Recker-mendation: Eddie Merlot’s

Because we had such a great experience with the Eddie Merlot’s Lounge Menu a few weeks ago, Jon and I decided to enjoy an early Christmas dinner there last weekend. From the moment we walked in, to the moment we left, we were blown away by the personable and friendly service. A kind gentleman opened the door and welcomed us to the restaurant. The hostess greeted us by name. Our waiter, Mark, was energetic and knowledgeable about the menu, offering suggestions and treating us like royalty. The floor manager, Theresa, came by several times to check in on us. And of course, our friend Matt, the executive chef, visited us throughout the night, offering his recommendations and providing fascinating information about steaks and truffles.

We were treated first to amuse-bouche; Theresa brought us two small servings of the truffled potato leek soup. We were impressed with the balance of the soup- not too much truffle oil, but just enough to give it that rich, full flavor. We also enjoyed the small sample size, as a larger portion would have been too much considering our plans for the meal.

Top: Truffled Potato Leek Soup, Ahi Tuna TacosBottom: Romaine Waldorf, Chopped Salad
Top: Truffled Potato Leek Soup, Ahi Tuna Tacos
Bottom: Romaine Waldorf, Chopped Salad

As an appetizer, we ordered the Ahi Tuna Wontons ($14), made with raw tuna, Asian flavors and wonton chips. Little did we know that Matt had a surprise in store for us. He ramped up the dish by preparing wonton Ahi tacos, loaded with raw tuna, avocado, sesame oil and wasabi. Oh my yum! Preparing them as tacos made them easy to eat and the flavor combinations were simply perfect. I am not sure if Matt would prepare these this way on request, but it’s definitely worth a try.

Next, we each ordered a salad to try.  I had the Romaine Waldorf ($7) made with Granny Smith apples, red grapes, Gorgonzola cheese, candied pecans, and maple apple cider vinaigrette. The presentation of this salad was outstanding: 3 romaine bunches, arranged on the plate and topped with the fruit and nuts. The maple apple cider vinaigrette was the perfect combination of sweet and tangy, allowing for an enjoyable experience without too much lip puckering, which happens often when restaurants use too much vinegar in their dressing. Jon opted for the Chopped Salad ($8), made with crisp lettuce, Gruyere cheese, red onion, celery, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, crispy prosciutto, seasoned almonds, and creamy herb dressing. My favorite part about this salad is the dish in which it’s served. Sounds silly, I know, but it’s an angled bowl that tilts towards the diner, allowing for an effortless salad eating experience. Sometimes it’s the little things that push a dining experience over the edge. The salad itself is good- while perhaps it’s nothing to write home about, it’s a classic chopped salad and is done well.

New Orleans Grill
New Orleans Grill- Filet Mignon, Shrimp and Andouille Sausage

For the main course, we chose the New Orleans Mixed Grill ($30) from the Chef’s Creations menu. This dish contains Filet Mignon, grilled shrimp, Andouille sausage, and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. We requested our Filet be prepared Pittsburgh- heated to a very high temperature very quickly, so it is charred on the outside but still rare or raw on the inside. We don’t trust most restaurants with this temperature, but Eddie’s nailed it. The intense char flavor on the outside, combined with the tender raw meat on the inside is delectable. Throw in several large shrimp and a couple Andouille sausages with the cajun-inspired flavors and this dish is a definite winner in our book.

A featured item on Eddie's seasonal menu: Elk, served with truffled mashed potatoes and mushrooms
A featured item on Eddie’s seasonal menu: Elk, served with truffled mashed potatoes and mushrooms

The real reason for our visit, besides celebrating Christmas and enjoying a nice evening together, was to sample an item from the seasonal menu: Elk ($39). Last time we were in, Matt encouraged us to give it a try, explaining that the meat has little fat in it, creating a denser, meatier flavor. He recommended that we order it medium rare. He was right and I loved it. Jon preferred the filet, but enjoyed the elk, as well. Served atop truffled mashed potatoes and mushrooms, the Elk provided a mild, but pleasing culinary experience. It will appear on the menu for only a few more days, so if you are interested, I encourage you to get in there to try it. It’s worth it!

Matt Nolot wows us with his Flaming Chambord Brownie
Matt Nolot wows us with his Flaming Vanilla Cognac Brownie

After all of that, we were stuffed, but Mark managed to talk us into dessert when he mentioned the Flaming Vanilla Cognac Brownie ($18), topped with ice cream, raspberries and candied pecans. The best part? Matt brought the dessert out himself and set it afire. And even though I was extremely full, I managed to enjoy a few bites. This is the kind of dessert that could make you pass out because it’s so good. The brownie is extremely gooey (the secret ingredient is mayonnaise  which sounds gross, but totally takes brownie to a new level), and is drowning in hot fudge. If you visit, make sure you save room. It’s worth it.

Flaming Chambord Brownie with raspberries and candied pecans
Flaming Vanilla Cognac Brownie with raspberries and candied pecans

View the full menu on Eddie Merlot’s website.
Eddie Merlot's on Urbanspoon

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