Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

Have you ever seen that show on Food Network?  I'm a total sucker for it.  Basically, famous food personalities describe and sample an entree or dessert.  I've seen both super high-brow cuisine and stuff so greasy it could only be enjoyed in a late night drunken haze.  To each his own!

I love watching my favorite cooks and chefs on their regular shows, but there's something so candid about their appearances on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.  They're a little less formal.  In fact, some get a little cray-cray talking about the restaurant dishes that make them weak in the knees.  I think I even developed a little girl crush on Sunny Anderson because of this show.  She just gets so darn animated and holds nothing back.  Makes me feel like my ramblings here on the blog aren't so bizarre after all ;)

If I were ever on that show, it'd be to talk about dessert.  Not just any dessert, but the dessert.  It hails from the Pittsburgh restaurant, Eleven.  A few years ago, Matt and I dined there and had a fantastic experience from start to finish.  But, truth be told, I don't really remember my entree.  It's not that it wasn't delicious -- because it totally was and reading my review confirms that -- but it's because the dessert totally blew me away and stole the show that night: deconstructed banana cream pie.  The best thing I ever ate, without a doubt!

Since then, I've raved about it to everyone I know and probably some folks I don't know, too.  A few months after that first outing, we considered going to Eleven again, so I decided to check out the menu in anticipation.  Lo and behold, the glorious dessert was gone!  Multiple phone calls to the restaurant and inquiries by friends and other fans of said banana treat yielded nothing other than the obvious declaration that the pastry chef no longer made that dessert.  I was heartbroken!  Eleven was officially dead to me.

Three years later, something directed me to the restaurant's website to check out the menu...

Within minutes, I'd contacted friends who'd also mourned the loss of the dessert.  We were ecstatic and planned a return trip for my birthday, that was still nearly two months away.

Good things come to those who wait.  And, last night, I returned to Eleven with my head held high, a smile on my face, and my taste buds jumping in anticipation.  

To start, real food.  My companions ordered the gnocchi with chanterelles, asparagus, squash, fennel, pesto, Manchego cheese, and fingerling potato chips (x2) and the seafood tasting with a crab cake, scallops, and salmon.  I opted for the salmon with chanterelles, corn, green beans, red pepper, and bronze fennel.  It was totally incredible, not to mention gorgeous.  All of us were mmming and enjoyed every last bite of dinner, but two of us were already thinking about what was to come: dessert.

When the waitress brought the dessert menus, I politely told her I didn't even need to look because I knew what I wanted.  After a brief tale of my long lost love, I ordered the banana cream pie.

Be still my beating heart!  At last!  As the waitress explained, it was a little different than the last time I had it, mainly in appearance but a bit in taste, too.  What arrived looked like a fancy ice cream sandwich with all kinds of tasty decorations.  Two thin housemade vanilla wafers sandwiched a thick layer of a chilled banana pudding concoction.  On top were big dollops of creamy caramel mousse and bruleed banana slices.  Rich dulce de leche was drizzled here, there, and everywhere, and barely salted miniature caramel meringue dots were sprinkled all over the dish. 

It was everything I dreamed it would be and more.  The kind of thing that made me close my eyes and spend a minute on each and every single bite.  I was so entranced that it wasn't until I was finished that I realized I didn't even notice the third dessert ordered at our table.  Whoops.  She said it was good, so I'll believe her.  I couldn't tell you what it looked like if you offered me a million bucks.

Totally worth the wait.  Thanks, Eleven!  Let's hope it's not another three years before I make it back.  I almost ordered a second round of the dessert just in case.  True story, friends.  Best thing I ever ate!


  1. Katy,

    I hadn't heard of this restaurant but now I want to go there during my next Pittsburgh visit :)

    I, too, did a "Best Thing I Ever Ate" post! The Food Network should be calling us any day, right?

    Happy Birthday!!!!!!

    1. We could totally propose a Pittsburgh/Hawaii edition of the show! And thank you for the birthday wishes :)