Good Downtown Dining Option

Pittsburgh is truly one of America’s Renaissance Cities. It has overcome it’s past image of belching steel furnaces and gritty streets. Today there is something refreshingly attractive about downtown Pittsburgh and you can find an excellent selection of restaurants both ethnic and good old fashioned American to tempt your palate.

The Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh, is the home of the Sonoma Grill, a little piece of the Southwest in the heart of the Arts District. Executive Chef and Owner, Yves Carreau has brought his French heritage with him and infused it into the cuisine of Southern California.

If you are in the area at lunch time you will find a wonderful selection of appetizers, pastas and entrees to please everyone. I was here as part of a press trip with other travel writers and we sampled quite a few different items. The onion soup is redolent with the flavor of beef but not the usual salty broth, this broth has a complexity and a depth that is a taste treat for your tongue. A very nice cheese topping as well, melted to perfection atop the proverbial crouton. This is an offering that should not be missed if you are a lover of Onion Soup.

The Fisherman’s Wharf Chowder brings the bounty of the sea with clams, shrimp and scallops served in a rustic bread bowl. You will want to tear off chunks of the bread but resist until you finish the chowder. Other starters include the sesame fried calamari and the wild mushroom flatbread.

Among the lighter offerings, you will find the California Omelet with mushrooms, avocado, Swiss cheese, smoked bacon and sour cream and the Smoked Salmon hash with white and purple potatoes, leeks, red pepper and corn, sunny side up eggs with chive creme fraiche and can you believe it, a red pepper cardamom coulis. Salads also abound with the Tandoori Satay Chicken Salad being a winner. Skewers of chicken served atop greens, butternut squash, and pepitas with a cinnamon dressing. The chicken is served warm and it is decidedly spicy. I am a lover of Satay and I found this version to be excellent.

Wonderful rustic bread is served on the table with oil for dipping. If sandwiches are more to your taste theirs run the gamut from Kobe beef burger, to apple cider and vanilla braised pulled pork sandwich. For the seafood lover they offer a grilled mahi mahi Cuban sandwich. The pasta dishes offer a nice variety of additions; crabmeat and asparagus penne is served with crimini mushrooms and the filet mignon and alouette stroganoff is just plain decadent.

Their Mixed Grill is a unique and intriguing combination of offerings. 1-3 selections from their grill menu, of salmon, chicken, pork shank, shrimp tempura, lemon grass and curry marinated tofu, ahi tuna, lamb chops and more. You round out your meal by pick a side dish and a dipping sauce. This is a meal you could eat every day and not repeat yourself for quite some time. Prices range from $12-$24.

Dessert here is not to be missed. Save room for the creme brulee du jour, which will of course change daily as well as profiteroles, apple walnut bread pudding and tapas dolce, a chefs sampling of the desserts. If you prefer there is a fruit and cheese plate.

This is a lovely restaurant with walls the color of the sunset and wooden tables and banquettes along the walls. There are carriage lamps attached to the walls and hanging teardrop shaped lights. It has a decidedly Spanish feel. The quality of the food is excellent and the presentation exceptional.

They are open for lunch and dinner daily and valet parking is available. I was very impressed with my lunch here and would not hesitate to come here again when the opportunity arises.