Since turning 21, the gastropub has become one of my favorite types of restaurants for satisfying food and unique craft beers. There is a type of culture surrounding gastropubs that is just so unique: you have groovy music, a friendly approachable group of guests in one place, and a bunch of greasy but delicious food to fill you up. I’ve had the privilege of eating at a few gastropubs in Pittsburgh already, including Fuel & Fuddle and the Yard, and while both had delicious food and a great selection of drinks, Urban Tap ups the ante with over 140 types of beer available. There’s so much beer that an entire wall is devoted to the beers on tap alone! Nevertheless, I was undaunted on my visit, and I was so happy to share the experience with my Pathfinder family, especially my pal Mark Pavic, who will be the featured reviewer in this installment of Famished with Friends.
Atmosphere: When you walk into the Shadyside location, you are greeted with a huge bar area with tables surrounding the bar and a large glowing screen displaying all the taps. For our group it was a little awkward, as there wasn’t a separate area for waiting patrons, but if your aim is for the bar then you’ll find plenty of space. The only other downside was a strong smell of cleaning detergent as soon as we walked in, which hopefully was only a temporary smell. Besides those aspects the atmosphere was lively and party like, with good music, functional décor, and unique accent pieces throughout the space.
Service: Our service was overall very well executed. Our server Caroline was prompt and funny and engaged us on all levels of hospitality (in small talk, with regard to our food, etc.) The one aspect of the service that was not up to par was the reservation we couldn’t make, which the host told us was due to a software error. This error forced us to wait an additional 40 minutes and wasn’t the ideal first impression for those of us who were visiting for the first time.
Quality: The quality of everything was actually a little beyond my expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed the drinks that I had, first an amber ale and then a Moscow Mule (my absolute favorite), and the food just continued to enhance the experience. We ordered a beer cheese risotto for the table and the combination of mac and cheese alongside pretzel flavorings worked so well together. I ordered a bison burger for myself, and while it came out a little too dry, the meat was well seasoned and the mayo had a tangy, spicy flavor to it that made every bite a little bit more interesting than the last. For dessert, we all split the carrot cake, and anyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for carrot cake with a rich cream cheese frosting. Needless to say, this dessert took the cake!
Price: Nothing was so overpriced that I was shocked when looking over the bill but be careful how items pile up. After a few expensive cocktails, an appetizer, entrée, and dessert, you could be looking at a large payment by the end.
Translation: Minus the few flaws at the beginning in terms of the smell, the waiting area, and the reservation system, a gastro pub like this has real potential.
Mark’s Take: The best part about Urban Tap has to be the food. In my opinion, this is some of the best food in Pittsburgh for the price. This is also my second time coming here, and in addition to the beer cheese risotto, the brussels sprouts are to die for! The most difficult part was the hosting process, as there was nowhere for us to sit during the waiting process and the only reason we even had to wait was because of
the reservation system. This is definitely a night bar for people 20-35 years old, especially with all the beer choices. As for my meal, my burger was a little more than medium but the taste was good. Also, this was some of the best carrot cake I’ve ever had! (agreed Mark, so agreed).
Mark Pavic is a sophomore from Johnstown, Pennsylvania majoring in Marketing with a Certificate in Digital Media.
Urban Tab gastropub and draft house is a from scratch kitchen with over 140 drafts between its two locations: Shadyside and Southside. You can find out more about the restaurant and make reservations here: http://www.theurbantap.com/