The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Butcher and the Rye.

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As soon as we walked in the front door of Butcher and the Rye, the energy was captivating. The first floor bar was humming with young professionals stopping by for an afterhours cocktail, as a bartender scaled a ladder up the 2-story bar to reach a bottle of whiskey. The hostess led us up a winding staircase to a dimly lit and quiet third floor table. We ordered cocktails: a Bee’s Knees for him, made with gin, lemon and spiced honey, and a Lost In Thought for me, a vodka concoction mixed with Meyer lemon cordial, lemon, green chartreuse and fee walnut bitters. I’m not much of a cocktail girl, but it was sweet and tangy and perfectly refreshing on a hot day.

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Then, because we consider ourselves brusselaholics, we ordered sprouts as our appetizer. Cooked in brown butter, seasoned with dill, topped with parmigiano reggiano and drizzled with preserved lemon aioli, the brussel sprouts were decadent and I swear, I spoke maybe five words as I shoveled them into my mouth.

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For dinner, he ordered the seared scallops, and I decided to take a slight step outside of my comfort zone, and I ordered the pan-roasted trout. I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and we waited for our dinners to arrive. The best part about Butcher and the Rye, in my opinion, is the décor. The walls were adorned with antique handheld mirrors, stuffed and mounted game, and a kind of Prohibition-esque wallpaper. Chandeliers made of antlers hung from the ceiling, and the entire restaurant reminded me of the cabin in the woods I never had as a child. It was calming and quaint and unlike any other place I’ve been.

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When dinner arrived, we dug in. The scallops sat on a bed of blue crab risotto, asparagus, chanterelles (which he quickly brushed to the side) and capers. It was creamy and light and perfectly balanced by the saltiness of the capers and asparagus. A cauliflower steak, capers, golden raisins, almonds, parsley and beurre noisette accompanied by trout, and created a perfectly composed dish. The trout was soft and flaky, but the almonds added the perfect amount of crunch to every bite. I expected the fish to be, well, fishy, and was pleasantly surprised when the butter and cauliflower brought out only the best flavors in the trout.

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For dessert, we chose the perfect summer sweet: s’mores… with a twist. The waiter placed a giant bowl of brown butter friend ice cream, bourbon marshmallows, chocolate rope and graham cracker soil in front of us. I mean, COME ON. I was on that fried ice cream like white on rice.

So, with the second restaurant of The Pittsburgh Food Diaries challenge under our belt, I’m so excited to see what else this city has in store for us… and our bellies.

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