The Daily Bongo

Food Comments

Restaurant Reviews

Friday, May 19, 2006 -- Afternoon

I have developed a new addiction. This time it is to the caramel cooler from Caribou Coffee. The cooler is basically a Starbucks frappuccino, only smoother. I could never understand why Starbucks doesn't blend their drink more so it isn't clumps of ice bits. The other thing that I like about Caribou Coffee is that they have a daily trivia question. If you know the correct answer, you get $.10 off of your order.

Friday, April 28, 2006 -- Evening

This evening, my boyfriend and I went to Bahama Breeze for dinner. It was quite enjoyable. The wait time was not long even though there were a large number of people there. The restaurant is large with indoor and outdoor seating. One of the outdoor tables is for a large group of people and had a fire in the center of the table. The decor of the restaurant is in keeping with a the Caribbean theme. The food was wonderful, fresh, and very tasty. We started with the Jamaican Grilled chicken Wings which were huge, whole wings rubbed with Jerk seasoning. Jerk barbeque sauce was on the side, and a huge slice of fresh, juicy pineapple accompanied the dish. For the main course, my boyfriend had the Jerk Chicken Pasta which he said was very good, but not as spicy as he thought it would be. That doesn't mean he didn't like it, it was just unexpected. The dish came in a normal and light size. I had the fire-roasted Jerk shrimp which had a garlic-thyme butter dip and a whole hoagie sized loaf of bread for dipping. As a side, I had a bowl of fresh fruit that was made up of actual fresh, juicy pieces of pineapple, cantaloupe, and honey-dew melon. I finished the meal with the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake and a hot, alcoholic, coffee drink. The food was great, and the waitress was very attentive and pleasant considering how busy it was there. I will definitely be back.

Thursday, April 20, 2006 -- Evening

My boyfriend and I went to a restaurant opening today. We were invited to the opening, and it appears that everyone on the guest list was not charged. Never having been to a restaurant opening, I didn't know that it was good luck to do this. The restaurant is owned by the same folks who own and run Bangkok Balcony, and the food is of the same quality--extremely good. Silk Elephant is a Thai tapas restaurant, and the items on the menu this evening were just the tapas part. It was all very tasty, and even though things were tapas sized (ie, small), we were full. We had the chicken curry puffs--my favorite, and the crunchy taro, which was deep, fried taro with crushed peanuts and a hot, spicy sauce for dipping. We also had beef satay and fried calamari (dipped in washabi). To end the meal, we had a sampling of taro cake which was mushier than cake, but not as soft as pudding. It was very tasty, and I look forward to going again. The menu in future weeks should be more expansive with noodle and curry dishes.

Friday, March 24, 2006 -- Late Evening

After the game this evening, my boyfriend, two other friends, and I went to Six Penn Kitchen. It's on Penn Ave in the Downtown area of Pittsburgh, several blocks from the Arena. The food there was actually good. The calamari was tender and tasty, the personal pizza with homemade mozzerrella, tomato, and basil was very tasty. We decided to get dessert which was a warm apple pie with cinnamon ice cream. The food was good even though abit on the small side. The nice thing about smaller sizes is that you don't overeat. The prices were comparable to the sizes, so I was not disappointed. The only negative was the number of items on the menu. It didn't have alot of options or variety. Even with that, I would go back again if I was in town.

Friday, February 17, 2006 -- Evening

My boyfriend and I returned to my favorite eatery, Bangkok Balcony. They have the best Thai food, and they have added a new item to the menu. They now have a pastry dough puff that is filled with either curry chicken or taro. Tonight we got the taro, and it was excellent. If you want to sample some of the best Thai food, Bangkok Balcony is the place to go.

Saturday, January 22, 2006 -- Evening

I forgot to mention my restaurant experience recently at Sweetbasil and La Filipiniana. This is a Thai and Filipino restaurant that has opened a second location here in Squirrel Hill. The restaurant is split into two rooms, so there is plenty of seating and space. The food was very tasty but not as hot as I expected for the levels requested. We started the meal with the Sa-Tay Chicken and Crispy Curry Puffs. The puffs were exceptionally good with a light pastry dough filled with a curry chicken and potato stuffing. The puffs were bite size and we had one for each person. So the second appetizer wasa a needed. The Sa-Tay chicken was typical of others of its kind. For the main course, I had the Mussamen Curry with chicken which was the monthly special. The curry was made over a 24 hour period and it was equal in taste to the place with the best curry, Bangkok Balcony. The only problem that I had with the food was that the spicy level seemed extremely bland. The curry was supposed to be at level 5, but it tasted like a level 0. My boyfriend's sister had the ginger chicken and asked for level 5 and that also was not hot at all. I filled out a survey card and expressed by displeasure with the spice level. Other than that the food was very good and tasty. Be forewarned, if you go there, you might want to try a level 10, and hopefully you might get something that in actually is a level 2.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005 -- Early Afternoon

I didn't get to watch Amazing Race 8 or Bound for Glory last night because I went out with a group of friends to try Claddagh Irish Pub located at the SouthSide Works. I was looking forward to the visit because the restaurant has homemade shepherd's pie. I've made my own shepherd's pie so I was looking forward to trying it. The design of the restaurant is centered around the bar, hence the pub part of the name. Booths were scattered along the side of the bar, and since we were a large party of nine, we were placed in one of the back rooms. The items on the menu were responsibly priced with appetizers and sandwiches under $10 and entrees under $20. My boyfriend and I started out with the Pots of Gold which were potatoes that were peeled, cut in half, scooped out and filled with cheese and scallions. The potatoes were tasty, and plentiful (six halfs in all). For the entree, I decided against getting the whole shepherd's pie on my own because I heard that it was large, so I went for the half order of fish and chips. The half order was large, with a huge slice of fish. The fish was crispy, but not remarkable. The chips were large, seasoned fries, again unremarkable, and the side of coleslaw was a miniscule portion that was average in taste. Others ordered the shepherd's pie and I was immensely disappointed when I saw it. Bascially, it was a bowl of seasoned ground meat with huge chunks of carrot in it with a scoop of lumpy garlicy mashed potatoes on top. Every shepherd's pie recipe that I have seen has the meat covered with potatos on top that form a crust. It was not at all what I expected, and I was very happy that I didn't get it. My boyfriend had the salmon with dill butter, and it was okay--again a dish that was average and nothing to be excited about. I decided to get a dessert and got "Bailey's Crepes: Two thin crepes filled with a Bailey’s cream cheese, rolled and topped with a raspberry and blackberry fruit compote." Again it was a disappointment. The crepes were tough and tasteless and the cream cheese was also bland. All in all, I would have to said that Claddagh's was a huge disappointment to the palate, and I probably won't be returning in the future.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005 -- Afternoon

I had a very nice lunch today. The McRib is back! A McRib is good eating. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of savoring this tasty morsel, the McRib is McDonald's answer to a rib sandwich. It's a slab of preprocessed pork meat slathered in tasty barbeque sauce. Pickles and onions are scattered on the sandwich. It is one of my favorite foods and offered only for a limited time at McDonald's in the Pittsburgh area.

Saturday, September 17, 2005 -- Evening

My boyfriend and I went to an early dinner so we could watch the Pittsburgh Panthers game this afternoon on a big screen television. More about the game later, but first I wanted to mention the great experience that we had at Buffalo Blues located on South Highland Ave. in Shadyside. The restaurant is known for having great wings (they have been voted best in Pittsburgh in some local polls) and for having blues music. Today they had all the large screen televisions (of which there are several scattered all over so every seat has an excellent view of a large screen) focused on the Pitt game. The food was served quickly by a very alert and responsive waitress. The wings are some of the best that I have had in a restaurant. They were meaty and on the large size. Usually when you go to a restaurant for wings, you get an anorexic chicken. Not at Buffalo Blues! The flavor of wings that we got today were garlic parmesean (drier, less saucy wings), Buffalo Blues (a buffalo style sauce), and spicy garlic (with hot pepper flakes scattered on the wings). I gave in to the inner fatty who is quickly becoming the outer fatty since I haven't been as mobile since the bunion surgery, and we got the fudge brownie ala mode with chocolate sauce. It was enormous and fabulous with an extra container of hot chocolate sauce on the side for additional pouring and dipping. I was really impressed with the atmosphere, the price ($8 for a dozen wings), the quality of the food, and the service which was exceptional considering how busy it was. I would definitely go back again and recommend the place to others.

Monday, August 15, 2005 -- Afternoon

Because I love the curried chicken Salad from the Cafe at Frick, I decided to try the recipe that I got from the wait staff the last time I was there. The salad is very tasty, and I'm not sure that even with the recipe that I did it justice. I have it cooling in the refrigerator now, and we will see how it turns out. Here is the recipe:
Curried Chicken Salad
olive oil
2 chicken breast halves, diced
2 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground coriander
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a heavy skillet. Add garlic and spices, and cook over medium heat for about one minute. Add diced chicken, stirring to coat with spices. Cook over medium heat (to keep the spices from Scorching) until chicken is fully cooked. Remove the chicken from the pan. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar until the pan is clean and vinegar is syrupy. Pour over chicken and cool completely. When the chicken is cool, chop it by hand to a medium-fine texture. Add 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and enough mayonnaise to make a spreadable mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

From the sampling bite that I took, I noticed that the taste of balsamic vinegar is stronger than I think it should be. As I said, I'll let it sit for abit in the refrigerator, and then see what it is like.

Saturday, June 18, 2005 -- Evening

This evening, my boyfriend, his sister and I went to the Cheesecake Factory. It's located on the South Side in an area called the SouthSide Works. The location is being built up with a variety of shops (mostly upscale) to compete with the Waterfront area. The Cheesecake Factory is off of the main street, East Carson Street, but is within sight of the road. Although there is a usually a wait before being seated, the area outside of the restaurant is quite nice. There is a area for a band called the Town Square, and tonight the group was the String Cats. The music was the swing type that you would hear from Frank Sinatra. It was very nice to sit on the bench, listen to music, have conversation, and watch the fountain display. The fountain is a group of perhaps 24 spouts that are placed in the middle of the square. The water spouts up in a changing rhythm. It was very soothing and relaxing. Now on to the Cheesecake Factory itself. The seating area is large, but arranged in such a way that you feel some privacy as you sit in one of the booths. The food was good, and the portions were enormous. The menu is huge, and I had alot of difficult making a selection. We started out with an appetizer, and got the Bruschetta. This was an 8 inch round of pizza dough that was piled high with chopped tomato pieces, garlic and olive oil. It was tasty--abit too many tomatoes, but I am not a big fan of tomatoes. For the entree, I chose the Veggie Curry Pot Pie. The puff pastry was enormous, and overwhelmed the dish. I would have preferred more of the veggies in the dish, and a smaller size in the overall dish. My boyfriend had the salmon special which came with french fries and steamed broccoli. He said that the salmon was tasty. My boyfriend's sister had the fresh Fish Tacos. There were three tacos, and the sides were black beans, rice and guacamole. She liked the tacos which were made with grilled mahi. The spicy avocado cream was abit overwhelming though, and took away from the taste of the fish. The guacamole was salty too. We weren't disappointed in the food, just not overly impressed. The dessert menu in enormous, and dominated by cheesecakes. However there are other options, and we got settled on sharing a chocolate cake. It was a huge piece. Even with three of us sharing, we weren't able to finish it. In fact, a large portion was left over. The cake was very tasty and moist. Desserts are definitely great. I will go back because the area is nice, and the food is decent.

Saturday, June 4, 2005 -- Evening

This afternoon, I went to the Coffee Tree here in Squirrel Hill. Since the weather was so nice, I thought that it would be nice to sit outside at the sidewalk tables the store provides. The outside experience was pleasant and the coffee drink, a frozen carmel coffee, was good. The problem was that the service was horrible! After my order was taken, the drinks were made, and then were set aside before they were completed so they could work on drinks that came after mine. I was abit perturbed by this, and had to call it to the attention of the two coffee makers. Then because I didn't want whipped cream on the drinks, and I suppose they can't give you the raised whipped cream style lid if you don't get whipped cream, the girl slopped out some of the drink to put a lid on the cup (losing an inch of drink), and gave me the plastic glasses in the sloppy, messy condition. My boycott is on! I won't be going to Coffee Tree for drinks again this summer. In my opinion, it's not only the quality of the food and drink that's important, but the level of service. The level of service today was extremely below par. I should have known it was not going to be a good experience based on the flies inside the pastry case that were buzzing the unwrapped food.

I did have two very good slices of New York style pizza at the Italian Village on Forbes Avenue here in Squirrel Hill. The service is always quick, the food is hot, and where else can you watch someone actually twirling the pizza dough in the air? The store also has very good prices. $3.50 will get you two large slices of pizza and a drink.

Sunday, May 22, 2005 -- Evening

My boyfriend and I have decided to start a new tradition, going out to get breakfast on a Sunday morning. We'll probably keep to it as long as the weather is nice. The place that we settled on was the Bagel Factory on Forbes Ave. here in Squirrel Hill. It is a nice little stroll from our apartment. The Bagel Factory shares its facilities with Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. The food at the Bagel Factory is just like what you would find at an old traditional deli. They have sandwiches, different types of salads, baked goods, and breakfast food. The prices are reasonable, especially considering the fact that they bring the food to you after you order at the counter. This morning, I had egg, cheddar, and bacon on a toasted garlic bagel (for only $2.95) while my boyfriend had Challah french toast (around $4). The food was hot when we got it. In fact, my bagel was so hot, I almost burned my lips on it. The Bagel Factory has seating both inside and on the sidewalk. I think we will be going there for quite a few Sundays.

Saturday, May 7, 2005 -- Evening

My boyfriend and I went to Fuel & Fuddle this evening for dinner. It was a mediocre meal at the best. He loves the nachos that they have there, and they were okay. The problem was with the main portion of the meal. I ordered the Left Coast Pasta which is described on the menu as follows: "Penne tossed with White Wine, Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic, Sundried Tomatoes, Shitake and Portobello Mushrooms, Pinenuts and finished with fresh grated Asiago". What I didn't realize is that a more accurate description of the dish would have been "mediocre, tasteless tomato goop trying to pretend to be a sauce". Maybe if the dish had been something other than just warm, it might have been better, but the "sauce" was really tasteless. My boyfriend was smart--or at least he thought he was. He had a burger and fries. There is nothing worse then fries that are served cold. So, yeah, you get sweet potato fries mixed in with regular fries, but cold is cold. So if the only thing you want is an okay appetizer--not great, but not bad--Fuel & Fuddle is the place for you. They also have alot of different types of beer there. That's probably why they don't put the effort into the food. They obviously expect people to eat the food with beer goggle tongues. The other peeve that I had with the place is that folks were allowed to smoke in the non-smoking section. The only section where true non-smoking seemed to happen was in one corner against the wall. For all intents and purposes, that means that there is no non-smoking section. All in all, it was a disappointing outing, and I am going to put the boycott on the place.

Friday, April 15, 2005 -- Evening

My boyfriend and I had dinner this evening at Mediterranean Grill. The place was as busy as usual, and the food was good as always. This evening, we had humus and pita, and shared the filet mignon dinner with rice. I love the dressing on the salad. It really has a good flavor.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005 -- Evening

My boyfriend and I are on vacation this week. It was one of those "use the days or lose them". The weather here isn't necessarily the best for a vacation, but it isn't snowing. I can handle the cold. This afternoon we went to The Cafe at Frick. This is the location of Henry Clay Frick's home in Pittsburgh, and is known by the name of Clayton. There is only an admission fee to tour the house, and the furnishings in the house are changed seasonally. On the grounds of the house, there is a greenhouse, art museum, and car garage. It's especially nice to go to Clayton when the weather is warmer because you can walk around the grounds. The car garage is very nice, and usually has a selection of around 20 antique cars. However, my favorite thing to do at Clayton is to go to the Cafe and have the afternoon tea. It is a typical British tea with sandwiches, scones and cakes. The cost of it is abit steep. One tea costs $16 and provides you with one individual pot of tea (they do refill it with hot water), four small tea sandwiches, two small scones and three to four small samplings of cake. Now this doesn't sound like much, but it is filling for one person. Usually I get one tea just for myself. The offerings in the restaurant also chance on a seasonal basis. For the tea today, the sandwich selections were chicken curry, egg salad, a slice of bread with mustard, carmelized onion and mushroom, and Irish soda bread with a dollop of cream. The chicken curry sandwich is heaven. The restaurant will provide you with a recipe for the curry if you ask for it. One of these days I'll have to try and see if I can make it at home. The scones today were currant scones, and they are served with Devonshire cream and jam. The scones today were warm from the oven and gloriously soft inside. They are the best scones that I have had in a restaurant/coffee shop setting. For the desserts today, there was a small sample of lemon cheese cake with a cream icing, key lime tart, and chocolate flourless cake. The cakes come with a huge helping of homemade whipped cream. I had the peppermint tea to wash it all down while my boyfriend had the Frick houseblend tea, which he says is very tasty. The ambience at the Cafe is very nice. It is small with seating for maybe 20 to 25 people. The dining area is surrounded by windows so you can look out at the grounds. In warmer weather, there are tables outside, and that is truly relaxing. One of these days, we would like to try something else from the menu, but I can't bring myself to have anything other than the tea if it is being offered (from 2:30 pm until 5:00 pm). Even though it is expensive, it is well worth the treat--just not on a regular basis.

Sunday, February 27, 2005 -- Evening

On Friday evening, I went to Smokey Bones Barbeque and Grill. It is one of my favorite restaurants, but I don't go there very often because it is in Robinson Township. That means I have to go through the Fort Pitt Tunnels to get there, and that's not always a pleasant drive during rush hour traffic. So I don't go there often. Smokey Bones is a chain restaurant that has a simple barbeque type place feel to it. The menus are placemats on the table. There are televisions all over the place, and you have a selector at your table so you can hear the audio from whichever television catches your eye. There aren't alot of options on the menu, but all the food is good. This time we shared the barbequed chicken nachos, which are very tasty. For an entree I mixed the shrimp appetizer with some rice and broccoli. The shrimp was in a tangy tomato sauce and really had a kick to them. The others with me had burgers or pulled pork. One of these days when I go there, I'd like to save room for dessert. One of the options is a bag of freshly cooked cinnamon sugar doughnuts. The service is always good and fast. I just wish the restaurant were in a more convenient location.

Monday, February 7, 2005 -- Evening

The weather was beautiful today. It's not often that you get sunny, 50 degree days in Pittsburgh in February. Because it was so nice, my boyfriend and I went out to dinner, and went to Aladdin's here in Squirrel Hill. The food there is iffy. There are some good items there if you know what to get, and some over rated, over priced items if you don't know. The soups are tasty, but noodle-less. The garlic soup is an interesting broth. Today I had the lentil soup which was mostly lentil, and very little potato. For the entree, I got the chicken Sambusek appetizer with a side salad. If you do this, you pay less than if you order the Chicken Sambusek entree which is also the sambusek with a salad, but $2 more expensive. The sambusek is toasted for a health alternative. Personally, I think it would be great fried, but the restaurant is going for a healthy item. My boyfriend had a chicken shawarma rolled pita. The food was good, not the best, but good. The one thing to keep in mind when you go to Aladdin's is that it is Americanized Middle Eastern. If you want something that is authentic and delicious (as opposed to just tasty), go to Mediterranean Grill down the street on Forbes Ave. That restaurant is owned and run by a Lebanonese family, and has the best Middle Eastern food in Pittsburgh.

Saturday, January 8, 2005 -- Evening

A friend of mine was in Germany over the Christmas holidays, and he brought back some candy for me. Now I am a hopeless addict to the Kinder Schoko-Bons. The candy is small and egg shaped along the lines of the little chocolate eggs that I would get in my Easter basket as a child. The Schoko-Bons have a thin shell of chocolate over a fabulous hazelnut cream. The concept reminds me of the Whopper malt ball only 100 times better.

Sunday, January 2, 2005 -- Evening

I knew there was a reason why I liked turmeric. It seems that there is research that shows that the spice might be useful in slowing down Alzheimer's disease. It also seems that turmeric is useful in "aiding digestion, fighting infection and guarding against heart attacks". It also seems that Alzheimer's isn't found alot in people in India where the spice is used alot. I usually use the spice when I make pasta and put it liberally on chicken. I'll have to find more uses for turmeric.

Saturday, January 1, 2005 -- Evening

My boyfriend and I had an early evening dinner at Murray Ave. Grill this evening. It's a bar/restaurant in Squirrel Hill on Murray Ave. The food there is good, and not very expensive. The cost of a meal for two people is usually around $30. This evening, I had the chicken scallopini pasta. The portion was large, and it was filled with articokes, capers and chicken. My boyfriend just had chicken fingers and fries. That's the nice thing about Murray Ave. Grill. There is a nice assortment of sandwiches, salads, pastas and specials, so it is always possible to find something that you like. We had dinner earlier today because the Fiesta Bowl is on at 8:30 am EST.

Thursday, December 30, 2004 -- Evening

This evening I got some dinner from the Milky Way restaurant here in Squirrel Hill on Murray Ave. They are a vegan restaurant and although they make pizza, they also have authentic Israeli falafel and humus. The food there is very tasty, and the restaurant is usually crowded in the evenings. Because the restaurant is a Kosher one, it closes on Friday evenings, and opens after sundown on Saturdays.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 -- Late Afternoon

After the going to the library, my boyfriend and I went to Rock Bottom at the Waterfront. Usually I boycott the Waterfront area because of the traffic conditions. There's only one way into the complex from this side of the river, and that is basically over the Homestead Highlevel Bridge. Everyone goes that way, and the traffic is horrendous. Since we were on vacation today, we decided to skip the boycott. Rock Bottom was not very crowded at the time (around 1:30 pm). The food was abundant. We had the nachos with chicken to start, and they came in a huge pile. There was more salt on some of the nachos than I like, but in general, they were very tasty, and not overburdened with toppings. For a main course, I just got the beef barley soup in a bread bowl. The soup was also alot more salty than I can tolerate, so I didn't eat much of it. My boyfriend got a plain burger. The burger was thick and juicy, and something that I think I would consider for my next visit. There are also a slew of other sandwiches, pastas and specialities that sounded tasty, such as the grilled salmon sandwich. I will go back again, but will steer away from the soups

Friday, December 24, 2004 -- Evening

This evening my boyfriend, a friend and I went to Bangkok Balcony. It's a Thai restaurant located in Squirrel Hill on Forbes Ave. It used to be the Lemongrass. Because it was Christmas Eve, the restaurant had a special presentation with Thai dancers. The dinner was very good. As appetizers, we had satay beef and samosas filled with Asian potatoes, which taste like sweet potatoes. For the main course, I had the yellow curry. The yellow curry at Bangkok Balcony is fabulous. It is made over a 24 hour period and has Asian potatoes in it. It is the best curry in the Pittsburgh area. The sauce is very tasty, and is made at a spicy level of 3. With that, I had a glass of plum wine. It went well with the spicy food, and had a sweet flavor and not a strong wine taste. My boyfriend had the Lemongrass noodles, and they were also wonderful--full of flavor and spicy. For dessert, I had the chocolate fried ice cream. The first one that was brought out had to be sent back because it came with bananas, and I'm allergic to bananas. My boyfriend had a green tea ice cream which had a very unusual taste for ice cream. The Thai dancers were very good. They did three separate dances from the northeastern part of Thailand. One was done for rice planting (Serng Kratip), the other to honor the king, and the last was a dance for the princess to show her love. All in all, it was a very nice evening--great food, wonderful entertainment, and friends.

Monday, December 20, 2004 -- Evening

Whoever came up with the idea of beef sticks is my hero! I love the Old Wisconsin Beef Snacks. Who could not love bite size bits of low carb, saturated fat filled beef bites! I've loaded up on them for the holidays, and plan on giving in to the inner fatty by stuffing myself with them every evening. Beef sticks and cheese logs are good eating, and don't let anyone tell you differently.