Thursday, February 2, 2017

Pittsburgh, PA Edition: Pork & Beans

Pork & BeansPittsburgh has no shortage of incredible restaurants, as I discovered on a day-trip to Pittsburgh this summer. Going in, I had a full list of places friends have recommended or ones that I've heard good things about ... but as we explored the day, I ended up adding more and more to my list.

When we visited Pittsburgh, we tried out Meat & Potatoes, Butcher & The Rye and Tako all in one day. They were all amazing, but what I didn't know was that they all belong to one company: Richard Deshantz Restaurant Group.

Pork & Beans

Richard DeShantz is the Chef/Owner of Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group in Pittsburgh, PA.

As a proud Pittsburgh native, DeShantz has worked to elevate the culinary landscape of his hometown and brings creativity and innovation to Pittsburgh’s Cultural District neighborhood through his three restaurants: Meat & Potatoes, a seasonally-inspired gastropub; Butcher and the Rye, an acclaimed rustic Americana restaurant with sharable plates and an extensive whiskey program; and täkō, a lively taqueria serving inventive Mexican street food with a tequila and rum focused beverage program. 

“Chef DeShantz has created three unique restaurants that have helped reorient the focus from steel mills to the next food city.”

For as long as he can remember, DeShantz had a passion for art. He decided to take art classes in Pittsburgh but soon realized that cooking was another way to express his creativity and enrolled at the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts. Throughout culinary school, DeShantz worked as a line cook at the acclaimed Hyeholde Restaurant in Pittsburgh under Chef Andrew Lise and was exposed to a new spectrum of the culinary arts he had never before seen. What had begun as an outlet for creativity, soon grew into a passion for food and hospitality.


Upon graduation, DeShantz spent his time traveling and working in restaurants across the country. From Chicago to Colorado, Washington D.C. and Michigan – he honed his techniques and studied under some of the top chefs in the country including famed chef Charlie Trotter.
After returning to Pittsburgh in the early 2000s, DeShantz opened Mediterra Bakehouse, where he managed operations and baked fresh bread and pastries daily. After four years, he was eager to bring more imagination into his kitchen and opened Café Richard in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Two years later, he opened his first fine dining establishment called American Bistro Nine on Nine.

“I like dealing with small individual farms. People that specialize in one ingredient. People that have the same passions as I do."

As Pittsburgh’s dining scene began to change, so did DeShantz. After selling all three concepts, he was ready to open something on his own. In 2011, DeShantz opened the doors to his flagship restaurant, Meat & Potatoes. The restaurant quickly received rave reviews, and was named “Best Gastropub in the U.S.” by Food & Wine. In 2013, Richard opened Butcher and the Rye, which was nominated two consecutive years in a row for “Outstanding Bar Program” by the James Beard Foundation, and was featured by Bon Appétit as part of the “Steel City Renaissance.” In spring 2015, DeShantz opened täkō, a street-fusion taco shop focusing on fresh ingredients and chef-driven tacos. Chef DeShantz’s celebrated restaurants and bars have also appeared on national television on Cooking Channel “Chuck’s Eat the Street,” and Travel Channel “Steak Paradise.”
DeShantz brings creativity and innovation to Pittsburgh’s Cultural District neighborhood. He continues to elevate his hometown’s culinary credibility by focusing on farm fresh ingredients and pushing boundaries.'

Pork & Beans
The fourth addition to the group is Pork & Beans, which we saw advertised when we were galavanting around. It took a bit for it to actually open up. But, Pittsburgh recently hosted its Restaurant Week, where Pork & Beans was participating. So, we made reservations and ran up after work to finally try out the fourth restaurant in the series.

Pork & Beans, a BBQ restaurant, was doing something a little different for their restaurant week - a chef vs. chef battle. Basically, you chose which menu you wanted to try. 

The "Texas-style barbecue, with homestyle sides & local craft beer in rustic, roadhouse-inspired surrounds" went a bit of a different route with a Korean vs. Middle Eastern menu.

Pork & Beans$35.17 Dinner
Chef vs. Chef Battle
Chef James:
First Course – korean fried chicken wings & biscuits / chili marinade chicken / sticky chili sauce / chive biscuits / maple fish sauce
Second Course – grilled eggplants / scallions / chilis / soy / country ham / green tomato chow chow
Third Course – smoked brisket ssam / bibb lettuce / steamed rice / ginger scallion sauce / red cabbage kim chi / ssam sauce / radish
Chef Keith:
First Course – falafel / yogurt / curried carrots / charred cauliflower / beet & dill salad
Second Course – harissa chicken / cous cous tabouli / pickled prunes
Third Course – “lemon betty” angel food cake cheesecake / lemon curd / pistachios

Pork & Beans
And even though we had reservations, the seating is basically communal style. We were seated on these sort of long benches along with groups of other folks - only separated by a short wall of BBQ sauces. I ended up going with Chef James' menu because it had more meat and seemed to go more in line with the theme of the restaurant - fried chicken, biscuits, etc

Pork & BeansOK, first course was Korean-fried chicken wings & biscuits with a chili marinade chicken, sticky chili sauce, chive biscuits and maple fish sauce. This sauce was really thick - maybe a bit too much - like it needed thinned out. But, flavors were good - if not a bit too much - and that little chive biscuit was a little bite of heaven.

Pork & BeansSecond course was grilled eggplant with chili caramel pork belly, green tomato chow chow and Fresno chilis. The pork belly was good - if not a bit too fatty at some points - but the bed of chow chow and chilis was not my favorite. It was a bit mushy, and bitter.

Pork & BeansThird course was brisket ssam with bibb lettuce, steamed rice, garlic scallion sauce, ssam sauce and kimchi. Again, the same sort of sauce, but I could get down with this dish more. The meat was cooked well so it was tender, and I appreciated the lightness of the lettuce wrap.

Pork & BeansThe chef's menu that we chose did not have a dessert course, so we asked what was on their regular dessert menu. There was a maple bourbon ice cream and a health ice cream sandwich. I got the latter, which is from Leona's. It was the first time I've heard of them, but I'm now a full believer because it. was. amazing.

Pork & Beans

The salted health crunch, as per the website, is: Homemade heath candy and dark chocolate drizzle ice cream between two cookies studded with melted health and a Maldon sea salt flakes.

Pork & BeansIn short, if you have the opportunity to try this sandwich, get it. So good. Probably at least 1,000 calories, but it's essentially two delicious cookies with a giant hockey puck of ice cream with bits of toffee. You literally cannot go wrong.

Pork & Beans


I do want to try this again with their regular menu, because I absolutely love southern food, and when I saw folks around me order the BBQ or mac & cheese, I was infinitely jealous. I enjoyed getting to see the creative side of the restaurant, but I'm also excited to see their bread & butter - especially because it's right up my alley. Have you been? What was your favorite thing?

Pork & BeansGrade: B
 Pork & Beans Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato