Monday, July 02, 2012

Retroblogging: Zagat-Less Burgh

Way back in 2006, during my first few months of blogging, Chris Briem addressed a Pittsburgh shortcoming at the now-mothballed Pittsblog. For Zagat, Pittsburgh was off the map. Dirty backwater? Banal blue collar cuisine? Inbred hilljacks? Jeet yet?

The implication is that Pittsburgh isn't cosmopolitan enough. At least, Pittsburgh was no Seattle or Boston. With a few notable exceptions, the chefs were bush league. Local tastes were too conservative. Dining out was an anachronistic experience.

Today, Fodor's goes where Zagat fears to tread:

With former churches turned into craft breweries to the Andy Warhol Museum, along with patents and inventions stemming from Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh has always adopted a cutting-edge vibe. Its dining scene is equally eclectic. What's heating up this summer is a rash of new casual eateries that straddle savory and sweet. Whether you're on the hunt for artisan chocolate or a five-star hot dog, this Rust Belt city has your palate covered.

Emphasis added. Hey, the Burgh has always been cutting edge! That strikes me as the new brand retroactively applied. No matter, it is a nice plug for the city.

2006 isn't that long ago. Zagat-less Burgh was something to consider. No more. Pittsburgh is a foodie town. The restaurant scene has grown up. Do Steeler fans still talk about sushi-gate?

Pittsburgh's known for several things, almost none of which fit into the Haute Couture category. We smoke in bars, grow startlingly large beards and find eternal style in the hooded sweatshirt. Toby Keith's tour stops here not once, but twice. Oh, and cuisine? As a general rule, it goes like this: If something is at first unacceptable -- a salad, say, or a sandwich -- Pittsburghers then pull out their trump-card fixer-upper, a heaping addition of french fries.

So now, on to today's topic.


Sushi and Pittsburgh.

Really, based on everything else, the two make for strange bedfellows. Spend enough Internet search time tracking the connection of those terms, and you'll find the story from 1997, when then-Steelers linebacker Chad Brown fled in free agency to Seattle. His wife complained shortly thereafter to the media that Pittsburgh lacked the high-end culinary distinctions they looked for in a city. Like -- wait for it ... wait for it -- sushi.

Too soon?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is off the record, but Zagat is coming, in the very near future. This is because Google has bought it and is making it free as part of its location services (a ton of other towns have been added as well).