There are still a few iconic restaurants in Pittsburgh that I enjoy. They are not the fancy, five-star tablecloth joints, but the kind of places that attract all types of people. Karma led me to one today that I had not been to in probably a decade. I had the dubious task of getting tires on one of our company vehicles. There were some â€œissuesâ€ with what work needed to be done and since our service approvals are centralized I was captive until the issue was resolved and the repairs complete.
The approval was given to proceed with the work around eleven this morning and the clerk suggested that I go get lunch as the work would be a while. So here I am in Downtown Pittsburgh on a Friday during Lent looking for a place to eat. Pittsburgh has had a resurgence of restaurants in the last few years, but I decided to skip the all of the new cuisines and walk the ten blocks to The Original Oyster House in Pittsburghâ€™s historic Market Square.
The Oyster House is perhaps one of the coolest places to eat and has been in existence since 1870. They added a â€œnewâ€ section many years ago, but I prefer the older, narrow, noisy part. They have some tables along the side or you can sit at the bar. Luck was on my side and I got the last table and ordered my favorite â€“ a â€œfish boatâ€ (fish sandwich and two sides â€“ I got fries and coleslaw). Traditionalists would order buttermilk to wash it down, but I just ordered a Diet Coke. I have to confess to not venturing far off of that menu item over the years, but the onion rings are freshly made and the clam strips are also very good.
Perhaps the best flavor of The Original Oyster House is the atmosphere of the restaurant. Youâ€™ll see businessmen in suits next to art students with piercings rubbing elbows with union workers (usually donning a union-emblazoned jacket) and regular people like me sprinkled in. The waitresses call you â€œhoneyâ€ (I love that for some reason) and the tables are so close that you canâ€™t help but get to know your neighbors a little bit. It is a wonderful joint for a people watcher like me.
The food is great, the service is friendly (though very busy), and the atmosphere is fantastic. I had a great â€œwalkâ€ down memory lane today.
The funny thing was that when I left after lunch I was taking a few pictures for this posting and noticed another Pittsburgh icon â€“ George Aikens. I thought all of the George Aiken restaurants had closed years ago. My memory is that they had the BEST cole slaw EVER, hands down. I now need to venture over that way again soon to visit another old friend.