Both Worlds

When I was pregnant with ‘lil Miss A, my roommate used to torture me watch Disney shows like Hannah Montana. It wasn’t uncommon to be humming “Best of Both Worlds” during this time. The tune sticks today.

One night, this is my view.

And two nights later? This.

I am glad that life affords me this opportunity to have the best of both of my worlds, north and south, within reach.

Highly Recommended: Bistro To Go

Greg and I volunteer with The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project, an opportunity that has taken us to various new places in town. This weekend, we had a chance to help organize bags and then got dinner with two others who were sorting. Sure, we could have decided to just grab a sandwich from anywhere, but we were easily convinced to go local after Greg and Ledcat went to pick up totes at Bistro To Go and ogling the turtle cheesecake.

Logistically, we don’t get to the North Shore often (unless it’s for a Pirates game), so without this opportunity, we probably wouldn’t have realized this as a good dining option. It will now be on our “meet-up” and pre-game list. Parking is on-street/metered, but it wasn’t tough finding 3 spots on a busy Saturday afternoon.

The first thing I realized about Bistro To Go is that it is beside Bistro Soul, another restaurant in the Bistro family, and both boast of southern décor. I fell in love immediately, not needing to see that darn turtle cheesecake. When you walk inside, you know you are in for a soul food treat.

If you want technics, you should know this is essentially fast-casual dining, but the prep is nothing but. Amazing specials are in front of you, and served up (big helpings) right in front of your eyes. You can get the food to go, but I urge you to take a seat at one of the adorable tables or even the “bench” seating with an old church pew as one side of the seating. We stayed well past our original meter because we loved the atmosphere so much. Bonus, free wi-fi, people watching out the front window, cheerful employees, and listening to the chefs prep and cook in the open kitchen. Have some time? Sit and read some of the many cookbooks in the dining area. Absolutely beautiful.

Oh, you saw this was a post about a restaurant and want to know about the food? Well, gee! Entrees come with your choice of 1 or 2 sides (pricing is just a little more expensive than getting a combo meal at a drive thru) plus a bun “the size of Ledcat’s head”. From what I can see on the Bistro To Go website, specials change weekly, but there is always a great variety. I selected the stuffed beef cabbage, green beans with turkey, and a chipotle black bean and cilantro salad (no bun, those things were seriously HUGE). Greg got chicken and gravy (the breading was almost reverse fried with stuffing on the outside…), green beans, and…well…I can honestly say I am not sure what his side was. He gobbled everything down quickly—maybe it was mashed potatoes?

We were treated to dessert by Chef Nikki, a supporter of the Tote Bag Project. Greg went for the Turtle Cheesecake, and although I was tempted by the Ho Ho Cake, it was crème de menthe bars for me. Let me tell you a little bit of what I understand about Chef Nikki. She loves Pittsburgh, and she loves our people. She has a big heart. And, she is going to have me attending some of her cooking classes, because I want to amp up the kitchen. Her passion with Bistro to go was to “create a neighborhood restaurant where good food brings people together”. Uh, in my opinion, she’s hit it on the mark. Further, part of the Bistro mission “is to be a Christ-centered business and an employer where all cultures are welcome”. Again, absolutely evident.

We will be back again, and hopefully with the kids. There were high chairs, but I’d have to make sure I knew the menu before going with them for the ‘lil ones dairy issues. Perhaps we’ll even make a Sunday brunch!

+++

Disclaimer: I was not asked to write this review, and Bistro To Go might never even know how much I heart them. These opinions are 100% my own, and the dessert was provided out of kindness. Time to pay it forward and send you there!

A Beautiful Day for a Venture Outdoors

On Saturday, Greg and I ran a 5k then headed into downtown for the Venture Outdoors Festival and a chance to see our friends at WRRYFree Skin Care (by the way, have you entered our giveaway that ends tonight???). After a nice walk around the Point and learning about some of the great ways to enjoy the outdoors in Pittsburgh, we took our own ‘lil adventure through Gateway Center and discovered a bunch of cool statues.

Here are some of our favorite photos from the day!

Date Night Downtown

After a few failed attempts at a stellar date night, Mr. Burgher and I needed a really good evening out together. Saturday was my cousin’s Bridal Shower, so my parents were taking advantage of some extra time with their grandkids. We had a free evening to enjoy ourselves, and enjoy we did.

First, my work’s Young Professional Organization hosted a volunteer opportunity at our beautiful, new Children’s Hospital for a game night hosted by Family Centered Care. We loved the concept of the center–they believe healing is family based and brings opportunities for patients and families to engage in activities that are as close to being at home as possible (like movie nights, coffee bars, and game nights like we did).

While we were setting up the tables and games, I noticed to UPMC police officers standing in the middle of the (beautiful) atrium, but didn’t really think of it. After a few minutes, I heard a soft, gentle voice speaking to one of the children. She introduced herself as Annie, and I went back to my work. As I glanced at Mr. Burgher through some windows, I noticed a reflection of Anne Hathaway. I turned around and couldn’t believe it, the soft voice of “Annie” belonged to Anne Hathaway! She is in town filming Magnus Rex (the new Batman movie), and took a few hours out of her day to visit with the children. A new family had walked into the atrium, and I went over to greet the little girl. After a minute of us speaking back and forth, Anne came over to say hello to her as well. The little girl was amazed by her beauty and Anne told her that “[this] was only temporary, and true beauty was forever”. There is no way I would EVER have been able to use such amazing words off the top of my head. I was blown away, and went to tell Mr. Burgher about it. We were simply in awe of her beauty, grace, and poise.

During the evening, we enjoyed doing activities we probably would have done at home and learned some new games. I got my butt kicked by an adorable Justin Bieber fan at Trouble (who cracked us up with her smack talk to her mom when she won). Mr. Burgher and I were embarrassed by our lack of Nickelodeon knowledge while at the same time disappointed in the complexity of a kids’ game. We had fun catching butterflies with two little girls who completely lit up the room (with their shoes, smiles, and laughs), and found a game we need to add to Lil Miss A’s birthday list, Elefun (and while searching for A, I found one for ‘Lil Man, too!). The interaction with families and opportunity to give them some laughs and peace was incredible. Honestly, we can’t wait to go back again!

When we went to leave, our next thought was late dinner. Since we haven’t been to Las Velas since it reopened, there was no question where we were headed. Upstairs we went to enjoy some cool beverages, chips & salsa, enchiladas, and traditional Mexican style “Mango-Chipotle” Chicken. All amazingly delicious. Parking was incredibly interesting–the filming of Magnus Rex has dahntahn all crazy–so we only had an hour at our meter. After 10, Market Square parking is free, so we found a spot and walked down the vacated “set” of Grant Street to see what had changed for the movie. The biggest thing we noticed was the remnants of “snow” on the street, so we had to take advantage of a photo op:

When we’d had too much of the humidity, it was time to head home and catch up on about 3 weeks of DVR (we still have lots to get through). All in all, the best date night ever. Thanks, Mr. Burgher!