May 15th, 2008


Sewickley Speakeasy

This month, I've had a few dining experiences that I've been meaning to LJ about. One of them:

On Saturday, May 3, Lori's family took me out for my birthday.

Now, I have special desires for birthday restaurants: Above all, I want a restaurant that will support having a conversation with a large number of people. This particularly means a restaurant that is quiet enough for a conversation, and a restaurant whose seating allows for a large number of people to see each other, instead of being strung out along a line of pushed-together tables. This has been very hard to find--I've had these desires for several years, but with little luck.

This year, I tried the Sewickley Speakeasy, based on the fact that they had a good review in the City Paper and they were pleasant and enthusiastic when I asked whether they could host a group. It was a splendid success. I would eagerly go there again.

We got seated in a private room upstairs, so we were the only people seated around a broad table for 14. It must have been a hike for the waitress to come up and down the stairs so many times, but it was a delightful room for us.

The food was excellent, too. We shared three appetizers: The bruschetta was almost pizza-like, with a ciabatta base topped with tomatoes, olives, and basil, and melted fontina cheese. It was very tasty and savory. The frog legs were very nice, far superior to the single other time I've had frog legs. The escargot and gorgonzola tart was very tasty, but not very tart-like; it was a shallow bowl of escargot and gorgonzola cream sauce, with a few squares of puff pastry on top.

My entree was "scallops, English style", which meant lightly breaded and pan-fried. They were quite tasty and flavorful. Lori had the Chicken Zurich, which was a breaded chicken breast, topped with onion rings and melted Gruyere cheese.

We also found the waitress extremely nice and convivial.

It was really a home run for a birthday dinner. The room was great for a party; the menu was elegant enough to make me feel special, but not so pricy as to make me feel guilty; the food was excellent. The only down side was that it was a fair drive out of our usual neck of the woods. Still, I would happily return there again, especially for a special occasion.