The choice to go to a restaurant, to order a specific dish or drink, or to ask your wait staff a question can make or break an experience at even the fanciest and grandest restaurant. If you go at the wrong time, order the wrong menu item, or ask the wrong question, your experience is diminished, and at times diminished so significantly that it makes you wonder how a restaurant got the recognition in the first place. I found that to be true at Butcher and the Rye in downtown Pittsburgh. This is a top ranked restaurant in Pittsburgh, and there were many attibutes that definitely spoke to that ranking. However, a few specific choices that my parents and I made took away from the experience, which I’ll detail below.
The atmosphere of Butcher and the Rye is certainly rustic. Antler chandeliers, mounted animal heads, and lots of wooden fixtures create a pastoral feel which is calming while also instilling a sense of wonder. I couldn’t help myself as I looked around and tried to identify all the different features of the interior design.
The service was one aspect that was seemingly impacted by the choices we made. The order of our meal came out unexpectedly; half of our appetizers showed up nearly right after we ordered, and the rest came out right as our entrees showed up. In addition, the wait staff seemed a little rude and aloof to our needs, not so much that it bothered us, but enough so that we noticed it.
Again, our choices mattered. I personally liked several items on the charcuterie board, including the chorizo and the pickled red onion. The “pig candy” (pork belly with an apple kim chi) was also crispy and smoky. However, the rabbit and dumplings dish that I ordered really wasn’t flavorful at all. In fact, it was quite heavy and so bland that I found it difficult to finish. I was also really let down with the dessert choice, the cinnamon sugar doughnuts, only because of how few doughnuts came out for the $9 we shelled out for them.
The price I didn’t think was good for the specific selections we made. Like I said, $9 for three tiny doughnut holes and $28 for a dish of rabbit and dumplings with barely any rabbit in it was really disappointing.
By all means, this isn’t a bad restaurant. I think the fact that our expectations were set so high, combined with the poor choices we made when ordering and interacting with our servers, contributed to our disappointment.
The food, and in particular my scallops, was the best part. They had a caramel brown outside with a slight crunch, and a chewy but not rubbery inside, which is exactly how scallops should be cooked. On the flip side, the wait staff was slightly aloof, as if they were too good for us or that we didn’t belong there (which is certainly ridiculous). This is a great place for parents or other people you want to impress with really unique and different food but in a more upscale setting.
Judith Cassel is a partner at Hawke McKeon & Snicak LLP and practices regulatory law, including representation of medical marijuana clients. You can find the websites for each practice here: http://www.hmslegal.com/ and http://cannabislawpa.com/
Butcher and the Rye is a downtown Pittsburgh restaurant and winner of the James Beard award (the “Oscars of Food”) for their excellent bar program. The two-story restaurant serves creative rustic meals with contemporary flair and a whisky list so overwhelming I just stopped trying to count. You can find their menu and make reservations here: http://butcherandtherye.com/