For the past two years, Eleven Contemporary Kitchen has graced the list of Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best Restaurants, but it wasn’t until last week that I was able to finally cross it off of my list. And let me tell you: it was well worth the wait.
Located in the Strip District, Eleven is found inside a rehabilitated old warehouse, and nestled next to some of Pittsburgh’s oldest rail lines. The interior pays homage to this history with a strong industrial theme throughout the whole building. Even while we were seated, I found my gaze drifting towards the smallest stunning details — including the glass room where all of their wine is stored, nestled high above the diners. Swoon.
And the food. To die for. As an appetizer, we ordered the Sea Scallops, which were served over grits with grilled scallions, Surryano ham and topped with lemon juice. If memory serves me correctly, this entire plate was licked clean in the blink of an eye. I’ve never had grilled scallions before, but helloooooo, wonderful. The scallops were perfectly creamy, and the saltiness of the ham tied the whole dish together brilliantly.
(It was at this point in the evening that I had to step outside for a brief conference call with a few business partners from China/Hong Kong, which left me feeling simultaneously really badass, but also very sad that my dinner might be cold by the time I returned.) As I walked away from the table, I left strict instructions with D: “If our food comes before I get back, you HAVE to take a picture of your dinner before you eat it.” He nodded nonchalantly, probably thinking that I’m some sort of food-crazed nutcase. (If that is what he was thinking, he’s not wrong.)
D ordered the Grilled Swordfish, served with clams, mussels, calamari, pearl cous cous, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic and a slice of toasted baguette. It was a seafood lovers dream. Unfortunately, he devoured 90% of it while I was chattin’ with China, but fortunately, he hates calamari… More for me.
My dinner, in all its glory, was graciously waiting for me when I returned to the table: Seared Salmon on a bed of polenta with roasted cauliflower, radicchio, toasted focaccia, parmesan and a Sherry vinaigrette. The salmon was cooked to a perfect medium, and the crunchiness of the focaccia combined and the roasted cauliflower with the creamy polenta — stahhhp. This was quite possibly the best meal I’ve had in Pittsburgh in months. I paired my dinner with a 2013 French Pinot Noir, and I was the happiest and most well-fed clam in town.
Eleven – Hats off to you. You’ve earned your spot on that list, and you’ve earned it well.