Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Restaurant review: Eleven

Are you sitting down for this?  You should be.  And I certainly need to be, reliving my out-of-this-world experience at Eleven so I can rehash all of the details accordingly.  Whew, here goes.

Since I love to cook at home so much, whenever I head out to a restaurant I like to do some thorough research to make sure I'm in for a fantastic culinary experience.  After numerous recommendations from friends and positive interwebs reviews, we headed to Eleven on Saturday night.  Eleven is located in the Strip District, just where it meets the downtown area of Pittsburgh.  Parking is valet ($5) or street, of which there is a ton, so worry not.  I really loved the layout of the interior -- big area and can obviously accommodate many, but each booth or table is sectioned off intimately, making you feel like the restaurant is all yours.

Service was friendly and timely without being too chatty.  (The guys discussed March madness briefly ,and I barely noticed.  Well done, waiter sir!)  The bread, brought around throughout the meal in large baskets by a waiter (or what I deemed the village baker) rather than being sat on your table, was not only a pleasant surprise but absolutely delicious -- I tried the Tuscan Parmesan and the foccacia.  Mmm.  We skipped the appetizers, even though that sounded so interesting, because we'd been warned to save ourselves for dessert.  (Thank you, wise friends.)

For my entree, I ordered the wild Alaskan halibut with shrimp risotto, leeks, mushrooms in a lobster reduction.  The fish was cooked perfectly and just flaked off onto my fork.  I'm totally a sucker for risotto in its simplest form, so adding the shrimp, mushrooms and leeks firmly placed me on Cloud 9.  Portion size was perfect -- not too tiny and dainty, but too much that I couldn't finish my food.  My better half ordered the pork, which he claims was so tender and juicy that it tasted like a good steak.  The apples, cabbage and potatoes were great matched with the pork.  I'm not a big pork fan, but even I have to admit that was some delicious "other white meat."

And, for the grand finale, dessert.  Of course I had eyed up the choices days before we headed to Eleven.  What can I say?  I'm a planner by nature.  I try to order things that I wouldn't normally make myself, and pretty much every choice fit that requirement.  The banana cream pie jumped out at me, and I couldn't say no.  I wish I had brought my camera for just one picture of this after dinner beauty.  I'm talking the prettiest and most delicious-looking dessert I've ever seen.  I'd say it as more of a deconstructed banana cream pie: layers of caramelized sliced bananas, dulche de leche mousse, and housemade graham crackers.  Oh my goodness.  There aren't enough words in the English language to describe this tower of a dessert, nor do it justice.  Just trust me.  (Update: I just found a picture via Google images.  Ours was a little taller and had about three layers of each component, but you get the idea.)


I have to say that Eleven exceeded every expectation I had, and I had rather high ones going into this experience.  It's tied for my favorite restaurant ever.  I'd have to go back again to see if the second trip is as good as the first, but hey, I'm willing to put in that kind of work :)

Have you been to Eleven?  If so, what did you think? 

Eleven on Urbanspoon

3 comments:

  1. That sounds like a nice date with your "better half." He will have to take you there again.

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  2. Katy,

    I just followed the link to this, older post. We are 2 peas in a pod when it comes to restaurant experiences!!!

    http://www.alohayinzmangia.com/2010/12/christmas-dinner-at-chef-mavro.html

    Meet me at Eleven in December?!

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    Replies
    1. OMG, Angela, I read this and was laughing out loud. You have no idea how happy it makes me to see someone else get so over the moon excited about food. We are kindred spirits! :) As far as December, you took the words out of my mouth. I'm totally serious, too!

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