{PGH Dining} Tender Bar + Kitchen

Welcome back to Lawrenceville, Readers. I know you've heard about the place, skinny jeans and all, and you may have even been to an establishment or two in the past.  There's a new reason to hang out in Larryville, and it's Tender Bar + Kitchen. I'll affectionately call it 'T Bar'. So, T Bar opened super recently, so you haven't missed a whole lot yet, except for awesome cocktails*.
Previously, T Bar's space had been occupied by a thrift store concept shop from Wild Card and others. Each time we visited the run-down, unfinished space, we'd always get there after the good stuff was taken. At least that's what we told ourselves.
What a transformation this place has made. It's like a sexy cocktail lounge with good wall paper. 
We were seated in the front room, where the library-style wall, complete with movable ladder, was located, where glittering bottles of spirits are shelved. 
The menu page featured food on the front and a smattering of drink options on the back, including wine, beer, Arsenal cider, and cocktails.  Right away, I was drawn to a tiny corner of the menu featuring 30 classic cocktails, which the waitstaff will happy trill off ingredients for you if you need a refresher on a Navy Grog.  It's nice to see something so honest it's hipster. Kidding, but it really was happily 'Mad Men'-esque to have these listed.
Which ones did we order? Well, they came from the house cocktail section and from off the menu.
Husband ordered his standard, the Old Fashioned {muddled sugar and fruit with bitters, then adding whiskey and topping with a piece of orange rind}, which was off the menu. I ordered something reminiscent of warmer weather {hopeful, perhaps?}, and went with the Nilsson. 
You guys. It was exactly what I needed.
The Nilsson is composed of rums, coconut cream, lime and bitters. So. Good. Y'all. 
Here's her close up:
Husband enjoyed his drink, which was perfect, as he was the reason we went out in the first place: He got into graduate school for his MBA! Congrats, Husband!
Welcome to the club of working people in school!
After the drink excitement wore off, we settled on several things from the food menu, which was modeled after regions of the US. They had 3-5 options from the Northeast {smelts, fluffernutter}, The South {shrimp and grits, turducken}, Americana {mac and cheese, meatloaf}, the West {veggie chili, poke}, and Pennsylvania {city chicken, scrapple}. I think they missed a few areas of great food in the US, but hey, they're just starting out, and I expect this menu to blow up over the next year. Hopefully.
We ordered the red potato salad {the Northeast}, which was not up to my standards at all.  I expected something more...mushy? These potato slices were barely cooked all the way through, so they retained their shape very well; however, you had to cut them with a knife and fork. Perplexing.
Beautiful, though.
Next was the deviled eggs, from the 'other' Americana section of the menu. Delicious and standard, but a little pricey at $5 for two complete eggs. 
I enjoyed the hot sauce on the bottom of the plate.
After those two dishes wet our appetites, we ordered the turducken {from the South, where only crazy dishes can be born, you know}.  
Each meat was solidly it's own, and went well with the sweet cornbread stuffing on the side and little dollops of apple sauce.
While we waited on our food to come out, Husband ordered another drink, The Pecora Investigation, which was made from Ardbeg scotch, Amontillado Sherry, crème de mûre, and Amaro Montenegro, which all sounds super refined and fancy; however, this cocktail tasted like a backyard Austin, Texas barbecue to us. The bitters must have had some smoky tones to give this drink that taste. 
Super interesting!
We rounded the meal {meaning added lots of extra calories} by ordering the moon pies. While I did like the chocolate-covered banana-scented cookies with marshmallow in the middle and a mint sauce to boot, they were not what I hoped for or expected. 
They were crunchy. What moon pie that you've ever had that was crunchy? 
T Bar has some work to do on this dish.
So, now to deal with that pesky asterisk I threw in at the beginning of this post.
*An Aside:  Husband and I have come to the conclusion {as perpetual out-of-towners} that Pittsburgh is the king of drinks, but falls short on so many couldbeawesome food opportunities. Tender Bar + Kitchen is no exception. They had the opportunities to knock this out of the park with the combination of taste-bud-shocking cocktails and delicious food, but sadly, the food was not there yet. We'll make another visit to T Bar in the upcoming months to check on their progress.

For now, they can be assured they named the establishment correctly. Bar before Kitchen.

Neighborhood: Lawrenceville.
Good For: Taste-bud-shocking cocktails.
Gems: Decor, available booze.
Drawbacks: Food and its pricing.

Tender Bar + Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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