Sunday, July 8, 2012

Enriching the Lives of Others

The mantra for Pittsburgh restaurateur Nadine Voelker is "No one has become rich unless they have enriched the lives of others. I thank my
staff and customers for enriching my life." From where I was sitting the customer can say the same thing. And the customer is of course, always right. The owner of Nadine’s Bar, the little tavern on Pittsburgh’s South Side has been enriching the lives of patrons since 2001. 

Pittsburgh’s South Side neighbourhood, formerly Birmingham,  is so named for it’s location on the south bank of the Monongahela River across from Downtown. It’s divided up into two areas. The Slopes (where the houses and streets cling precariously to the side of the bluff) and the Flats (what is essentially the flood plane).The proximity of South Side to three Universities (Carnegie Mellon, Pitt and Duquesne) has made it a bit of a “College town.” Rife with students and night life. Not long ago it was the site of urban decay. A victim of the decline of the steel industry and the closure of Jones and Laughlin Steel Company. Historic preservation stepped in and saved the “Flats” and it’s impressive collection of Victorian Era buildings. It has been designated a Historic District.

Much like with our visit to Slows in Detroit it was like someone was trying to tell us something. We had just decided when to head out on Summer vacation and thought a stop over in Pittsburgh to take in a Pirates game would be fun. We could find a place to eat and make a nice evening of it. The very next day we turn on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and where is Guy?? Nadine’s in Pittsburgh. Had to be divine intervention right?? We had found our dinner spot.

Honestly, if you didn’t know it was the place you may not believe it. A very non descript building set just off the main drag in what almost seems like an alley. There is a big sign on the side of the building where the parking lot is but when you walk around front the only indication you’ve got the right place is a small neon sign in the front window. The front door isn’t exactly inviting and maybe even a little intimidating. It all just adds to the charm of this place though. 

Inside it's smoking all around. In fact, it’s like a poker game in there. Mostly men, drinking, smoking and swearing. If you put some money on table and dealt cards you had it. While Guys’ visit had increased the transient traffic immeasurably this place is really still all about the regulars. This cast of characters lends to the personality of the place. A little rough around the edges but with a heart of gold.  

Nadine wasn't around so her son Matt was in charge of things. He helped sort through the many tasty options on the smallish menu. The man as you might figure knows his stuff as he went 3 for 3. So let’s have a look shall we??

The meatball sandwich was really good. Home made meatballs and sauce on a nice hunk of baguette. What really made the sandwich for me were two things. The sauce had a nice, bright tomato flavour and it was well garnished with grated Parmesan cheese. I find a lot of places just put a bit on. This gave a nice pronounced flavour.

Even better was one of the house specialties. The fried baloney sandwich. Almost a half inch of fired baloney piled on nicely griddled bread with cheese and peppers. I loved the sandwich. The meat and cheese provided a meatiness and saltiness with the pickled jalapenos providing some heat and tang while the bread provided the crunch. An all 'round great sandwich.

Mrs. Sippi knew what she was gonna order 3 weeks ago. The Hot Roast Beef Sandwich. Featured on Triple D she's been anticipating this moment ever since. Quite a build up that inevitably ends in disappointment. Well not this time. She loved, loved, loved it. I managed to sneak a taste and it was good solid Sunday roast beef and gravy on bread. Simply delicious. The mashed potatoes were exactly  as I like 'em. Lumpy. I like when there's little bits of potato for texture and these had a nice flavour on their own. Even better with the silky gravy smothering them.

So there you have it folks. Great eats in a thriving neighbourhood on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

You can find Nadine’s at 19 S. 27th St. Pittsburgh, Pa.

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You can also find them on the web.
Nadine's on Urbanspoon
Nadine's on Foodio54

Well that’s all for now folks. See ya next time in the food court.


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