Home » SCN Hospitality Blog » Lawrenceville

Tag: Lawrenceville

Church Brew Works with Jared Sheinberg

The Holy Grail of Brewpubs

When one enters Church Brew Works, the immediate impression is awe, followed by a sinking feeling that you’re somehow desecrating a house of worship by consuming alcoholic beverages on a holy site.  Of course, that doesn’t stop most people, myself included, from carrying on with their evening activities.  However, what does give me pause is the sinking suspicion that this grandiose façade is exactly that: a shine which masks an effort to create quality food and drink for guests.  For all the flying buttresses, ornately decorated altars, and colorful stained-glass windows can’t and should not distract me from the primary reason a restaurant exists, and that is to provide delicious meals to its guests.  In the end, my suspicions were partially put to rest, but you’ll have to read on to find out why! (P.S. my good friend Jared Sheinberg, featured reviewer for this installment of Famished with Friends, confirms these same suspicions)

Atmosphere

Of everything that Church Brew Works has going for it, the atmosphere that dining in a renovated church creates is certainly the best part.  The large stained glass windows, beautifully symmetrical arches, and opulent alter (dedicated to brewing the best beers this side of the city), all produce a magnificent setting to enjoy a heavenly meal.

 

 

The noise travels in this building, but not necessarily in a bad way.  The ceilings are so high and there is so much communication going on that a gentle din surrounded us rather than a crazy cacophony.

Service

The service we experienced was pretty good considering how busy the place was and that there were 5 of us needing separate checks.  Some of our food items arrived slightly cold, which I wasn’t sure was due to slow service or under-prepared food items.  But overall, our waiter was pleasant and professional.

Quality

If there was one thing lacking from our visit to Church Brew Works, it was the quality of the food.  However, a note about the drinks: they were exquisite.  Some of my favorite brews come from Church Brew, and a big shout out has to go to the Pious Monk Dunkel, a light lager that doesn’t leave a sour taste like some other lagers seem to do.

The food was a big disappointment here.  I ordered a few different appetizers, including the pulled pork nachos to start, the lamb meatballs, the traditional pierogis, and a tropical cheese quesadilla with a pineapple pico de gallo topping.  Overall I just thought everything was really bland, and the fact that each dish came out somewhat cold didn’t really boost the score.  The meatballs and pierogis were the worst, just lifeless, with no real spice, heat, or texture to speak of.  The one positive I can comment on is the Malted Bread Pudding a la mode, which however dense did make up for it by being flavorful, creamy, and satisfying.

Price

The price of our meal has me a little perplexed.  I think for the price you pay, you do get quite a bit of food and drink.  However, the quality is seriously lacking in some areas, leading me to believe that it may not be worth it.

Rating

6.2/10

Translation

I have had really good experiences here and also some not so good ones.  This visit definitely belonged in the latter category, and itvery well might be a lasting trend.

Jared’s Take

Best part of the experience?

I would have to say that the best part of my meal was the atmosphere. The décor is beautiful and unique. Not everyone goes to restaurants merely for the food, but for the entire experience. The building itself gives off a personality that makes it very comfortable for anyone to eat, drink, and socialize. I particularly enjoyed seeing the hops machines up by where the alter would be. It almost gives it a spunky look by combining a contemporary and antique appearance to create something that embraces the best of both.

What needs the most improvement?

The food itself is what I believe needs the most improvement. While I would say it was decent, it appeared that overall most of the food I tried happened to be a little dry. This could possibly be attributed to the crowds but nonetheless I found that I would consistently need to revert to my beer to help wash things down.

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

This is the kind of place to take friends and sit down to enjoy beer and food while conversing for hours. They were certainly able to accommodate large groups due to the ample amount of space. Because of the price of the food and their specialty being in craft beer, there weren’t too many children present, but I wouldn’t say that this kind of unique dining experience isn’t for them as well.

Describe your meal for us.

My meal consisted of a buffalo burger cooked medium rare with a side of Cole slaw and a pickle. Overall, I enjoyed it, although as I stated above the burger was a little dry. I tried the celestial gold and Mont Pious Dunkel beers which were both excellent. The pious was a little darker and stronger which I preferred but both were thirst-quenching and offered a unique flavor.

Jared Sheinberg will be attending Pitt Law this upcoming fall with an undergrad degree in finance. He is from Allentown, PA and has four other siblings. In his free time, Jared reads, runs, and watches Netflix.  Not all at the same time, although that is his ultimate goal in life.

Church Brew Works is a renovated old church, St. John the Baptist Church, which has become a restaurant and bar in the Lawrenceville.  Check out some more interesting history on the parish turned purveyor of pints at their website: http://churchbrew.com/

Cure with Ken Morrison

Cure with Judith Cassel and Ken Morrison

Cured by Cure

Food has a funny way of making things better.  At the time of eating at Cure, considered by many Pittsburghers and outsiders the best new restaurant in the city, I wasn’t feeling great.  Of course not much has changed since then, but I do distinctly remember sitting down comfortably in the center of the room, with a glass of wine served by our soft spoken waiter, and instantly feeling more at ease.  As the dinner progressed, I couldn’t help but feel more relaxed, carried away from my troubles I had, if only for the evening.  With every bite and sip and sentence, I was reminded not of my stress and anxiety, but of how lucky I was to be experiencing this amazing food with people that I loved.  That’s why Cure is so special to me, in addition to being a really great addition to the Lawrenceville food scene.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere of Cure is contained in a relatively small area, with the main dining area encompassing the space of an average American living room.  While it keeps everyone somewhat cramped, there’s also a coziness to the space.  The music they had playing was a tad too loud, and when mixed with the conversation of our neighbors in the small space, the din made our own conversations difficult to distinguish.  However, I really liked the overall layout and design of the space, including the open kitchen right behind us.

Service

Our waiter was incredibly knowledgeable about the menu, knowing every detail down to where each cured meat on the charcuterie board was sourced from.  The only drawback was how soft spoken he was, making it difficult to hear exactly what he was saying.

Quality

The food at Cure is definitely superior to almost any other Pittsburgh restaurant, in part thanks to the locally sourced ingredients based on seasonality.  We had oysters from New Brunswick, the Salumi (charcuterie, which was one of the best I’ve ever had), and cauliflower soup (strong on the lemongrass but the crab had a nice flavor) to start.  My entrée was a roasted duck breast, cooked until tender and served with a sour red cabbage and sweet potato puree with hints of cilantro and vanilla that was really unique.  My wine of choice was a semi-sweet zinfandel from the Kunde family winery in Sonoma valley which went perfectly with my duck.

Price

Very expensive, but if this isn’t on your own dime (as in my case, thanks mom and dad), then this might be worth a visit on a special occasion.

Rating

9.1/10

Translation

Phenomenal.  This restaurant takes the cake in nearly every aspect.  If they can work on the atmosphere and aspects of the service (like speaking up!) then I can see a near perfect score emerging.

Ken’s Take

This rustic oasis had a nice gastro magic about it. The waiter talked patrons through choices in an unhurried but helpful manner. The open kitchen was entertaining. This restaurant narrowly focused on what it did well producing an uncomplicated but excellent dining experience. From a business person’s point of view, I must also compliment them on their table turns and efficient use of space.

Ken Morrison is a entrepreneur and mentor in the Philadelphia area, specializing in petroleum and energy products and services for the region.

Cure is Lawrenceville restaurant focusing on local ingredients to “cure-ate” a Mediterranean inspired menu.  This nationally and regionally ranked restaurant is a must for any fine food and drink lover, and you can see all of their accolades, menu items, and more on their website:  http://www.curepittsburgh.com/