Two months ago we celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. [The answer is yes, I was a child bride he he] Seriously, each and every year when our anniversary rolls around we try to do something. Whether it is a weekend getaway, a vacation, or just dinner out, we make it a priority to celebrate. One of my favorite things leading up to the whole event is the planning. I really enjoy all the work prior, researching and planning out what new adventure we are going to have. This year since we really aren’t home that often, due to extra busy work schedules, we decided to stay at home but explore some of the cool areas around us. Since Saturday was the day of our anniversary we decided to hit the Strip District in nearby Pittsburgh, starting the day off with a special anniversary brunch.
This is where some of the research came in. I questioned a lot of people and was give a few recommendations of places to go in Pittsburgh for brunch. One coworker in particular swears by Deluca’s fabulous breakfasts. Deluca’s looked great, lots of breakfast offerings some so outrageous they begged to be tried, such as the Reese’s cup hotcakes. They also offer huge omelets, and a plethora of other breakfast and brunch fare to tickle whatever your fancy may be. After reading a few of the reviews on yelp and urbanspoon, I decided against Deluca’s however because it mentioned that there were long lines and wait times, especially on the weekends, and I really wasn’t interested in waiting in line on our anniversary. Saving that one for another time.
My next search led me to this article 15 hot brunch spots in Pittsburgh Magazine. One of the places on the list is a hip haunt we had been once before, Bar Marco. We stopped there one night for drinks with friends after dinner at Nicky’s Thai. I actually was unaware that they served brunch and was intrigued. The description in the article as “intrepid”, “hip”, and menu offerings both “sweet and savory” really had my curiosity peaked. As if that wasn’t enough Bar Marco was also listed as one of the top 50 new restaurants by Bon Appetit magazine. Also praise was given from Pittsburgh magazine for making the prestigious list in the article Bar Marco Makes Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant Shortlist. The photographs of the food had me salivating. I had experienced Bar Marco’s fabulous drink concoctions as well as their divinely rich and devilishly succulent panna cotta, which the most memorable quote of that night with friends came from my dear sweet Eric when he said of Bar Marco’s dessert, “this panna cotta is panna killer!” Indeed it was. I just knew brunch here would be equally divine as well.
I set out making reservations via email. Each interaction I had with the people at Bar Marco was pleasant. When I realized that the St. Patty’s day parade was the same day as our anniversary and that the parade was going right through the very locale where we were celebrating, I wondered if we should reschedule. I shot another email to the restaurant and they assured me traffic wouldn’t be too much of a problem, helped me with directions, and even gave us a personal cell to call if we encountered problems. This was a great level of service I was extra pleased to receive! We indeed did have to call the number provided after we made a wrong turn but they were pleased to help. Parking on such a busy day was not a problem, partly due to the fact that the restaurant has it’s own lot. However they were also kind enough to let us remain parked there for free while we perused the Strip District. What a kindness, I was really impressed, that’s real Pittsburgh hospitality! We made our way inside and were shown to our table. I had mentioned in my correspondence while making reservations that we were celebrating our anniversary. Our table was decorated with dried flowers in a ceramic wall vase and a hand lettered card wishing us a happy anniversary, a gift from the restaurant.
I had already taken a look at the menu online (which has changed somewhat since our visit), before arriving and it came down to two choices for me, either the lemon ricotta pancakes or the benedict. I decided on the lemon ricotta pancakes and also ordered a side of roasted potatoes with hollandaise, I figured that way I could have my cake and eat hollandaise too! It was a phenomenal choice. The pancakes were light and airy with a wonderful aroma of fresh lemon zest. They tasted even better than the pleasing aroma wafting upward, the lemon flavor pleasant and slighty sweet which danced gracefully on the tongue. The potatoes were addicting, with the hollandaise a dangerous but pleasing love affair. There were plenty of potatoes for us to share, but I ate most of them, which is partially the reason why I gained 3 pounds that weekend, much to my Dr.’s dismay. (Have no fear I worked it off since, I just had a poorly planned Dr. appt the Monday following this weekend of decadence.)
Eric chose the shrimp and grits. He was very pleased with his choice as well. He commented that the grits were cooked perfectly, with 4 giant prawns and the cutest little fried egg I had ever seen. I learned later it was a quail egg. This was one of the best brunch experiences we have ever had, not to mention how wonderful the staff was to us at Bar Marco. Try it for yourselves, whether you are celebrating a special event or it’s just a lazy Saturday, either way it will make your day. Plus with a changing menu there’s always something new to discover. I can’t wait to go back.