Grit & Grace

This past week, my wife and I checked out a new restaurant in Pittsburgh called Grit & Grace. It’s located on Liberty Avenue, steps from the Theater District and PNC Park. The chef is Brian Pekarcik (from Spoon). The stated goal is to “push opposites to the extreme to bring a unique and balanced dining experience”, hence the name Grit & Grace. The food has an Asian background, and sharing between everyone at the table is encouraged, especially at dinner time.

The restaurant has only been opened a couple of weeks, but already the place is buzzing with action. We went there for lunch on a Friday afternoon and would not have gotten a table had we not made reservations. The place is immediately welcoming and has a nice feel to it. It reminded me of a bistro, but with a modern vibrant, Asian style.

The staff was very friendly and had us at our table quickly. The lunch menu consists of salads and sandwiches, such as the spicy prawn salad with green papaya, kaykon, carrot, mint, cilantro, basil, garlic, ginger and cashews. There are also noodle dishes such as braised beef short ribs with flat rice noodles, bean sprouts, broccolini, mushrooms, onion and garlic. These dishes range from $6-15 for lunch, and up to $20 for dinner. Not to be forgotten, is a variety of Dim Sum which the staff carries around the restaurant with an option to sample anytime during your meal, for $5 a piece. There is a small, but good, selection of wine (by the bottle or glass), beer, and cocktails.

We first tried a Dim Sum – the Pork Belly bite with orange, chili, garlic and ginger to start our meal. Pork belly might not be healthy with all that fat, but who cares – the pork was perfectly cooked, and every bite a wonderful treat.


Next we went for the crispy tempura eggplant with vegan mayo, smashed chickpea spread, arugula, and smoked cipollini onions. It came on a wonderful toasted foccacia that had my wife’s mouth watering. The flavors of the eggplant with the chickpea spread, mayo, and smoked onions was flavorful. Her only criticism was that the thick bread overpowered the eggplant. She felt that there needed to be more of the other ingredients between the buns to balance the sandwich.


We also had the smoked brisket with kohlrabi kraut, thousand island sabayon, pickled red onions, corned beef tongue, and horseradish cream on a baguette. Simply put, it was delicious. The baguette was toasted perfectly and there was just the right balance between all the ingredients in every bite for a very satisfying sandwich.


We weren’t planning to go for dessert, but when our waiter described the first one, we had to try it. I do not recall what he called it exactly, but it consisted of several chocolate truffles layered on ginger flavored Mochi (a Japanese rice cake) sitting on a bath of crème Anglaise and crunched fruity pebble cereal. Let me tell you, this was a perfect way to end the meal. It’s not uncommon for me to have a wonderful meal at a restaurant ruined by a poorly conceived dessert, but this was not the case as it was one of the best dessert I’ve had at a restaurant in a long time. The ginger, combined with the chocolate truffle, the crème, and the crunch of the pebbles was amazing. The only negative was that we had opted to share it between the both of us – big mistake, and next time we’re each getting our own.


Grit and Grace is a wonderful addition to the Pittsburgh restaurant scene. Chef Pekarcik has created an innovative menu that takes common food out of the box. Everything is made with fresh ingredients and is well prepared. It’s a perfect place to meet colleagues and friends for lunch, after work or for dinner. I highly recommend it. Reservations are a must ( To check out their menu, go to


La Chouffe Ale

For the holidays, I loaded up with various beers to try out and I thought La Chouffe’s golden ale would be a good one to get. I guess I thought the little gnome on the bottle reminded me of Christmas.

La Chouffe bottle

The Achouffe brewery is located in Belgium. While most breweries there have been around hundreds of years, Achouffe is quite young, having been founded in the late 1970’s. This is when two beer loving brother in laws got together to make beer as a hobby. Eventually the word got out that they were making some good stuff, and they were taken over by the Duvel Moortgat Brewery in 2006.

The Chouffe is a golden ale which contains a little bit of coriander. It is 8% alcohol.

La chouffe in a glass

As you can see, it has a beautiful color, but I was a little disappointed whith how it tasted. Perhaps it’s because I drank it shortly after Samuel Adams’ New World, but to me La Chouffe almost felt watery, with very little complexity and right now I’m not sure I’d purchase another bottle. Have you had this beer? What did you think of it?

Samuel Adams’ New World

I recently found several bottles of Samuel Adams’ craft beer, and of course, I had to try them out. The first one I sampled is called “New World”

Sam Adams New World

It is a Belgian style Triple. It has an amber color, and is 10% alcohol. I must say that I was very impressed with this beer. It has a wonderful balanced beer with a fruity aroma (due to the type of Belgian yeast used), a hint of sourness (just enough), and is very refreshing. I highly recommend it. Have you had it yet? If so, what do you think of it?

Sam Adams in the glass

Kwack Beer – fit for the mail man!



This is a Belgian amber ale made at the Bosteels Brewery which was founded in 1971.  I really enjoyed this beer and highly recommend it.   It has a beautiful color and head, fruity aroma, with a taste that is mellow with a hint of sweetness and very little bitterness. It has a nice long finish. It’s an easy to drink beer, but watch out as It has an alcohol content of 8.5%.    As with all Belgian beer, Kwack has it’s own glass that should be used to drink it, and this one is quite unusual:  




It is said that this glass was conceived by brewer/inn keeper Pauwel Kwak in the early 19th Century for mail coaches.   Back then, coachmen were apparently not allowed to leave their coach and horses during mail delivery.  Paul Kwak specially made this glass so that it could be hung on the coach to allow them to quench their thirst while delivering the mail.   If the USPS had something like that, I might consider switching profession! 

Duvel – fit for a king

To celebrate Belgium’s independence’s day and the king’s coronation (21st of July), I decided to have a toast with a Duvel, one of Belgium’s most popular ale.   Duvel is produced by a brewery called Moortgat brewery which was founded in 1871.  The beer was originally called “Victory Ale” to  commemorate the end of World War 1.  Apparently the name was changed in the 1920s when someone described the beer as “nen echten duvel” (a real devil in Dutch) and consequently the name was changed to “Duvel”. 

The Duvel double is brewed with two hop varieties and has an alcohol content of 8.5% . 


The Duvel tripel is brewed with 3 strains – the first 2 are the same as in the double, and the third one is changed on a yearly basis. This year, they added a Japanese hop called Sorachi Ace. The tripel has an alcohol content of 9.5%     



It was interesting to be able to taste these two beers at the same time to see what the addition of the third yeast would do. When poured into their proper glass (a Burgundy glass), they both have similar color and a nice light foamy white head. Both are fairly dry. The double gives a quick bitter bite and a medium finish while the tripel has a fruitier flavor, seemed slightly less bitter but with a longer and what I feel was more satisfying finish. I think both would go very well with a hearty meal or as an after dinner drink – perfect for a king’s feast!


Have you had a Duvel? What do you think of it?

Liege Waffles anyone?

One thing people know about me is that I love waffles. My nickname in college was the “American Belgian Waffle” This obsession about waffle probably stems from being born in Liège, where the gaufre de Liège was created. It’s a staple of the city (and Belgium) and everywhere one can see people eating these things while walking down city streets.



What’s a Gaufre de Liège you ask? Apparently Liège waffles were invented in the 18th century by the chef to the prince-bishop of Liège. They are square, thick, heavy waffle made of brioche-based dough and pearl sugar. The beauty of these waffles is that the sugar caramelizes when cooked, resulting in a delightful treat. The Liège waffle differs from the Gaufres de Bruxelles and the Flemish waffles which are supposed to be rectangular, light, crispy, and contain very little sugar.

Place Saint Lambert ...birth place of the Liege waffle?

Place Saint Lambert …birth place of the Liege waffle?

Lucky for me, I found a place in Pittsburgh that makes authentic Liège waffles. It’s called Waffallonia, and it’s located in Squirrel Hills. It’s a tiny place on the corner of Murray and Forbes avenue, and I can attest that these are quite good – very close to the real thing. You can get them “plain” or with various toppings such as strawberries / whipped cream, or Nutella. It’s a perfect place to go for an afternoon treat or a dessert on the way back from dining out in Pittsburgh. I highly recommend them!

Waffallonia menu

Waffallonia menu

Waffle with Nutella.   Yum!

Waffle with Nutella. Yum!

Kaya at the Strip District

This past month’s issue of Pittsburgh magazine was about the best restaurants in the area. Just looking at the pictures, I started salivating. I thus decided that my goal for the year would be try out all the restaurants on the list. This weekend, I went to Kaya. This restaurant is part of the Big Burrito chain, and is located in the Strip District. The menu is inspired by the flavors of the Caribbean Islands, South America, and the Pacific islands, and as you can imagine consists of mostly seafood (there are a few meat dishes as well).
They have some tables outside, right off a quiet street, and this turned out to be a pleasant place to sit as we found the inside to be too noisy and cold for us. Our order was taken quickly by a friendly waiter. My wife ordered the Jerked Mahi Mahi and I asked for the Lake Ontario Walleye.

Lake Ontario Walleye

Jerked Mahi Mahi

We both enjoyed our dishes. Each of us had a perfectly cooked fish and the meals flavor full. I really enjoyed the broth, vegetables and clams that came with the Walleye, but I was surprised that my dish did not come with a starch. A few small potatoes would have been a nice addition I think. The coconut rice went very well with the Mahi Mahi and the accompanying garnish, but the rice was not very warm and I think this was because they put the food on a cold plate instead of using a pre-heated one.

While were were quickly welcomed by our waiter upon arrival at the restaurant, once our dinner arrived, he disappeared. He did not come back to ask us how our meal was, and it took a good 20 minutes after we were finished eating that he returned. By this time, we had decided to skip out on dessert and just asked for the check. This wasn’t his fault however, as he was obviously overworked with too many tables to serve.

All in all, we enjoyed our meal at Kaya. There aren’t many restaurants in Pittsburgh that offer good fish, but we think that Kaya is a good one. The dishes offer some interesting flavors and we look forward to returning again to try several other dishes that looked appetizing.

Hello world!

Good morning and welcome to Goodgrubs!   

No – this isn’t a blog about larvaes or insects.   It’s not about dwarves either.

Grub is also defined as “meal” or “food” and this is what I’ll be talking about here.  

For some people, food is a chore: a daily activity they get done with as quickly as possible in order to get back to to other activities.    They eat to live.    

Not me.  

I live to eat.  

I enjoy eating.  

I look foward to it.    It’s joy in my mouth, my stomach, and my mind. 

To me a meal is not an act, but an event.  Put good food, good drinks and good companionship together, and you get a blissful event.

I do not think that good food equals expensive, pretentious, or fancy.    This is why I chose the term grub.  

In this blog, I’ll describe some of the good, and not so good grubs that I encounter with family and friends along the way which you might then try out yourself.    I’m also hoping to get some ideas for you as well… so please feel free to give me your thoughts an what you enjoy to eat and drink!