My thoughts on everything from albacore tuna to zebras
| Typically I don’t like eating at restaurants in hotels. I find them to be overpriced with ho-hum food. Last Wednesday, I made an exception. I arrived back at my hotel – Holiday Inn, Pittsburgh University Center in a torrential downpour. I’ve stayed here before and I’m well aware that there are a number of eateries within walking distance, but after a 4.5 hr car ride and another 4 hrs of meetings, all I really wanted to do was get something to eat and lose myself in my room where I still had work to get done for the next day’s meetings.
As is the case with most Holiday Inn’s they had an onsite restaurant. Its name is Bridges, which I could understand since Pittsburgh has quite a few bridges, just none within close proximity to this hotel. So be it. I went to my room, unpacked, and prepared myself to be overcharged and unimpressed.
When you first enter Bridges you are in the lounge/bar area, and while I thought about eating there, I really just wanted somewhere quiet to relax and the bar was definitely not the place. The restaurant portion was off to the left and came complete with outside seating, booths and tables with chairs. The hostess was very affable and I let it up to her to choose my seat. She must have read my mind because she seated me in a quiet corner where I could be alone with my thoughts. She went over the specials and took my drink order – water with lemon.
The waiter arrived shortly after with my water and asked if I needed a few more minutes. I didn’t. I was more tired than hungry; still I knew I needed to get something in my stomach as it had been growling for about an hour. I ordered the half rack of ribs special which came with a salad, a potato of my choice and sugar peas.
The salad was assembled by the waiter at your table allowing you to choose the ingredients. That was a nice touch. You weren’t given a choice of dressing which I thought was a bit odd. Still the dressing, a light Thousand Island type, was quite good, so I really can’t complain too much.
The meal was timed to arrive very shortly after I was done with my salad. A rack of ribs must have shrunk since I used to make them. For a half rack I got five ribs. Still they were meaty and not dried out as ribs so often are. The barbecue sauce was run-of-the-mill and here was a chance they missed to really impress their clientele. There are plenty of commercial sauces that are quite good and a lot of recipes for making your own.
I had ordered a baked potato with sour cream, the waiter brought mashed. It was corrected promptly and the potato was quite good with a salt based seasoning on the skin that I’d love to have the recipe for. This was a true baked potato and not a microwaved one. The sugar pea pods were a bit tough; still they didn’t appear to be old.
The presentation of the meal could use some improving, the mashed potatoes, sugar peas and ribs were all pushed up against each other in the center of the plate. Personally I don’t care for barbecue sauce on my sugar peas. I didn’t eat the mashed potatoes, but they too had sauce on them.
On a scale of one to ten I’d have to give the meal a 7, the waiter a 9.5 and the price, believe it or not a ten. The whole meal cost me $16.05 plus tip. Not bad for a hotel restaurant. I should mention I did have an excellent piece of lemon cream cake for desert, but being a Priority Club member, I got this for free. Otherwise the meal would have been $7.50 more (I can buy a whole pie for $7.50).
All in all I’d eat there again (and in fact, did, the following morning. More on that experience below). The staff was friendly and attentive, and while the food wasn’t perfect, it was more than passable. The atmosphere was nice and it certainly beat walking the streets of Pittsburgh in a downpour. I left the table satisfied.
That brings me to tomorrow morning. I will post that experience next.