Originally published May 23rd, 2017.
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In February I switched over to this new "3 Favorite Dishes" format to streamline my restaurant reviews, and give them a bit more structure. For the most part, it has been great. A: I always know my angle when I write about a new restaurant, B: It keeps me positive (even on places I don't like), and C: When people say, "What should I get at *insert restaurant*?" I can be like, "Yeah, check my blog."
However, I'm encountering one drawback: when a restaurant is so damn good that I don't want to pigeonhole it into the same category as everything else.
For the first three months I didn't encounter this issue... but now, with Spork, I just want to write a love letter about the place... and maybe I will! Someone needs to! It totally got snubbed from the Pittsburgh Magazine's Best Restaurants 2017 list.
Finally, after a year of talking about it, I dined at Spork in Garfield. What had been stopping me previously? The price. I'm not going to lie, you will not walk out of there without cringing at least a little at the bill. I remember the time I went there for drinks and spent $35 FOR TWO DRINKS! However, if you're not a 23-year-old freelance writer, you probably wont care as much as I did.
Surprisingly, I learned two things 1: You can actually get a huge meal for two people for $100 - drinks, apps, salad, entrees, dessert - and 2: The food is so damn good, those prices are probably worth it.
I loved everything we had. First off, we boxed the bread. I repeat - we boxed the bread. Also, I rarely eat my leftovers, but I actually ate my pasta AND THE BREAD for breakfast the next day.
I ordered the "straw & hay" pasta as my entree. It was good. I was debating between that and the "smoked brisket ravioli," but hey! I love it when my problem is that I need to go back to a restaurant and try more dishes.
So yeah, it appears that I need to write a love letter about Spork... but for now, without further ado...
MY THREE FAVORITE DISHES AT SPORK:
1. Bread & spreads
bread & spreads
My mom put it best: "If you're spending $8 on bread, it better wow you." And it did! We got a delicious loaf of French bread accompanied by four unique spreads. Olive oil, hummus, orange/honey butter, and gorgonzola butter. That gorgonzola butter though. It made the bread taste like pizza. The honey/orange butter was the perfect balance of sweet and flavorful without being too much (ie: you can eat more than one piece). When a menu has 15 different appetizers and tapas, rarely will I be like, "You gotta get the bread"... but dude! You gotta get the bread!
2. Charred romaine
charred romaine, cucumber, parmigiano, onion
First bread, now a salad? But THIS SALAD. It was perfectly charred, and the dressing/pickled onions added a rich flavor, without making it too heavy (ie: the ranch dressing effect). As always, if I am recommending a salad, its gotta be something great.
"Charlotte," strawberry, rhubarb, pretzel, iced sour cream, basil
THIS DESSERT! Ask anyone in my family - I have a massive sweet tooth. It is actually an issue - I cannot eat something savory without immediately craving something sweet. I loved this dessert because it fulfilled my post-meal sweet craving... but it wasn't actually sweet? The rhubarb and basil played together so well, I had to devour bite after bite (after bite) to get a grasp on what I was eating. The dessert menu is huge, and there will probably be something that strikes your individual fancy... but consider the Charlotte! You won't go wrong.
Conclusion: Amazing! Perfect place for a fancy date night, or to celebrate something.
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