When we announced our trip to Pittsburgh and asked for recommendations, Eleven was nominated, and many chimed in, in agreement. But, after being disappointed with Primanti Brothers, another popular choice, we didn’t know what to expect. We also noticed that everything in the town seemed to be closing at 2pm on Sunday. Perhaps Sunday was not a good night to be out? For a second, I even worried that Eleven 1150 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 would not be open, but we had reservations…

We arrived to valet parking, thankful because the winds were picking up. Quickly, we enter into a space with double height ceilings, immediately seated in a four person booth for just the two of us. I spread out and felt comfortable. I could still see the open kitchen in the distance, the wall to wall window to the pastry kitchen to our right, and a server was walking around with a basket of house-made breads. All the right signs were putting me at ease.

breads

An amuse of duck confit arrived, soft and warm on a thin crispy round of toast that crumbled easily on bite. The juiciness of the pear butter added an unexpected dimension of succulence.

duck confit amuse 2

Cocktails arrived as we discussed the amuse that just disappeared. Lon was attracted to the new seasonal addition, made with vodka, pumpkin puree, and cream soda. It was overly sweet, even for Lon, and he never got beyond the initial sips. My Pear-secco (pear puree and Prosecco) was nursed throughout the meal. At times, I would savor it just by inhaling the aroma, the scent of slowly simmering pears on a cold winter night. The taste was brightened by the coolness and the little bubbles.

Pumpkin Cream Soda and Pear-secco cocktails

Decisions were quite a challenge, with so many enticing menu descriptions. I finally decided on the four course tasting menu, while Lon ordered a la carte. I’ll go over our meals separately, though we ate off each others’ plates, of course. Lon started with a perfectly cooked sea scallops, rested on roasted beet coulis, and topped with a radish, apple, fennel salad. Simple and light, focused execution.

Sea Scallops with Roasted Beet Coulis 2

Next, the Duck Tasso Salad. Pear, black walnuts, and Maytag blue cheese, is a classic and favorite combination of ours. This one was taken just a little further with a concord grape vinaigrette and the smoky and peppery duck.

Tasso Duck Salad

Lon had the Seafood Tasting as his entree so that he could taste three of their recommended seafood dishes. (Don’t you wish more restaurants would make tasting plates?) The crab cakes had the right texture but an oddly strong vegetable flavor. The Wild Texas Shrimp were a tough but smothered in the collards and grits, it was less noticeable. The Scottish Salmon was cooked on the rare side, as Lon requested. (I’ll discuss this dish more later because it was in my tasting menu.)

Seafood Tasting

My Chef’s Tasting Menu (four courses) started with Spicy Tuna Tartare and Yellowtail Sashimi. These were average for me, but being a Sushi Yasuda regular makes me a picky raw fish eater.

Spicy Tuna Tartare and Yellowtail Sashimi

Next, Scottish Salmon, grilled to a perfect medium-rare (as I requested). The flesh of this salmon had a natural sweetness that was so wonderful with the sweet yellow beets. Beneath, the lentil and Swiss chard was amazing, earthy with a touch of acid. While I find most cooked salmon dishes to be pretty boring, this dish was probably the winner of the night for me.

Scottish Salmon

Already quite full, a fan of Elysian Field Farm Lamb arrived with buttery grits and root vegetables. The cuts were a tad sloppy but the meat was juicy and flavorful, tender and rich, without feeling at all fatty.

Elysian Fields Farm Lamb

The four course ends with a Chocolate-Cashew Candy Bar. The bottom is a chocolate sable topped with puffy cream, closed by a sheet of chocolate and finished off with a ball of honey cashew ice cream. The plate is garnished with caramel, chocolate syrup, and brittle.

Chocolate Cashew Candy Bar

So, I didn’t really like the first of the four courses but I was stuffed and guess how much it cost? The Chef’s Tasting Menu is only $45!!! Holy Cow! That is definitely one of the steals of the century. The portion sizes were huge for a tasting menu and the quality of ingredients, ability to cook to correct temperatures, and good service make it unbelievable! Lon ordered a la carte, which is more expensive but still not a bad value. We were both very happy with the meal, despite a few flaws, which are completely acceptable at this price. Our total was $127.33 (including tax but not including tip). We highly recommend Eleven to anyone in Pittsburgh or anyone visiting Pittsburgh. Thanks to everyone who told us about it!

posted by jessica at 09:58 AM Filed under American and New American, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.