I was in town for work and a friend who lives downtown made us reservation for Wednesday evening. She said it can be difficult to get a reservation so she made it as soon as she knew I was coming to town several weeks ago. So if you plan to go, call for a reservation otherwise you'll likely be turned away at the door unless you are just going for drinks.
We were seated promptly for our 7 pm reservation when we arrived. Overall the service was attentive. After we paid the bill, we sat at our table for an extra 15 minutes the chat without feeling pressured to leave. Our server even kept coming by to fill our water glasses during our post-dinner chat.. The atmosphere is intimate with multiple levels of smaller seating areas that make it feel more like individual cozy rooms with a 1920's sort of vibe, not quite speakeasy-ish but the lighting is low. Some reviewers have complained that it's dark, I wouldn't go that far but the lighting is dim but I felt like it added to the overall atmosphere.
I ordered the Rye Buck, a delicious and refreshing concoction of Bulliet Rye, St. Germain, ginger and fresh citrus. I would definitely go back to try some of their other cocktails.
We didn't have a full dinner (large palates) instead we ordered a few small plates, 2 orders of cauliflower since my friend, a vegetarian, raved about it, an order of the shishito peppers, and the foccacia. Everything was delicious. There are at least 10 dishes on the menu I would come back to try. The cauliflower did not disappoint and its the sort of dish I would love to reproduce for dinner at home. The harrisa yogurt sauce was so creamy and flavorful against the cauliflower and the light slightly crunchy texture of the faro. So good!
Admittedly, I have never tried shishito peppers so I like expanding my palate. Another delicious dish that was much larger than expected for a small plate. The peppers were perfectly roasted with flavorful seasoning of the miso salt without being salty. The peppers are not really hot but give your mouth a nice zing, Supposedly though 1 in every 10 has the heat of a jalapeno. This dish came with a sriracha yogurt type sauce, some lime wedges and topped with whole cilantro stems. Great combination and it was artfully presented.
I ordered the focaccia which came with sides of house made ricotta (yum), white bean spread, and olive tapenade. For $5.00 I was expecting a slice of focaccia or two with just enough of the sides to spread on it. It came as an entire mini loaf with ample sides that could easily be split between 4 people who are there for a full dinner. Luckily, I had a friend to help me with my loaf of focaccia which was fresh, warm and perfectly baked.
In all four small plates shared between two people is plenty of dinner for me. We left happy and satisfied. There are enough dishes for both vegetarians and meat-lovers. I'm super pleased to see more of a restaurant scene in Pittsburgh and downtown looking more lively than when I lived here 20 years ago. In my opinion, Butcher and the Rye could rival any mid-range foodie restaurant in Philly, New York, or Chicago.
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