept going, all the way through Monday…

Smallman St. Deli My absolute all-time favorite deli sandwich is the Rachel with turkey, and one of the best I’ve ever had has been at Smallman’s.  The rye bread is slathered in butter and grilled until it is downright crispy, the thousand island dressing is perfectly tangy, and the sweet coleslaw provides an excellent crunch.  At $8.40, this sandwich isn’t cheap, but it is packed with meat that will keep you going all day long. (more…)


As I have mentioned in previous posts, I love Thai food, especially curries.  So, when I volunteered to plan a cooking class for a college group I belong to, I jumped at the chance to make it Thai-themed.  My previous Thai cooking adventures at home have yielded less than spectacular results.  Although the beef curry I made was edible, it was definitely missing something.  I was hoping that a Thai cooking class would teach me once and for all how to make a decent curry paste and a scrumptious curry.

So I started searching for Asian cooking schools in the Pittsburgh area and came across Chop, Wok, and Talk.  I emailed the owner, Dorothy Tague, to ask questions and start planning things.  She was very flexible with her schedule, rearranging things so we could get a date that was good for us.  Since she couldn’t accommodate our large number of people (seventeen) at her cooking school in Bloomfield, our group had to find an outside location at which to hold the class (a church near our school). 

When it came to picking the menu, it was a difficult task considering she had so much to choose from.  Besides Thai food, she also does Chinese, sushi, Vietnamese, tapas, Moroccan, an English tea, and brunch.  Dorothy was very helpful in the menu selection process, suggesting dishes that required more hands-on work rather than just sitting back and watching.  For our plan we could pick 4 dishes: two appetizers, an entrée, and either a noodle dish, salad, or dessert.  We settled on chicken satays, shrimp pad Thai, spring rolls, and Panang beef curry. (more…)

Pamela’s is a place that I just can’t hate, in spite of the many strikes against it. Even with lines out the door, service that is mediocre at best, and bad coffee, they know how to make pancakes. And I absolutely love pancakes. I love them fluffy or thin, small or large, buttermilk or fruit-filled. Now, I understand that some people are particular about pancakes, and if you like them fluffy, you should probably not ever visit Pamela’s. But, if you’re an equal opportunity pancake lover like me, you need to go to Pamela’s. Period.

There’s really no reason to get anything else besides pancakes (you could make the rest of the menu at home faster and cheaper). They are so incredibly thin, so deliciously crispy around the edges, and stuffed with all kinds of goodies. I will say that I have gotten the blueberry hotcakes before, and the blueberries were pretty much frozen.  Gross.  Since then I’ve had the tasty strawberry hotcakes, stuffed with sour cream and brown sugar along with the fruit.  However, what keeps me going back are the chocolate chip banana hotcakes. They are perfection: semi-sweet chocolate chips in the actual pancakes, rolled up and stuffed with bananas and whipped cream. They’re so sweet that I can actually go without syrup on top, which makes me feel a teeny bit healthier.

If you’ve got a craving for pancakes, I highly recommend Pamela’s.  The portion to cost ratio is pretty good, as the stuffed hotcakes can keep you going until dinner for only $6.25. I give Pamela’s 2.5 happy bellies for mouth-watering pancakes and 5 full wallets for cheap breakfasts.

Pamela's (Squirrel Hill) on Urbanspoon

For the better part of the winter, a “coming soon- Razzy Fresh frozen yogurt” sign had been in the window of a Squirrel Hill storefront on Murray Avenue.  I walked by it every day on my way to and from work, anticipating its opening, yearning for a taste of that creamy frozen goodness.  The sign had been there so long that I started to think maybe it was, in fact, not opening.  Imagine my surprise and delight when, walking home from work in the warm weather last Friday evening, the door was open and a sign read ‘open now’!  I made a bee-line for the store and upon entering was immediately asked if I’d like to try a sample.  I said yes and surveyed my options.  Three different soft serve machines stared back at me, all do-it-yourself, each containing two different flavors.  There was peanut butter, taro, original, chocolate, raspberry, and passion fruit.  I was in a fruity mood so I sampled the raspberry and decided to stick with that one.

Next came the toppings.  Again, per my fruity mood, I decided to scoop on a little bit of every single kind of fruit that they had: mango, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, raspberries, blackberries, and pineapple.  Then, I weighed my concoction and paid $3 for about eight ounces.

Upon taking the first bite, I had only one thought: yessss, this is what I have waited all winter for! The raspberry yogurt was slightly sweet, and the fresh fruit on top was simply amazing.  And the whole thing was only $3? Wow!

Today I decided to make a return visit and try the original yogurt with some candy toppings.  The label above the original dispenser says ‘tangy,’ and indeed it is- but in a good way.  I scooped on a mishmash of candy (Oreos, M&Ms, white chocolate chips, and rice krispie treats).  Why?  Because I could!  I’ll admit, the candy probably isn’t best suited for the original yogurt.  I would stick with fruit from now on for the original, and maybe try the candy on something like chocolate or peanut butter.  At any rate, I only paid $2.88 this time for about the same serving size (I’m guessing the fruit weighed more than the candy).

I am completely thrilled about Razzy Fresh’s opening!  I’m not sure if it’s the novelty of the concept to the Pittsburgh area, or the spring weather just making me giddy, but I absolutely love this place.  I give Razzy Fresh a rating of 5 happy bellies for refreshing, flavorful yogurt, and a rating of 5 full wallets for being much cheaper than the ice cream competitors around the corner!

RazzyFresh Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon

Last week I finally made it to Paris 66, a crepe bistro, out in East Liberty.  I had read many positive reviews of this place and couldn’t wait to try their delicious-sounding crepes with some friends.  As soon as we walked in the restaurant, I got the feeling that this was going to be a great meal: the sights and smells of crepes being made greeted us from the kitchen that is located right inside the entrance.  We were seated promptly and our waitress began describing the daily specials which sounded tasty, but let’s be realistic, I was there for the crepes.  After looking over the menu again (I had already obsessed over it the whole day while at work), I settled on the Paris 66 savory crepe ($11).  The savory crepes are buckwheat and all come with either soup or salad.  I chose the soup du jour, cauliflower goat cheese.  The Paris 66 came beautifully presented, with the egg served in the open middle of the crepe, and the sautéed mushrooms and tomato Provencal served on the side on the exterior of the crepe.  The crepe itself was fantastic with a great bite and texture provided by the buckwheat.  The ham filling the crepe was so thin and the over-easy egg proved excellent for dipping.  I normally don’t like Swiss cheese, but inside this crepe it perfectly complemented the ham.  The mushrooms and basil-thyme-infused tomatoes on the side were also great for topping each bite with.

The soup was also a beautiful shade of white, dotted with flecks of basil and a swirl of olive oil on top.  The texture was deliciously creamy and the flavors were dominated by garlic and tangy goat cheese.  What a great way to hide vegetables!

The crepe and soup were more than filling, but I couldn’t pass up the dessert crepes.  I decided on La Soisy with blueberry preserves topped with whipped cream ($6).  Again, the presentation was beautiful with cinnamon dusting the whipped cream and powdered sugar lightly sprinkled over the entire plate.  The whole blueberries were so plump and juicy, with a slight lemony kick.  The outer edges of the crepe had the perfect crispness and the middle was melt-in-your-mouth delightful.

My total bill with tax and tip came to just around $20, which is very reasonable considering how full I left.  My only grievance with the place is how close the tables are smooshed together and how I could hear everyone’s conversations around us.  But, if you’re into food as much as I am, you will easily block out all the distractions around you when your food comes.  All in all, I would highly recommend Paris 66 for the tasty crepes, the charming atmosphere, and the moderate prices! Paris 66 receives a rating of 3 happy bellies for large portions and amazing tastes of France, while maintaining 4 full wallets for respectable prices for three courses.

Paris 66 on Urbanspoon