Any blog that starts talking about food and drink in Pittsburgh is going to likely start in Lawrenceville. I did too. The Pittsburgh town is most well-known as the up-and-coming bohemian village with lots of shops, restaurants, bars, and events that go on here constantly. If you're always in the market for something to do, you could do a lot worse than wondering around Lawrenceville on the weekend. Like any other area in Pittsburgh, the bartenders and shop owners are absurdly friendly.
Let's do this.
La Gourmandine Bakery is just the 3000 pound gorilla in the room. Anyone that's lived in Pittsburgh for most of their life knows that it's considered the best bakery in the city (let's say it's tied with Oakmont Bakery). I'll be honest, I had never been here and was actually shocked as to how small it was. Why? Well, because I had always heard it was THE BAKERY, so good on them that they've built this huge reputation and following out of this room the size of a large dining room.
What did I get at a bakery known for it's sweets? A big ass quiche Lorraine.
I did a bonehead move when I ordered the quiche. I forgot to ask them to warm it up for me. So I stood across the street and ate a cold quiche by hand while I stood under a statue. I should've noted how much it was, but I remember it was under $5 and the size of a quarter of a wagon wheel. Good flavor and great price. Rich, buttery, worth it. I was dying to go back in and use their microwave, but I suppressed the urge.
From there I moved on down to the Vandal.
I've been dying to try the Vandal since it opened. Luckily it was just me (no kids, score!) and I got a seat by the window which was perfect. It's vibe is fast-casual-meets-upscale if that makes any sense. No? Okay, it's the first blog post. It'll get better. Maybe.
The menu presentation there is pretty minimalist. Not a lot of descriptions, but none are really needed. Like a helpful tip is if like the menu says "chicken", it's probably chicken. Anyways, I ordered the biscuit with egg, cheese, and bacon. There were some sweet things on the menu, but I will do a savory breakfast every time. Every time.
LOOK AT ME.
My server asked me if I wanted a fancy coffee drink. I asked what he would recommend. He said the Cortado which is apparently an espresso with steamed milk. It was tasty and I would recommend it to anyone that wants the caffeine of an espresso, but doesn't like the taste. This was much more latte like.
I also ordered the biscuit. Ummm, they nailed this. Biscuit was perfect. It didn't crumble when you bit into it, and the cheese and the egg worked so well together with the bacon. The side salad is kind of cute. It' s more of a palette cleanser. They should sell the biscuits on the side of the road as a drive-through situation, or just throw it through my car window as I slowly pass the Vandal.
So I've had already had a quiche and a biscuit. Time for an after-breakfast aperitif. Across the road from the Vandal to Industry Public House.
So they have a specialty drink there and it's super-trendy, kinda gimmicky, but I'm a sucker for it. The Smokestack. It's basically a whiskey that's smoked with the wood chips of your choice and finished with a little citrus. I got a Basal Hayden's with mesquite because I like bite on bite and it was rainy.
Industry has a good vibe to it. They open the huge front windows when it's nice out. It's casual and everyone is chill. I feel like Industry does everything well and is huge, so they're kind of like Shaq with a better free throw.
By this time, I was pretty full. I had had two breakfasts and my belt was questioning my notch decision. Time to take a walk. There was only one place I knew to go take pics. The Allegheny Cemetary.
Visiting the cemetary was pretty peaceful. It's massive. Like I can't convey how big it was. Needless to say, it's a sprawling bit of estate. Ran into these deer.
There's obviously historical significance here with a cemetery this old, but I'll let you walk around and read for yourself. Plus this piece is running way long, so I'm cutting the extensive grave walk-through. That's hard to pull off without coming through as goth.
Let's move on to the Butterwood Bake Consortium. It's a Vegan bakery farther down the main artery of Lawrenceville. This place was made for Instagram. Imagine antique furniture and decor and oversized baked goods. Quick side-confession. The missus and I came here a year or two ago and were kind of "meh" on the place, but I wanted to give the place another try. Why? Because I'm a pig and I hadn't hit any sweets yet. For science. You buying this?
Anyways, I'm glad I did. So glad I gave them another try. They had brown butter blondie brownies with chocolate chips in them. With a macchiato or some other bullshit. The drink was good, but seriously, this brownie. For reals. It's like butter, sugar, and chocolate had a kid and it wasn't awkward between the three of them, and OMG it was so rich and good. Did I mention I didn't like sweets. The woman behind the counter was super nice, but after the blondie, I called them evil and ran out of the door.
Okay, at this point in the solo walking tour I was feeling battered. I had had a huge quiche, a biscuit sandwich, a whiskey, and a blondie. My brain had instructed my body at this point to begin sweating in an effort to throw off ballast.
All morning I loved the fancy coffee drinks, but I'm a purist with coffee. I wanted an actual coffee. No steamed milk. No syrups. No leaves painted on top. I knew just the place. Cafe D'Amore. The owner is super nice and they make my favorite fancy coffee drink in Pittsburgh: the ancho mocha. A chocolate drink with reconstituted hot peppers. The spice is not over-powering and if you love chocolate with that slight hint of spice, it's for you. But as I was saying, I was there for just coffee.
I ordered the pour over and I'll pay the extra dollar because I'm fancy like that. The coffee had nice floral notes and I let it breathe in the cute mason jar.
I was spent. I sipped my coffee and was content.