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Red Oak Cafe with Casey Abramson

Red Oak Cafe with Casey Abramson

A Café That Does It All

I’ve dined in quite a few cafes for someone my age.  Most have been coffee shop-esque, with little focus on food and its effect on guests.  Moreover, even fewer have tried to please all guests in terms of dietary restrictions.  Many times I have guests over at my house or out and about who are gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, or lactose-intolerant.  In these cases, I need a local establishment that can cater to these needs and still provide tasty options for anyone who comes.  Red Oak Café to the rescue!  And I was so happy to reconnect with one of my friends over breakfast there, Casey Abramson.

Atmosphere

There is definitely a casual vibe to Red Oak, something that only a family-owned operation can accomplish.  The café conveys a sense of locality and warmth, only enriched by the wall murals of Pitt and Pittsburgh.  The space is a little cramped, but that aspect only jumped out at me due to the popularity of the place during the school year.Red Oak Cafe with Casey Abramson

Service

The service was not quite what we expected.  Between no menus where we needed them, the slow and backed up kitchen staff (leading to us waiting a decent amount of time for our meal), and the fact that Casey’s potatoes were cooked with butter (when she specifically requested they not be), there was much to be disappointed about.Red Oak Cafe with Casey Abramson

Quality

The quality of the meal sure made up for the dearth in service quality.  My strawberry and banana smoothie was filling and rich, without being too strong on any one flavor (yogurt, fruit, etc.)  I also ordered a hardy breakfast burrito, which stayed warm for a long time.  Overall, I would say the food is filling and keeps you full throughout the day.Red Oak Cafe with Casey Abramson

Price

The price is great for college students, and a really good breakfast or lunch definitely won’t set you back more than fifteen dollars.  Plus, there are free coffee refills!

Rating

6.8/10

Translation

What did Red Oak in was the service, but this is still an above average spot in a college town with lots of strong competitors.

Casey’s Take

Best part of the experience?

Well, catching up with Samson obviously!  He’s always great company.  But, if I’m just focusing on the restaurant, I’d say seeing how many options Red Oak Café has on their menu!  I can’t eat gluten or dairy, so their menu is incredibly accommodating for me and I always love going there.

What needs the most improvement?

The wait time is always a bit long, and their kitchen seems a bit chaotic.  But that makes sense considering the amount of space that they have and their recent popularity.

What kind of place is this (who would you bring here, for what purpose, etc.)?

It’s a delicious and super casual restaurant, perfect for any breakfast/brunch/lunch desires.  Personally, for the kind of lifestyle I live, I would bring anyone here!  The very laid-back environment is great for friends, or even to take the edge off of a first date!  I also love bringing as many people as possible here because as I mentioned before, their menu is great for my food intolerances.

Describe your meal for us.Red Oak Cafe with Casey Abramson

I had an omelet with lots of veggies and roasted potatoes on the side!  The omelet was delicious, but unfortunately, they cooked my potatoes in butter so I felt a bit sick after the meal.  However, the meal was still super delicious.  I have always been very satisfied with whatever I order off of their menu!

Casey Abramson is a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Media and professional Communications with a concentration in Corporate and Community Relations and Digital Media.  She spends her free time singing with her a cappella group, spending time outdoors, and she is super passionate about anything involving music, food, traveling, and people!

Red Oak Café is a fresh and healthy, family-owned eatery located in the heart of the Oakland Neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  To see their menu, which includes all-day breakfast options, check out their website: http://redoak.cafe/

 

 

 

Bluebird Kitchen

Bluebird Kitchen with Judith Cassel

Simple is always beautiful.  The way something can be so artfully crafted with minimal ingredients or other inputs is astounding as it is awe inspiring.  Food is definitely no exception to this rule, and some of my favorite dishes at restaurants haven’t been dressed up in layers upon layers of sauces or spices but rather are raw and real.  Bluebird Kitchen in Downtown Pittsburgh stays true to this raw and real feeling with a small selection of fresh and specially made breakfast and lunch dishes.  I ventured into their Stanwix St. location with my mom, Judith Cassel, to start the day off with some simple but oh so tasty breakfast plates.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere was simple but got the job done.  This is, after all, a takeout and catering eatery and so the decor did not consist of the same sit down restaurant amenities.  The wooden walls and avian pictures matched well with the restaurant name, as if I was also a blue bird gathering my food and then flying away to start my day.Bluebird InteriorBluebird InteriorBluebird Interior

Service: The service was very accommodating, considering that the two of us just bickered over what we wanted without actually ordering anything for the longest time.  Everything was prepared to our specifications too: if we ordered something hot, it came out piping hot.  If we wanted extra cream cheese on the bagel, you can be sure that it was lathered on.  The service, even with our limited exposure, was excellent and made us both feel right at home.Bluebird Kitchen Food

Quality: The high quality of the food at Bluebird is so easily understood after just one bite.  I had the pastrami cured salmon bagel which was incredibly filling but I thoroughly enjoyed all the nuanced flavors between the sweet cream cheese and the sharp crunch of the cucumber.  Our spinach frittata, while presented poorly, was light and fluffy and very tasty.  There was also a cinnamon bun with crumpled bacon.  Do I need to say anything else?  Just ask for the whole thing to be heated up to put you at the very gates of baked goods heaven.  As I said in my intro, each dish was very simple in its composition, a true testament to a chef’s skill when the dishes are this excellent.

 

 

Price:  You really can’t find a breakfast with this level of quality for the price we paid, you just can’t.

Rating: 8.1/10

Translation:  For a place that primarily specializes in catering, Bluebird still knows how to create a special moment for guests of the “restaurant”.  The Stanwix Street location, however, is not prime real estate and I only wish it was in a more central location so both I could visit Bluebird more frequently and more people knew what a great spot this is.

Judith’s Take:

The best part of my experience at Bluebird was the interesting and unexpected mix of ingredients into a favorable experience.  The cinnamon roll that was wrapped in bacon is a good example of the unusual mixture of ingredients.  The atmosphere was more like a cafeteria than a quaint and cozy café, so for me, the setting was not inviting or conducive for intimate or professional conversations.  I would take my fellow employees here for a coffee break because the food is good and our important conversations can be saved for the office.  Also, the wait staff was extremely pleasant.

Judith Cassel is a partner at Hawke, Mckeon, and Sniscak, LLP, a law firm in Harrisburg, PA focusing on energy, environmental, and government regulation.  She lives in Lititz, PA with her partner Ken and has two children, Madison and Samson.

Bluebird Kitchen is catering and cafe destination in Pittsburgh with a focus on fresh and exciting takeout cuisine.  You can find their whole menu (they do lunch and catering too!) on their website: http://www.bluebirdkitchen.com/index.html